Tatami

My sushi cravings were kicking in again, so before they could turn me into a half-crazed animal hunting for rice and raw fish, Groupon decided to save me in the nick of time and offered a $40 for $20 worth of food at Tatami, a Japanese restaurant in Glenview.

Let me say first off that it really is a shame that such a good restaurant has such a bad location. While it is off a main road (Waukegan), it’s quite hidden in a mini-area next to a butcher’s shop, with only a sign next to the road that lists all the stores in that area. Otherwise, I really think it could become quite popular – the interior is quite modern; simple yet clean and neat, with very quaint tableware. I especially enjoyed their teapot and cups, but I confess that I’m pretty biased in this matter – I simply love Japanese ceramics. I also noticed that their plates were exactly the same as Friends Sushi’s, but meh. If it works, it works.

With the Groupon, I managed to try the coconut shrimp, the creamy lobster maki, and the Lake Shore Drive maki. The coconut shrimp is apparently the server’s favourite appetizer, and I think she has excellent taste (or at the very least, excellent recommendation skills). The shrimp was battered and fried to perfection, being extra crispy and flavoured well with a sweet chili sauce and shredded coconut meat. Best tempura I’ve had in quite a long time! Each shrimp (4 pieces) also came on top of a tiny pile of green tea noodles, which didn’t taste like green tea like I thought it would due to the sauces’ powerful taste. Pity, I would’ve loved to try some of those noodles by themselves. But it didn’t detract anything from the shrimp, so it was a great appetizer.

As for the maki, they were absolutely wonderful. The creamy lobster actually had LOBSTER in it!!! I realise that this shouldn’t be such a novelty, but the sad fact is that many restaurants try to cut corners and wimp out on the expensive meats, especially on lobster on crab. Well, the chefs of Tatami have my compliments on delivering something that had more lobster in it than I expected, and creating a maki that was a perfect mix of rich flavour and the right textures. The cucumber bits mixed in with the lobster added a slight crunch, while the eel sauce highlighted the lobster’s natural sweetness. Mmmm.

The Lake Shore Drive maki was also very good; more subtle in taste due to the yellowtail and super white tuna as the main meats, but a pleasing combination of spiciness from the jalapeños and the distinct taste of cilantro and alfalfa. It was also quite unusual as they used soybean paper to wrap the sushi instead of seaweed (a.k.a. nori), which was reminiscent of Vietnamese cuisine. Perhaps not as good as the creamy lobster, but it’s still a good choice.

All in all, I really think this might become my favourite sushi place in the ‘burbs. The service was fantastic – our waitress was very polite, friendly, and smiling all the time, and the food came pretty fast (although that might also be because the place was practically empty –  a real pity). And I happily discovered that the tea is FREE. They had some good green tea there, and I was sure they would charge for it, but they didn’t! That honestly made my day. So please, please try this place if you love sushi and get the opportunity to do so! It’d be very sad to see this place close down. And I highly recommend it – it’s definitely worth 9/10 stars. The price is a little steep at $25 per person (without the Groupon), but I’d rather go here and pay a little more than save money at a fast food sushi place.

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