The hubby and I headed out to Sushi Wabi in the West Loop for a Saturday night (date night!) out on the town. We came armed with reservations (shocking, I know) and hearty appetites. We were ready for a good time and great food. Unfortunately, Sushi Wabi did not deliver.
The small, urban-esque and techno music pumping restaurant was expectedly crowded on a weekend night. Hence making reservations. When we arrived, however, the slightly awkward and easily distracted hostess told us it would just be a minute. Fifteen minutes later, I interrupted her conversation with a subsequently arriving friend, or someone pretending to be her friend, so I could ask if we should go to the bar for a drink. “It will just be a minute,” she promised again. I’d been burned before. “If it will just be a minute, we’ll wait. If it is going to be more, we will go to the bar.” She finally suggested we go to the bar.
By the time the hostess collected us at the bar, we had already finished our drinks. And her “friend” had been seated ahead of us. Bad start.
Our waitress did not fare much better. We asked her for an appetizer suggestion, something Sushi Wabi made that was not to be missed. “It’s all personal to taste,” she shrugged. So we thanked captain obvious and ventured alone into the unknown, ordering the salmon tartare. Bad idea. Heaped unceremoniously onto a plate, we should have asked for salmon with our mayonnaise. Or maybe some spice, because this dish lacked all flavor, unless you count the globs of mayo.
We had not even made a dent in the tartare before our dinners arrived. I realize sushi is made to order, but typically that means waiting between maki, not being rushed through dinner so the table can be expeditiously turned. Our sushi was wholly average. I enjoyed the hamachi and unagi stuffed “caterpillar” maki well enough, and my husband liked the soft-shell crab “tarantula” maki. The tamago nigiri, however, was overly eggy and did not have sufficient sugar.
We left Sushi Wabi feeling sad, with our wallet unnecessarily worse for the wear. We needed something to lift our spirits. And that’s when we made our best decision all night: we jumped in a cab and headed to Bucktown’s Hot Chocolate.
A warm glow welcomed us to Hot Chocolate as we walked into the restaurant. The place was full, but we still managed to score a romantic corner booth. We were in the mood for dessert wines, something sweet to sweeten our mood, and the waitress suggested a dessert malbec. Best (and only, despite our efforts at Sushi Wabi) recommendation all night. Served chill due to its high alcohol content, the wine was sweet and concentrated, yet not overly so and certainly not syrupy, as some dessert wines can unfortunately be. And it paired perfectly with our dessert, the exceptionally contrasted and completely splurge worthy chocolate soufflé. Served warm and topped with cold ice cream, the gooey, decadent chocolate of the tart was balanced impeccably by the salty caramel ice cream and homemade pretzels. Between the malbec and the soufflé, we completely forgot about Sushi Wabi, so much so that we will likely forget to ever go back. As for Hot Chocolate, I’m already plotting our return!
Skip Sushi Wabi at 842 W. Randolph and head straight for Hot Chocolate at 1747 N. Damen.