Tour Sushi-San Lincoln Park, Lettuce Entertain You’s New Japanese Restaurant

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Last month, veteran Chicago food writer Titus Ruscitti made a stunning statement — that Lincoln Park “could be making an early case for the 2024 restaurant neighborhood of the year.” The North Side neighborhood certainly has its stalwarts in Alinea, Boka, and, yes — the Wieners Circle. But the area, that DePaul University inhabits also has its fair share of cheap eat stinkers.

Lincoln Park has also been dominated by Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises which counts five restaurants, including the original LEYE venue, R.J. Grunts, which opened in 1971. That number is about to increase with the addition of Sushi-san, joining locations in River North and inside Willis Tower. Sushi-san Lincoln Park opens today on Thursday, May 2 at 1950 N. Halsted Street.

The new Sushi-san is inside a new building where gay icon Manhandler Saloon stood. The neighborhood has changed and Lettuce has had to evolve with competition with the likes of John’s Food and Wine, Esme, and more. LEYE managing partner Amarit Dulyapaibul says Sushi-san has new tricks up with sashimi additions like bluefin tuna with a wafu vinaigrette and dill: “They’ve hit some of the biggest, boldest flavors we have come from that section of the menu,” he says.

Lincoln Park isn’t a neighborhood without quality sushi options from casual spots like Green Tea, to fancier options like Juno. But LEYE is ready for the competition. Sushi chef Kaze Chan spends most of his time in River North, where they serve omakase. Omakase won’t be a fixture in Lincoln Park, but Dulyapaibul is proud of the menu. He calls Chan “a generational sushi talent.”

“We have this incredible chef and we think that we’re able to grow the brand and create an extension and an evolution of Ramen-san,” Dulyapaibul says.

When Sushi-san opened in River North, it was more of a sushi spinoff of the ramen restaurant, but it’s found its niche. A popular and tasty item is vegetarian sushi made with Mighty Vine tomatoes. There are also chilled soba noodles made of buckwheat. Many restaurants and suppliers claim their soba is made of buckwheat when they’re actually made with a touch of buckwheat mixed with fillers. Sushi-san’s noodles should be more of a genuine article.

There’s a six-table patio along Halsted Street and room for 130 inside. The interior includes an eight-seat sushi bar along with a 17-seat bar. There’s a basement where Dulyapaibul hopes will emulate what LEYE does next door at Ramen-san when they bring in a visiting chef from another restaurant for the occasional pop-up.

A patio along Halsted is among the highlights.

Dulyapaibul says Lettuce sees the Sushi-san brand as a neighborhood restaurant. They’ll have a kid’s menu with chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese, and miso salmon.

“I think the way we always try to build them is just to be super kind of welcoming and responsive to the neighborhood that we’re in,” Dulyapaibul says.

With Ramen-san (which opened in 2023), Summer House, and Cafe Ba-Ba-Ree-ba, all clustered at Halsted and Armitage, is that enough for LEYE?

“Lincoln Park is such a special neighborhood in Chicago and means so much to us and the history of this organization,” Dulyapaibul says. ”I think we’ll continue to invest here heavily. We always are looking for more opportunity.”

Check out some food photos below.

Sushi-san Lincoln Park, 1950 N. Halsted Street, open 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

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