Saturday, May 19, 2012

1829 West Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60622

Arami is publicized in a few places as one of the top sushi spots in Chicago. It was in our price point for the weekend (unlike Katsu) and I liked the things I read about Arami. Simple, clean sushi with a few signature dishes. No white washed college neighborhood metarolls. C, D and I gave it a Sunday evening whirl. We showed up with large appetites and deep thirst.

The much hailed Toro Tartar Bite. Toro, chive, Asian pear, caviar and house soy sauce. These are a nice opener, luscious but not overpowering.

Oysters of the day; a little chili, yuzu and salmon roe. You had me at yuzu.

This is the type of thing I normally avoid, but it was on my little mental list of "to try" items. Togarashi seared tuna with seaweed and a Meyer lemon dressing. It is nice and the creaminess wasn't overwhelming, but I don't think I would order it twice. Bear in mind, many would disagree.

This is where Arami excels. Beautifully cut fish partnered with subtlety. Hamachi with tiny mushrooms, a trace of truffle oil and radish sprouts. The truffle oil didn't overpower the flavor or velvety texture of the hamachi, the mushroom complemented and the the sprouts counterbalanced. Loved this.

Simple tuna maki. Crisp, warm nori.

Hamachi nigiri, a different cut.

Spicy tuna roll. This was an oopsie in the service.

Spicy hamachi maki. D used to hate hamachi. As his taste for sushi has evolved he has grown into a hamachi lover. Oopsie number two.

Shiro anago, white eel nigiri. I had never tried this (that I can recall, hello sake). It is beautiful, a quiet experience compared to unagi with kabayaki sauce. Yes, I know kabayaki is a method of prep for the eel we commonly eat in more run-of-the-mill sushi joints. But when I need that sauce, the one that covers the eel in savory sweetness, I buy kabayaki sauce in a little plastic bottle at Woori.

Spicy tuna I-don't-know-what. Oopsie number three.

The food was good. As you can see, not quite what I would call simplicity but almost. Definite nods at sushi trends for the masses without pandering. However, the service issues were plentiful enough that I wouldn't return. I made reservations many weeks in advance for an early dinner. Despite this (and a half full restaurant) we were ushered to the back patio, alone. Additionally, it appeared that our server was new. S/he consulted many times with another server working the front room. S/he was unfamiliar with sushi terminology. This is an issue when you order a spicy tuna hand-roll and it comes back as maki. You explain the mistake and it happens again with the spicy hamachi.  I wondered to myself if a hand-roll is colloquial to California sushi eaters until the "experienced" server came back to the patio, apologized and offered to order proper hand-rolls as well. By then we were full and ready to continue our foot bound journey back north. But I wasn't pleased with the service experience. Especially in a restaurant so bally-hoo'd.

 Luckily tonight I can head to Shibucho right down the street for sublime sushi and service. Yes, we might be a little spoiled.

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