Food Issue 2018

Mango and Maki on 26th Street

Japanese-Brazilian cuisine finds an audience in Little Village

Rami Kablawi

Little Village wasn’t known for its Japanese cuisine… until now. While there’s still a dearth of Asian food options in the area, the opening of Sora Temakeria four months ago has put this neighborhood on the map for any sushi-lovers sojourning to the best spots in the city. But Sora Temakeria isn’t your run-of-the-mill sashimi establishment; its menu is Japanese in inspiration, but with a Brazilian bent. In the Baja—available in both sushi burrito and bowl forms—crab salad and jalapeño come together in a fantastic fusion of these geographically distal but surprisingly complementary cuisines and cultures.

As co-owner Jay Tanaka explained, the whole idea of opening an establishment that fused Japanese and Brazilian food began in Brazil itself, where sushi is called by the Japanese word for hand roll, or “Temaki,” and sushi bars are referred to as Temakerias. The Temakerias of Brazil have long been sites of culinary experimentation and fusion. Though mango might not be a go-to ingredient amongst the itamae (Japanese for cook), it’s a crowd-favorite amongst those visiting Brazilian temakerias. It’s shaping up to be a favorite in Little Village as well, particularly for those patrons who order the Pacifico Temaki: a roll that packs crab, mango, avocado, fried onion, sweet chili sauce, and spicy mayo all into a single, delicious punch, and was the best dish the Weekly sampled on a recent trip.

Perhaps the best part of Sora Temakeria is its affordability. Although a few items overshoot $10, most of the mains—all reasonably sized—are somewhere south of $8. And if you’re feeling peckish, but not quite starving, opt for something off the Aperitivos menu; of these, the Takoyaki (fried octopus poppers) were the Weekly’s favorite. Like Sora Temakeria’s prices, its employees were pretense-free. All were personable, helpful, and ready to recommend their own personal favorites off the menu. This is the perfect joint for those looking to grab a bite to eat for lunch or dinner, or for those who haven’t had the privilege of trying a novelty like the sushi burrito, which lies somewhere between a Maki roll and the more traditional burritos you might find elsewhere along 26th Street. Try this, or anything else on their menu that catches your fancy, and you won’t be questioning why they’ve been on such a roll since they opened four months ago.

Sora Temakeria, 3508 W. 26th St. Monday-Saturday, 11am-9pm, Sunday, noon-8pm

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Michael Wasney is a contributing editor to the Weekly. Originally from California, he now lives, works, and attends university in Chicago. He loves Calumet Fisheries, in large part because it reminds him of the coastal seafood he grew up on. He last wrote for the Weekly in March about the Republican candidates running in Illinois’ gubernatorial primary election.

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