Serious Eats: Chicago
Standing Room Only: Arami Go
Arami Go's ramen comes in a large styrofoam cup, a fact that normally indicates to me that I'm in for a Cup of Noodles-type experience, not a soul-restoring batch of broth with slinky noodles and all those wonderful accoutrements that make worth living (at least for me). But this brand new outlet is owned by the same folks behind Arami, which you may remember placed very high in our list of the best ramen in Chicago.
If Arami Go executed its ramen at or near the same level of care as its parent restaurant, we'd be in for another Xoco—a quick-service joint with serious culinary intentions. But Arami Go's ramen isn't quite there. For one thing, it's missing the hearty and pleasingly salty dashi base, which is the hallmark of any good bowl of ramen. Instead, each sip tastes more like a good chicken broth, which isn't such a bad thing. Plus, it's stuffed to the top with reasonably tender grilled chicken, slippery slices of fish cake, and a rich poached egg. I wouldn't mind a bowl of this every once awhile.
Arami Go's heart is elsewhere. Where the restaurant really shows off its pedigree are with the bento boxes. The Japanese compartmentalized meals are suited for the Chipotle-esque setup of the restaurant, allowing you to pick from four different categories to create your ideal meal. (Categories include proteins, vegetables, starches, and pickles.)
Though the Arami Go initially looks like a Japanese version of Chipotle, I can't imagine the burrito chain cooking a piece of salmon as expertly as this place does. Slightly crispy on the outside, but still wonderfully tender within, it's kind of remarkable. Luckily, all the other components pulled their weight. The cucumber pickles were pleasingly crisp and acidic, the white rice was fluffy, and the greens bean salad was surprisingly savory, thanks to the tofu dressing. Sure, ten dollars isn't the cheapest meal, but considering its location and the quality of the ingredients, it's kind of a steal.
The restaurant also features a number of prepared items ready for the taking. I particularly liked the spicy tofu, which actually did have a good kick to it.
This particularly section of Streeterville is stuffed with a number of quick-service chains, most of them inoffensive and bland. The salmon alone puts Arami Go in a completely different league, making it one of the better fast options in the neighborhood and for shoppers on the Mag Mile.
203 E Ohio, Chicago, IL 60611