B.K. Park has been synonymous with sushi excellence in Chicago since 1999, and now he has what he calls his dream restaurant – Mako, which opened last spring under the EL tracks along Lake Street.
Mako has only 22 seats, in a beautiful space that includes a 12-seat sushi bar and five individual tables. Mako serves exclusively an omakase menu, and if you're not exactly sure what that mean, chef Park is happy to explain.
“Omakase means 'chef's choice,'" Park said. "Our goal is tomorrow is better than today.”
It's fun to watch Park in action, expertly slicing raw fish and even hand grating fresh wasabi, which he uses sparingly. But it's more fun to see, and especially taste, the finished plates.
On the menu, there's a trio of tastes on one plate: king crab topped with wagyu butter and a tiny potato chip; a spoon of salmon roe and Japanese yam; and akami tuna with caviar and gold leaf, all sitting above a shallow dish of smoked bonito.
The trio is followed by a beautiful sashimi composition served in a tipped ceramic bowl with river rocks, including kinmedai, shimaaji, mana-katsuo and chutoro tuna.
My favorite dish might be the perfectly-grilled squab, with bright red meat and crispy skin, topped with a smoked-soy glaze and served with soy broth. This would be a top dish anywhere.
For dessert, there's an apple granita palate cleanser followed by a warm disc of sweet potato enveloped in whiskey caramel, topped with salt flecks and served with a tiny cloud of crème diplomat dotted with puffed genmai and toasted brown rice.
I give Mako, 731 West Lake Street, four stars. B.K. Park has been delighting Chicago palates for 20 years, and at Mako, he's at the absolute top of his game.