There are a lot of sushi bars around the area, but most of them deliver their own fish, already portioned.
But inside an East Pilsen shop, there’s a little counter where they bring in whole fish every week, and they disassemble them themselves.
312 Fish Market is a cozy sushi counter located on the second floor of the sprawling 88 Marketplace, which houses a number of restaurants and food stores, just west of Chinatown. Walk past the grocery stores and to the right of the no-frills food court to see the chefs unloading massive quantities of hamachi and kanpachi. There are bright orange kinmeday nestled next to horse mackerel and small flying fish.
“We get it from Toyosu Market in Japan twice a week. We also get some fish from Hawaii, and we also get it from the Atlantic Ocean,” said Jo Fung, sushi chef at 312 Fish Market.
There is scaling. then slaughter using precise knife cuts; Lots of trimming. Then gently pull the pin bones out. Salmon meat is a wonderful dark orange color, marked by parallel stripes of fat.
Fong removes the silver skin of his mackerel with a chopstick. Within minutes, he had cut it up and put it on display, including the carcass it had just come from.
Meanwhile, the rice should be prepared. Right after it is cooked, it is seasoned.
“It’s mostly vinegar, salt, and sugar. We use grain vinegar instead of rice vinegar. It’s more acidic, so you have to lower the acidity levels. I also add yuzu,” Fung said.
The cook then cools the rice by stirring it and even using a small fan.
“You want it kind of like pasta, al dente; that kind of texture when you bite into it, you can still get a little bit of a bounce,” he said.
Back at the counter, some of the fish are seared, while others are gathered raw. First, some fresh wasabi root is grated; A finger’s worth is added inside, then rice is hand shaped and placed on it for some classic nigiri.
They also make maki rolls using nori sheets or imported seaweed. When eating nigiri, Fung stresses the importance of rice.
“You want to feel those beans; you want to taste those beans. You want that texture,” he said.
Therefore, he recommends passing it gently through the soy sauce – fish-side down.
“I think the best approach is with your hands. You don’t want any of the soybeans soaking into this rice,” he said.
The dining room inside the restaurant is small, but has more tables in the common area next to the grocery store. It is definitely one of the most unique places to eat sushi in town.
Here’s where you can go:
312 Fish Market
2105 S Jefferson Street, Chicago, Illinois 60616