A friend of mine who is fortunate enough to now live in South America requested a copy of this. Thankfully, it was saved on Google Docs. If you’re here, you know what to expect, so bugger off with the lectures. :)
So, as some of you know, my bike tried to kill me again 6 weeks ago today. Fine. Wasn’t the first time, and it won’t be the last as I’ll discover later when I finally took it seriously. Anyway, it’s only been in recent days that I’ve been eating like a horse morning, noon, and night. Last night included the first steak I’ve cooked since said day. I couldn’t chew it fast enough. Trust me, when you can’t for awhile, it’s a luxury. ANYWAY…
I’ve spent the past 3 days in a row now having sensational lunches at North Park Sushi in San Diego. Today I moved back to Hillcrest at a place called Ichiban, as the bill at North Park is substantially higher.
Initially I wanted a fork and knife to cut the fish into smaller pieces to accommodate a still-sore jaw, and that was awkward enough. I’ve always felt, and have been taught, that to alter the presentation at these minimalist, seemingly relaxed, but pressure-loaded establishments, is an insult to the chef, his family, his wife’s family, and all future offspring. So we, like so many sake-drunk-lemmings-off-a-cliff, bow ferociously, indicating we understand the consequences to Grandmother and her goddamn cricket. We do this by pretending to be comfortable with balsa wood. Not sterling, babes. Fucking-balsa-make-a-plane-that-will-explode-on-impact-wood. We lean over the rice bowl and shovel it in quickly enough so as not to fall. We ignore the fact that the staff has noted that they aren’t perfect little rice balls. We perform. We are good round eye. It’s a theme restaurant, when you think about it. Like Medieval Times. Eat turkey leg as though you were in a real shit hole with no indoor plumbing, drink grog. It’s magical. Oh yeah, and you were likely dead by 40, by the way.
We continue to perform like trained Akitas, thinking a slippery piece of raw fish can be held between to sticks as steady as a grain of rice as it gets lowered into a little soy sauce jacuzzi. We convince ourselves that the wobbly bit of fish won’t essentially end up somewhere on the table. We use the end of a STICK to try to spread Wasabi onto the top, as though it was a little, primitive, oriental butter knife. Only it’s not, you twit.
Speaking of twits, does anyone actually REMEMBER a sushi bar in the 60′s or 70′s? I could swear they just landed out of thin air in the 80′s. Either that, or my parents wouldn’t buy into the idea, which probably isn’t too far off. I still can’t help but wonder when, each night, as the last guests leave before locking the door, everyone working turns around and starts laughing until soy milk comes out of their noses while they yell, “They fucking ate it!”
So my next point, or first one, I don’t know, I’m treating Glaucoma or the prevention thereof. I ordered another decent sized sashimi platter this afternoon while sitting outside, and it came with miso soup, a great salad, and a wee bit of rice. As things arrived, I grew apprehensive. I was used to explaining my situation at North Park and the waitress was very nice about it and said not to worry. But now I was around more people, everything was fine, and my excuse did not apply. I felt fine and was starving. This time, I simply didn’t want to go back to the sticks.
So the bad Kazoo appears on my shoulder and made some brilliantly astute reminders that defiantly made me request, ever so nicely, silverware:
#1 I am paying these people to serve me food that I ordered and they’re hoping I’ll like it and come back with friends.
#2 I am paying these people for all of the above AND unlike sushi, it’s more expensive, despite missing seaweed, rice, cucumber, and those other Asian staples such as Avocado and cream cheese, and whatever the fuck Krab is.
#3 and my personal favorite, I am paying these people for all of the above AND (girls, you’d better hold onto your boyfriends!) THEY DON’T EVEN HAVE TO FUCKING COOK IT.
What exactly is the interview process for the job of sushi chef? I’ll tell you. They look over the subservient Tokyo import, upon which generations of honor rests, up and down slowly. It’s like that scene from “Mulan” where that matchmaker bitch gives the trannie the once-over with unmitigated disapproval. After a moment of deliberate and reflective pause, the head of the restaurant asks, as well as the rest of his body, “So….. do you have a knife?”
And that, my friends, is how the world now has Nobu, the Japanese Wolfgang Puck. ”You go now! You been here four hours! Five hundred dollars, please!”
So after all of these epiphanies, all of which processed in seconds, my little yellow friend returned with a platter and set the sashimi down. As though I were about to storm the Bastille with peasant shields in front of me, obviously, I took a deep breath of courage and politely asked (remember, 3 years of cotillion, now not entirely wasted) if I might have a fork and knife.
The response was a confused, and HIGHLY ill-advised, “Why?” Poor thing didn’t read the script.
To which I, in turn, answered (disable cotillion, enable Tourettes), “Because I’m not in Japan.”
Once all was in front of me I sat back, cut up all 12 slices of sashimi in half and put the knife away and had an hour long lunch. I was getting a few looks, but not of disapproval. It was more like envy. And I can’t tell you how much easier it is to make a soy-wasabi blend, my favorite combo, with a fork. To be forced to use a chopstick is like trying to make butter in a really wide churn. Again, no more work. That’s SUPPOSED to be their job! Or has no one here seen “Upstairs, Downstairs?” I kept waiting for the opportunity to shout, “Shouldn’t you be running?” but that was not to happen this time. Oh well. One more wish for Santa.
See what happens when you don’t speak up?You end up working your ass off with more rice on the floor than in your mouth, all while watching the arrogant bastard who’s dressed like he just got off a cruise ship in Mykonos, and the son-of-a-bitch wouldn’t even turn off his iPod, and that poor girl will surely get beaten by father when she returns home with a rice sack full of dishonor.
I’m pretty OK with that. Either way it got talked about, and we all know, there is no such thing as bad press these days. :)