The next time you're craving a sushi dinner but can't stand the idea of going home starving, don't forget about Kuni's. Owner Yuji Kunii's 20-year-old Japanese restaurant in south Evanston may be a bit of a hike for Northwestern students or Chicagoans, but its huge portions of tasty food and reasonable prices make it worth the trek.
For maximum monetary impact, try the combination lunch box special for $12. Large enough for two to share, the combo features mixed tempura, chicken teriyaki, half of a California roll and appetizing accoutrements like a fried shrimp roll and seaweed salad. The buttery, flaky tempura shrimp and veggies clearly take top honors, although the juicy chicken teriyaki and fresh crab in the California roll hit the spot, too. The gussied-up dinner version of the spread includes a salmon teriyaki option, and it only costs $18.
Sushi purists need not worry, though. If you live and breathe for rice-wrapped roe, Kuni's offers 30 different maki rolls. Most clock in at less than $7, and it sizes its rolls as generously as the combo platters. Try a spicy scallop roll, French roll (shrimp tempura, avocado, cucumber, mayo and tobiko) or smash sake roll (smashed salmon meat and mayo); before you know it, you'll need a cart to roll yourself home.
The pretty orchid-framed windows and blond-wood tables and chairs provide a relaxing backdrop for your feasting. On a typical day, you'll find students and locals dining at the 70-seat resto, while chefs dole out tips on the day's top rolls at the sleek wooden sushi bar in the corner.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Elisabeth Kilpatrick