Japanese Street Food, Booze and Vibes at Booze Box

Last Friday my night led my mother and I to follow a bright red lit arrow in an alley pointing to an entry way covered in wooden decor. The type of wooden decor you would see at a luxury spa right before you enter the sauna. As I opened the door to well anticipated mystery, I made a mental note to check this speakeasy off my bucket list of many. I have been itching to try Booze Box since their opening in early 2015 underneath its parent restaurant Sushidokku – a Japanese restaurant on the corner of Green street in the heart of one of Chicago’s food hubs – Fulton Market. In celebration of my mother’s birthday, I brought her here to celebrate and I was excited to cover this hidden gem. It was time for me to see what all of the hype was about and of course as a blogger, I came camera ready.

First walking in, we were instantly mesmerized by a dim lit yellow board that offered us an informal “Welcome” introducing “Merrick Brown” – the DJ of the night and “$9 draft beer Sapporo” – Sapporo beer is the oldest beer brand in Japan founded in 1876.

We were escorted to a cozy booth in a dark corner illuminated by red lighting that added to the sexiness of the ambiance. The long table in the center of the bar reminded me of the seating style in a Japanese teahouse shown in Samurai Champloo, but with a modern twist. The space was filled with a mix of 90’s hip hop and house music on vinyl while still giving an authentic Japanese vibe. It was time to order.

Fresh Crab Deviled Eggs: *Not pictured here because we ate them in one bite*

First order off the “BITES” menu and we didn’t regret it. The Fresh Crab Devilled Eggs came in two pieces perfectly stuffed with Blue Crab, Kukappa, Mustard, Mayo and Chili. This is one of Booze Box’s most popular starters and believe me when I say this, these little babies were delicious! Forgive our gluttony, we ended up ordering another round.

Chicken Karaage: We ordered the Chicken Karage – pieces of Japanese fried chicken, all fried to perfection and lightly sprinkled with herb salt and pepper. You have the choice of ordering the Chicken Karaage with spicy chilli and honey, but we stuck to the basics. This is a great starter right after you order the Fresh Crab Deviled Eggs because it adds contrast to the softness of the crab and eggs to the crunchy texture of golden brown chicken skin. If both bites are too much, order either or. If it was up to me, I would order both. Thank me later.

Southside: What better way to break up our first two orders of Japanese Izakaya-style small plates than with craftily made cocktails. Our server Rubin suggested we order the “Southside” – a perfect mix of gin, lime, orange bitters, and topped off with Mint. How did I know this was a “go to” drink at Booze Box? My mother ordered another round. Enough said. Highly recommended.

Side note: I didn’t get a chance to try their sake, but I’ll save that for my next visit. If you get a chance to try it before I do, let me know how it is!

Bacon Okonomiyaki: I never turn down a challenge to try something new, so I had to dig in. One of our servers brought out Bacon Okonomiyaki for my mother and I to try. It’s a mountain of bacon, green onion katsu sauce, japanese mayo and scallions piled on top of a Japanese pancake cabbage. This was not one of my favorite dishes as the texture of the pancake cabbage was quite unique, but the flavors were out of this world. So don’t let me deter you from ordering this dish. I picked up my chopsticks and mixed the bacon pieces with the Japanese mayo and scallions which was tasty.

I inquired about featuring Booze Box on my blog and of course shared my love for speakeasies to Zac, one of the Sous Chefs. Thanks to him, he made it all happen! If you’re at Booze Box, ask for him and say hi 🙂 Or if you’re lucky enough, he could be serving up dishes that are not on the menu like this Pork Kakuni and Tonkatsu (panko crusted pork with a side of sweet bbq sauce) right at your booth. He also runs Booze Box’s Instagram page and coordinates all of the themed nights and guest djs that swing through each night. Peep their IG here.

Mochi Filled with Pistachio Ice Cream: To my mother’s surprise, Zac brought out a small plate of Green Tea Cheesecake with a cute candle sitting front row and center and a side of Mochi filled with creamy pistachio ice cream *pictured here* which paired nicely with the rice cakes. Both desserts were the perfect sharing size and topped off our night.

Next time you’re in Fulton Market and see a red arrow staring at you down an alley, follow it.

*BOOZE BOX PROVIDED ALL FOOD COMPLIMENTARY. ALL OPINIONS ARE MY OWN.

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