WICKER PARK — A restaurant serving Japanese street food staples with late-night hours has opened in Wicker Park.
Izakaya Shinya, 2255 W. North Ave., opened this month in the former home of Jay’s Beef, which closed in early 2022.
The menu features a range of izakaya staples like yakitori chicken dishes, grilled vegetables and seafood options, all crafted by owner Hugo Leung, who also owns Shinya Ramen House in Bridgeport.
Leung said he’s spent significant time in Japan, including a recent stint where he studied with Japanese chefs to learn about the country’s cuisine and culinary scene. On top of his ramen shop, he hopes to highlight a style of Japanese cuisine that might not very well known in Chicago.
That includes numerous chicken dishes, in which Leung said tries to use all parts of the bird, including serving hearts, skin, wings and more.
“When I mention Japanese food, people will say, ‘Oh, it’s sushi.’ But my concept was, I want to bring up the idea of a street food from Japan, which is very popular,” he said. “Not many shops [in Chicago] are doing very unique dishes like the chicken heart and chicken lanterns and that’s why I want to bring that concept over here.”
Since taking over the spot from Jay’s Beef last year, Leung has extensively renovated the restaurant to make it feel like a traditional izakaya, a casual, informal bar that serves drinks and snacks. That includes adding tatami seating and soon, a back patio.
Izakaya Shinya is BYOB, but Leung said he expects his liquor license to come through this month. Once it does, he plans to serve cocktails featuring fruit flavors from across Japan, as well as beer and sake.
Also somewhat unusual to Izakaya Shinya are its hours: the restaurant will stay open until 2 a.m., adding another spot for late night drinkers to venture after Wicker Park’s bars close.
“In Japan, izakayas, they close at 4 a.m. They get busy right after work … then they still have people staying until like 3 a.m,” Leung said. “We’re not just ‘come to a dinner place and order an appetizer, entree.’ [Customers] can stay here for three, four hours for drinking and chatting and eating.”
Izakaya Shinya is open 5 p.m.-2 a.m. every day. More information can be found on its website.
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