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Sushi para M – The M Stands for Mmmmm

Sushi para M – The M Stands for Mmmmm

With a 3-star rating on Yelp, Sushi Para M (SPM) doesn’t come off as very impressive online.  You get all kinds of reviews saying their sushi is terrible, and service is the worst! It’s true their sushi might not be the best, but for $19.99 and all you can eat lets pump the brakes a little here.  SPM is one of three locations in Chicago.  All three establishments offer all-you-can-eat (AYCE) and service is the worst! It’s true their sushi might not be the best, but for $19.99 and all you can eat lets pump the brakes a little here.  SPM is one of three locations in Chicago.  All three establishments offer all-you-can-eat (AYCE) and are therefore a little tricky from time to time.  I frequent SPM the most because it’s closer to me in Wicker Park and for some reason I find their sushi to be little better quality.

On my most recent trip to SPM it was the same old scene.  If you plan on coming during dinner (7 p.m.-ish) on a weeknight or anytime during the weekend you’ll face the same problem time after time.  SPM sells decent sushi and it’s incredibly cheap AND its in Wicker Park.  That right there my friends is a recipe for success.  The food doesn’t even have to be that good.  The waiters don’t even have to be that nice.  On a Saturday night we waited about 20 minutes for a table.  Not terribly, but not my favorite when I’m hungry.  The good thing is SPM is BYOB and there’s an enormous Walgreens on the corner with an incredible beer and wine section that you can visit while you wait for a table.  I do this almost every time because not only does it pass the time, but you will be doubly rewarded when you sit down at your table and get a refreshing boozy treat upon your arrival.

There’s usually the same guy that works the host stand.  He’s not the most friendly, but he’s not the meanest.  Somewhere right in-between.  After he seats you have time to look over the menu and make some decisions.  The beauty of AYCE is that even the appetizers are included in the special.  So any miso soup or fried scallops are inclusive.

 

I try not to fill up too much on that stuff, but miso soup is always solid for those colder days and the fried gyoza isn’t too bad here.  One of my major complaints with SPM is their wait staff.  Most of the time they are understaffed and I understand they’re busy, but sometimes like this particular visit it just feels like they’re ignoring you.  I’ve noticed the more I come the more they seem to be getting it together, but that’s definitely a pet peeve of mine.  Especially when you’re hungry! That’s the worst.  On this trip they were busy and we quickly filled out our little list of rolls to order.

The funny thing about coming to SPM is that I can never and probably will never know which roll is actually which.  When they bring the food out they’re often in such a rush to leave that they don’t point out which rolls are which and just set a large plate or boat of sushi on your table and leave.  This has happened to me almost every time so I try to see what’s in each roll and compare it to the list, but it’s no use.  To be honest I don’t even remember the rolls I really liked or didn’t like at all.

That being said, I know I like the dragon roll always.  You can’t go wrong with eel and avocado.  Those are two of my very favorite things.  The eel is very good, especially the sweet eel sauce combined with the soft avocado it makes the perfect combination.  The Godzilla roll is another must.  We often order two of these bad boys.  The cream cheese and crunch send your taste buds and mouth on a wild ride.  The Philadelphia roll is also a classic for me.  I just love the freshness of the salmon with the cream cheese, makes for a nice break for the yummy, but heavy fried rolls.  The Mountain Roll has soon become one of my favorites here as well.  This roll has both avocado and cucumber with tuna and a spicy sauce on top.  I didn’t think I’d like it at first, because I’m not a big spicy tuna fan, but this roll is actually quite good.

As a joke one day we ordered the World Series roll (Go Cubs!) and ended up loving it so much.  It’s another fried roll with crab tempura along the inside with tuna, eel an avocado on the outside.  A real grand slam if you ask me! (Bad baseball joke) I will see that I normally order eel nigiri at sushi restaurants, but I had a bad experience ordering it here once.  I was weirded out by the sliminess of the eel, because it was right there in my face and not hiding in a roll or under sauce I couldn’t ignore it and it literally left a bad taste in my mouth.  I keep coming back because despite this and other not so great experiences I’m a sucker for a deal when it really comes down to it.

Pros:

Location:

Being in the heart of Wicker Park is ideal.  There’s always something to do there and with the Damen Blue Line right there it’s easily accessible to anyone around the city.

Menu:

The AYCE menu is quite extensive.  I love that you can order appetizers and little snacks along with your sushi.  So you don’t have to feel pressured to eat only sushi.

BYOB:

BYOB is great when you want to drink whatever beer or wine you like and don’t have to worry about how much they’ll upcharge it at the restaurant.  Bonus, they don’t charge a corking fee if you bring your own wine.

Space:

The restaurant itself is pretty big itself.  I’ve been to a lot of sushi places that are cramped and difficult to walk through aisles of people, this is not one of

those restaurants.

AYCE sushi dinner for $20 need I say more? 

Cons:

Slow, poor service:

Getting a servers attention can sometimes be a greater challenge than is acceptable.  I believe in having quality Presentation:

This particular trip there was a few inconsistent rolls.  And what I mean by that is there were rolls that were higher than other rolls in the same family.  Too much rice was the blame for this.  And when sushi restaurants use too much rice it’s because they’re trying to fill you up without actually feeding you fish.

Eel bones:

I’ve had a bad experience with the texture of the eel here before, but this time around my boyfriend actually had eel bones in his nigiri.  That’s never acceptable.

Parking:

Parking can be sort of tricky around here.  If you get lucky you can park out front without having to pay a meter, but I would recommend just taking the blue line.

BYOB:

The only problem that comes with BYOB is some people bring a lot to drink.  They get very loud and annoying throughout your meal.  Especially on a busy weekend night when people come to BYOB to pre-game and head out to the bars of Wicker Park afterwards.

Lauren.S@mychinews.com