Japanese to go at Arami Go

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Salmon, kabocha squash, edamame, white rice with sesame seeds, and pickles
  • Julia Thiel
  • Salmon, kabocha squash, edamame, white rice with sesame seeds, and pickles
I've seen several comparisons of Arami Go to Chipotle, which is actually pretty odd if you think about it. I'm assuming that they're referring to the dizzying array of options for the bento boxes that the Japanese counter-service restaurant offers: for a protein, you can get beef short rib, a chicken breast or thigh, pork belly, salmon, shrimp, grilled or fresh tofu, spicy tuna tartare, or sashimi. Then there are the sides: a choice of a half dozen different grilled vegetables with miso butter, kimchi, beet salad, seaweed salad, spicy tofu salad, or fresh avocado. That comes with rice or soba noodles. If you get rice, choose between white, brown, or sticky. And would you like sesame seeds on top? White, black, or a combination of the two? What about the edamame that's also included? Do you want it with with ginger-caramel soy sauce, chile oil and togarashi, or just salt?

It may sound overwhelming, but it's really not: the woman behind the counter was friendly and efficient at explaining our options, and ordering didn't take long. On a recent Wednesday evening the place was nearly empty, so no one was breathing down our necks while we decided what we wanted, either. The space is spare and pleasant, practical if not exactly cozy. It seems to fit the food, which is simple and restrained. Ingredients were fresh, and most everything we tried was well executed: salmon was crispy on the outside and moist inside; kabocha squash was tender but not mushy; spicy tofu salad was nicely seasoned, though not all that spicy. I liked the nutty taste that sesame oil added to the soba noodles, but not the fact that there was so much oil on them that the last few noodles ended up drowning in it. And the ginger-caramel soy sauce on the edamame was a little too sticky-sweet for my tasteā€”I preferred the plain salt version. But there were no major missteps, and while the menu is a bit on the pricey side, that's pretty much par for the course in this neighborhood.

Arami Go, 203 E. Ohio, 312-245-3003, 11 AM-9 PM daily, BYO

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