Hidden between a strip of businesses and boutiques, Ginza attracts an eclectic mix of professionals and serious Chicago shoppers. The restaurant's casual atmosphere and low prices are a stark contrast to its downtown location. Set up like a maze, Ginza's interior is almost as discreet as its storefront. Walk down a narrow path aligning the sushi bar to a small dining area with oversize booths, take a turn and discover a tucked away windowless room with traditional Japanese seating. The distraction-free setting will make you feel like you've left the city for a moment.
Lunch specials for $8.95 are a popular choice with regulars. You get to create a combination from two different lists and it all comes with rice, soup and pickled vegetables. The sushi bar has a decent assortment of fresh fish rolls as well as a handful of choices for vegetarians. If you're going to skip the seafood but still want to be as daring as your fearless sashimi-loving friends, try the natto. These fermented soy beans, served in a roll or over a bed of rice, have a gelatinous consistency and look almost as exotic as the more venturesome fish eggs. The wait staff will happily clear any culinary confusion by describing tastes and textures of food. They may even disagree with your choice of sea urchin if you look like the squeamish type.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Stacy Warden