Lincoln Park's Juno rooted in sushi tradition

July 19, 2013 (CHICAGO)

There is no tempura at Juno; not even a deep fryer for that matter. And there are no crunchy, inside-out godzilla rolls or anything with cream cheese. The head chef used to work at Arami in Ukrainian Village, but now he's brought his skills to a quiet stretch of Lincoln Avenue, and the neighbors have got to be pleased.

If you look closely, you'll notice BK Park's knife skills, as he deftly slices buttery yellowtail or red snapper into bite-sized sashimi or the more common nigiri, set over a bed of perfectly-seasoned sushi rice with a dab of wasabi. The attention to detail is evident at Juno, the city's latest temple of sushi worship.

"Base it on tradition- which sushi is based in the tradition of Japanese cuisine- and then add a little of the contemporary, modern day twist to it, and then think about the future and where we can take it," said Jason Chan, the owner of Juno.

That might mean a bit of volcanic salt sprinkled over a piece of nigiri, or a smoking dome, revealing delicate spoons of yellowtail, dried corn and earthy shiitake mushrooms.

"We're getting fish flown in from New Zealand, Hawaii, and then luckily BK has some really close friends and childhood friends that are in the seafood industry from his hometown in Korea," Chan said.

Even a maki roll avoids cliche, by using grilled- as opposed to the more common fried - soft shell crab, along with fresh avocado; this roll in particular is topped with a bit more unagi, or barbecued eel, plus freshly-ground sesame seeds. Some dishes are do-it-yourselfers: like one where you wave the sheet of dried seaweed over hot charcoals to soften it, then add your slightly spicy octopus and tuna combo to make your very own handroll.

"What we're really trying to do is, aggressively and gently steer people in a new direction," he said.

2638 N. Lincoln Ave.

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