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Mystery Diner: Sagano Japanese Restaurant serves large bites of delight

BARRINGTON – Sagano Japanese Restaurant resembles bliss during weekday rush-hour traffic in downtown Barrington.

My sibling was in town for a visit, so we both stepped into Sagano around 6 p.m. on a Thursday. The chef greeted us from the sushi bar up front while a hostess escorted us to one of many empty tables.

A couple other parties were in the restaurant – a group of teenage girls grabbing a bite with friends and a family of four. One man enjoyed a small sushi roll and glass up wine while catching up on some reading solo. Music played peacefully throughout the plant-filled, harmonious seating area. It was like we had been transported to a simpler land, away from the train traffic and post-work worries,

We glanced over a beverage menu, filled with red and white wines, sake, beers, tea and Japanese soda. Plum wines are always a sweet treat.

Our two dining menus appeared awkward at our family-size table, but we appreciate the extra space, as we were about to order many plates.

With appetizers on the brain, we each ordered a Miso soup before splitting a Garden Salad and Ohitashi – tasty boiled spinach with soy sauce. Each order was delicious. Neither of us had tried Ohitashi previously. We were surprised to find the spinach came in a roll, just like sushi. It was easily grasped with chopsticks.

The salad came topped with a signature Sagano dressing – something I would describe as being on the thick side, with a strong taste of sesame and ginger. I enjoyed it. My sibling is more of a Ranch dressing devote.

We enjoyed each other's company and waited on our large, shared dinner order – a sushi and sashimi combination platter, Spicy Scallop Maki, and Canada Maki.

The platter and the two rolls were served in unison, with heaping piles of wasabi and shaved ginger. We eyed down our pending food coma. The platter contained two pieces each of raw Tuna, Flounder and Yellow Tail; one sushi piece each of Tuna, Yellow Tail, Salmon, Flounder and Shrimp; and a half-roll each of California and Tuna rolls. The Spicy Scallop Maki and Canada Maki rolls were served together with six peices of sushi in each roll.

Did we devour it? You bet. Six pieces of fish and 23 peices of sushi later, we were comfortably full. The raw fish was just as tasty as it appeared – fresh, bright and clean. Each sashimi serving was sliced thick.

The sushi was stuffed generously. Our Spicy Scallop Maki was rolled with cucumber, fish eggs and a special spicy sauce. The Canada Maki came rolled with cooked Salmon, mayonaise, cucumber and fish eggs.

Our attentive waitress offered us more water to wash down the wasabi and asked if we would like any dessert. The Japanese ice creams and Rice Cake were tempting, but we were satisfied and requested the bill.

Reflecting on our dining experience, we both agreed that Sagano is a restaurant we would return to in a heartbeat and reccomend to our friends. The service was seamless and the presentation made our mouths water.

I was most impressed by the menu's variety. Sagano offers seven types of salads, alone. Appetizers ranged from cooked Octupus and deep fried Squid to Salmon caviar and ginger-flavored chicken wings. Lunch and dinner dishes could be ordered small or large, with single pieces of sushi and sashimi, full Maki rolls, combination platters, and tempura, teriyaki and meat dishes.

Sagano is elegant dining made simple. It's a quick-stop restaurant with a user-friendly menu. Each plate was delivered to its description.

The Mystery Diner is a newsroom employee at Suburban Life Media. The diner's identity is not revealed to the restaurant staff before or during the meal. Only positive dining experiences will result in published reviews.

If you go

What: Sagano Japanese Restaurant

Where: 110 N Hough St., Barrington

When: Open 11:30 a.m. to 9:45 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 4 to 9 p.m. Sunday; Closed Monday

Info: Call 847-382-8980 for information

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