Bistro Sake Owner Paul Gong welcomed Forest Park village employees hungry for a sushi lunch July 17 at Forest Park’s newest eatery on the corner at 7600 Madison St.
Gong said the completely remodeled space and the new menu of specialty sushi will make the restaurant a “destination” for sushi.
“We invited [village employees] to welcome them, since we are new to the neighborhood,” Gong said.
Gong, who said he’s been managing restaurants for 15 years, said he chose to focus on Japanese sushi, sashimi and tempura rather than the cuisine of his Chinese heritage because of the health benefits of good nutrition.
“Sushi is healthy right now and it’s a higher quality of food,” he said.
The fish delicacies are prepared by sushi chefs David Wei and Tom Jia, who add flourishes to plates such as garnish fans of apple slices and fresh flowers.
Chef specialties include the Unforgettable Salmon which is lightly parched instead of raw and splashed with a Japanese Wasabi dressing, said server Chunni “Jenny” Hsu. Hsu said she formerly lived in Forest Park when she first arrived in the U.S. from Taiwan.
“The Teiban roll has crispy rice instead of moist, with spicy tuna and black fish eggs,” Hsu said. For those who prefer their fish cooked instead of raw, the restaurant offers the Dynamite Roll. An all-mackerel (saba fish) Dream Roll is a specialty unique to the restaurant, Hsu said.
Prices range from $5 – $12 for maki rolls to a $35 sashimi deluxe entrée. Lunches start at $9 Bento boxes to $12-20 sushi/sashimi/maki combinations.
The corner has been the site of a number of unsuccessful Asian-themed restaurants including Coral and YiLin in recent years. Bistro Sake is run by completely different owners, Gong emphasized.
Fortune may turn around for the corner restaurant site. A new federal $3.2 million grant kicks in soon to remodel Madison Street west of Desplaines on both the River Forest and Forest Park sides of the street.
Gong is hoping his space will benefit from improved streetscaping, sidewalks and planters. Improved parking might also help, but Gong said, “People will come because we are a destination, so parking doesn’t matter.”