Checking In On The Newly Remodeled Oishii

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Everything looks settled in at Oishii. The Oak Lawn restaurant had been closed for nearly a year after a fire damaged the dining room and neighboring Sal's pizza. But while a year-long closure is surely tough on a business, the neighborhood favorite pan-Asian spot looks all the better for it, now.

The new dining room is a significant upgrade from the Oishii of old.

The L-shaped sushi bar that used to sit to the left as you came in the door, has been replaced by a moderately sized bar that serves beer, sake and cocktails instead of nori-wrapped fish and rice. It's a decent place to have a drink should you have to wait on a table in the dining room on the other side of the restaurant. The sushi bar is now in the center, a sizable U-shaped bar with low-slung seating and enough space in the center to allow three or four sushi chefs to work their magic.

I wish the results were a little more charming. I ordered a lunch combo and dined on graying, oxidized tuna, and a few other cuts (salmon, shrimp, unknown fish) that were rather lifeless. I also ended up with a California roll that was what you'd expect, packed with crab and avocado. If you've been getting your sushi fix at Tei-an, Teppo and other restaurants that have really honed their sushi craft, you'll likely feel a little bored eating here. If you're a sucker for the roll, however, then you've stumbled upon your sushi paradise.

Oishii is a sushi roll mecca, a place where endless combinations of fish, shellfish and various crunchy things are rolled up with rice and nori, before they're often draped with fish again. It's reasonably fresh tasting and approachable sushi eating, rounded out with pan-Asian classics like beef tataki, pot stickers, Peking duck and general's chicken. And judging by the dining room, there are plenty of fans.

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