Wednesday, May 17, 2006

I Eat Sushi and Live to Tell About it.



Makes sense to me

Last night I met the girls for dinner at Kiku, a Japanese restaurant in Park Slope. Obviously, I was not involved in choosing the restaurant. The ladies are mad for sushi. Crazy about it. I find it gross and kinda scary. However I had a big lunch and was planning on just popping in for a drink and some edamame (no comment, Alphabets). The ladies spent some considerable time planning their course of attack on the fishy buggers. The conversation sounded like this:

"Okay, so that's one Green Lady, one Spicy Tuna..."

"Wait, did you get any crunchy eel?"

"Yup, got that. Does the Golden Phoenix come with Mango?"

Blah blah blah. I looked at the Vegetarian Rolls section. My main problem with sushi is the raw fish part. That's the main problem. Although, I am also not crazy about the seaweed part. As a child growing up by the ocean I spent most of my formative years running away from slimy, foul-smelling seaweed, so it's a little counterintuitive now for me to shell out thirteen bucks to eat some. I chose the "Peanut Roll" because in my head a peanut roll is made of peanuts and carmel and possibly a nougat filling.

While we were chowing down on edamame, but definitely not biting and chewing laboriously on the edamame pods because that is not how you eat edamame, the girls' Spring Rolls arrived. These are not the familiar spring rolls of your local cheap Chinese joint, you know, where the spring roll consists of 90% something fried and 10% some unrecognizable vegetables. These spring rolls contained tuna (raw), salmon (raw), avacado and some other green stuff rolled into a thin dough wrapped and served with toasted pine nuts and "craisins" as LaHipster called them (I thought "Craisins" only applied when you were eating some kind of Ocean Spray snack product).

It wasn't long before the bitches were goading me into trying some of their sushi.

"Try some," they said.

"No," I said.

"Go on, try it."

"Uh-uh, uh-uh," I said, shaking my head. "Yucky." Then TomatoRed told me, "It tastes just like candy." Now, I've heard the "it tastes just like candy" line many times before and usually I end up disappointed. But one time when I was 16 years old and had never tired fresh pineapple someone said, "Try it, it's sweeter than candy. It's like an all natural Milky Way." And you know what? It was delicious. So I started contemplating trying a piece of sushi.

The first obstacle was the chop sticks. Yes, I am one of those white assholes who cannot use a pair of chopsticks. I will be at a very nice Asian restaurant and when my food is served I will quietly say to the server, "Excuse me, could I trouble you for a fork?" As soon as the f-word leaves my mouth all background noise will cease and every head in the restaurant will swivel to gawk at me. I don't know what the Japanese word for "gringo" is, but I'm certain there is one and I'm certain that is what people are thinking when they disguistedly shake their heads at me.

With some manoeuvering that shows that my fine motor skills leave a lot to be desired, I finally go the piece of sushi between my chop sticks.

"Okay," my friends cheered. "Just put the whole thing in your mouth."

"No, no. I can't do it. I can't do it."

"Ready, 1 ... 2 ... 3 ... Go!" On the word "Go", I lifted the piece of sushi up, bent my face down and ... sniffed it. It didn't smell like old fish. I thought that was a good sign. "No! Come on, one bite! Ready, 1 ... 2 ... 3... Go!" I picked up the sushi and ... licked it. Mm. Okay. One final time they counted down, this time with Alphabets possibly performing a drum roll on the table and 1, 2, 3, I put the whole freaking thing in my mouth.

The first bites were great. "It's good, right?" said LaHipster. "It's a flavor explosion in your mouth." I was experiencing all different textures and very subtle tastes. Then the crunch was gone. There was only one texture left in my mouth and that texture was slimy. There was just now getting around it, I was left with a mouth full of of cold fish.

"I don't want this anymore," I said, talking around the fish.

"Sure you do. Swallow. Swallow it down. Get it done," coached LaHipster. I chewed and chewed. I looked around for a napkin in which to spit it. Finally I surrendered it and swallowed the rest of the fish.

I did it, I had surprised myself and now my ordeal was over. I was satisfied in the way you might be after coming out of the other end of a root canal. But my nerves were shot to hell. Thank God for the plum wine. Meanwhile, the ladies were gearing up for more. Soon the waitress arrived and placed on the tables plates filled with beautiful rolls and sashmi and, just to further push me over the edge, two giant fried prawn heads. Later LaHip cracked one of these heads open and I felt the spring roll coming back up. I stuck with my peanut rolls which did not contain any carmel but were oddly satisfying in their own right.

Now if someone wants to bake a devil's food cupcake, roll it in sticky rice and dunk it in soy sauce, we might be on to something.

8 comments:

Beta said...

Hehe. Glad you enjoyed the edamame. I've fixed myself just a bowl of that for dinner on several occasions.
It sounds like either you or one of your readers recently went and ate the pods.

LaHip said...

Beta, it was her, all her. She popped the whole damn pod in her mouth and chewed it to a mincey pulp while we all gawked around her. It was beautiful.

Also, dear readers, know that our Cuppie is physically unable to mouth an entire piece of sushi at once. Just a warning in the event this may deter your relations with her.

Cupcake said...

LaHip, you big bitch. Thanks for spilling the (soy) beans, as it were. It was I who did not know how to eat the edamame the last time we met, a minor scene ensued that I was certain all had forgotten about. Then I found out Tuesday night that this droll anectdote is being retold at my expense at parties all over Southern Brooklyn.

And thanks for drawing furter attention to the overt sexual overtones here.

Cupcake said...

I also forgot the part of the story when I was still hesitant to try the sushi so LaHipster said, "Just do it, Nance. You can blog about it." To which I had to reply she had an excellent point.

So that is the tried and true way to get me to try something new, just remind me that I can write/blog about it. "Come on, Nance. Auto-erotic asphxiation! You can blog about it..."

Sheena said...

I am fairly useless when it comes to chopsticks as well, so I just eat sushi with my hands.

Glad you gave it a shot, but I'm sorry the texture got to you. Good raw fish is wonderful and ocean-y. And the added tangy sweetness of sushi rice... delish.

You could always go for the cooked things. Like sweet potato tempura rolls or california rolls.

And always always eat with your hands. More fun that way.

claire said...

try eel rolls!! they are not raw, but are marinated in a wonderful sweet sauce (my mouth is actually watering at this moment). my favorite is actually the dragon roll (which is eel and avocado with roe), but you don't have to go all the way.

they're warm and don't taste fishy.

although, the fishy-ness is usually the best part. mmmmmmm. sushi.

Super Skater said...

Cupcake, don't worry about 'mouthing' an entire piece of sushi. I would say that 50% of the time I eat sushi, I start to choke because the piece is too big and my teeth are apparently useless when it comes to breaking down nori.

Once, I was explaining this problem to a friend while dining on sushi- she laughed at my story, and then I immediately began to choke. She stopped laughing when my face turned slightly blue. I escaped that one without the Heimlich, but it's really only a matter of time before I cause a complete spectacle.

My old roommate used to ask the people at Kiku to cut eat of her pieces in half so they were nice and manageable. But she was a little passive-aggressive and strangely high maintenance when it came to service, so it has never occurred to me that this might be a wise request when it comes to my own dining needs...

Joshua said...

Don't sweat the raw fish part cupcake, most sushi in America is actually cooked:
http://www.associatedcontent.com/content.cfm?content_type=article&content_type_id=3507
So even if it tastes raw, it's not. That kind of sucks though, since I imagine the real thing tastes amazing.

I usually order from the Kiku on 7th, but I think the one you went to is supposed to be even better.