You gotta love a restaurant that has locations in Chicago, Northbrook and...Osaka. This Japanese classic is just as much of a Chicago classic. Not a lightly colored wood and rice paper establishment, Ron of Japan is dark and opulent, with swooping booths just waiting for large parties, as are the many multi-seat tables in the room's center. A hot iron plate set into each table is where the magic happens: Your chef prepares, seasons and cooks the food (sometimes with flair) in front of you, and quite honestly, it's hard not to watch.
Though some maki is offered, ordering a grilled meal is the way to go. Take your pick from chicken, shrimp, fresh fish, gourmet mushrooms, tofu, filet mignon and more, prepared in the Japanese teppan style. Whatever your choice, the meal, which generally falls in the $20 range, includes a grilled shrimp appetizer (a word to the wise: Savor every bite of the egg yolk topping), chicken noodle soup, salad and dessert (green tea ice cream and the like).
If your party isn't hearty enough to occupy and entire table, you will be seated with, shock of shocks, strangers. That's OK. After few Super Mai Tais you'll be chummy as can be. See also the Northbrook Ron.
Average cost: $31+
Centerstage Reviewer: Kate Schwartz