Usually when we talk about related restaurants under the same ownership, we call them “sister restaurants.” This time, the new Japanese spot Ani (3056 N. Lincoln Ave., Lake View, 872-206-8553) and its sibling Arami fit the description of brother restaurants.
“Ani means elder brother in Japanese,” says Ty Fujimura, a co-owner of Ani and Arami. “It’s a personal tribute to my elder brother, Troy. We have been doing these restaurants together for 13 years and, without him, I couldn’t do it. It’s warm and fuzzy.”
Ani, which opened Tuesday in the former Chizakaya space, duplicates the categories of Arami’s menu—hot, cold, robata, maki, nigiri/sashimi, noodles, donburi—but with different items. For example, Fujimura describes a new dish for Ani: a hot small plate called takoyaki, octopus beignets with puffy, creamy insides, topped with tonkatsu sauce, bonito flakes, and kizami nori.
Fujimura also effuses about Ani’s ramen. “Ramen is all about location,” he says. “When you travel in Japan, ramen is supposed to be reflective of where you are.” The Chitown ramen at Ani will riff on a culinary pride of Chicago, Italian beef, with shaved rib eye and house-made giardiniera.
Unlike Arami, Ani will be open seven days a week, including for lunch. And obviously, their spaces differ. Ani inherited a two-room space from Chizakaya, which will be divided into the high-ceilinged, 40-seat front room and the more-intimate back lounge with 22 seats, six of which overlook the kitchen.
In addition to the warm and fuzzy brotherly love emanating from the name of the restaurant, it also perfectly lends itself to themed specials, like fraternity night. Oh, brother, was that a bad joke.