Chicago >Food & Dining > Sushi Naniwa
607 N Wells St, Chicago, IL | Directions 6065441.892678 -87.633792
Neighborhoods: Central, Near North Side
My favorite sushi in the city – My first meal at Naniwa was shortly after I separated from my wife. I was going through "first date hell" with a dozen fix-ups and one of my dates suggested Naniwa. She didn't make it to the second date, but the restaurant did. I counted it as my best first date, until my now-wife took me out of the market. Now its our favorite place!
I have recently discovered the pan-fried scallop appetizer, which is big enough to share and a guaranteed hit with your meal partner. The nigiri are among the best in the city - I always order the fresh salmon, tuna, yellowtail and white tuna. Try the white instead of the super-white. It looks like yellowtail but they will put a little scallion on it to distinguish and you'll notice the flavor is almost sweet! Awesome.
Great food, Now that the rolls are fixed. – For the last 12 years, Naniwa in River North has had some of the city’s best sashimi and its worst rolls. We always thought this was Bobby-San’s punishment for stupid Americans who thought they liked sushi but were afraid to order it without mayo. Well sir, whatever changed your mind, after more than a decade, we appreciate it.
In their 12 years of existence, Naniwa has come a long way. It has always been common knowledge that a spicy tuna roll was the restaurant’s way of getting rid of fish that didn’t make the cut, so to speak, for an order of sashimi. Belly meat is easy to turn into a delightful order. Often it’s billed as toro and sold for multiples more than regular old maguro. It melts in your mouth and is mostly worth the price. But the closer one gets to the tail of the venerable fish, the more ugly white tendons and sinews one has to cut around to keep the customer from chewing gristle. These precise navigations around unappetizing connective tissue usually makes for pieces far too small to present as stand-alone. So what to do? Being the shrewd economists that the Japanese have always been, they rolled these scraps into the now-famous tuna maki. I have no idea who was the genius that also made it spicy but I tip my hat to him.
In any case, Naniwa used to present spicy tuna rolls with not only the scraps but also, the tendons themselves. They filled it with gobs of spicy mayonnaise hoping we wouldn’t notice. We always did. Nearly all of their rolls used to follow the same discipline. Or lack thereof. It was the greatest disparity in Chicago sushi. How could a restaurant serve A+ sashimi and complement it with rolls that would make for better pet food? Thus, not wishing to be gagged by long fibers of sinew stretching down our throats but unwilling to give up the sashimi, we would routinely order sashimi delivered from Naniwa and rolls from somewhere else. Naturally, this became tedious as it involved 2 disparate arrival times, 2 delivery fees, 2 tips, etc., but the sashimi was worth it. However, in 2009, things began to change.
We first noticed the new spicy tuna roll at a table next to us when we were doing a rare eat-in at Naniwa. It looked great. Unlike the thick orange paste that looked like tuna sausage without casing and was the roll’s typical texture, this one had thick chunks of real tuna with thin layers of spicy mayo between them. Could this be true we wondered? We had to see for ourselves. You can imagine our surprise when that first morsel slid past our tongues and did not bleed out on contact. The pieces we big, fresh and gristle-free. Could it be that, after 12 years of having the city’s worst tuna rolls, the head chef actually noticed? A sushi restaurant that gives the take-home crowd sashimi just as good as that served in the dining room is a rare find. And once found, seldom abandoned. For this reason, 63.98% of my 2009 sushi budget has gone to Naniwa. I only wish it could have happened sooner.
Good Neighborhood Sushi spot – Naniwa is a good neighborhood spot and is very reasonably priced. The maki roll selection is pretty extensive, but they could have more appetizers to choose from. It's not byob and the drinks are expensive for what you're getting. Other than that, it's a great last minute dinner spot that is never extremely busy.
Traditional Japanese restaurant scores with fresh sushi and friendly service. – The Scene
Sushi chefs call greetings from behind the bar as a crowd of River North professionals and after-work diners fill this sleek, simple storefront. The hum of conversation and power lunches doesn't distract from the main focus here: wonderfully fresh fish. Dine inside for sophisticated comfort, or watch busy Wells Street erupt from the outdoor patio.
Sushi and maki (roll) options abound and include traditional items like hamachi (yellow tail), maguro (tuna) and spicy tuna, plus several chef's specials. Cooked entrees are limited but include tempura vegetables and shrimp, and teriyaki chicken, beef or salmon. For starters, try edamame (fresh soy beans), which comes boiled and lightly salted. The Naniwa hand roll, a chef's special, is a seaweed-filled masterpiece combining fresh salmon, tuna and yellow tail, crab stick, avocado, cucumber and fish egg--open wide. Tuna avocado maki, a winning combination, is given extra kick with special spicy mayo (though you have to ask for it).
Very Good Delivery – I was in a hotel and decided to have this restaurant deliver to my room. I went online and looked at the menu and then I called. The food was prompt and very good. The edamame is always a favorite and the dragon rolls are very good. I also got the sashimi dinner and was a little disapointed in the size. The fish was great but I felt for the price (19.95) I should have gotten more than 12-14 very small pieces. Otherwise a great place!!
good neighborhood sushi place – After reading all the reviews at this website, I tried Naniwa.
I just wanted to find a decent, affordable sushi place.
If that's what you're looking for, this place is prefect, I believe.
The staff was quite friendly and the food was good at decent prices.
-right food for right price
Best ever – No words, we are mexican and love sushi, have had it all over the world and this is the best, sushi,sashimi, and yakimeshy and it is esly the best we have tried, recomend it 100% we went 3 times on our last trip
First timer, from out of town – This was my first sushi experience. It was GREAT! The waitress was very helpful. The chef did a great job suggesting things. We sat next to very helpful patrons. Overall, this was an experience worth every penny we paid. We will definately return.
Great place for Lunch – I went here for lunch with a friend. It was great sushi, but a little pricy. They were quick to serve for as busy as they were at prime lunch hour. I would probably visit again if I was on my expense account.
Easy, the best sushi ever! – Naniwa has great food (FRESH!!), great service, I love the atmosphere. Not inexpensive, but what sushi place is!?!
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