Fish Tales

Artful sashimi at West Town's Arami

The aji sashimi at West Town's new Arami is part sushi, part sculpture.

Chef BK Park adorns all his sashimi plates with artistic flourishes, but the aji–small horse mackerel flown in daily from Japan–is a masterpiece.

Park serves the fish cut in two ways. Thick slices of fillet have a sliver cut in the middle to better pick up flavor when dunked in the sauce, a mixture of soy, dashi, fresh ginger and chives. The second cut, from what Park refers to as the loin, yields thinner, more delicate pieces.

He slices the fillets in seconds, then arcs the skeleton around a skewer, places it against a broad leaf, and adds flowers from a bouquet kept on hand to decorate plates. The sashimi is served amid the dramatic tableau.

Only six or seven horse mackerel are delivered each day, so arrive early or call to reserve. A 9-inch fish ($15) serves two as an appetizer; a 12-inch one ($20), which occasionally arrives, serves three to four.

Park is Korean but has spent his professional life as a sushi chef. Arami's rich and subtly spicy kimchi ramen ($10) is a taste of his heritage–and an excellent follow-up to the aji.

Arami, 1829 W. Chicago Ave.; 312-243-1535 or aramichicago.com