Welcome to Burt's Food Blog

Hello I'm Burt Fleisher, a Chicago area restaurant lover who travels the USA extensively, and is always seeking out interesting and unique food wherever I may be. This Blog has become my photo-journal, chronicling most of my restaurant and dining experiences with a bit of humor added in to keep it light.

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Eat well and take care!

-Burt

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Tsukasa of Tokyo - Vernon Hills, IL

This review is really long, long overdue…

Delicious, classy and fun, a group of elements not commonly found together at most restaurants, Tsukasa has all three.  And while Benihana or Ron of Japan may have introduced and popularized this style of restaurant in the US, Tsukasa is clearly the gorilla of the Japanese Teppan steakhouses in Chicagoland, and maybe even the entire US, I think it’s that good.

I’ve been going to Tsukasa for at least 12 years now, I remember the old location in the shopping center down the street, and even back then they were one of the best in town. Several years ago Tsukasa underwent a major upgrade, they expanded into the present location. The new building is dedicated to just them, and its least three times larger than the last. And while picking up and moving a restaurant can sometimes be a bad move, Tsukasa not only maintained its previously high levels of quality, in some respects it feels that they even stepped up their game.

The d├ęcor is crisp and modern, the vibe of the place is celebratory and alive, starting from the large bar that warmly greets you at the front, to going on towards the back where the restaurant has well over 40-50 Teppan cooking tables spread out across several large rooms, which on most nights, all seem to be going at full capacity.

Tsukasa is one of those Japanese restaurants where the chef prepares the food in front of 8 guest Teppan style cooking table.  The key to success at these places is that the chef must be both entertaining and skilled in his cooking. Fortunately at Tsukasa I’ve only ever experienced top notch chefs and excellent quality food.  It doesn’t hurt that the food quantities are generous, even by Teppan restaurant standards, but it does not come at a cheap price; my average dinner tab dining here averages around $70-80 for two.

The food is really amazingly simple, or so the chef makes it look anyway, the Teppan table is basically a giant stainless steel griddle on top of which rice and veggies are stir fried by the pound, onions go turn from volcanoes into choo-choo trains, butter flies through the air (…butterfly), airborne eggs cleave themselves into perfect halves on shinny vertically held spatulas.

Prime filets of steak and sirloin, and perky tender chicken breasts are expertly seasoned, cooked and cubed by knives of incredible sharpness that are worn like samurai swords.  Fresh seafood like golden & garlic shrimp were seemingly left for long periods of time are slowly steaming under large lids griddle cooked to succulent and tender perfection.

The seasonings are basically salt, pepper and garlic salt, the sauces are hot mustard, ginger & teriyaki or “Japanese chocolate sauce” as our chef called it. Tsukasa’s teriyaki is a super thick syrup of flavor packed sweetness and delicate balance, nothing dipped in or cooked with this sauce can possibly taste bad.

This is one of those untypical reviews of mine, since I have come to unequivocally love the place and can’t seem to find any faults in it.  Its simply one of the best of its kind anywhere, and it’s one of the best restaurants in Lake County, period.

Taste = 9
Experience = 10
Value = 8
Score = 9

Tsukasa Japanese Steak, Seafood, & Sushi on Urbanspoon

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