Restaurant Review With JD: Jieyi Sushi (Wicker Park - Chicago)
Jieyi Sushi - $$ 6.5/10
Japanese/Chinese/Thai - Wicker Park
Sushi restaurants come a dime a dozen in Wicker Park and if you’re walking around the neighborhood without any prior knowledge it can be a bit daunting. You cannot walk a block in any direction without stumbling upon a storefront with a raw bar and a few couples eating inside. Jieyi is not a restaurant where you are going to break the bank. It’s a middle of the road spot great for a first date or a quick bite before hitting the town. The service is impeccable and the menu is overwhelmingly expansive. The sushi is fresh, and if you’re not feeling like raw fish you can always order a classic like chicken pad thai or orange chicken.
Sushi is a meal that I consider a treat. I enjoy it immensely. It’s because I enjoy it so much that I try to make it a meal that I only eat every so often so as not to ruin it. Once or twice a month on a Friday I’ll try and get a reservation at a sushi restaurant that I haven’t been to in the Chicagoland area and absolutely ball out. I am not what you would call a sushi connoisseur, however.
I’ll dab all of my food - whether it’s nigiri or a spicy tuna roll - with a little bit of wasabi and then dip that shit in soy sauce. I’ll continuously point at the food with my chopsticks while simultaneously nodding/chewing and say stuff like “this is incredible” while doing a little yummy food dance in my chair. You know the dance I’m talking about - we’ve all done it before.
Like I said, I enjoy sushi. But when I leave a sushi restaurant, wherever it may be and after the final roll has been eaten and the last drop of spicy miso soup has been slurped; after the edamame is nothing more than empty skin pods in a bowl and the sake bottle is bone dry, I always find myself wanting more. My lust and hunger for sushi is insatiable. No matter how much I consume in a sitting, there is always room in my stomach for more. This isn’t a spot I would necessarily go out of my way to eat at, but it gets the job done in a pinch.
Here’s what I had -
Listen, I know that eating with your hands (especially if you’re on a first or second date) is frowned upon, but edamame is sort of like the Japanese version of bar nuts. It’s a cheap, salty appetizer and it’ll give you something to do with your hands that isn’t looking at your phone! I’m trying to be better about not texting while at the dinner table and edamame keeps my fingers occupied and away from the glow of my iPhone screen.
Jalapeno Spicy Fried Rice
Chicken fried rice at a sushi restaurant is not something you’ll usually see, but Jieyi is not your typical sushi spot. You can get just about anything that falls under the umbrella of what is considered “Asian” food and while I think large menus can sometimes be a bad thing, it is not in the case of Jieyi.
Be warned - this is a spicy dish (note the jalapenos, something which I have never seen paired with fried rice before) and it comes with chili paste which really ups the ante. This is a nice base for the stomach before the sashimi and sushi comes out.
For 16 bucks, you can get fresh salmon, tuna, or hamachi tataki. I had the tuna with sliced jalapeno and a green apple puree, which was equal parts refreshing and tongue numbingly spicy at the same damn time.
The main event. I had the “T.G.I.S.” roll first - spicy tuna, escolar, green apple, cucumber, jalapeno, topped with seared tuna, apple puree, sprouts, togarashi, green apple ponzu. On paper this seemed like an excellent choice, but the TGIS roll misses because of a strange Lawry’s type seasoning that it is topped off with. The crunch from the green apple inside of the roll is delightful, and without the Lawry’s this would have been my favorite of the night.
Next up I went with a spicy tuna roll. Boring, yes. But I get a spicy tuna roll at every sushi restaurant I go to because I like it. It is the baseline for sushi, and I get it so that I have something to judge the others off of. It’s consistently good wherever I go, and Jieyi was no different.
The caterpillar roll was the finale - a roll with eel, cucumber, tamago, avocado and topped off with an eel sauce. A tad on the fishy side, but I knew what I was getting into when I ordered it. I’d stay away from this one if you’re not the adventurous type.