Too often these days the restaurants that receive all the hype are filled with dim lighting that blurs your vision and loud music that interferes with your conversation. Yet, there are those few restaurants that don’t need all the fluff to receive such praise. One of these restaurants is Arami, a small sushi haven located in the East Village of Chicago. Deemed one of the 18 best sushi restaurants in America by Jenny Miller of the New York Post in June 2016, Arami is truly a must-go-to spot.

Photo courtesy of @aramichicago on instagram

Upon entering the inauspicious door (which I managed to miss the first time), one is greeted by the hostess, who walks you down a hallway past the sushi bar brimming with colorful delicacies and to your reserved table (yes, you should reserve a table in advance). The wooden tables are simple, the walls are covered in delicate designs and bamboo separates the first dining room from the second.

It may be hard to believe that a city not by the ocean could serve such fresh fish, yet Arami seems to do so with ease. I have yet to be disappointed with their nigiri, a delicate piece of fish over sushi rice that apprentices in Japan take up to seven years to perfect. While not cheap, it is definitely worth the price tag. My favorite pieces of nigiri: uni and salmon.

Photo courtesy of @andie_rf on instagram

Arami also offers an array of enticing appetizers; I recommend the tuna tartare bites and uni shooters. While small, each packs a punch. The tartare bites, so beautifully prepared and served with a small dollop of caviar, are made with fatty bluefin tuna and essence of Asian pear. The uni shooter, which is a lobe of uni in a soy sauce mixture and served in a shot glass, is almost as fun to eat as it is tasty.

The pieces of fish from the list of tokubetsu sashimi are must-haves as well. With the likes of yellowtail with truffle oil and salmon with garlic and vinegar, these simple servings of two pieces of fish are quite memorable.

Photo courtesy of @aramichicago on instagram

If you are searching for a roll rather than nigiri or sashimi, Arami will once again leave you happily surprised. Among my favorites is the ebi tempura asparagus roll and the soft shell crab roll. And the menu does not stop there; there are many options for the person who is not too keen on fish. The list of robata, a type of Japanese barbecue, offers an array of vegetables and meats cooked to your liking. Another pleaser: ramen. Who wouldn’t want a big bowl of broth filled with delicate noodles and tender meat?

Photo courtesy of @aramichicago on instagram

I can think of no better place for amazing food in a simple, comfortable setting than Arami. Take your parents, take your friends, take yourself!