Forest for the Trees—Tamari Japanese Kitchen

October 2015 View more

NMAG1015_TableforTwo_Tamari Interior_800pxNMAG1015_TableforTwo_Tamari-065_800pxAlmost every city, town or village of a certain size has one—the decidedly mixed developmental blessing of a commercial corridor as buxom with retail options as it is clogged with exasperated motorists. In Naperville, the offending passage is, of course, Route 59. Our neighbors to the south and east in Bolingbrook have Boughton Road, a throughway in name only whose thicket of traffic lights renders the occasional speed limit signs something of a cruel joke, taunting drivers with numbers that most often represent little more than wishful thinking.

The tradeoff on these congested conduits, the payoff for the excruciatingly slow dance with the devil, is the abundance of fine shops and restaurants that call them home. So after suspending sanity, disbelief, and linguistic decorum on one of these thoroughfares in pursuit of a satisfying meal, it certainly is nice when the reward waiting at the end of the journey turns out to be as inviting as Tamari Japanese Kitchen.

The Sun’ll Come Out Tamari

NMAG1015_TableforTwo_Tamari-047_800pxAdding a welcome Asian accent to the ever-growing collection of diverse eateries scattered throughout the Promenade retail and entertainment complex, Tamari makes one of its best impressions right up front. Without so much as even a peek at the menu or a hint of aroma from the kitchen, one is struck by the milieu of sleek lines, warm lighting and trees—two dozen bare trunks woven throughout the room, lending an air of arboreal tranquility to the room that immediately quells any lingering memories of the brake lights and broken spirits on Boughton Road. Even when this quiet Japanese grove gets a little noisy with boisterous diners and pulsing ambient music, it’s still a welcome respite for a weary commuter.

NMAG1015_TableforTwo_Tamari-104_800pxWhile most diners probably have horror stories of places that outkicked their coverage, betraying the promise of their attractive surroundings with a subpar product on the plate. All sizzle and no steak, to borrow an irritating corporate colloquialism, is far from the case here. Fortunately, the optimism one feels upon entering Tamari carries through to the table, where dozens of fresh sushi selections face off against an impressive slate of entrees in a battle for hearts, minds and stomachs.

How We Roll 

Upending our traditional custom at sushi places of sampling just one roll while focusing mainly on the entrees, my companion and I on this night opted to put the sushi chef to the test by sticking with that half of the menu almost exclusively. We started with a filet mignon spring roll from the small plate section—a substantial and delicious cylinder of tender beef, onion, tomato, asparagus and greens wrapped in rice and thin soy paper and served with a tangy tangerine-miso sauce. From there, we moved on to a shared array of California roll, A.A.C. (avocado, asparagus, cucumber) and a King Kong—a delicious concoction packed with snow crab, avocado, spicy tuna and shrimp, lightly fried in tempura batter and served with a spicy mayo.

NMAG1015_TableforTwo_Tamari-146_800pxThough nearing capacity after this considerable spread, saving room for dessert proved prescient given the ridiculous options on offer, including our choices of a rich chocolate fondant cake and a parfait of custard, chocolate and pistachio gelato topped with praline pistachios, also known as the most decadent cake-and-ice-cream combo of all time. With a setting like this and desserts like these, we were able to pass the time on the drive home on Boughton by strategizing a way to avoid traffic in the future by simply living at Tamari—our own personal tree house.

Tamari Japanese Kitchen
639 E. Boughton Road


Photos by Greg Shapps