Fabulous find in my East Lakeview neighborhood - Macku Signature, 2925 N. Halsted, sister restaurant to the original Macku on Clybourn. Heard about their grand-opening prix fixe dinner with wine pairings (including sake) for $45 and just had to try.
First, with my crisply dry and icy vodka martini, they served a complimentary amuse bouche. Not sure what was in it, but it had a light and delicious rice wine vinegar dressing, we ate it with chopsticks, and it was totally delightful.
Carrot soup? Astounding. I'd never have known it was carrot. In fact, it was so beautifully blended that I couldn't identify any specific ingredients in the liquid part, but the little bits of sweet crabmeat in the soup were the real thing. Lovely!
The seafood in the nigiri with toppings was extraordinarily fresh and delicious and came in generous pieces. The toppings were creative and flavorful. The server explained they don't serve soy sauce with these since the toppings are providing the unique flavor twist (but he'd be happy to bring us some if we wanted). We weren't even tempted to ask for it.
Next course was a generously filled plate of suzuki (thinly sliced Japanese sea bass) with an amazing combination of flavors, and Macku's special spicy tuna, shaved thin and heaped on top of slices of a delicious sushi roll made with shrimp tempura (even though the menu said sweet potato tempura). My friend found the tuna too spicy, but I adored it and ate every bite. These babies we dipped in soy sauce and ate with the white pickled ginger. Wonderful.
The entree - hardly Japanese, is this where the word "fusion" comes from? - was rare roasted venison with a curry sauce that surprised the heck out of me. I don't normally like curry much (as a result of eating a lot of cheap Indian food when ex- and I were living the poor-student life in London years ago). This sauce had something I can't describe - I could taste the curry but it was deliciously blended in with a mix of I-don't-know-what ingredients. The venison was cooked properly rare and was a bit chewy, but I think that goes with the whole game thing. I also liked the wine pairing here - a 2010 Vina Los Malles Syrah from Chile - so much that I ordered a full glass of it.
The wine pairings, though said to be 3 ounces, appeared to be 2 or less in most cases, so that felt a little stingy. I loved the ambiance - lighting was creatively soft and sophisticated reflecting off the white walls and tables. Service was very good. I really appreciated our server's instructions with each course - "Eat this with your fingers."
We decided we simply had to try one of the desserts so we ordered the white asparagus pudding with "strawberry purée, hennessey cream, chocolate syrup, seasonal berries, whip ped cream, dow’s 10- year port" for $9. OMG. Worth every penny. We found ourselves scooping our spoons in to get more of the sauces laid out in a beautiful design around the airy light pudding. I would go there JUST for this dessert. Or JUST for the spicy tuna. Or JUST for the carrot soup. I'm not kidding.
Well, guess I need to start saving up. I want to go here and try everything on the menu. Luckily, on a good night I can walk there and back or hop the Diversey bus.
There are a couple of stairs at the entrance so I don't think it's wheelchair accessible, but call to make sure. You don't want to miss this place if you can help it.
**** For the holidays, just announced: Gift card incentives are \available for both Macku Sushi and Macku Signature. For every $100 gift certificate you get a bonus $25 gift certificate. $50 gift certificates earn a $10 bonus gift certificate. Buy at Macku Sushi or Macku Signature to be used at either location.