Morimoto Takes Point at Japonais

By Sarah Freeman  |  August 12, 2013

Japanese cuisine institution, Japonais, will close after 10 years to reopen next year with the help of a very famous chef. Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto takes on the River North restaurant as his first project in Chicago. The chef and restauranteur owns nine restaurants around the world, but next year his focus will be on Japonais by Morimoto.

Japonais will remain open until the end of the year, according to Crain’s. When it reopens in 2014, it will feature a sushi bar, open kitchen and two private rooms to serve Morimoto’s omakase menu. In addition to structural changes, Morimoto will introduce culinary changes exclusive to the Chicago concept. The menu will utilize seasonal ingredients source locally and imported from Japan as well as signature dishes such as tuna pizza, spicy king crab and toro tartare.

The first-floor bar overlooking the river will also be redesigned to house Morimoto’s line of sake, developed with Japan-based Fukumitsuya brewery, as well as his custom beers, Morimoto Black Obi Soba and Morimoto Imperial Pilsner. The new beverage program will also feature aged sake, sochu, Japanese vodka and whiskey.

The project is in conjunction with owner Rick Wahlstedt, who also co-owns Le Colonial, and is scheduled to be completed next winter.