This week I attended Arami’s D-I-Y sushi class which they host every month. I got to roll maki alongside Chef De Cuisine Nelson Vinansaca and some other food bloggers, which was a lot of fun. I can’t believe however that as a sushi lover this was my first time at a restaurant that’s been listed as one of the 21 best spots for sushi in America. I was excited to be there nevertheless!
For our sushi demonstration, we had their back room reserved with a sushi-making table setting for each attendee. The restaurant’s décor itself offered a serene, spa-like retreat from the outside world gearing us up for the amazing food experience that to follow.
Our class began with an hour-long instructional by Chef, who first taught us how to make the easier Temaki, (hand roll) with cucumber. For the Temaki, we folded the nori (seaweed) over some rice, salmon blended with masago, and cucumbers. The final product was more like a cone shaped sushi burrito and very, very tasty. Plus we got to hone our knife skills by learning how to chop the cucumber efficiently. The first half was a success!
Having gained some confidence from this, we moved on to rolling a Trio Maki of tuna, salmon and Hamachi, which was to be mixed in with avocado, cilantro and spicy mayo. As usual, I went a little overboard with the mayo, but my cocktail gently calmed the spice storm in my mouth.
I’m now a believer that there is something other than sake that perfectly pairs with sushi. The delicious Scarborough Fair was thyme infused vodka with rosemary, Asian pear, cinnamon and clove syrup and couldn’t have been a more perfect accompaniment with the food. The maki rolling was a bit more challenging as it had more fixings, but Chef was kind enough to usher each of us just enough to produce a good looking roll with all elements creating delicious flavors. I was so proud of my very first maki that I almost wanted to frame it in a shadow box. But that wouldn’t have gone well.
All of this was followed by a three-course prix fixe dinner picked out by Chef himself. Our menu had Chef’s choice Hamachi, skami & hirame sashimi and nigiri, an Ebi Tempura Asparagus roll (shrimp tempura, spicy salmon and asparagus) as well as a dessert platter of assorted cherry blossom, green tea and red bean mochi ice-cream. Every piece of fish we were served was tender, fresh and with its taste preserved. The roll also was crunchy and tasty. And the mochi we ate were the sweetest, most glutinous bites of perfection!
My favorite thing about the class was that it gave everyone a fun sense of ownership and pride about their food. Not to mention, all the laughs that come along with a table full of people trying to lick the sticky rice off their palms, and have their makis explode during the rolling process. Indeed a wonderful experience with a very patient Chef.
If you want to sign up for a class, the next dates are June 15th and July 20th and the $60 per person cost covers taxes!
It’s no coincidence that Arami received Bib Gourmand status quite consistently from 2012-2016. This restaurant knows what it’s doing and is committed to bringing its patrons an unforgettable experience. Mine surely was!
Neighborhood: West Town
Address: 1829 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60622
Phone: (312) 243-1535
Hours: Sun-Thurs: 5:30pm-9:30pm, Fri -Sat: 5:30pm-10:30pm
Price: $4.00- $19.00