Dining

Classic Tables: Katsu

This sushi pioneer still stuns after 22 years

For 22 years, Katsu Imamura has been quietly slicing some of the city's best sushi from behind a small, humble sushi bar on the Far North Side.

The menu has plenty of familiar Japanese classics, like agedashi tofu and tempura--recently made with sweet, earthy half-moons of Kabocha squash. But put yourself in Katsu's hands and let him guide you off the menu for the most exciting experience.

Call ahead, name your price (omakase menus start at around $80), and when you arrive, the parade will begin. It may start with curls of flounder dressed in citrusy ponzu, or petite stalks of crisp white-asparagus goma ae with sugary sesame sauce.

Next comes a generous platter of pristine sashimi, like buttery yellowtail from Japan's Tsukiji market, fat-striped salmon with ikura (salmon roe) and Greek toro resting on minty shiso leaves.

Katsu will head back to hot food--say, tender chunks of fried flounder resting on its crisp, twice-fried skeleton (eat that, too)--before presenting an eye-widening nigiri spread (pictured). Creamy Seattle scallop might have shiso tucked beneath and sea urchin on top. Sweet Maine shrimp come with fried shrimp heads holding deliciously savory morsels.

Dessert is simply ice cream and orange segments. But Katsu will have stuffed you (and, if you're sitting at the bar, jokingly pressured you to eat everything), so you may not even need it.

Katsu, 2649 W. Peterson Ave.; 773-784-3383

Katsu 2651 W. Peterson Ave. Chicago IL 60659 (773) 784-3383

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