Chef Gene Kato Goes Solo With New Concept

After honing his skills at Japonais (600 West Chicago), Chef Gene Kato has decided to open his own independent concept in Chicago. Kato has helped launch concepts all over the country, including New York and Las Vegas, and finally decided to put it all on the line and go out on his own to open Sumi Robata Bar. Located at 702 North Wells this is Chef Kato’s dream to open an authentic Japanese restaurant that focuses on his own unique vision.

Sumi, which means charcoal, is reflected throughout the entire restaurant. With the minimalist décor of a traditional Japanese restaurant, the design focuses on stone, bamboo and other natural materials. The restaurant is sure to be a hot ticket and has been set up to create an extremely intimate setting. With only 35 seats, Chef Kato wants to be able to interact every night with his guests. He plans to personally man the 26-foot robata (northern Japanese grilling) bar, which is the focal point of the restaurant, each and every night. There will be 14 stools surrounding the bar, giving a lucky few the chance to be served by the chef directly off the grill.

There are also a couple little tricks the chef has up his sleeve for Sumi Robata Bar. The first one is to set his restaurant apart from other Asian concepts by erasing all shreds of pretense, he wants it to be a place where fellow chefs can come and enjoy his cuisine. The other is the 11-person underground lounge called Charcoal Bar. It takes the intimate vibe up a notch and adds traditional Japanese serving techniques from ice carving to bottle presentation. This is indeed an incredible concept and starting tomorrow (January 24th) you will be able to see if this concept is indeed as great as it sounds.