For most Chicago chefs, "fresh from the sea" means an overnight Fed Ex package from a coastal fisherman. For Chef Shin Thompson of Bonsoiree, it means the fish is still flopping. At the age of 13 while visiting Japan, Thompson found himself whisked away with his uncle to a remote mountain restaurant for dinner in a traditional tatami room. "The chef came out with this huge fish," says Thompson. "It was still moving, and he butchered it, cubing the meat, but leaving it on the body." Halfway through the feast, Thompson realized the fish's body was still moving.
Inspired by the craftsmanship, Thompson knew then that he would not only become a chef but one who's adamantly committed to fresh cooking. Thompson delivers exquisitely crafted and seasonally focused fresh food at value prices, and you can even bring your own liquor to eat it. He purees his soups through strainers to a fine velvet texture and slices his accessory vegetables in a perfectly square micro-confetti. The menu is always rotating, but count on a Japanese influence in taste and plating including seared Kobe beef with garnishes served in lacquered bento boxes.
And while Bonsoiree started as an illegal catering operation out of Thomson's home a few years ago, it is now a legitimate full-blown dining operation in a Humboldt Park storefront outfitted with custom flower arrangements, swank black chairs, and hip exposed brick.
Average cost: $31+
Centerstage Reviewer: Michael Nagrant