Kumiko Opens In Chicago

Over a year in the making, one of the most anticipated bars to open in Chicago—Kumiko—has finally swung open its doors for business in the West Loop. Spearheaded by Julia Momose (you know her as the bar manager of two-Michelin-starred Oriole), and backed by Oriole’s Noah and Cara Sandoval, the eight-seat bar and formal dining room is completely driven by cocktails with food to match.

“I think the beauty of this is kind of stemming from my time in Japan,” says Momose. “The food is very much a part of the program.” A $130-per-person five-course omakase cocktail menu is on offer at Kumiko, where each beverage course is paired with a small bite from the kitchen. Momose has been working closely with Sandoval and chef de cuisine Mariya Russell to tailor the menu. (An à la carte menu is also offered in the dining room.)

“Everything that we do will be a collaboration between Maria and Julia so that nothing is unpairable,” adds Sandoval. “It’s going to be cocktail friendly. It will be as refined as we can get and a reflection of Oriole.”

While the menu hasn’t been set in stone (yet), some of the dishes offered at Kumiko include Japanese A5 wagyu with black garlick, plum and shiso and Cardinal prawn (a.k.a., carabineros) tempura with head mayonnaise and yuzu. Desserts include Japanese milk bread with fermented honey and Alba truffle and gianduja with tonka beans, finger lime and coconut.

Behind the bar, Momose is excited to feature Japanese spirits beyond whiskey. “It’s so popular that it almost sells itself at this point,” she says. “I want to showcase the wide range and beauty of shochu, sake, umeshu . . . and there’s some really exciting lighter Japanese spirits like single distillation gins and apple brandy products.”

Momose, as well as her husband/partner-in-crime, Sammy Faze, will be on hand to guide you to pairing glory, whether it be through cocktails, wines or spiritfree beverages. Cocktails at Kumiko include the Triptych with Tenshi no Yuwaku shochu, sake, Nanbu Bijin umeshu, Armagnac and benimosu; and the Evening Star with Nikka Coffey gin, Nikka Coffey vodka and Rhine Hall La Normande Pommeau.

Located around the corner from Oriole—literally—Momose says bar Kumiko is an extension of the two-Michelin-starred experience. (Oriole doesn’t have a bar.) “We wanted to be close enough so that if people came to their Oriole reservation early, they could take a quick walk over to the bar at Kumiko,” she says. “Or, they can have a Cognac after dinner.”

Regardless of whether you’re popping by on your way to or from Oriole, or experiencing an à la carte or omakase experience, Momose insists that guests will not leave hungry. “It’s so important to have a full belly when you’re drinking.”

Kumiko is located at 630 W. Lake Street and is open Wednesday through Saturday from 5:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. and on Sunday from 5:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m.

Hero image courtesy of Sammy Faze Photography.

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