Behind the seafood tanks and through the Intro kitchen you will find Naoki. This new restaurant and sushi bar puts a playful spin on contemporary and classic Japanese dishes in a upscale speakeasy setting.

The man behind Naoki is long-time Lettuce Entertain You sushi chef Naoki Nakashima, who oversees sushi and sashimi programs for Shaw’s Crab House and Tokio Pub. Chef Nakashima’s vision for his intimate 50-seat sushi spot is to take traditional Japanese cuisine and sushi and add his own flourishes and personal touches.

Here, he gives us a tour of Naoki’s opening menu in three dishes: the Edamame “Guac” Dip, signature Mackerel Ponzu Nigiri and a Kagawa Chicken Teriyaki.

To start, the Edamame “Guac” Dip with Rice Crisps.

This inventive dish is a playful way to start off- the ‘guacamole’ is made with edamame, cilantro, garlic, lime and Thai chilies. Served with Japanese rice crackers and finished with a sprinkle of black sesame seeds and scallions, it’s a shared plate sure to pique the taste buds for what’s to follow.

Next up, Naoki-Styled Nigiri Selections.

Naoki’s nigiri takes a unique spin on what is usually expected of traditional nigiri and adds creative sauces and garnishes, like smoked soy sauce, fried shallots and micro cilantro. Here you see the his Mackerel Nigiri, which has been brushed with yuzu kosho and topped with a ponzu gel sheet and black sesame.

And for one of the main plates, Kagawa Chicken Teriyaki.

Many are familiar with the classic chicken teriyaki. However Naoki’s Kagawa Chicken Teriyaki is an airline cut of roasted chicken served with a side of kale-wrapped chicken sausage.

If you haven’t already updated your “must try” restaurant lists in the notes section of your phone after reading this, here are some other “holy crap I have never tasted anything like this before” bites that are worth a first-time visit to Naoki: the Truffle Chawanmushi egg custard with dashi broth, Naoki-style sashimi’s like the Scallop, yuzu dashi, serrano and shiso oil and any of the signature maki rolls including the Spicy shrimp and salmon roll topped with fresh lemon. To drink, artisanal sakes flights, Japanese microbrews, Japanese-influenced cocktails and also guests can order from Intro’s curated, 30-bottle wine list.

Hitting on notes of the surprising and unexpected is what an evening with Chef Naoki is all about. To take a peak at the full menu at Naoki, click here.

Come check out Naoki Sushi which is now open for dinner Wednesday-Sunday; reservations are available by phone and via opentable.com, and walk-ins are encouraged. Carry out and delivery service will be added at a later date. Guests check in at the Intro entrance; both restaurants share the same phone number 773.868.0002. For the latest updates on Naoki, follow us on Instagram and Twitter @NaokiSushiChi.