I said it before and I’ll say it again. Soup is my favorite food group. And, for me, ramen reigns supreme among all soupy goodness. Today I took a long overdue visit to Yusho, a Japanese grill and noodle shop, in Chicago’s beautiful and historic Hyde Park neighborhood to check out one of its much-acclaimed bowls of wonderful.
While the original Yusho location in Logan Square opened in 2012, I decided to to soak up the sights around the University of Chicago in Hyde Park, before indulging
in a slurp worthy lunch. So, I hopped the CTA Red line to the Garfield ‘L’ stop and boarded the #55 Garfield bus which dropped me just 2 blocks south of Yusho. Connections for the #55 Garfield bus also can be made along the CTA Green and Orange Lines. A Metra stop is also close by.
Here’s how my ramen went down:
The Yusho location at the corner of 53rd Street and Kimbark has approximately 40 seats. I chose one by the window, so I could take in a view of the kitchen. After perusing the menu, I chose the vegetable ramen made with tofu, shitake mushrooms, pickled veg, bean sprouts and a poached egg. I love meat and seafood ramen. However, I feel that if a place can throw down a great veggie ramen that has as much depth of flavor as a meat or seafood version, then they rank very high on the ramen chain. Yusho succeeded!
My ramen hit the table piping hot and super colorful. I could tell that the noodles were legit as they appeared to be just the right thickness and, indeed, they had great texture without falling apart. The tofu was executed perfectly. Not too firm. Not at all mushy. Moreover, the tofu was massaged in a delightful sweet and sour marinade before it was added to the mix. Awesome!
The mushrooms were a perfect texture. The poached egg quivered and did not need much help oozing into the broth. Oh! The broth had a wonderful, edgy vinegar zing from the pickled veggies. Such a flavor!
I was so excited that I decided to try an order of Yusho’s tempura eggplant. Eggplant is a tricky vegetable. Regardless of the cuisine, eggplant is often massacred in its preparation. Many times it’s too stringy and tough to chew or it’s too mushy. Yusho got it sooo right!
This eggplant was super tender. It had the right amount of bite and, yet, it melted on my tongue. The tempura batter was a foodgasmic combination of crunchy, sweet and sour with some peanuts and caramelized lemongrass. I am told it is the same marinade used on the tofu in my ramen. Genius! I’ll be back for this dish again.
Another notable thing about Yusho is that there is no hot sauce on the tables. I love my hot sauce but I am guessing Chef Mattias Merges (Charle Trotter’s) who is the Owner and Executive Chef here has the utmost confidence that his food already has all the requisite flavors as to render any additional hot sauce unnecessary. I would agree. If you feel the need for hot sauce, you should check with the staff to see if they can accommodate you.
I want to thank Chef Merges and his staff for providing me with one of the most satisfying meals in Chicago without an ounce of meat. Well done!
Yusho is located at 1301E. 53rd Street. It is open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner. Click here for more information. The Logan Square location (open for dinner only Monday-Saturday and 12-8 on Sundays) is at 2853 N. Kedzie Avenue. .
In keeping with the spirit of Feeding Off The Rails, I encourage you to leave your car at home and take the CTA Red , Green, Orange Lines and the #55 Garfield bus or Metra to Yusho. Save on gas. Avoid traffic, road rage and parking. Reduce pollution. Don’t drink and drive!
Looking for another tasty spot in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood? Check out Ja’ Grill for some yummy Jamaican cuisine.