A New West Town Japanese Restaurant Will Combine Omakase With an Izakaya-Style Bar

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A unique breed of omakase restaurant — one that channels sleek subtlety — will soon launch on West Town’s Chicago Avenue strip. The owners behind Omakase Shoji see themselves as as a quietly defiant alternative to the city’s increasingly over-the-top omakase scene .

Japanese-born executive chef Shoji Takahashi (Matsuya, Mirai) and his mentor, chef Takashi Iida describe their philosophy as “original taste” — their quest to deliver an unadulterated Japanese omakase experience, one that will have a transportive effect on diners.

“When we say Japanese, we’re talking about not just the things you can see, but the preparation aspect, the methodology behind the fish, making sure every step of the way is pristine and up to quality standard,” Takahashi says in Japanese, as translated to English by a rep. “Your eyes are not the main way to experience the food — the primary focus should be flavor.”

Dinner ($185) will feature 17 to 25 courses served in a minimalist 10-seat dining room. Dishes will change frequently, with fish imported twice weekly from Japanese markets including Tokyo’s famed Tsukiji Market. It will specialize in Edomae-style sushi, a sub-genre invented in Tokyo (then called Edo) that dates back more than 200 years. Diners can also select a more opulent menu ($225) that integrates ingredients like caviar and Japanese wagyu.

Upon entering the space — the former Six06 Cafe Bar which closed in 2023 — patrons will encounter an izakaya-style bar, which the team views as a symbolic middle ground between Chicago and Japan. The exposed brick walls remain, complimented by contemporary light fixtures.

A rectangular bar inside an airy space.
Bar options include more than 40 types of sake.
Garrett Baumer/Omakase Shoji

A cocktail list is not yet finalized, but the collection will include more than 40 varieties of ginjo and daiginjo sakes, as well as high-end whiskies including Hibiki 21 and Hibiki 30. Takahashi and his team will use the bar as an opportunity to flex their creative muscles with a menu of kappo cuisine — a term that refers to a style of Japanese restaurants that exist in the middle ground between upscale omakase dining and casual izakaya. Kappo restaurants, which are rare in Chicago, are known for merging the chef-led theatrics of omakase with a more playful atmosphere and a set menu of nostalgic staples and seasonal specials.

A native of Sendai, Japan, Takahashi immigrated to the U.S. in 1999 and almost immediately became a protégé of Iida, who previously cooked at the Imperial Palace in Japan and has served the royal family. Once Omakase Shoji debuts, Takahashi and Iida have more plans in the works — they aim to utilize the building’s rooftop bar this summer. Stay tuned for more details.

Omakase Shoji, 1641 W. Chicago Avenue, scheduled to open Friday, April 19, reservations via Resy.

when it debuts Friday, April 19 at 1641 W. Chicago Avenue.

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