Arami is now one of my favorite special occasion sushi places. Tucked away on the western end of a budding foodie paradise, Arami combines the thoroughly Japanese approach to food of appealing to all senses and friendly, down-to-earth Chicago-style service. Our server was knowledgeable and attentive while still being easygoing. The space is sophisticated in a minimalist, not-too-trendy way--the perfect balance between uber hip Japonais/Mirai and the no-frills Katsu. Most importantly, the food was aesthetically pleasing, texturally complex, and incredibly delicious.
Whether nigiri topped with cuts of fresh, flavorful, undressed hamachi, rolls encased with deep-fried unagi and jalapeno sauce, or tasting spoons of shiso-dusted toro, Arami offered a broad range of delicious ways to part us of our money. The plain nigiri showcased the quality of the fish--the botan ebi and sake (salmon) were excellent. At the other end, the Toro Tartare Bite and truffle-oil topped Secret Hamachi, were carefully constructed twists on sashimi, as beautiful to look at as it was to eat, at once both experimental and faithful to the underlying fish flavors. My fiance and I delightfully savored the tiny morsel-sized edible “artwork.” The special rolls, while very tasty, were least exciting because they merely reflected a better executed version of what a lesser sushi joint with lower-grade fish does and in doing so masked the natural flavor of the superb fish. And, after pieces of delicate, unadulterated nigiri and ambitious, one-of-a-kind takes on dressed sashimi, the rolls were less satisfying. In addition to many approaches to raw/barely cooked fish, the menu also includes Japanese homestyle foods like ramen and donburi; incorporating these dishes would likely keep costs down, but if you enjoy great sushi/sashimi, it’s worth the (hefty) splurge.
Price: $50-$80/person (nigiri $2.50-$6; special rolls $13)
1829 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60622