Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the time has come. Union Sushi + Barbeque Bar will be opening its doors for business this Tuesday, May 10, 2011, at 4:00 PM. After many months filled with eating, blogging, drinking, rolling, traveling, cooking, and a bit more eating—we’re ready to go. We hope you are, too.
DON’T FORGET! TUESDAY, MAY 10 at 4PM
We’ll see you all at the restaurant. We’ll have a chilled glass of sake and a fresh-from-the-Robata skewer waiting for you.
Now that we’re in full-steam-ahead restaurant mode, our vacation days have taken a serious (but very welcome) hit. So, what are two gluttonous globetrotters to do? Live vicariously through our friends on Twitter, Facebook, and beyond, with the help of Cheeky Chicago.
You might have heard about our Are You Cheeky Enough To Chow? contest, the chance for one lucky winner to win a slew of prizes in exchange for their craziest eating adventure. The top 10 finalists joined us last night at Cheeky Chicago’s First Look at Union Sushi + Barbeque Bar, one of our first official nights in the restaurant (complete with plenty of bites, cocktails, sake, and so on), where the grand prize winner was announced. Just to fill you in, the grand prize winner will not only be receive a 2 night/3 day vacation to San Francisco for two (including a Southwest flight and accommodations at The InterContinental San Francisco), they’ll also be Cheeky’s first San Francisco correspondent.
To all of you who have been waiting with bated breath for the opening of Union Sushi + Barbeque Bar—get ready. The robata is fired up, the kitchen’s been stocked, and we’ll be opening up for business THIS WEEK! Until then, feast your eyes on Eater’s first look:
“First Look: Union Sushi + Barbeque Bar Interior & Menu; Scheduled to Open Next Week”
Wednesday, May 4, 2011, by Ari Bendersky
River North is about to get an infusion of some street smarts. Union Sushi + Barbeque Bar is scheduled to open sometime next week, but Eater got a sneak peek and the space has a lot of wow factor. When you first enter, you experience a bit of sensory overload and aren’t quite sure where to look. But then your eyes are drawn to the vibrant graffiti art created by artist Solo. The colors (orange, yellow, red, blue, browns) and images exploding from the back wall draw you in as you look beyond the chain-mail sculpture growing out of a console in the center of the room…
As preparations continue for our grand opening, we are pleased to announce yet another sneak peek behind the curtain: Our comprehensive Kushiyaki program, an ever-evolving menu of beef filets and chicken wings and lamb chops… and whatever else Chao can skewer and grill on our glorious, four-foot Robata Grill.
n. the formal term for all things skewered and grilled: meat, poultry, offal, vegetables and fish. Examples from Union’s opening menu: Jumbo Shrimp with kabanyaki black pepper + sesame, Lamb Chop with garlic-soy, and so on.
n. Translated as “around the fireplace,” this is a traditional Japanese grilling technique that takes
place over hot coals that are painstakingly maintained at 600° F.
To better prepare ourselves for the art of Kushiyaki, we looked to man’s long history with meat on a stick. It is a relationship that harkens back to man’s humble beginnings, and a story worth a few minutes of meat-filled reflection. And so, we give you our latest video…
Over here at Union/MCC headquarters, the month of February was unofficially sushi month. We had our How We Roll contest, put together a few videos showing you how Chao rolls, and even had a little mayoral sushi.
And then we got down to the real work: choosing our final three contestants. Now that–that was a challenge. After reading through pages and pages of some of the most bizarre, hilarious, and delicious-sounding rolls we’ve encountered, we’ve narrowed it down to a final three. These three rolls were chosen based on their creativity and, well, how good we think they’ll taste.
The three contestants below will be joining us for an exclusive, sneak peek dinner at Union Sushi + Barbeque Bar (before it’s open to the public) for the final judge’s table, and the winner will win a $500 Southwest gift card and a spot on our opening menu (which is coming together quite nicely, thank you for asking).
Without further ado, we give you the finalists…
Tammy Brody’s BELLY ROLL
Fried pork belly strips, hamachi, cucumber, orange tobiko, scallions, chili paste, crispy tempura crumbs and a zig-zag of eel sauce over the top. Served with pickled radish on the side.
Libby Christopoulos’ DEVIL EGG ROLL
Hard boiled egg chopped in long strips, cucumber, mash cooked yolk, mayo, chipotle, diced sweet pickle and juice, salt, pepper and bacon.
Jason Gasbarra’s BARELY LEGAL
Seared fois gras, tempura style lobster, grilled pear, micro greens. Garnish with masago and serrano aoli.
Our journey thus far has been perfectly complemented by a steady stream of sake. Sake’s been like an old traveling companion, slipping its way into photos and grinning with all its delicious intricacies.
It all began with our sake certification back in December, an immersive program and the catalyst for the months of sake tasting that followed (detailed below). We’re pleased to announce the culmination of those months of painstaking study: our comprehensive sake program at Union Sushi + Barbeque Bar.
Despite strides in the last decade (read: people discovered sake exists outside of the sake bomb), this thousand-year-old beverage is still very misunderstood. In our opinion, too many restaurants price their sake programs in a way that makes trial and experimentation unaffordable–ending the diner’s sake experience before it could even begin. That’s where Union comes in.
THE UNION SAKE PROGRAM
We are intent on encouraging our guests to pair sake with new flavor profiles – by the glass or the bottle – and helping them understand what sake is all about.
A selection of sakes from small producers across Japan, sourced during our month-long trip around Asia and priced for trial/experimentation.
A small reserve list for the sake connoisseur (just in case John Gauntner visits).
A mixology program featuring
sake cocktails such as Night Scene (Cocchi Americano, Sake, North Shore Vodka, Combier Orange Liqueur, Orange Bitters) and The 16th Century (Shochu, Lemon, Ginger Liqueur, Sparkling Wine).
A Brief History of
Our Sake Consumption
Our sake sojourn began long before this blog, but here in MCC-world, it started with this post: Mike and Chao Become Sake Snobs. We spent a few strenuous days learning everything we could about sake from the Sake Evangelist himself, John Gauntner, and left as certified sake sommeliers.
You might have heard about our month-long How We Roll contest–you know, the chance to win a spot on our opening menu? Well, we’d be lying if we didn’t say we’re damn impressed by the submissions so far. Chao is downright inspired, which has led to some delicious kitchen adventures in the last few weeks.
In the spirit of sharing how we roll, we put together a few rolls on film for you to check out. If you haven’t entered our contest yet, hopefully this will get your creative, sushi-rolling juices flowing. If you’ve already submitted your roll, our hats are off to you. You nailed it.
If you’ve been reading our blog, then you probably have a pretty good idea of how we roll… Now we want to get to know you! That’s right, for the month of February, we’re offering an exclusive opportunity to win a spot on Union Sushi + Barbeque Bar’s opening menu. But, we didn’t think that was enough, so we threw in an event and a little travel opportunity as well (see the list on the right).The best part is: it’s ridiculously simple to enter. Tell us about your roll, give it a creative name and a way for us to contact you, and you’re entered. ALL ENTRIES DUE BY FEBRUARY 28. ONLY ONE ROLL SUBMISSION PER PERSON.
YOU COULD WIN:
Prime billing on our menu, based on recipe, taste, and name creativity. Chao’s already struggling with the concept, so you better bring it.
Exclusive, sneak peek dinner at Union Sushi + Barbeque Bar (before it’s open to the public) for the final judge’s table with top three rolls.
Grand prize winner will receive a $500 gift certificate for Southwest Airlines for their own Mike and Chao Chow-style voyage, later featured on our blog!
How about a quick look at the competition?
Just the names of some of the rolls that have been submitted so far… that should give you a taste of some of the creative entries we’ve got rolling (ha!) in.
Rockin’ Purple Haze Roll
La Flama Blanca
The Yellow Pearrot
Thor’s Thunder Roll
Eye of the Tiger
Rollin’ with the Hogs!
Some Like It Raw
Hope and Sesame
The Belly Roll
Naughty and Nice
The Spicy Geggie Roll
Roll like D-Rose
…and that’s just the beginning.
In order to qualify for the Grand Prize in our How We Roll Contest, the top three applicants must be available to attend the sneak peek dinner at Union Sushi + Barbeque Bar and participate in the final judges’ table. Submissions will be judged on ingredients, originality, and name creativity. We will be taking submissions from February 1, 2011 until February 28, 2011. Please note: We will only be accepting ONE roll per applicant.
By entering into the “How We Roll” Contest (the “Contest”), any and all ideas a participant provides in any way as part of the Contest, including but not limited to inventions, discoveries, developments, names, artwork, recipes, techniques, sources of information, ideas or innovations are hereby and irrevocably the property of Union Sushi + Barbeque Bar and may be used in its operations for an infinite duration in any way Union Sushi + Barbeque Bar deems appropriate.
We’ve been all over Chicago, all over the Country, and now, all over the WORLD pursuing the activity we love most. EATING. What more do you want from us!?! It’s time to bring it all back home. We’re pleased to announce the next step in the world of Mike and Chao: a restaurant. That’s right. A RESTAURANT. You can read about it on Eater.com, Chicago Magazine’s Dish, Grubstreet, and The Feast to learn a little more. If you are the kind of person who needs a visual to accompany all of those tiny words against the white background… well, then we’ve got you covered. Check this out:
Announcing Union Sushi + Barbeque Bar, a neighborhood restaurant that unites Japanese culinary tradition and creativity with a distinctly American persona. Embracing American warmth and character with classic cultural touch points such as graffiti and rock-and-roll while juxtaposing them with the high art and ritual of Japanese cuisine, reveals a restaurant that is warm, stylish and a unique culinary adventure. Think: a place where Japanese-style grilled meat, vegetables and fish (kushiyaki) meet sushi, snacks and sake. A true riff on what is expected or traditional – East or West.
Want to know more? This is where we’ll be until May 2011 when we open at 230 West Erie Street – Franklin and Erie for those of you who haven’t figured out the grid system yet. Keep visiting our blog!
Just a Hint:
Our Twitter followers will get exclusive previews and our most dedicated followers will receive invites to opening events. Long story short, we’d go ahead and follow @mikeandchaochow on Twitter. It’ll be worth it.