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Best Refuge in River North, Casual 

Chilled tofu, as creamy as a custard, embedded with salmon roe and tiny mushrooms

Chilled tofu, as creamy as a custard, embedded with salmon roe and tiny mushrooms

Andrea Bauer

Sumi Robata Bar

Sumi Robata Bar 702 N. Wells St. 312-988-7864

There's nothing more primeval than impaling meat on a stick and cooking it over fire, and with the proliferation of gimmicky Japanese-style robata joints in River North, along with the increasing idiocracy of the general area, it's easy to imagine the neighborhood as a portal to prehistoric times. That's until you step into the clean, blond corridor of Sumi, where chef Gene Kato stands serenely before two binchotan-fueled grills, calmly basting and turning sizzling morsels of chicken butt, beef heart, and pork jowl. One bite of beef tongue followed by a custardy mouthful of cold silky tofu and you'll see that his cooking is as civilized as it gets.

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