The few pieces of sushi that I ate at Arami were the best sushi I’ve had. While the sushi is certainly more expensive than many places in Chicago, the quality is worth the high price tag. Arami focuses on pristine fish and carefully chosen flavor combinations instead of the overstuffed messes of rolls that some sushi restaurants offer.
The zuke sake is sushi perfection. The rice is tender, almost warm; each grain is distinct but not hard. Salmon is beautiful and yielding, neither stringy nor overly soft.
This maki has a very clean, balanced flavor. The scallion gives it a fresh, almost herbaceous taste; it contrasts but doesn’t overwhelm.
The kabocha nigiri is so well composed that it doesn’t feel lacking, even without fish or seafood. The soft, sweet squash and tender rice have a nice contrast against the slight nuttiness and crunch from the almond.
The Japanese mushrooms are a warm salad with a burst of bright, citrusy acidity. The umami and juicy texture from the mushrooms, combined with the tartness from the citrus, whets the palate, making it an excellent starter.
While the sushi at Arami shines, the cooked dishes are also tasty. The saba donburi consists of two small fillets, each roughly the size of a deck of cards. The grilled mackerel is meaty and has a sweet glaze. It’s accompanied by about a cup and a half of rice, every grain perfectly formed and separate but still slightly sticky. And the pickled daikon is refreshing, with the fried gobo adding a little crunch.
Although the pork belly was delicious, the Arami ramen was my least favorite of the dishes I ordered. The broth is savory but nothing really to write home about. The noodles are good and not too soft. The soft-boiled egg is lovely, but the pork belly is the real star. It absolutely melted, and it made the entire dish worth ordering.
Arami is admittedly pricey for satisfying the average sushi craving. That said, it is a fantastic treat when quality is your highest priority, and there are dishes for even the non-sushi eaters. If you appreciate sushi, Arami is well worth the trip.
Arami – 1829 W Chicago Ave., Chicago, IL
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