Fresh sushi, sashimi among highlights at Tensuke Market cafe

ELK GROVE VILLAGE, Ill. (WLS) -- While most Japanese food lovers will eventually gravitate to the massive Mitsuwa Market in Arlington Heights, our Hungry Hound says a lesser-known market - just a mile or so south - has plenty of delicious reasons to visit, including a casual restaurant serving some of the freshest seafood in the region.

It's only a fraction of Mitsuwa's size, but he says it's in the midst of celebrating a big anniversary.

The family behind Tensuke Market and Cafe has a lot to celebrate this year. Not just 20 years, but really, the last four. Since they bought the business from the previous owners, they've expanded their offerings while improving the food and service at their fast-casual restaurant.

You want the freshest fish in Chicago? Forget about the downtown restaurants that get deliveries only a few times a week. This tiny market gets deliveries seven days a week.

For 20 years, the mom-and-pop market and cafe known as Tensuke, has been a beacon for ex-pats. A source for noodles, soy sauce and some quick meals to bring home. But a few years ago, Jin Park and his father-in-law, a former fisherman himself, bought the business, and have been working hard to improve it.

"Everything ranging from udon to noodles to tempura to sushi, sashimi, fresh fish, so we do carry everything," said Park.

They still offer plenty of imported groceries, but now there's an emphasis on prepared foods, both hot and cold, that customers can either bring home or eat-in. The skill level in the kitchen is high.

"If you add up collectively, all of the years of experience from our sushi chefs we probably have over a hundred years of experience," he said.

Not to mention the Japanese moms who show up to make onigiri, seasoned and stuffed rice balls carefully wrapped up in dried seaweed sheets for a healthy, filling snack.

Options in the cafe seem boundless. Crispy chicken katsu curry, but also an array of sashimi and nigiri. Hearty bowls of ramen, but also delicate bento boxes filled with buckwheat soba noodles. Guests line the sushi counter, much like they do in Japan. Park says first-timers really need to experience it for themselves.

"Rather than grab our to-go boxes and our bento bar area, is really try the food court when it's prepared fresh, when it's prepared right on the spot, it's just out of this world," he said.

The main reason is, of course, freshness. When your highly-skilled kitchen receives fish deliveries every day, you can confidently put them up against any sushi counter downtown.

"When it comes to freshness of our fish we will definitely pair up with any five-star restaurant because of the fact we get our fish in every day. It flies in every day, and it's just the freshest fish you can get out there," said Park.

In Steve's Extra Course video, he takes a look at two of the remarkable soft serve options at the market: black sesame and matcha.

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In Steve's Extra Course video, he takes a look at two of the remarkable soft serve options at Tensuke Market: black sesame and matcha.

Tensuke Market
3 S. Arlington Heights Rd.
Elk Grove Village
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