A depressing closing to start the week’s news: Naoki, one of my go-to sushi spots in town, is closing. I can’t say I’m super surprised — the restaurant, which was hiding in one of Intro’s former private dining rooms, was always awkward to find and didn’t get enough attention. The new revival of Ambria will fill the space, but I’ll miss Naoki’s awesome food, especially their uni.
I’m a huge fan of Cherry Circle Room, the main restaurant inside the Chicago Athletic Association hotel on Michigan Avenue. It’s got one of the best dining rooms (and the best bars) in the city, and now the kitchen is in great hands. Johnny Anderes — of dearly departed Telegraph and, recently, of Bar Biscay — has taken over the restaurant. I’m very excited to see what he does with the menu.
Aboyer, which I covered earlier this year, has launched a new brunch menu. The upscale Winnetka restaurant (which is actually three restaurants in one) is serving brunch on Sundays from 11 to 2:30 and offering dishes like butter-poached lobster eggs benedict, a classic French omelet, and lemon-ricotta pancakes with fresh blueberries.
Lula Café is introducing Logan Square to a delicious, ancient technique: hoshigaki, the Japanese method of drying persimmons. Lula is hanging and massaging the fruits for weeks so they develop a unique taste before they’re served. Keep an eye out for them on the menu in coming weeks.
Nick Kindelsperger, Tribune food hero, has done it again with his amazing roundups. This time, he’s found the best tamales in Chicago, going all over the city and learning more about the dish than he ever expected. As always, this is a list worth bookmarking, printing, and enjoying one spot at a time.
Sauced Night Market is back! The Sauced “Night Market Before Xmas” is on December 10 and showcases 40 different vendors, including four restaurants. If you’re still working on your holiday shopping (who isn’t?), this is a great opportunity to find unique gifts by independent artisans for everyone on your list.