Avant-garde sushi house Mirai, one of the first to toss its chopsticks into Chicago's pool of hip sushi eateries, has shown little signs of flagging since its 2000 opening. The former church-turned sushi haven houses a sleek dining room downstairs and urban lounge upstairs where it serves worship-worthy Japanese cuisine.
The Tuna-Tuna Salmon maki, salmon and tuna tartare topped with sliced tuna and wasabi mayonnaise, is a must-have. Appetizers like the grilled shrimp and squid in a sake garlic sauce, steamed pork buns filled with shiitake and vermicelli, and snow-crab cakes with Japanese tartare and spicy mayo sauces, join the list of crowd favorites. Those straying from the nigiri and maki path should try steamed whitefish with shiitake mushrooms in a ginger-sake-scallion sauce or anything done teriyaki-style.
The loft-like upstairs lounge is low-lit with low seating, the perfect stop for pre- and post-dinner libations. The bar, which serves 30 varieties of mouthwatering sake, is accompanied by a DJ spinning mostly drum 'n' bass at a conversational volume. The main level is usually packed, but the true place of worship is the L-shape sushi bar, which is the main attraction of the room. The dining room seats only 46, so reservations are highly recommended.
Centerstage Reviewer: Janis Mabalay