Brunch at Jellyfish is more than sushi

5 Spice Chocolate Stuffed French Toast | Jellyfish

French Toast stuffed with chocolate is genius.

Weekend brunch in Chicago is a dicey proposition — finding the latest spot before it becomes popular is key. The better the food, the longer the crowded, shivering wait in the cold. And after the line? The deafening clink of coffee mugs and regretful gossip drowns out the recitation of specials that have sold out.

Often the best options are to go early, go late, or stay home. Fortunately there’s another choice! You could consider downtown sushi hot spot, Jellyfish* as an alternative to the mad brunch scramble.

Chicken and Green Tea Waffles | Jellyfish

Enjoy an Asian take on chicken and waffles.

Jellyfish is best known as a cool sushi restaurant, but I like it better for its chill brunch vibe. The vibrant blue lights and thump-y music fade to reveal a quiet, tucked away spot along the popular shopping corridor. In the daytime the restaurant reminds me a bit of a tree-house.

If you have a choice, elect to sit in sunny atrium area. It’s bright, fairly quiet, and lined with comfortable couches along the tables. During my meal, I was able to hold a conversation without once raising my voice or asking anyone to repeat what was said. A relaxing brunch time rarity.

Eel Benedict | Jellyfish

The best of breakfast and sushi in one roll.

Available Saturday and Sunday between 11:30 A.M. – 3 P.M., Chef Jason Im offers an Asian twist on breakfast favorites like French toast as well as a uniquely breakfast twist on Japanese classics.

We put ourselves in Chef’s hands, and he delivered excellent coffee along with the menu favorites — starting with the Crispy Chicken and Green Tea Waffles. I’ve never been a huge fan of chicken and waffles, but maybe that’s because I’ve never had such tender hunks of chicken atop pastry. The green tea added subtly to the waffles and the coconut drizzle lent an exotic vibe to the dish. Perfect.

Not satisfied to stuff us, Chef also plated a 5 Spice Chocolate Stuffed French Toast to try. The brioche was curiously light though the bread was able to deliver the generous filling, candied blueberries, and hazelnut whipped cream without falling apart. Absolutely delicious, though I would be just as happy to see this dish on the dessert menu.

Airy atrium | Jellyfish

The atrium is a convivial spot for brunch.

Eel Benedict sushi completed brunch. Mainly filled with tamago, a smidgen of eel and avocado rounded out the roll. A generous amount of edamame, corn, and hollandaise was drizzled over each bite. I liked this breakfast version of sushi, though I craved a bit more savory to balance out the sweet. It’s a great choice for the sushi-phobic.

Though we didn’t get a chance to try all the dishes on this trip, I will be back for the Fruit Sushi, stuffed with tropical sweets and topped with shaved chocolate. I also want to try the Lychee Mimosa or Coconut Gimlet with my meal. The lighter island influences are a nice change from heartier menus found elsewhere.

In all, I enjoyed Jellyfish for its unusual take on brunch classics as well as the quiet, civilized atmosphere. If I need a weekend brunch choice, I will keep them in mind. Have you been? Let me know what you think!

1009 N Rush Street, 2nd Floor

For reservations, call Jellyfish at (312) 660-3111.

*Brunch provided courtesy of Jellyfish for this review.