Thursday, September 22, 2011

Real Sushi

Look out! I'm getting all wild and crazy now that I've turned 35. I had my first real sushi experience at a client lunch yesterday. "Client lunch" sounds so formal, when it was really just lunch with my former boss and the sales guy for my new company. I don't think sales guy C realized that former boss D and I are such good friends. It was so great to see D again! We've talked every 2-3 weeks since June, but I don't think I've actually seen him since the spring sometime (March or April, I think; hard to remember). He lived in Japan for 12-18 months in the early 90s, and his aunt is Japanese, so he is extremely picky about his sushi, and he really wanted me to try it. I did make the condition that it couldn't be raw, and he assured me that there was still plenty for me to sample.

I had the Ebi Nigiri (shrimp "cooked" in lime juice, like ceviche), Tamago Nigiri (egg cooked and folded into layers, like an omelet, but oddly sweet), Anago Maki (grilled/charred eel roll), and Negi Maki (thin strips of beef wrapped around a green onion mix, then cooked in a teriyaki type sauce and served hot). He did get some of the Tekka Maki (raw tuna rolls), but I wasn't quite brave enough to try them. The beef was excellent! I could have eaten a whole order (5 pieces) of that by myself. My favorite of the more "traditional" sushi (i.e. what most people think of when they hear the word) was actually the eel. Very tasty! The shrimp was good, it was just a little tough, which made it hard to bite it in half (wasn't sure I could get the whole thing in my mouth in one shot). The soy sauce nearly knocked my socks off. It was *so* strong! It seemed like maybe it was reduced; it was powerful and slightly thicker/with more body than what I'm used to (probably also more authentic than what I'm used to). Fantastically good, but a little dab will do you.

The sushi (sushis? what is the plural?) were all appetizers; my entree was Oyako Don, which is a bowl of rice with a sauce of some kind, topped with essentially a chicken and onion omelet. It was quite tasty, but after 5 pieces of sushi (I had two of the beef), I could only eat about half of it. And I have to brag on myself for just a minute: I ate my *entire* meal with ONLY chopsticks! I think I impressed the heck out of D. I know I certainly impressed myself! I've obviously used them before, but not for such an extended period of time, and never successfully with rice until yesterday. I do think it helped that the chopsticks were much lighter than the (I think) bamboo ones I usually get, and they were less smooth, so my grip on the sticks was better and gave me more control. Lunch was a leisurely 2 hour affair, and I started having trouble picking up pieces of chicken (something I've been able to do for years) around the 90 minute mark. I think my hand was just tired.

I've tried one piece of sushi before. I don't even recall where, but it was back in college, and I did not like it at all. The seaweed tasted bitter and nasty, and whatever was in the middle was all slimy, which did not sit well with my texture-sensitive palette. It was also very spicy with what I assume to be wasabi. *This* experience, however, was totally different. I can't say that I truly loved anything (besides the beef), but it was tasty and enjoyable. D ordered in Japanese, so I'm not sure if he told them to go light on the wasabi or if I just didn't notice it (hard to believe, but I guess it's possible), but what I had was not spicy at all. A very pleasant experience all the way around.

Don't get me wrong, I don't see me turning to my spouse in a few days or weeks and saying "hey, lets go out for sushi!" But I do now feel confident that if a group of friends ever really wants to go out for sushi, instead of turning them down like I would have in the past, I can order a few things and enjoy myself. And it dawned on me after I left that I order my steaks medium-rare, so maybe the actual raw tuna isn't such a big leap. I doubt you'll ever be able to talk me into the raw squid or octopus, but I'll certainly at least give a Tekka Maki a try if I get another opportunity. Go me!

Currently feeling: adventurous


  1. Squid or Octopus are for the truly adventurous (I don't like them - they're a little too rubbery chewy for my tastes).

    Raw tuna is wonderful, if the cut is good. Go for the Maguro (a nigiri sushi - the fish on top of a rice bed) instead of the Tekka maki or the toro (or any tuna that has toro as part of the name). Toro is a fattier tuna portion, where maguro is the lean "steak" part of the fish. When it's fresh, it's buttery with a good bite - not slimy at all.

  2. Go you! So where was this great sushi place??

    I was also surprised that I liked eel; now anything with eel sauce is a must. Soooo good. My favorite raw fish is young yellowtail (hamachi)...very mild.


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