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Arami Go Says Stay

By Melissa Wiley in Food on Nov 9, 2012 4:00PM

Arami Go doesn’t live up to its name. If it did, we wouldn't have been so tempted to linger. The Streeterville counter-service satellite of West Town’s Arami Sushi, Arami Go operates on the basis of eat and run. But the spare elegance of the space, service, and sustenance subtly lure you into sitting and staying a while.

Furnished with reclaimed wood counters, bamboo tables, and elegant tableaus of bonsai trees writ large, Arami Go carves out a Zen-like space for savoring Chef Shin Matsuda’s tightly orchestrated menu. Favorite Arami Sushi staples like Japanese grilled chicken thighs and lemongrass ramen are here for the lunch-hour picking, but this venture is really an homage to the bespoke bento box.

Arami Go’s bento boxes rest on the same gambit as those oddly riveting teddy bear-making shops: You’re allowed just enough input to feel part of the creative process without endangering the end product. In this case, you walk out the door with something far better than an inanimate, perky-eared Teddy Ruxpin. You leave the understated storefront feeling that you’ve been fed extremely well and possibly had your qi balanced into the bargain.

Balance, of course, is built into the box. Each $10 bento box provides you the choice of a rice or noodle, protein, grilled vegetable or salad, and edamame or pickled cucumber, radish, or ginger. The extremely solicitous team of servers will gently guide you through the choices and make you feel like you’re co-creating nothing less than a master meal in miniature. We decided on the spicy tuna tartar with brown rice, seaweed salad, and soy edamane. Handed a packet of nori paper to roll our own maki, we made a feeble attempt at this edible form of origami before tossing a handful greedily down the hatch.

Despite our poor maki-making skills, there’s a precision to eating at Arami Go that’s difficult, if not impossible, to find among other quick-service lunch spots. And upon entering, you implicitly want to honor that—as well as the overwhelming kindness of the staff—by not rushing things. So come for a quick lunch or early dinner. But stay a moment longer. It’s too enjoyable not to.

Arami Go is located at 203 E. Ohio.