Macku Signature ( 2925 N. Halsted St.; www.mackusushi.com ) is in the spot the eatery erwin once occupied.
However, there are marked differences between the former and current occupantswith the main one being that erwin concentrated on contemporary American cuisine while Macku Signature is a Japanese restaurant.
Macku Signature is actually an offshoot of Macku ( 2239 N. Clybourn Ave. ), but is three times larger, seating up to 90 patrons. One thing that means is that substantially more people can enjoy cuisine that's a treat from beginning to end.
My friend and I started with tasty drinks, specifically the Macku daquiri and the lychee martini. Then, we had something I'd only had at another friend's place each Thanksgiving: sweet potato soup. ( Incidentally, the place is a half-block from Macku. ) This soup, however, also includes lobster broth and tiger shrimp, creating a tangy mix.
Our next dish was the pan-seared duck breast with blanched spinach, raisins, chives, apple white wine reductionand this was the high point for me. The duck was probably one of the best dishes of its type that I've ever tried.
We next tried a flight of nigiri ( sushi made of a small clump of rice with a piece of fish on top ): mebachi ( bluefin tuna ), shiro maguro ( white tuna ), nama sake ( salmon ), unagi ( freshwater eel ), ika ( baby squid ) and hamachi ( yellowtail ). I found all of them quite tasty, and found that I didn't need to practice my newfound mastery of chopsticksthese items are meant to be eaten by hand. ( Hot towels were administered before consuming the nigiri. )
We wrapped up with dessertsomething I thought might be risky. However, my friend and I had no complaints after getting white asparagus pudding and braised Asian pear.
Something that seemed a little out of place initially was the live jazz music from The Elaine Dame Duo ( Dame and guitarist Kyle Asche ). However, the serenity and professionalism of the duo fit right in with Macku's ambiance.
It also doesn't hurt that the extremely pleasant staff is friendly and good-looking. Hostess Ashley; servers Bianca ( who even pulled a splinter out of my guest's finger ) and Will; bartender Travis; and chef Macku made sure this visit was amazing. I plan to go back soon.