i’ve eaten far and wide, but few are the restaurants i return to again and again. those rare spots i’m greeted not just with a “welcome,” but a “welcome back.”

today i mourn the passing of one such spot.  niki, owner and head chef of azami sushi on melrose, has sold the business to new owners and will be packing up her knives after dinner service tonight.

my first omakase dinner at azami was an eye-opener: supremely fresh fish, each piece lovingly seasoned - a touch of salt, a squeeze of lemon, a dash of yuzu pepper.┬ániki and jane moving gracefully behind the bar, disproving the notion that women can’t be great sushi chefs. (something about hands being too warm, or too cold, or some other such nonsense.)

o azami! i will dream of your shrimp tempura handrolls, crustaceans and asparagus fried to order, warm and sweet.

i’m glad i spent my last lunch there with my friend hilary, who took this shot of niki at work:

so long, azami, and thanks for all the fish.

update: the place reopened july 18 under the new owners. now it’s a bit more “upscale” (e.g. they stained all the wood dark brown). the service was friendly but the food merely adequate. they used a lot of sweet, fruit-based sauces to jazz up unexceptional fish. i doubt i’ll go back very often.