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posted: 10/5/2012 6:00 AM

Specialty rolls garner the spotlight at Dao Sushi & Thai

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  • A variety of sushi creations are on the menu at Dao Sushi & Thai in Oakbrook Terrace. This is the Blackhawks Roll, with a dragon carved from carrots in the background.

       A variety of sushi creations are on the menu at Dao Sushi & Thai in Oakbrook Terrace. This is the Blackhawks Roll, with a dragon carved from carrots in the background.
    Scott Sanders | Staff Photographer

  • The Cubs roll is just one of the fancy sushi creations on the menu at Dao Sushi & Thai.

       The Cubs roll is just one of the fancy sushi creations on the menu at Dao Sushi & Thai.
    Scott Sanders | Staff Photographer

  • Dao's yellowtail jalapeņo is composed of slivers of raw fish set atop citrusy wasabi yuzu sauce, topped with jalapeņo coins and tobiko.

       Dao's yellowtail jalapeņo is composed of slivers of raw fish set atop citrusy wasabi yuzu sauce, topped with jalapeņo coins and tobiko.
    Scott Sanders | Staff Photographer

  • Stuffed with Cajun king crab, creamy avocado and cucumber, the White Sox Roll is crowned with spicy white tuna and cilantro.

       Stuffed with Cajun king crab, creamy avocado and cucumber, the White Sox Roll is crowned with spicy white tuna and cilantro.
    Scott Sanders | Staff Photographer

  • A variety of fancy sushi creations, including the Bulls Roll, are on the menu at Dao.

       A variety of fancy sushi creations, including the Bulls Roll, are on the menu at Dao.
    Scott Sanders | Staff Photographer

  • The sushi bar is a centerpiece at Dao in Oakbrook Terrace.

       The sushi bar is a centerpiece at Dao in Oakbrook Terrace.
    Scott Sanders | Staff Photographer

  • Scott Sanders/ssanders@dailyherald.comThe refreshing limoncello finale combines lemon gelato and limoncello in a champagne flute.

      Scott Sanders/ssanders@dailyherald.comThe refreshing limoncello finale combines lemon gelato and limoncello in a champagne flute.

  • The dining room at Dao Sushi & Thai has a modern, upscale vibe.

       The dining room at Dao Sushi & Thai has a modern, upscale vibe.
    Scott Sanders | Staff Photographer

 
By Jennifer Olvera
Daily Herald Correspondent

When it comes to restaurants with a multicuisine approach, I'm skeptical. Rarely can a place cross cultures without something falling off the rails. Fortunately, at Dao Sushi & Thai Restaurant in Oakbrook Terrace -- the third, similarly minded spot from Jojo Chen and husband Andy -- it's largely a proven formula.

Once occupied by Tin Fish restaurant, the space has been transformed, with black walls, industrial ceilings and low lighting lending a lounge-y vibe. A glowing sushi bar, flagstone details and sweeping, leather booths up the swank-factor further.

But first things first. Starters and specialty rolls hover between $11 and $19, and portions aren't large. But for any quality seafood -- especially quality Japanese fare -- you'd pay similar prices.

We began with the lovely yellowtail jalapeņo, slivers of raw fish set atop citrusy wasabi yuzu sauce, topped with jalapeņo coins and tobiko. It was fresh and lush, and we'd get it again in a heartbeat.

The miso soup, however, came off as one-note. It lacked the earthiness we long for from such a ubiquitous, comforting soup. We found ourselves wishing instead for the tuna tataki, dressed with ponzu sauce, or even the chicken satay.

While the specialty rolls are a splurge, the cuts of fish couldn't be fresher, and the creativity is definitely there. We ordered the White Sox roll, opting for a soy paper wrapper (for an up-charge). Stuffed with Cajun king crab, creamy avocado and cucumber, it was crowned with spicy white tuna and cilantro.

There's everything from the J.B. 77 with shrimp tempura inside and smashed avocado, cilantro and jalapeņo outside to the hot sake roll with spicy salmon, avocado, crab, spicy mayo, tobiko and green onion. But don't worry: all of the classic crowd-pleasers -- spider rolls, spicy tuna, the Philadelphia -- are offered, too.

The entrees were less inspiring. The signature Dao's chicken was cloaked in a sweet, orange-y glaze, fried and served with white rice and steamed broccoli, a presentation that seemed plain. The pak kra prow, beef basil with peppers and onions, fared better, though it didn't arrive spiced as requested.

You might have luck with the massaman, red or green curries, all of which may be customized with your protein of choice. Mongolian beef, coconut shrimp and shrimp in ginger sauce are options, too.

Desserts are plentiful here. We enjoyed the refreshing limoncello finale, lemon gelato and limoncello, served in a champagne flute. Offering a contrast, the airy chocolate souffle cake lends a decadent edge. Mochi ice cream, lemon-blueberry crumb-topped cheesecake and classic creme brulee are also on hand.

Lunch specials usher in a select menu at more affordable prices. Diners may customize two or three rolls from a decent-sized list and enjoy them with miso soup and salad for $10 or $12, respectively. Bento boxes with teriyaki and tempura and a handful of kitchen dishes finish off the roster of midday meals.

During happy hour, a number of basic rolls ring in at $5, while a few specialty numbers can be had for $10 apiece.

Don't forget to watch for daily drink specials, like on Tuesdays when some martinis are $5. The cocktail list certainly caters to lingering, as does the longer-than-expected and not overpriced wine list.

Throughout our meal, service was efficient and pleasant. All in all, it was an enjoyable experience, so I wouldn't hesitate to return, or to try sister restaurants Dao Sushi Thai & Hibachi in Burr Ridge or Sushi Train in Romeoville when in the area.

Restaurant reviews are based on one anonymous visit. The Daily Herald does not publish reviews of restaurants it cannot recommend.

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