Fancy a taste of Japan but don’t feel like leaving the comfort of Chicago? Head to Sushi Samba Rio for Harajuku Thursdays, a stylish weekly event showcasing trends inspired by Tokyo’s famed Harajuku district. The hot Asian-fusion restaurant’s third-floor Sugarcane Lounge transforms into a Japanese loft party, with a DJ pumping out high-energy Japanese pop beats amidst the backdrop of the Chicago skyline.
Harajuku Thursdays draws a packed crowd of Chicago scenesters seeking a fresh venue for their Thursday night booze fix. The invite-only Harajuku-themed fashion show kicked off the event’s debut on January 10, featuring looks from trendy Chicago clothing chain AKIRA.
Harajuku style (think Gwen Stefani) mixes street fashions like hooded sweatshirts and pink hair with more sophisticated dresses and skirts. The mixed crowd at the premiere of Harajuku Thursdays mirrored the event’s theme, with businessmen and women fresh from their downtown offices mingling comfortably with AKIRA models and artsy, hipster partygoers. Harajuku-themed dancers in pigtails, plaid bra-tops and short skirts danced atop sake casks while guests settled into comfy, bed-like couches, accented with artsy pillows and sheer white drapery. Strings of white lights and delicate shoots of bamboo add to the loft’s chic décor.
Guests treat their palates to exotic sake flights ($18) made with ginger, pineapple and lychee puree paired with signature happy boxes ($10), based on the traditional Japanese bento box, offering sesame-soy-glazed edamame, yellowtail sashimi, tuna-jalapeno sushi and shrimp tempura. Sake sommelier Monica Samuels designed the fabulous Harajuku Sambatini exclusively for the event, made with Fukucho Gingo sake, 10 Cane Rum, lychee puree and raspberries ($11).
Harajuku Thursdays (free admission every week) offers a refreshing alternative to your average Thursday night out, melding the music, styles and flavors of the hip Harajuku district within the confines of own fantastic city. If you can’t afford to jet to Japan, at least indulge yourself in a little cultural immersion right in your own backyard. (Liz Haley)
Harajuku Thursdays takes place every Thursday at Sushi Samba Rio’s upstairs Sugarcane Lounge, 504 North Wells, (312)595-2300. No cover.