Category Archives: Aurora

Sushi+ Rotary Sushi

I have to say I love this place. Located in a little strip mall on Rt 59, just north of entrance #1 (the McDonald’s entrance) to the mall between Jamba Juice and Naf Naf is a little piece of sushi heaven.

I used to drive up to Mt Prospect to go to Kampai all the time, a distance of almost 40 miles round trip, to get sushi like this. Well, not really like this. At Kampai, theirs was made earlier in the day or the day before and put into a cooler and brought out when only when needed. That meant it could have been in there for a day or two before you ate it.

Rotary Sushi has designed the ultimate conveyor belt delivery system that brings you an endless variety of nigiri, rolls, deserts, salads, etc all in a temperature controlled environment. In addition, there is a complete menu featuring tempura, bento boxes, yakitori and other cooked items for the sushi-phobic in your party.

Is Rotary Sushi a new concept? No, it is in use all over Japan. It is also used at some of it’s competitors. It is just done much better here. A lot of people in the area rave and make claims that Sushi Station is better but after trying both many many times, I have to figure that those that make those claims have absolutely no idea what real good sushi is. The sushi is kept at the proper temperature within this system. It is made just before it is placed on the belt and does not remain on there more than an hour, not that it last that long.

Sit at the “bar” or at a table adjacent to the conveyor belt and watch as all the different items pass by you. Open the panel to access the plate(s) you want and enjoy. Plates are color coded with prices being lower than any other place of this type. Plates range from $1.50 to $6.50 depending on what is on them.

What I have found after eating sushi at almost every other sushi restaurant in the area is that the pieces of fish here are larger and there is less rice. Usually it is the other way around which causes you to fill up on rice instead of fish, a typical method to save money for the restaurant. The rolls are beautiful and the variety is amazing. You will always find something new and interesting.

Service is exceptional. The servers are always available and ready to take any special order. The moment you arrive you are greeted and when you are seated a warm hand towel is put in front of you. Order a drink from the Saki menu and start selecting what you want to eat from the belt. If you want something from the menu, simply let your server know and they will quickly have it made for you.

If you are in the Fox Valley area, this is the place to go for sushi. Lunch or dinner, you will not be disappointed. There is also a variety of special meal deals. Five blue ($3.50) plates and a glass of wine for $20. A sushi set for 2 which is made up of multiple pairs of items for $39.95. For lunch only, there is also a bento box special for $6.95

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Naf Naf

My mother was in town one weekend and we decided to go to Naf Naf. I have to say that I really enjoy this restaurant. I have eaten here (Freedom Commons,  the new Fox Valley location and the original location in the old Taco Bell on Ogden Ave.) many times. If you are looking for something new – Middle Eastern – to eat, this is the place to go to. They do it right.

My wife, who happens to be part Assyrian, says the Kifta is almost exactly like her nana (grandmother) used to make when she was a child. I am really jealous that she got to eat this type of food when she was growing up. I only learned about it by going to the better known and not as good, Pita Inn. Now that I know what real Middle Eastern food is supposed to taste like, this is the only place I will go to get it.

Anyway, the three of us went last night and ordered a large hummus plate ($4.99) which comes with two of their signature pitas. If you get nothing else here, get the pitas. They are made, born, according to the saying on one of the employee shirts,  fresh and hot every 15 minutes. They look like a pillow when they are served. You may think you know what a pita is supposed to be and taste like, but you have never had a real one until you have a Naf Naf pita.

We also split the Beef Kifta Kabab plate ($11.99) between the three of us. Usually, Karen and I will split this between ourselves and take half of it home. Tonight we only took enough for a light lunch home. The sides are basmati rice, fresh salad or home-made fries (you get to choose two). The fries are actually they are more like freshly made potato chips than fries. With the Kifta Kababs (think of five 4 oz patties of perfectly seasoned Angus ground beef) on the plate, that is a lot of food.

If you don’t want Beef Kababs, they also have Chicken Breast or Thigh Kababs, Chicken Shawarma, Schnitzel and Falafel. Each of these dishes can be ordered as a plate with the above additions or on a pita (yes that same incredible pita) – think heaven in a sandwich. They also have Baba Ghanoush, which for those unfamiliar with this cuisine is a cold dip made from grilled eggplant.

There is enough food for the price, which is a little higher than you would expect, but the quality and taste more than makes up for it.

Rito’s Mexican Restaurant

One of the best, if not the best Mexican restaurant in the area. We have been regulars here for ten years and never have had a bad meal. When you walk in you are looking at their main dining room which has seating for parties from four to eight. They also have another room with the bar and additional seating. This room is not as noisy as the main room which we prefer.

The food here is consistently good and never disappoints. The service is very good, they are extremely polite and attentive to everyone. From the chips and salsa to the guacamole that is made at your table this is a great place to eat.

They have the usual tostadas, tacos, quesadillas, flautas, burritos, and chimichangas, but here they are so fresh that no other place else compares to them.

If you are in the mood for steak, don’t miss their Carne Asada or their Fajitas, they are both excellent.

I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention their margaritas. Thursday night is their $5.00 margarita night and it is not to be missed. However, they also have daily bar specials that are sure to please someone in your group

  • Monday Mexican Beer $2.50
  • Tuesday Piña Colada $5.00
  • Wednesday Red Sangria $5.00
  • Thursday Margaritas $5.00
  • Friday Tequila Shot $5.00
  • Saturday Mixed Drinks $5.00
  • Sunday – Watch your favorite sport / choice of beer $2.50

This is a neighborhood place and you are probably going to run into a few neighbors each time you visit.

Chopsticks Noodle & Thai Cafe

Wednesday night Karen and I decided to try a new place in the area. A menu/flyer was in the Sunday paper for Chopsticks Noodle & Thai Cafe and it included a couple of coupons that made it seem worthwhile.  Both of us enjoy Thai food and while we usually go to Thai Orchid on Eola Road in Aurora, we decided we wanted to try something new.

Chopsticks is located on the North end of the strip mall on Rt 59 and 75th Street next to Sports Authority and The ChalkBoard. They have been open for about four months but I don’t think the word has gotten out yet.

Entering the place for the first time we were unimpressed. There were the usual Thai decorations in the entryway and a couple of photo menus tacked up around the window where the hostess stand used to be and a lighted chalkboard depicting the day’s specials. It was obvious that this space was a very different restaurant before Chopsticks due to the artwork on the walls. I have never seen spaghetti and meatballs in a Thai restaurant before but the main wall had 6 pictures that would be more at home in Luigi’s or Olive Garden. Okay, so the new owners haven’t bothered to redecorate yet. I can live with that.

At 5:30 on a Wednesday night I didn’t expect that they would be busy and I was right. There was only one other table of 3 people there when we arrived and they left about ten minutes later. We were seated by, what I later learned was, the owner. He was very pleasant and allowed us to choose where we wanted to sit.

Since we had looked at the menu before we arrived, we knew what we wanted to order but decided to look over the menu just in case something else jumped out at us. The owner was the only person working the front of the house and he immediately brought us water and asked if we would like anything to drink. We decided to stick with water for this dinner.

I ordered the Chicken Satay, something I always order and use a barometer for a Thai restaurant. Karen ordered the Crab Rangoon and we decided to split a plate of Shrimp Pad Thai and a bowl of Jasmine rice.

The Satay ($5.95 for 4 pieces) were properly cooked and nicely spiced. The peanut sauce that accompanied the satay was tasty but there was not enough served in the bowl so I had to make sure not to eat to much if I wanted it to last through the four pieces of Satay and also let Karen dip her Crab Rangoon into it.

The Crab Rangoon ($5.75 for 6 pieces) was good. They were a little smaller than most places, but you could definitely taste the crab and not have it overpowered by to much cream cheese like a lot of places do.  It was served with a side of homemade pineapple sauce which we found strange. They were hot and crispy and we both enjoyed them. I just wish they were a little bigger.

The Shrimp Pad Thai ($11.95) was a hit. It had 6 large shrimp and was perfectly cooked. The noodles were light and everything about the dish said that the chef knew how to cook. The noodles had just the right texture. Granted this is a staple of every Thai restaurant but I have had the same dish in other places and not been able to eat it. This one was excellent and we would happily have it again the next time.

Because there was not enough Peanut sauce left over, we ordered a side dish ($2.00) so that we could add it to the Jasmine rice ($2.00). This side was about three times as large as the bowl served with the Satay.

While we were eating at least 3 or 4 people came in to pick up To-Go orders. This seems to be the majority of their business since we were the only diners there for the almost 45 minutes that we were there. One other group of three (a father and 2 [obnoxious and loud] kids) did come in about 5 minutes before we left but that was the extent of the customers while we were there. The owner did say that they had five tables of people just before we arrived so that is good news.

While we were eating the owner stopped by to chat and make sure everything was okay. He was very pleasant and knowledgeable about his competition in the area. He said he makes it a point to go to all his competitors and try their food and make sure his is always better. Based on our experience, I would say he has succeeded.

The total for our meal came to just over $30 and we were able to use a $5.00 coupon so we paid just over $25 for a very nice and satisfying meal. We look forward to going back and trying some of their other options very soon.