Chef Harold brings his extensive culinary background into what was his Mom’s bakery space to deliver unique and perfectly-executed Japanese small plates. He was born and raised in Chicago, and has worked under such acclaimed Chefs as Charlie Trotter and Rodelio Aglibot. He picked up key skills working at Japonais in Chicago and New York, then to Charlie Trotter restaurant in Las Vegas. After finding himself back in his hometown of Chicago, he decided to open up a restaurant inspired by Japanese Izakayas. The name Chizakaya? Chi(cago) + Izakaya. His two passions.
This low-key Lakeview eatery, whose name is a localized take on the Japanese term for pubs that serve small plates (izakaya), is easy to spot from the street: It’s a standalone building with ornate shingles on the outside. Inside, the dining room incorporates lush wood tones and two colorful Japanese-style ceiling murals; there’s some communal seating fronting the open ktichen to enhance the convivial neighborhood vibe. The seasonal menu balances Japanese techniques and flavors with local produce from sustainable farms, exploring Japanese fare beyond standard sushi. Various yakitori, noodle and rice dishes (cold soba noodles, braised pork ramen, blue crab congee), and a variety of snacks (puffed pig ears, teriyaki string beans, homemade tofu, marinated snapper) make for sharable, cocktail-friendly grazing. An extensive beverage program of Japanese beer, American craft beer, sake, shochu and Japanese whiskey add to the exotic flavor.