|Chef Sangtae Park at Omakase Yume|
OK, it’s not a week — it’s 17 days, which perfectly reflects the inflation that creeps into fine dining. Seven can easily become 17 by the time drinks and tax and 20% tip and 3% staff health insurance fee — it’s a thing — are factored in.
For instance. During winter break, I lured my boys home from law school by promising they could each pick a swank eatery and dad would pay. It worked. Both chose places offering a prix fixe meal which, in my naïveté, I thought meant in return for a set amount of money, we’d get dinner.
Ah, hahaha. Dewy innocence.
The older boy chose Omakase Yume. It’s hard not to be charmed just walking into perhaps the smallest restaurant in Chicago: eight seats around a tiny wooden sushi bar.
“It’s very Japanese,” I said, somewhat idiotically, thinking of Suntory Jigger Bars in Tokyo. It was quiet: light classical music, the octet of customers sitting in rapt expectation, watching Chef Sangtae Park create eight perfect pieces of raw fish—amberjack, yellowjack, three kinds of tuna — on oblongs of rice, then solemnly set down a piece before each guest.
The highlight was salmon, which Park smoked in a rectangular cedar box. A lovely bit of restaurant theater, the woodsmoke delightful, the sushi exquisite.
The fish was several derivations of freshness beyond standard sushi, it almost seemed a different substance. We mused over the economics of preparing dinner for eight customers and wondered how this place gets fish so much fresher than anywhere else.
“It must be a separate supply chain,” I speculated, imagining some hardy Japanese fisherman hooking slabs of bluefin tuna off a pier in Yaezu, packing them in ice and jumping on a plane to Chicago, sitting stolidly in his green rubber boots and orange slicker, his insulated treasure perched on his lap.
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