Getting to this intimate omakase den, which opened in May 2019 underneath Julia Momose’s cocktail temple Kumiko, requires a trip past the first-floor kitchen, down a set of stairs, and through pocket doors to a sleek eight-seat counter. It’s a tantalizing buildup to an unforgettable dinner ($130). Behind the bar, chef de cuisine Mariya Russell deftly manipulates Japanese ingredients and techniques to will savvy flavor combinations into existence, from the first course — a butter-poached Nantucket scallop gilded with yuzu kosho, caviar, and finger lime — to the last, Japanese milk bread with fermented honey ice cream. Torched at the counter, then showered with ribbons of black truffle, the dessert hits a final note that perfectly echoes the delicate harmonies of the meal.
Update:Kikko remains closed, though sister bar Kumiko is open for beverages. Creative director Julia Momose has been spearheading the campaign to allow sales of individual cocktails in Illinois. While Gov. Pritzker has signed off on that, now Chicago needs to adjust its municipal code to allow for sales; if that happens during a city council vote on June 17, Kumiko will offer pre-mixed cocktails to go. In the meantime, you can order items like bottles of Japanese whiskey, tonic water, and other mixers — even Kumiko’s incense.