If you live in the city and love Japanese and Korean food, you may consider visiting the northwest suburbs. Many Japanese and Korean companies have made Schaumburg and Hoffman Estates their North American Headquarters. As a result, neighboring suburbs have a large Japanese and Korean population.
Many consider Arlington Heights Little Japan. In addition, another result is the truly authentic restaurants and marketplaces. Two Japanese highlights in the area are the Mitsuwa Marketplace, a Japanese-owned shopping center, and the Chicago Futabakai Japanese School.
Both are only a short ride from both OHare airport and the Rosemont Commercial district if you are visiting and would like to have some authentic Japanese and Korean fare. Try to make the pilgrimage if you can.
Best Asian Restaurants In Chicago’s NW Suburbs:
Chodang Tofu Village
1719 W Algonquin Rd, Mt Prospect, IL 60056
This is a Korean restaurant that focuses on dishes made with tofu. Their specialty is the soondubu (spicy tofu soup).They strive to offer food that is healthy and do not include MSG in their dishes. Korean BBQ and other non-tofu dishes are also on the menu to accommodate those who do not eat tofu. With the weather turning colder, this is the place to warm up.
Chungkiwa Korean Restaurant
1658 W Algonquin Rd, Mt Prospect, IL 60056
This restaurant specializes in Korean BBQ. You can grill your own meat or have the kitchen prepare it for you. This restaurant also does not use MSG in their food. Many say this is the most authentic Korean food you can find in the area.
Daruma Japanese Restaurant
1823 W Golf Rd, Schaumburg, IL 60194
This Japanese restaurant is frequented by mostly Japanese customers which says a lot. Very tranquil place where you have to remove your shoes and eat on the floor. The food here is very authentic Japanese. Dishes like the Naporitan spaghetti and the mentaiko spaghetti are hard to find in the Chicago area, but are found here. Sesame ice cream is also hard to find in area, but is on the menu here. Mostly known for is its sushi which is supposed to be the most authentic sushi. It is like that found in Japan, as far as nuances in the preparation and flavor. The ramen and the udon is pretty much close to perfection here also.
Kurumaya Japanese Kitchen
1201 E Higgins Rd, Elk Grove Vlg, IL 60007
This is another authentically Japanese sushi restaurant. Izakaya style dining where customers usually order appetizers/small plates while drinking sake and have a good conversation a Japanese Bar style. Appetizer section is huge just for this type of dining. Interesting coloring book menu.
Nikko Soju Sarang
282 E Algonquin Rd, Arlington Hts, IL 60005
This is one of the best combination Japanese and Korean restaurants in the northwest suburbs. Extensive menu plus, every meal comes with miso soup, salad, and appetizer samples. They also have a special gift to present to their-regulars that come to the restaurant. Each of the regulars-will receive their own personalized chopsticks in the past 8 years they have accumulated over 2,000.
1584 Busse Rd, Mt Prospect, IL 60056
Chicago region’s first dedicated ramen-ya. When you step through the doors, the chefs behind the bar will raise their heads from their tasks and welcome you with a loud “Irasshaimase!” Ramen is the entire focus of this restaurant. The noodles are fresh and served in three types of base broths with various added toppings and ingredients. Great food to warm you up this winter.
100 E. Algonquin Rd, Arlington Heights, IL 60005
Santouka is a ramen franchise based out of Japan, with most of its restaurants in California. This is the only one in Illinois, located in the Mitsuwa Marketplace. There are four choices in ramen: salt, soy sauce, miso, and spicy miso in three different sizes (i.e., small, medium, large.). Very popular and satisfying.
1089 E Golf Rd, Arlington Heights, IL 60005
Sozai stands for small dishes. The menu includes many small dishes of wonderful things to mix and match together. The bento boxes are an especially nice deal if you like to try a variety of things. Their chaschu ramen is very good.
261 S Roselle Rd, Schaumburg, IL 60193
Food is consistently high-quality at Sushiya. Tucked away in a strip mall, amidst a lot of neon lights, this is a very small place, but it does not feel cramped. The dining experience starts with freshly steamed edamame and miso soup. Great for couples and families w/kids who can dine in but also convenient for take-out. The Fire Crunch, Schaumburg Roll and Avocado Torch rolls are really good.
Tensuke Marketplace And Sushi
3 S Arlington Heights Rd, Elk Grove Village, IL 60007
Awesome sushi restaurant with a marketplace in the back. They run a special (half price), at the end of the day, to make sure they sell out all the items from the day to make fresh ones for the next day. They have a lot of seafood here that you can’t find in other stores (like octopus). If you want to make your own sushi, this would be the place to come and buy your fish and ingredients. Sushi Heaven.
*VERY UNIQUE DINING EXPERIENCE
1641 W Algonquin Rd, Rolling Meadows, IL 60008
This sushi restaurant is a one-of-a-kind, unique dining experience. This restaurant is in the Kaiten (revolving) Sushi format. This style is extremely popular in Japan and there are not a lot of them in the United States, yet. Kaiten Sushi is where sushi is served to you by a conveyor belt. There is a lot of science and thought put behind how this concept works in dining. Customers appetites are stimulated when they see the sushi roll by and subconsciously engage in a friendly dining competition with other diners. You have to see it to believe it. Better yet, go and experience it.
Truly a unique dining experience.