Smart Etta suggested Kai Zan for dinner. As a restaurant manager and former oyster shucker have high sensitivity to how a restaurant smells and how the flow of the room translates into vibrations: Kai Zan was the most impressive restaurant I’ve been to all year for these attributes.
Stepping off far West Chicago Ave, the open kitchen, four person partitioned wooden booths, two person grey banqueted booths, exposed wood, concrete and sunlight. It smelled incredibly clean and inviting.
The server was polite and deferential and greeted us with warm hand towels.
The omikase started with shooters of briny, rich oyster, raw scallop and quail egg: we were instructed to break the tiny yolk to make it easy to swallow.
We had a steaming soup of mushroom and sesame with skewered tuna, the only miss.
This was followed by smelts, grilled to perfection and wholly edible. Smelts are one of the best lake fish: the rule of thumb is what grows big faster is better because it has less time to absorb pollution.
We had raw crab, octopus, tuna, fried freshwater eel from China, superfresh yellowtail sashimi, grilled mussels, and resounding salmon belly. Etta said it was the best fish she’s eaten in Chicago, and the best Japanese restaurant in the city.
I listen to her because she’s good. Kai Zan with good energy, delicious smells, amazing mouth-watering chef’s tasting, and sparkling clean washroom called the “Necessary Room” is good too.