HYDE PARK — Squid ink is an early favorite among the noodles, broth and buns on the Yusho Hyde Park menu.
More than 200 people came through the new Japanese restaurant at 1301 E. 53rd St. each night during its opening weekend.
“It was crazy, it was much more than I ever expected,” said Matthias Merges, who opened the first Yusho in Logan Square in 2011.
The best seller among the Hyde Park crowd was the mentaiko carbonara, a toothy bucatini pasta dyed a slick black with a drop of squid ink and topped with marinated cod eggs and a poached egg.
“The carbonara is like my favorite dish,” Merges said.
The Logan poser ramen noodles with crispy pig tail, cucumber and a 60-minute egg and the two-times fried chicken bun with mustard, pickle and “spicy business” were also top sellers.
The restaurant did not have its full menu during the first weekend. It unexpectedly became a BYOB on Friday night.
“We got our liquor license from the city of Chicago, but the state does not do same-day liquor licenses anymore,” Merges said. The state is expected to approve the license on Tuesday, he said.
Neighbors who felt railroaded by new development on 53rd Street by Merge’s landlord, the University of Chicago, initially sued to stop the liquor license. Merges was caught in the crossfire until the neighbors dropped the suit in January.
Yusho is expected to start serving a selection of sake, beer and wine on Tuesday evening. A patio will open on Friday for the last bit of warm weather and a take-out window will open in the coming weeks.
Sake tastings and special menus are expected to start in the coming months.
After the weekend opening, Merges flew to Las Vegas to check on the third Yusho, which opened on the strip earlier this year.
He said he was interested in possibly doing another Yusho in North Carolina, Utah, Washington or Oregon if the right opportunity opens up, but said he’s more interested in trying other ideas in Chicago from here on out.
“We won’t do another Yusho, I think we’re done with that,” Merges said.
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