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Quest for the best: Sushi

Lena Dassonville, In-Depth Editor

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As someone who enjoys high-end sushi, it’s rare I find a restaurant that fits the bill in the suburbs. If you’re looking for a five-star, critically-acclaimed sushi Mecca, be assured you will not find it anywhere near Buffalo Grove High School. This being said, Buffalo Grove’s lack of sushi superiority didn’t stop me from going on the quest for the best sushi: suburban addition. Here are reviews of the top three places I could find.

My first stop was Wildfish. Located in the heart of downtown Arlington Heights, the restaurant was placed conveniently across from the lower parking exit. The service was excellent, and I was seated right away. Each table was pre set with menus and glasses, and the ambience was excellent.

Aside from the restaurant’s sleek bamboo and cushioned booth aesthetic, my only qualm with the pre-meal experience was the music. An early 2000s playlist repeated throughout the entire dinner, and here I was thinking shaky renditions of Justin Bieber songs were a thing of the past. Once it was time to order, I decided on the Sushi Combo B, an assortment of nigiri and rolls.

I found my $19 was well spent, as the meal came not only with the advertised sushi, but with a soup and salad of decent proportion. Both soup and salad were simple, but tasty. The sushi itself was pretty good, the nigiri the best part of the dish.

I do not consider flavored rolls to be sushi, and probably neither does any other pretentious sushi connoisseur. While the number of rolls did outnumber the amount of nigiri I was given, I didn’t mind, as both the presentation and flavors were quality. All in all, Wildfish was a bargain and seemed to be authentic. The only part of my experience that gave me pause was the outdated, slightly disruptive music selection.

Next up was Earth and Ocean Food and Drink. Located in Randhurst Mall by the AMC theater, Earth and Ocean is a diamond in the rough. Though parking can be a little difficult, the service is quite efficient and you’ll find that you will be seated in no time.

I went to Earth and Ocean with a Groupon, so my dining experience was probably a little different than that of another prospective diner’s. The Groupon I brought with me enabled me to get a raw course, an appetizer, a main course and a dessert to share with a guest. Because of my Groupon, I had to order off a very selective menu that did not have many appealing options.

I finally settled on the Hamachi Tataki, which was basically raw fish swimming in an overwhelming soy sauce. While the fish had potential, the flavor was drowned out by the soy sauce it was floating in. I find it apt to mention that it took the server exactly 25 minutes before I was even served my first course.

I can understand meticulous preparation and a busy dinner time, but this was just excessive. After about another 20 minutes and being told that my previous options were sold out, I settled on the It’s Like That Roll, an overpriced, but thoroughly delicious, example of Americanized, non-sushi. The roll consisted of spicy tuna, shrimp and various spicy toppings. While I was in search of authentic Japanese cuisine, Earth and Ocean’s It’s Like That roll did not disappoint.

So, if you do decide to try out this little nook right beside the Randhurst theater, you just need to know two things. One, be wary of the Hamachi Tataki, as the fish may actually be still alive, given that its served in a large vat of liquid. And second, bring a book for the wait: you’ll need it.

My last stop was Naomi Sushi. It would be redundant to describe the restaurant, because it was essentially a doppelganger of Wildfish. The prices, selection and decor were almost identical to that of Wildfish’s. In fact, the quality was up to par as well. The only clear difference between the two was that Naomi Sushi actually had appropriate music. While this restaurant is nothing like what you can find in the city, for the suburbs, it’s a pretty good deal.

In the end, my quest for the best sushi near BG was slightly depressing and just proved that the only place one can find actual sushi is in the city. No surprise. However, given the top three I picked, you can still find some pretty good raw seafood in the suburbs.

 

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