Look out, Chizakaya, Takashi Yagihashi is getting into the game. The respected Japanese chef and namesake of the now-Michelin-starred Bucktown restaurant has just signed a lease on a space at 116 W. Hubbard in River North, which sounds very much like an izakaya (Japanese gastropub).
“We don’t want to mention ‘izakaya,’ because a lot of people don’t know what that means,” Yagihashi said. "But it will be more rustic than Takashi, more affordable and very casual.”
Yagihashi says nice shochu, good beer and premium sake will headline a drink menu that also features cocktails; the perfect accompaniment for hearty bowls of noodles, donburi (rice bowls) and small Japanese “tapas” such as gyoza and shrimp shumai. Yagihashi will also employ a grill, which will get a workout: yakitori skewers will be offered, but in a departure from the more mainstream items down the street at Sushisamba, Yagihashi will be grilling every part of the chicken, such as the liver, the feet and the skin.
The yet-unnamed restaurant will be open for lunch (think noodles and bento boxes) as well as dinner, and late-night service will go until at least midnight. But Yagihashi says unlike his Sunday menu at Takashi, he’s not going to have the ability to make every noodle from scratch, for fear of falling behind during service.
“There won’t be a sushi bar, only a sashimi bar, with some cooked and some raw fish,” he said of the 70-80 seat space, slated to open next summer. “This is a totally different concept [than Takashi] and I want to be a customer for a change.”
Yagihashi also oversees the "Noodles by Takashi" kiosk on Macy's 7th Floor in The Loop.