When it comes to sushi, Inari owner, Sara Kate, learned from the best. The enthusiastic restaurateur has owned Inari Sushi, 7428 W. North Ave. in Elmwood Park, for nearly 9 years, but had more than a decade of experience prior to opening the Restaurant Row sushi bar.

Kate spent years in management at Tank Sushi in Lincoln Square and maintains industry ties to the folks behind Sushi Wabi — the standard-setting sushi bar located on Randolph Street in Chicago that closed in 2012.

“I am lucky to have learned from the best-of-the-best.” says Kate proudly.

Relying on the wisdom of chefs from some of the great Chicago sushi houses helped Kate establish quality ingredient sourcing practices. This attention to detail has helped distinguish the North Avenue restaurant from others of its kind in the western suburbs.

“Some sushi restaurants place orders once a week,” says Kate, “but we order many times a week to make sure we offer the freshest ingredients possible.”

Kate credits Inari’s enduring success to a steady stream of longtime and loyal customers. As word started to spread about Inari’s “sushi first” approach to Japanese fare Kate saw customers coming into the restaurant from neighboring communities. As consumers began looking for healthier menu options, Inari had dishes to meet those evolving desires.

“I feel like there are many children in the area who have grown up with us.” says Kate, “but I also know we have benefited from a more diverse customer base looking for healthy and affordable meals.”

Just consider Inari’s reasonably priced and health conscious lunch options. The “maki select” special starts at just $10 for a duo of fresh maki rolls and a piping hot bowl of miso soup, while bento boxes featuring beef, chicken, salmon, or tempura come with a soup, salad, and California roll start at $14.

The Sushi bar lunch entrée features a chef’s selection of five assorted pieces of nigiri sushi and spicy tuna maki. On the day we visited we were offered dressed albacore tuna, yellow tail, tuna, salmon and snapper. The colorful array of fresh fish came garnished with a whimsical carved butterfly made from carrot and a vibrant edible orchid.

Inari appetizers like garlic edamame put a twist on tradition while their indulgent rock shrimp appetizer features tempura fried shrimp in a sweet and spicy glaze.

“People hesitate to order the rock shrimp because they don’t know what to expect,” says Kate, “but once they give it a try, they get hooked.”

Kate also encourages patrons to try their trendy Poke Bowls. Protein like sashimi tuna and salmon or tempura tofu combined with rice, assorted vegetables and sweet soy sauce offers guests the refreshing fare Inari is known for. Dine-in guests looking for a little excitement would do well to order the flaming dragon roll. A good introduction to sushi for novice diners, the baked roll is stuffed with shrimp tempura and topped with delicate slices of salmon and super white tuna. The roll is garnished with black tobiko and served on a flaming platter.

While Inari’s sleek interior welcomes guests from near and far, Kate is thrilled with her restaurant’s Elmwood Park location. She enjoys local customers and relishes in the Village of Elmwood Park’s ongoing support of all restaurants in the area.

“This is a lovely community to be a part of,” says Kate. “We’re like family on Restaurant Row.”

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