Kitsune's namesake is the red fox of Hokkaido. The mythological spirit fox has magical powers and is a shapeshifter who morphs into beautiful women, young girls, and elderly men.
Kitsune Restaurant and Pub focuses on Midwestern bounty, influenced by home-style Japanese cuisine. The menus change with the seasons and are intentionally focused on the purity of ingredients of our local farmers.
We are not a Japanese restaurant aiming for the label of authentic, traditional, or modern "fusion." We simply incorporate fundamental techniques, flavor profiles, Japanese culinary philosophies, and comfort into our menus. We are not to be over-thought, yet our goal is to make you think.
The basis of our mission begins with sustainable cuisine, dedicated to earth consciousness, and expands from there. We use nearly all of our ingredients in their entirety from root to leaf and head to tail. Come in. Relax. Eat. Drink. Indulge.
Red eye, Michael Nagrant 2017
At Kitsune, Regan and her team’s restraint helps diners focus on what makes good ramen: deeply savory broth, chewy slurpable noodles and a few simple condiments. Regan’s milky tonkotsu broth has more body and structure than Brad Pitt’s character in “Legends of the Fall.” The split soft-boiled egg is creamy and fortifies the soup. The pork is braised in a housemade teriyaki and then sauteed to order. The result is a firm plank of pork bursting with sweet and salty notes...A doughnut glazed with Japanese whiskey icing was as soft as a cloud. In a blind taste test, this doughnut would make a Krispy Kreme seem like wet cardboard.
The Chicago Reader, Mike Sula 2017
Like Elizabeth, Kitsune is a wee Regan joint of singularly enjoyable weirdness. Even though the studied and occasionally menacing woodland twee is dialed back, it’s still lurking in the shadows waiting for the right moment to surprise you...an exploration of the intersection of Japanese culinary technique and kitchen canon, with midwestern ingredients and guided by her own idiosyncratic sensibility...
Kitsune is Regan’s expression of what it would be like to open a restaurant if the Japanese had occupied Chicago for the last 70 years. It’s a place where virtually none of the servers and cooks are Asian, but where they’re serving technically faithful adaptations of Japanese bar snacks with overwhelmingly midwestern ingredients. Close your eyes, imagine the chairs filled with sake-swilling Kempetai and Japanese Imperial bureaucrats chopsticking bowls of donburi and ramen, and you’re there...Kitsune is another opportunity to throw yourself with abandon into an alternate dimension.
Time Out Chicago, Elizabeth Atkinson 2017
As usual, Regan does not disappoint.
The celebrated chef has an affinity for small, minimalist spaces given some life with personal touches. It feels cozy and quaint, with light blue walls and simple ceramic plates from Felt and Fat that make every dish look bright and vibrant.
In terms of food, there are some dishes that are so good they’re mandatory. Start with the wild rice and koji porridge bread with pickles, which will remind you of just how good a baker Regan is. It’s served with a pat of butter shaped like a fox and pickles, including daikon-fermented burdock, salt-fermented purple carrot and beer-pickled eggs. A smoky and citrusy dashi with winter vegetables is filled with “tofu.” It’s made from a dairy and vegetable rillettes that feels firm when you scoop it with a spoon, only to burst in your mouth.
Among the main dishes, the tonkotsu ramen was one of the most savory we’ve had, with a thick broth.
Chicago Magazine best new restaurants issue, Jeff Ruby 2017
It doesn’t get more DIY than Kitsune. Iliana Regan’s lovable Japanese-influenced spot makes its own tofu, miso, and soy sauce. Her kitchen, a collaboration with Justin Behlke, relies on Midwestern ingredients for its ramen, which plumbs uncharted depths of flavor with rich pork belly, a perfect soft-boiled egg, a spicy homemade chili sauce, and scallions in a thick tonkotsu broth.
Chicago Tribune, Phil Vettel 2017
The bread service is a thing of beauty; it's a wild rice and porridge bread, served as four wide, thick slices alongside pickled vegetables (no two vegetables pickled quite the same way) and a smear of house-cultured butter that, if you look closely, is shaped like a fox. Calling this bread "life changing" is probably too extreme, but not by much.
Kitsune is located at:
4229 N Lincoln Ave
Chicago IL 60618
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