I started out my week right with a fantastic tasting at Jellyfish. If you haven’t heard of it, it is an intimate pan-Asian restaurant & lounge located in the Gold Coast neighborhood. I got to bring a friend who is well versed in Japanese food so that was helpful. The owners graciously welcomed us, and from the very beginning the service was impeccable.
Their very talented Chef Hector Marcial came out to talk to us about our preferences and dietary restrictions and then started sending out his favorites to our table. Our server took care to pair our food with the best wines to make this tasting every bit enjoyable.
The first dish that came out was the Jellyfish Ceviche and was also my favorite from the evening. As a food blogger, I certainly love it when I get to try new foods especially when they challenge my palette. I was amusingly surprised by the texture of the jellysfish, which was like nothing I had tasted before. Best described as chewy and rubbery (in a good way) with the meat having soaked up all the juices of the ceviche condiments. The seafood ceviche was a tantalizing mix of jalapenos, shallots and lychees in an Umeboshi sauce (Japanese sour plum). And the wonton chips were the perfect choice for an accompaniment. I can see myself returning just for this dish and can also see why it’s a favorite with restaurant patrons. Of course, the Cava Rose played its part in enhancing the taste of this appetizer, just the way a drink should.
Then we were presented with the Nigiri platter, which comprised of everything from the sea. We ate the Magura (tuna), Hamachi (yellowtail), Hirame (flounder), Ikura (salmon roe), Nama Sake (salmon) and Uni (sea urchin). Wow! Where do I begin describing this beautiful platter? All the fish was melt-in-your-mouth kind of fresh, but the Hamachi and the Hirame were my top choices. Soft pieces of fish prepared with great care and were some of the ‘freshest’ fish I’ve had in my sushi eating life. Even as a proud pescetarian, raw fish is an acquired taste for me, so the Uni was an interesting experience. For those of you to who the appearance of Uni is off-putting, Jellyfish may be the place to start. The Uni served here was light, sweet, somewhat briny in flavor but quite delicious. Delicate fish needs to be prepared delicately and that was how it was done at this restaurant. I was impressed!
We also got to try signature rolls, namely the Black Diamond, Pink Flower Roll and the Angry Jalapeno. The Angry Jalapeno is a must try here, the roll has spicy tuna, cucumber and Hamachi and is topped with an amazing Jalapeno sauce that will activate your sinuses in no time. For me, after all that Nigiri, this was just the zing I needed. Chef was also thoughtful enough to have us try some signature appetizers and sent out a plate of their Citrus Salmon, Spicy Crab Mini Tacos, Crispy Lobster Spring Rolls and the Honey Walnut Popcorn Shrimp. All were well-designed dishes that were prepared with perfection. Everything from the crispiness of the tempura, the flavorful jumbo lump crab mixture to the lemon zest seasoning on the salmon, was done well. And by now we had switched to cocktails and had already pinned our favorite as the Blue Chicago, which contained muddled blueberries and mint with fresh squeezed lime juice, simple syrup, Ginger Beer and Ketel One. This one you just have to try for yourself!
The dessert was just as delicious as the food without being overpoweringly sweet. If you’re dining there, you must end with the Green Tea Panacotta. It was smooth with the right amount of green tea flavor, including the amount of sugar and gelatin. Makes me want to try making it at home.
Although this wasn’t my first visit to Jellyfish, this tasting gave me a nice overview of the restaurant’s true potential and how well-aligned the food, drinks and service are at this restaurant. Your next reservation should be at Jellyfish!
Neighborhood: Gold Coast
Address: 1009 N Rush St #2, Chicago, IL 60611
Phone: (312) 660-3111
Hours: Sun-Thurs: 11:30am-11pm, Fri-Sat: 11:30am – 1:00am
Price: $9 - $190