Salvaje Is Bringing Bombastic Japanese Fusion to Chicago

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Signs for Salvaje, a chain of clubby and upscale Japanese restaurants that originated in Panama, have been up in Fulton Market for more than a year. But in late February, construction finally began as workers began transforming the former Ballast Point Brewpub into a louder and brasher venue that would take better advantage of the rooftop deck.

The brewpub officially closed in May 2021 vacating a space that links Fulton Market with Randolph Restaurant Row at 212 N. Green Street. Salvaje World Restaurant Chief Project Officer Martina Maione says they’re hoping for an early June opening. They will occupy three levels, including the basement. Expect percussionists and live music to give diners a thrill. “Salvaje” uses a motto, “the wild side of Japanese cuisine.” They’ll have a sophisticated sound and light display to punctuate that point. This is dinner and a show.

“The DJ is an important element for Salvaje here because our concept is not like a traditional restaurant,” Maione says. “At Salvaje, the entertainment is very important, we aim to deliver a 360-degree experience.”

What was once a mostly industrial space, indicative of a typical brewery, will be remodeled to match Salvaje’s spirit. The chain has locations in Bógata, Barcelona, Dubai (the chain’s largest), and Ibiza. The only U.S. location opened in 2021 in Miami. Expect a whimsical space decorated with animal prints, murals, and fun lamps, and a signature element: a rhino. Maino says a rhino’s strength made it the ideal choice for a logo. Visitors will see the rhino pop up throughout the space. Maione says the target customer base ranges between 30 to 50.

There’s a sushi bar, wok-fried noodles, and a robata grill. Maione mentions truffle mushroom dumplings. The presentations are over the top with some sort of interactive element. The menu is pretty consistent across locations all over the world.

“The cuisine is Japanese fusion — the food is incredible,” Maione says. “In general, you are going to find people that come back exclusively for the food. I have some friends that are not for a place with [loud] music. You know, they’re more traditional. But they love Salvaje, they love the food of Salvaje.”

Dallas and Atlanta locations are also planned, as Maione says they’ll eventually move the Miami restaurant to a larger space.

In Chicago, Salvaje will also make better use of the rooftop space with a bar outside with all the sake and other cocktails. Maione promises a festive atmosphere. Come back for updates as work continues.

Salvaje, 212 N. Green Street, planned for an early June opening.

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