Thursday, October 24, 2013

Sayonara to Ginza, and Japanese River North

Posted By on 10.24.13 at 01:50 PM

There used to be a lot of authentic Japanese places around River North and Streeterville—Naniwa and CoCoRo and Yanase (where Katsu Imamura of Katsu got his start) and the karaoke bar Cafe Shino and, no doubt, others I can't remember.

There will be one fewer as of Saturday, when Ginza Restaurant closes. A slightly shabby, unmistakably authentic Japanese sushi bar and restaurant, it's offered an $8.95 lunch-special trip to Japan for years, and outlasted the scuzzy hotel it's housed in, whose main distinction (besides dirt cheap rates) was the fact that you could go on the roof and, well, see Chicago from an altered state. What it won't survive, though, is the Tokyo Hotel being redeveloped into a "hipster hotel" to match things like the Acme Hotel and the Berkshire Room next door.

With it goes a little bit of River North's soul. (That's the gnarled black thing next to the 8,000-square-foot sports bar.) Some friends and I went there for one last lunch; here are some snapshots to remember it by when you're dining at the hipster barrel-aged ramen lounge that replaces it a year from now.

Squeezed out.

Not in use yet when we got there at 11:30.

Busier after 12.

Tonkotsu ramen.

Sushi chef.

Broiled mackerel.

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