Category Archives: Naperville

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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Linebackers Grill

EDIT: 12/1/2015

Looks like I was correct in my opinion that this place would not last a year. I recently drove by and remembered that I hadn’t updated this post to reflect that they closed within six months of opening.

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I really wanted to like this place but I just cannot lie to you. It was not worth the time and money.

They Sho-Me’s location on Ogden Avenue in Napperville and it appears that they made no changes to the interior. Okay, maybe they spent the money on a decent chef and upgraded the food. Nope, that wasn’t it.

We were seated and looking over the menu as the waitress asked for our drink order. I asked for a Coke and Karen ordered a Boddingtons. I have to admit that their beer list was impressive. To bad the rest of the menu wasn’t.

Got my Coke and it was completely flat, no bubbles anywhere. I asked the Manager as she stopped by our table a few minutes later. She brought me another one and said that it had carbonation. Not even close. Flat as the first one. Okay, forget that, drink water. I also mentioned that it would be nice to have closed captioning turned on on those TVs that had talking heads and nothing else on them. She said that people didn’t like that so they didn’t turn it on. I guess I am not people.

Anyway, we ordered dinner after asking the waitress what the favorites were. She said the Linebacker Burger was the best and that the Salmon was good too. Okay, we ordered one of each. Oh yeah, we also ordered a bowl of their Beer Cheese Soup. To say it was salty was an understatement. I am not sure what cheese they used, but it mus have been packed in salt because the soup was inedible. They did take it off the bill when we told them that.

At this point I was not having much hope for dinner based on the soda and soup and I was right. The burger, while it was a nice 1/2 pound burger tasted burnt and really had no flavor at all. The french fries were soggy and limp, like they were barely fried and then thrown in the oven. Karen’s salmon was just as bad and most of it went home for the dogs who have less discriminating taste than we do.

With so many restaurants to chose from in the Naperville area, the Linebacker Grill is immediately forgettable. Do not bother going there. I bet they will be gone in less than a year.

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.

Heaven on Seven

Located on Main Street in downtown Naperville, Heaven On Seven, is a little slice of New Orleans complete with everything cajun and spicy. From the decor to the food you are transported to ‘nawlins when you walk in the door.

The things that we like the most are their gumbo which is talked about everywhere including on the back of the servers shirts. You have to get a cup or bowl or you are just doing yourself a disservice.  They also have an appetizer called Bayou Jalapeno Corn Blasters with Honey Jalapeno Dressing that are worth getting and sharing. They are addictive just like the gumbo

Try their po boy sandwiches, catfish is our favorite but they also have shrimp or friend chicken or crawfish and more.  Their Red Beans and Rice is a ‘nawlins staple and they do it right here.

Did I mention their crab cakes? If not, I am sorry, but you have to get these at least once. Served with the same Honey Jalapeno Dressing as the Bayou Jalapeno Corn Blasters they are to die for. No one makes a better crab cake in the area.

And if you like hot sauces, make sure to check out the wall of them. At last count, I think there were 1,800 or more unique bottles. They even put 8 to 10 bottles on your table for you to use. If you want something hot, order their Hot as a Mutha Habanero Chile Stuffed with Jalapeno Chihuahua Cheese, Peach

If you want something hot, order their Hot as a Mutha Habanero Chile Stuffed with Jalapeno Chihuahua Cheese, Peach Puree and Peach Salsa.

If however, you like your food really hot and I do mean REALLY HOT, ask them about the next Hot as a Mutha! dinner. Seven courses that get progressively hotter for $50. Featuring seven tonsil-searing courses plus one cocktail, this dinner is not for wimps, sissies or cry-babies!

To give you an idea of what you might be in for, the menu for the last Hot as a Mutha! was:

  • Thai Peanut Chicken Wings with Caramelized Pineapple Sauce
  • Pozole Rojo with Crunchy Garnishes
  • Chicken Tinga Tostada with Refried Black Beans
  • Nashville Hot Fried Chicken Sliders with Housemade Pickles
    Hot as a Mutha Sausage Wild Boar, Peach Scorpion and Grilled Peaches
    Sichuan Braised Pork Cheeks over Cilantro Rice
  • Chocolate Banana Icebox Cake if you dare!

If you are in the area, you owe it to yourself to stop in for brunch, lunch or dinner and make sure you don’t forget to pick up your beads on the way out.

Ted’s Montana Grill

EDIT: 6/1/2015

I have to say I am not sure what caused such a major change to this place, but we tried it three times to make sure it wasn’t just a bad night.

We ordered the same meals we usually did in the past but for some reason, nothing tasted the same anymore. I am not sure what it was overall, but something was off.

Also, they no longer serve Thousand Island dressing? I mean, who doesn’t serve the number one salad dressing in the country. That means I will no longer be able to order a salad or a wedge as that is the only dressing other than Cesar, that I like on my salad.  I also like Thousand Island dressing on my burger so without that my options were completely changed.

We haven’t been back since.

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Karen and I decided to eat at Ted’s last night and got there early enough to sit at the bar. I recommend that if you are alone or a couple that you do this at a lot of the places we eat at. Service is faster, conversation is just as easy if not more so than having to talk across a table and you get a show at the same time.

Our bartender, Mike, was as usual very friendly and attentive even with a dozen other people to wait on. He remembered what Karen and I like to drink and just asked if we wanted the usual. Stella and a shot of Tequila for Karen and a coke for me (again, I was doing the driving so no alcohol).

I ordered the Bacon Cheeseburger and fries along with a wedge of lettuce with 1000 Island instead of their blue cheese. I really like the combination of 1000 Island dressing and bacon. The burger, as always, was perfectly cooked to medium, the bacon just under crispy and the cheddar cheese was melted perfectly. The buns are fresh and the fries are crispy.

After eating here so often we have gotten to know the guy on the grill and he knows how I like my food done. Mike made sure to let him know it was for me as they cook their mushrooms on the same grill as the meat and being that I am allergic to mushrooms, they make sure to clean (and I mean scrubbed and washed) off a separate area just to cook my one burger. That is impressive in itself but when they have two or three dozen other orders going at the same time, to remember not use the same utensils or anything that might have come into contact with the mushrooms from the other orders is amazing. These guys know their job and they are good at it.

Anyway, I love bison, or buffalo if you prefer, and this the is one place that I can get it in the area for a reasonable price. I have also had the bison pot roast which is delicious.

Karen had the mini beef sliders and a sweet potato, her usual when we come here.

Special hint: Every Sunday, Ted’s does a Turkey dinner with gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans and did I mention, stuffing.  I love stuffing and always ask for extra. This is the place to go if you have a craving for Thanksgiving and cannot wait until late November.

Other nights are different specials too. Friday night is New England Clam Chowder. I forget which night is there Bison Chili, but if you go on the right night, try it, you won’t be disappointed.

Sakura

This is the place to go in Naperville if you love sushi and expect to eat more than 2 or 3 rolls. For less than $20 ($15 at lunch) you can eat as much as you want (AYCE) from a menu of over 30 items. Yes, you can go to the other places in town and spend $100 if that is more to your liking, or you are trying to impress someone but for my money, I would rather spend a little and get a lot. I have not seen any other establishment in the area that has anything that Sakura doesn’t and if you find that they don’t have something on the menu, ask and I am sure they will try to accommodate you if they can.

From soup to salad to edamame and tempura vegetables to over 20 different types of Nigiri and at least as many rolls. Simply write down the number of pieces you want and hand the list to the wait-staff.  Within a few minutes you will be presented with a beautifully prepared tray or boat, depending on how much you ordered, loaded with all the items you selected.

Now, if you are not into raw fish, they also have a full menu of cooked items. I have to admit I have not even looked at this menu however my wife really enjoys their Teriyaki Salmon. The menu items are not included in the AYCE price.

Saki and beer are also available from the bar.

Also, make sure to get their frequent diner punch card.

They are located behind the shopping plaza at Iroquois and Ogden Ave.  Their website is http://www.sakurasushibuffet.com/main.html

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.