Hot and Sour

Two reasons to revisit Arami right now

We're itching to return to Arami, and not for the sushi.

The West Town Japanese restaurant recently reopened after a brief closure following its chef's departure. The sushi is of the same caliber; the cooked food, though, is what has us raving.

Direct your attention to two new menu sections: robata and tsukemono. There, you'll find meats and vegetables from the restaurant's new binchotan charcoal grill, and a selection of Japanese-style pickles ($3), including sweet, violet-hued quail eggs, sesame-seed-sprinkled gobo (burdock) root, and daikon infused with yuzu, sesame oil and soy.

Alternate robata plates, like tender, fatty pork jowl rubbed with Korean chile paste, with bites of the palate-cleansing tsukemono.

Squab ($9) was a recent special, the breast grilled to a rosy medium-rare, leg and thigh crisp-skinned and glistening, with miso mustard for dipping and sweet, vinegary pickled ginger blossoms.

Limited quantities of offal and unusual cuts ($3) are available too, including chicken tail, knuckles, heart, liver, gizzard, neck and skin.

If you're lucky, or strategic with an early arrival, you'll score a skewer of chicken oysters, those remarkably tender, choice ovals of meat from the bird's underside.

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