Sammy Faze Photography

Kikko, a basement restaurant below Japanese-style cocktail bar Kumiko, opening next week

From www.chicagotribune.com
By
Phil Vettel
Sammy Faze Photography

The team behind Kumiko cocktail bar — creative director Julia Momose, chef de cuisine Mariya Russell and executive chef Noah Sandoval — didn’t have to dig too deep for their newest concept.

Only about a foot.

“It was 8 to 10 inches,” corrected Sandoval. “It cost a lot to do, but we think it’ll be worth it.”

What the team did was excavate Kumiko’s basement, lowering the floor to create a respectable amount of ceiling clearance for Kikko, an intimate 10-seat bar that will offer an interactive cocktail and food experience.

Kikko will make its debut May 22. Reservations are available now via OpenTable.

The creation of Kikko will allow Momose and company to convert Kumiko’s eight-seat bar — previously available by reservation only, and home to Kumiko’s five-course omakase adventure — into a first-come, first-served area that will offer, but not mandate, a three-course food-and-cocktail combination.

“From the get-go, we knew we wanted to do something downstairs,” Momose said. “The idea was to offer more of a food-focused counter experience, where guests can interact with bartenders and chefs preparing food and drinks. It’s in the style of a sushi bar, but offering much more than sushi.”

Kikko will be the new home for Kumiko’s omakase — a chef’s-choice progression of dishes — expanded to seven courses but retaining the original $130 price. Beverages, which will embrace cocktail, sake and wine pairings (and combinations thereof), will hover near the $65 mark.

The new space will allow Russell to spread her creative wings a bit, expanding the overall menu options (expect more small-bite dishes and fewer large plates among the upstairs offerings) and adding more specials. And, perhaps, shaking the notion that she’s merely executing Sandoval’s ideas.

“She’s completely conceptualizing these dishes,” Sandoval said. “Ours is more a partnership than a creator-executor relationship.”

Kikko guests will enter through Kumiko’s entrance (630 W. Lake St.), and access the basement bar by stairs.

pvettel@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @PhilVettel

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