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Izakaya Mita - Bucktown

Izakaya Mita - Bucktown
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  • Izakaya Mita - Bucktown

    Post #1 - January 24th, 2015, 3:25 pm
    Post #1 - January 24th, 2015, 3:25 pm Post #1 - January 24th, 2015, 3:25 pm
    Izakaya Mita has been open about a month.

    We went last night for the first time (Friday night). They don't take reservations, but you can put your name in and they'll call you if the wait is long, their bar is crowded, and you want to go somewhere nearby for a drink. I put our name in on the way home and said we'd be about an hour, and they were fine with that.

    I couldn't really see much of the decor, it was dark and crowded. They have a TV over the bar, it was playing a Japanese comedy movie with the sound off. There's also a traditional red lantern above the bar, which apparently in Japan indicates an Izakaya. The tables I did see were all 4-tops, and we were seated at one of those, though we were only 2.

    The menu has a little sushi on it, but the focus is on small plates you eat while drinking. We had a lot of attention from the owner because we ordered the fermented squid, which turns out to be fermented squid innards. It's quite strongly flavored, so she also brought us some rice. It wasn't my favorite thing, but it wasn't bad either. The fish skewers grilled on the Bincho-tan was my favorite thing, and next time I'll plan to get more of the grilled fish. We also had Shishito peppers grilled, which were oddly wet, as if they had been brined. David really liked the grilled Mochi, but I was quite full by that point and didn't try it. We did get the Tonkatsu Ramen, which I liked a lot.

    We tried two different Sakes and liked both of them. I'm a fan of the cloudy ones, which aren't as common, and they did have one on their menu.

    They could use a bit more description on both the food menu and the sake descriptions, I think. We're really not familiar with this kind of food, though other people may be. We did ask the waiter, but he wasn't very descriptive either.

    We'll go back though, and try more of the grilled things.

    Izakaya Mita
    1960 N Damen
    Chicago IL 60647
    773-799-8677
    http://www.izakayamita.com/
    Leek

    SAVING ONE DOG may not change the world,
    but it CHANGES THE WORLD for that one dog.
    American Brittany Rescue always needs foster homes. Please think about helping that one dog. http://www.americanbrittanyrescue.org
  • Post #2 - January 24th, 2015, 3:52 pm
    Post #2 - January 24th, 2015, 3:52 pm Post #2 - January 24th, 2015, 3:52 pm
    I saw David's pic of the squid innards last night on FB--there are very few things I'd be reluctant to eat based on looks alone, but that might be one of them. I'm sure others would be interested to see it if you posted it :mrgreen:
    "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." Miles Kington
  • Post #3 - January 24th, 2015, 4:44 pm
    Post #3 - January 24th, 2015, 4:44 pm Post #3 - January 24th, 2015, 4:44 pm
    leek wrote: We had a lot of attention from the owner because we ordered the fermented squid, which turns out to be fermented squid innards. It's quite strongly flavored, so she also brought us some rice. It wasn't my favorite thing, but it wasn't bad either.


    I had a rough time with Shiokara a few years ago at Torihei in the LA area. Scroll down in this post for a pic. My friend's Japanese wife taunted me with this, she loves the stuff.
  • Post #4 - January 24th, 2015, 6:20 pm
    Post #4 - January 24th, 2015, 6:20 pm Post #4 - January 24th, 2015, 6:20 pm
    I love Shiokara. It comes in two varieties: ribbons of squid in salted liquefied innards, and my favorite, whole innards in salted innards. A proper Shiokara tastes briny, salty, of the ocean, and far from funky. I think people have a problem with the texture more than anything. Shiokara is nowhere near as funky as Thai fish paste or Filipino shrimp paste, which peple don't seem to have such a problem with.
    "By the fig, the olive..." Surat Al-Teen, Mecca 95:1"
  • Post #5 - January 24th, 2015, 6:30 pm
    Post #5 - January 24th, 2015, 6:30 pm Post #5 - January 24th, 2015, 6:30 pm
    I enjoyed Shiokara's first two albums but checked out after that.
  • Post #6 - January 26th, 2015, 2:58 pm
    Post #6 - January 26th, 2015, 2:58 pm Post #6 - January 26th, 2015, 2:58 pm
    By popular request
    http://instagram.com/p/yVGaURDl4X/

    Image

    This was after we had had some - their presentation was without the schmears.
    Leek

    SAVING ONE DOG may not change the world,
    but it CHANGES THE WORLD for that one dog.
    American Brittany Rescue always needs foster homes. Please think about helping that one dog. http://www.americanbrittanyrescue.org
  • Post #7 - January 26th, 2015, 3:28 pm
    Post #7 - January 26th, 2015, 3:28 pm Post #7 - January 26th, 2015, 3:28 pm
    Dem squids is sexay as hell !!!
    "By the fig, the olive..." Surat Al-Teen, Mecca 95:1"
  • Post #8 - January 27th, 2015, 9:41 pm
    Post #8 - January 27th, 2015, 9:41 pm Post #8 - January 27th, 2015, 9:41 pm
    This sounds like a venue I need to visit, for multiple reasons. :lol:
    Learn what Bing prefers you not know: http://66.242.161.72/pudgym29/bookmark4.html
  • Post #9 - March 20th, 2015, 6:28 pm
    Post #9 - March 20th, 2015, 6:28 pm Post #9 - March 20th, 2015, 6:28 pm
    Hi Everyone! I'm Brian and I just wanted to say thank you for the wonderful feedback about izakaya Mita. The Shiokara is definitely one of my favorites and I'm really happy to see the healthy discussion of it here on LTH Forum.

    As we are trying to recreate the Izakaya experience here in Chicago, we have started flexing some muscles and are currently doing rotating specials with the menu. For instance, this week, we are featuring a Fresh Hotate Sashimi, or Scallop served on the half shell with Ponzu Jelly, among others. Tomorrow, we are introducing a Japanese Craft Beer Brand new to the Chicago Area called Baird Brewing. I don't want to necessarily use LTH as a marketing ploy, but I thought you guys might like to know that we're more than just Shiokara. :-)

    Best!
    Brian Mita

    Image

    Izakaya Mita will be hosting a launch party for Japan’s
    Baird Brewing Company, in their first foray into Chicago!

    Located in Numazu, Shizuoka, Japan - the gateway to Mt. Fuji - Baird Brewing was
    founded in 2000, by husband and wife team, Bryan and Sayuri Baird with the
    motto, Celebrating Beer. They craft all of their beers with the formula
    Balance + Complexity = Character in mind as a methodology to delineate their
    high, exacting standards in each of their brews.

    Izakaya Mita will be carrying Baird’s Rising Sun Pale Ale, their Suruga Bay
    Imperial IPA on tap, and their Wabi-Sabi Japanese Pale Ale, Angry Boy Brown Ale,
    and Red Rose Amber Ale in bottles!

    To celebrate this unique event, we will be serving a late night Bincho-tan Menu
    after Dinner Service with Special Guest:
    DJ John Simmons
    where he will spin an Acid Jazz / Deep Grooves set for the festivities!
  • Post #10 - March 22nd, 2015, 11:54 am
    Post #10 - March 22nd, 2015, 11:54 am Post #10 - March 22nd, 2015, 11:54 am
    brianmita wrote:Hi Everyone! I'm Brian . . .

    Thanks, Brian, for checking in. :)

    =R=
    I am not interested in how I would evaluate the Springbank in a blind tasting. Every spirit has its story, and I include it in my evaluation, just as I do with human beings. --Thad Vogler

    I'll be the tastiest pork cutlet bowl ever --Yuri Katsuki

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #11 - March 22nd, 2015, 1:52 pm
    Post #11 - March 22nd, 2015, 1:52 pm Post #11 - March 22nd, 2015, 1:52 pm
    Hi Brian, thanks for checking in. I don't live in Chicago right now but will be moving back from NY this summer with my Japanese American wife. She's originally from California, and her parents live in Torrance, so our expectations for Japanese food are a bit high. It's great to see a proper Izakaya in Chicago, not just another Sushi and Thai place (blech). So I see you serve Shiokara, any chance you serve takowasa? Also - are the Takoyaki made freshly or are they of the frozen then fried variety? If fresh, it would be a first for Chicago, and something I think a lot of people would enjoy.
    "By the fig, the olive..." Surat Al-Teen, Mecca 95:1"
  • Post #12 - March 22nd, 2015, 9:38 pm
    Post #12 - March 22nd, 2015, 9:38 pm Post #12 - March 22nd, 2015, 9:38 pm
    Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm Takowasa. So good. Please tell me this place has it. I tried to stop in last night but wasn't willing to wait 45 minutes. Great sign though. I know some places in Chicago serving Takowasa and I hope this is another one.
  • Post #13 - March 23rd, 2015, 12:59 pm
    Post #13 - March 23rd, 2015, 12:59 pm Post #13 - March 23rd, 2015, 12:59 pm
    Made to order takoyaki is not unprecedented in Chicago. Off the top of my head, I know Slurping Turtle and a place in Chinatown's Rickland Food Court have/had it. I didn't say good house make takoyaki (though it is one of the things to get at ST, as opposed to say the ramen).
  • Post #14 - March 23rd, 2015, 5:59 pm
    Post #14 - March 23rd, 2015, 5:59 pm Post #14 - March 23rd, 2015, 5:59 pm
    I will have to try the Shiokara next time, but I wanted to put in a good word for the place in general. I visited about a month ago, on a Sunday night, and found everything exactly as it should be. The takoyaki, gobo salad, and bincho items stood out. In addition to the solid quality of the food, Brian and his mother were gracious hosts. Early on a Sunday evening, the place was packed with families, and has clear charms for adults, but the food can also appeal to kids without being dumbed down.
    Perhaps more multi-generational traditional izakaya, it felt like a quintessential BNR, interesting food, friendly people, decent prices, a place to come back to.
    Not a glutton, a patron of the culinary arts.
  • Post #15 - March 24th, 2015, 2:31 pm
    Post #15 - March 24th, 2015, 2:31 pm Post #15 - March 24th, 2015, 2:31 pm
    Gosh, you guys! You really know how to make a girl blush! ;-)

    We haven't done a takowasa yet. I'll put it on the request list with Motegisan and NoboSan. You don't mean a wasabi octopus taco do you? ;-) Taco or no, either way that sounds delicious!

    But because we have a pretty huge menu and a small kitchen, our Takoyaki is premade. Sorry, guys. I'd love to do it like how we do our okonomiyaki, but I have to acquiesce to the old guys in the back. I'm kind of dreaming of a Japanese street food project in the future, but right now, I gotta make mom happy. :-)

    Thanks for all the feedback! Toodles!
  • Post #16 - March 27th, 2015, 5:48 pm
    Post #16 - March 27th, 2015, 5:48 pm Post #16 - March 27th, 2015, 5:48 pm
    Per request, we brought in takowasa! Also, in deference to more bar snacks, we're bringing on kawahagi, or a dried filefish jerky, bincho tan grilled, then served with shiranami dusted kewpie mayonnaise!
  • Post #17 - March 27th, 2015, 8:24 pm
    Post #17 - March 27th, 2015, 8:24 pm Post #17 - March 27th, 2015, 8:24 pm
    Great news! And Kawahagi is one of the great Izakaya beer/sake foods. So good! Can't wait to try.
    "By the fig, the olive..." Surat Al-Teen, Mecca 95:1"
  • Post #18 - April 1st, 2015, 2:46 pm
    Post #18 - April 1st, 2015, 2:46 pm Post #18 - April 1st, 2015, 2:46 pm
    brianmita wrote:Per request, we brought in takowasa!


    Yes! Awesome - I hope it's not this taco thing you were referring to hahaha. Great news...I only know of a few places in Chicago who do it.
  • Post #19 - April 3rd, 2015, 12:13 pm
    Post #19 - April 3rd, 2015, 12:13 pm Post #19 - April 3rd, 2015, 12:13 pm
    By the way, chances of getting mentai pasta on the menu!?
  • Post #20 - April 4th, 2015, 12:03 am
    Post #20 - April 4th, 2015, 12:03 am Post #20 - April 4th, 2015, 12:03 am
    brianmita wrote: Hi Everyone! I'm Brian and I just wanted to say thank you for the wonderful feedback about izakaya Mita. The Shiokara is definitely one of my favorites and I'm really happy to see the healthy discussion of it here on LTH Forum.

    As we are trying to recreate the Izakaya experience here in Chicago, we have started flexing some muscles and are currently doing rotating specials with the menu. For instance, this week, we are featuring a Fresh Hotate Sashimi, or Scallop served on the half shell with Ponzu Jelly, among others. Tomorrow, we are introducing a Japanese Craft Beer Brand new to the Chicago Area called Baird Brewing. I don't want to necessarily use LTH as a marketing ploy, but I thought you guys might like to know that we're more than just Shiokara. :-)
    Best!
    Brian Mita
    [image snipped to save bandwidth]

    Izakaya Mita will be hosting a launch party for Japan’s Baird Brewing Company, in their first foray into Chicago!

    Located in Numazu, Shizuoka, Japan - the gateway to Mt. Fuji - Baird Brewing was founded in 2000, by husband and wife team, Bryan and Sayuri Baird with the motto, Celebrating Beer. They craft all of their beers with the formula Balance + Complexity = Character in mind as a methodology to delineate their high, exacting standards in each of their brews.

    Izakaya Mita will be carrying Baird’s Rising Sun Pale Ale, their Suruga Bay Imperial IPA on tap, and their Wabi-Sabi Japanese Pale Ale, Angry Boy Brown Ale, and Red Rose Amber Ale in bottles!

    To celebrate this unique event, we will be serving a late night Bincho-tan Menu after Dinner Service with Special Guest:
    DJ John Simmons where he will spin an Acid Jazz / Deep Grooves set for the festivities!
    Well, it is not really Baird's first foray into Chicago. Is it still being imported by Shelton Bros.? The Bros. have an acerbic relationship with other craft beer people. They've been known to pull out of a certain market because of a perceived failing on somebody else's part. :|
    Baird beers were available at Quenchers some years back.
    Of course, I am quite familiar with the Baird beers. I have the Taproom frequent drinker card (Pay ¥10,000 for a card and get two free pints.), which I have used at both the Naka-Meguro and Bashamichi (Yokohama) Taprooms.
    Here's a photograph dating from December 2011: Image :)
    Let us know when you're going to do something else along this line. In the meantime, I shall get in there one of these evenings, probably with some stuff that might raise eyebrows amongst the staff. 8)
    Learn what Bing prefers you not know: http://66.242.161.72/pudgym29/bookmark4.html
  • Post #21 - July 17th, 2015, 10:31 pm
    Post #21 - July 17th, 2015, 10:31 pm Post #21 - July 17th, 2015, 10:31 pm
    Just had a fantastic dinner here with the girlfriend. I've been meaning to go since they opened and now I feel like a jackass for waiting this long! Here is the rundown of what we had:

    Kara-age (marinated fried chicken)
    Tsukune (chicken meat balls) [tare style]
    Chicken wings [shio style]
    Crispy chicken skin [shio]
    Asparagus wrapped in bacon [tare]
    Butabara okonomiyaki [pork belly pancake]
    Hamachi collar
    Takoyaki [octopus balls] - I couldn't eat these due to the hell that is a shellfish allergy

    Everything was so on point. The binchotan items were crisp, nicely charred, and unbelievably juicy. It was my first time having okonomiyaki after years of wanting to try it, and I am now worried about having something that delicious and crave-worthy so close to my home.

    Service was great. Our server was knowledgeable and fun and everyone else we interacted with greeted us with a smile. There are plenty of places with good service, but it is hard to get the sense of warmth that I felt right off the bat here.

    When GNR nominations come up this year, Izakaya Mita will be right at the top of my list. It is exactly what a neighborhood restaurant should be and I'm already looking forward to my next visit and planning who I will invite to introduce them to the place.
  • Post #22 - July 30th, 2015, 9:52 pm
    Post #22 - July 30th, 2015, 9:52 pm Post #22 - July 30th, 2015, 9:52 pm
    Thanks Gnarchief for the nice report! We always love to take care of our customers as we would our friends! It's a pleasure to know that it doesn't go unheeded!

    I haven't touched base with LTH in a bit, but I want to show you guys some of the wonky Japanese food stuff that we're doing. We're always rotating a weekly special, but we're also trying new stuff out.

    One of my pop's favorites is Sakamushi, 12 middle neck clams steamed in a sake, butter, garlic and dashi broth. We're running this throughout the summer when the clams are in season:

    IMG_1405.JPG


    I'm a really big fan of Nattoh, or fermented soybeans, but sometimes it's difficult to get people to eat it, as this Japanese superfood is stinky and slimy. Turns out, if you cook it, some of the smell becomes less stinky and more savory. Therefore, Nattoh Abura-Age! Nattoh with karashi mustard, soy, green onions and shiso stuffed into abura age, a deep fried tofu pocket, then breaded and deep fried again, and served with ponzu. Not quite Pizzle weird, but an interesting way to get people to eat nattoh.

    IMG_1404.JPG


    Then finally, an off menu item. We get our sashimi salmon whole and cut it down ourselves. That being said we're always left over with some salmon heads. That means Sake Kabuto Shioyaki, or a salted and broiled salmon head! For all of those fans of Hamachi Kama, the Sake Kabuto takes the kama cut of the fish and doubles down with the gelatinous goodness of the head and the very prized eyeball, which is best slurped down whole.

    IMG_1394.JPG



    Also, if you all are sake geeks like me, we're always trying to do some special events where we're bringing in a one time sake tasting with notable sake personalities. We just had a wild one with Monica Samuels of Vine Connections with some very big woman owned and iconoclastic sakes.

    Thank you all for the LTH love!
  • Post #23 - August 8th, 2015, 12:07 pm
    Post #23 - August 8th, 2015, 12:07 pm Post #23 - August 8th, 2015, 12:07 pm
    I met up with some friends for dinner last Thursday at Izakaya Mita. Maybe because it's summer or because it's a weekday but we had no problem getting a table, and it wasn't too busy the entire time we were there. This is what we had:
    CHUKA IIDAKO (chilled marinated octopus)
    TAKOYAKI
    BUTABARA OKONOMIYAKI
    TORI TSUKUNE (chicken rice slider)
    EBI MAYO (shrimp rice slider)
    HIYASHI CHUKA (chilled ramen)

    The appetizers were quite good. I stuffed my face with Takoyaki and Okonomiyaki when I was in Osaka, and their renditions were faithful. I probably could have ordered another takoyaki for myself, I liked it that much. I never had the chilled marinated octopus before, but I liked the marinade. It was flavorful and just a little funky. I was a little disappointed in the sliders. The chicken and shrimp toppings were great, but I think the bottom was just plain brown rice. I kind of wish the rice were more interesting and made sense why it had to be a slider.

    The chilled ramen was good for a warm summer night. It reminded me of Korean Mul-naengmyeon, pretty light in flavor and refreshing.

    I didn't have any of the bincho items but now i wish i had after reading this thread.
  • Post #24 - August 27th, 2015, 12:47 pm
    Post #24 - August 27th, 2015, 12:47 pm Post #24 - August 27th, 2015, 12:47 pm
    Forgot to mention that I went a couple weeks ago with my girlfriend and her mom because we wanted to show her our new favorite restaurant. Food was as delicious the first visit and I made sure to vary my order to try new things. I like making my girlfriend's mom squirm a bit about her picky eating (no bones, no skin, breast meat yaaawn) and I'm naturally adventurous when it comes to food, so there were two items I gunned for: gizzards and natto. I'd always wanted to try gizzards and they did not disappoint. Such an interesting textures and totally delicious.

    For the natto, I knew that diving headfirst into the deep end* would be a bit much, so I went for the natto abura-age. I figured that my deep affinity for abura-age would cushion things if the natto was too much for me. Fortunately, I enjoyed it. My girlfriend and her mom were pretty afraid, but they each took a bite and agreed that it was not the gastronomic boogeyman they feared, but also not something they'd want to eat again. The flavor was certainly a punch in the mouth and the cooking seemed to dampen some (but not all) of the sliminess. My girlfriend made a good point that she could see how natto would become popular in regions where stinky cheese are not eaten. They both fill that fermented umami niche. I was definitely glad I got the dish, but I don't know if I could put down two pockets by myself in the future, so it might be reserved for when we visit with friends.

    *A pool filled with natto might be the gnarliest thing I can think of.
  • Post #25 - August 27th, 2015, 6:32 pm
    Post #25 - August 27th, 2015, 6:32 pm Post #25 - August 27th, 2015, 6:32 pm
    Natto is nothing compared to that liquefied squid guts up thread!
    i used to milk cows
  • Post #26 - August 27th, 2015, 7:58 pm
    Post #26 - August 27th, 2015, 7:58 pm Post #26 - August 27th, 2015, 7:58 pm
    I must be from another planet. I've never been able to understand how anyone could find natto so challenging - it's not as smelly or ugly as any number of other delicious things (blue cheese for example) or any more slimy than okra, oysters or a still-warm Rice Crispy treat. Then again, I eat anchovies like candy so who knows. Reading LTH this week also reminded me that I fail to appreciate the big deal about Hatch Chiles. Are they the best thing about food in the Mountain West? Sure. Probably. Unfortunately. Are they that much better than any other number of peppers, roasted? Don't know.
  • Post #27 - August 28th, 2015, 10:53 am
    Post #27 - August 28th, 2015, 10:53 am Post #27 - August 28th, 2015, 10:53 am
    teatpuller wrote:Natto is nothing compared to that liquefied squid guts up thread!


    An unfortunate shellfish allergy will forever keep me from trying the guts!
  • Post #28 - August 31st, 2015, 12:04 pm
    Post #28 - August 31st, 2015, 12:04 pm Post #28 - August 31st, 2015, 12:04 pm
    JeffB wrote:I've never been able to understand how anyone could find natto so challenging - it's not as smelly or ugly as any number of other delicious things (blue cheese for example) or any more slimy than okra, oysters or a still-warm Rice Crispy treat.

    At any given time, my fridge contains 3-6 of those single-serving natto containers for a quick breakfast of champions. However:

    1. If on the way to your table the waiter takes a huge sneeze into your bowl of natto, you will never know the difference.

    2. Plenty of people hate okra, as I have recently learned. Okra is controversial! Ditto for oysters, blue cheese, etc.
  • Post #29 - August 31st, 2015, 2:07 pm
    Post #29 - August 31st, 2015, 2:07 pm Post #29 - August 31st, 2015, 2:07 pm
    Lots of people hate cilantro too.
  • Post #30 - August 31st, 2015, 2:45 pm
    Post #30 - August 31st, 2015, 2:45 pm Post #30 - August 31st, 2015, 2:45 pm
    Even the izakaya I worked @ in Japan called it snotto.
    "In pursuit of joys untasted"
    from Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata

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