Okay, I am biased by the location alone as Ukrainian Village used to be my hood, but it is nice to go to a high-quality sushi restaurant that is not downtown. Despite the nondescript store front I had a feeling that there was someone at Arami that knew about lighting, design and music by the time I made my way past the front bar, down the yellow hallway and to the sushi bar.
It was a Tuesday night with no reservation but the sushi bar was open so I sat there. I actually prefer the sushi bar when I’m with just one other person. I like to see and hear the chefs at work. It makes me feel more apart of the whole dining process. But if that is not for you or you have a few people I would make a reservation.
The design is clean and calming that I could see how it would remind people of a Japanese garden. You can tell the lighting was thought out for each room. Not too bright but not too dim. The music was good/mellow, medium volume with some Cafe Del Mar-type chill house, Peter Bjorn and John‘s the “Young Folks“, The Flaming Lips “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pt. 1.” A nice change from the casual sushi restaurant and the over-the-top stylized sushi restaurants with bad music blasting.
I had heard the back room is a bit loud and it is. I attribute it mostly to the cement floor. However, I don’t think it’s any louder than most restaurants at the height of dinner. There are atrium windows on one part of the ceiling that gives the effect of being outside (their website has a good picture that captures this). Also a small back patio with a few tables.
Togarashi Seared Tuna – seared tuna, seaweed salad, kelp noodle, creamy meyer lemon dressing. Delicious!
Seared Hotate – pan seared scallops, unagi, mushroom, shiro miso. Another win, the unagi and mushrooms were a great combination.
Salmon Nigiri – Very fresh and melted in my mouth.
Ikura Nigiri – Very fresh.
Hamachi Maguro Ebi Roll – yellow tail, tuna, scallion, jalapeno, shrimp, spicy mayo. Nice departure from the ever-present spicy tuna roll.
To drink: Nigata River – Funaguchi Kikusui Sake, cucumber. Yes, you should get this.
A Chef’s Choice is offered with a reservation that looks very impressive and shows off the artistic skills of the chefs. There is also an extensive beer, wine, sake and alcohol list. I would recommend Arami for people who are up for innovative dishes and flavors and okay with not seeing the same standard sushi roll menu. Next time I am there I will be trying the noodles and donburi.Arami is at 1829 West Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 60622