I love sushi. I probably eat it once a week. Having a sushi spot downstairs in my apartment building definitely helps with the cravings. However, when the boyfriend picked a new sushi restaurant for an impromptu date night, I didn’t expect that it would become my/our new favorite. ARAMI is a small and simple sushi restaurant in West Town, serving up seriously delicious fresh fish, creative rolls and tasty appetizers. Upon first bite, you’ll immediately taste the quality of their ingredients, as well as the care that goes into the preparation of each dish.
DATE NIGHT BITES
That date night solidified ARAMI as one of the best in Chicago. So, when I heard about their sushi class a few weeks later, I knew we had to go. When we got to Arami that night, we were pleasantly surprised at how intimate the class was. Before making our way to the back room, we grabbed a beer at the bar. SO GOOD.
There were only 6 of us gathered around a dining table, each with a place setting for learning the ropes. Chef Nelson Vinansaca warmly welcomed us and explained some of the basics.
Before I get into our lesson itself, let’s talk about Chef Nelson. Dedication. That’s the one word I would use to describe him. And from the current book I’m reading (‘Super Sushi Ramen Express‘ by Michael Booth), it seems that sushi chefs may be the most dedicated chef I’ve ever heard and read of. Before he was teaching sushi class at Arami.. before he was creating maki rolls and slicing fish, Chef Nelson started off his journey by cooking rice. That’s it. The only thing he did for the first six months, was cook rice. Perfect sushi rice, that is. Once he learned that craft, the next six months were spent cleaning fish. Not butchering or slicing fish; cleaning fish. I mean, that is insane dedication. And when you have that first bite of sushi from him, you experience it. Needless to say, we had so much respect for him and his craft.
Now, onto the lesson… let’s just say that sushi making IS an art. It is not as easy or simple as it looks when you watch sushi chefs almost effortlessly make sushi rolls. We first worked on the accoutrements – preparing avocado and cucumber into thin slices. Then Chef Nelson showed us how to dip our hands into water, before handling the freshly made sushi rice. I spent a few minutes eating the rice off of my fingers because, well, I didn’t dip them in enough water. :-p Then we made our first roll – the simple California Roll. Upon rolling mine over, using the lined bamboo mat, I had all of the filling sticking out. Oh geez!
At least it was delicious to eat, if not pretty to look at. The boyfriend was a pro, though! (Looks like he’s making sushi rolls on my off night! Lol)
Then came my new favorite – the hand roll. This one I prepared beautifully, and then ate it happily. Spicy tuna, some cucumber and avo, rice, all wrapped up in a nori cone. YUM. I loved the textures of the hand roll.
The Chef was so funny, and sweet and encouraging to everyone, though. He definitely made sure we were having a great time. After laughing amongst ourselves, and clanking glasses of beer together in celebration of our attempts, we were then served an actual beautiful platter of sashimi, followed by a maki roll. We thought we were only eating our creations, so it was a FULL meal by the end of the night.
We had such a great time, and met some awesome new friends (one of which is a young guy starting Culinary School this month, whose father had reserved the class for the two of them to celebrate – so cute!)
Thanks so much, Chef Nelson and the Arami team for a wonderful class and meal! The next sushi class is scheduled for October 19th, so definitely give the restaurant a call to reserve your seat. Check out their full list of upcoming events here.
ARAMI | 1829 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60622 | (312) 243-1535