Tuesday, May 4, 2010

How We Roll

The usual suspects: toro, tai (sea bream), red clam, and roe.
So we are in California for a couple of weeks, enjoying the weather and lots of home cooking. But before we leave Tokyo, we always do a mini-farewell tour of our favorite Japanese foods. It's a little like junkies who binge before rehab. My dear friend Dango-ra, who knows all and shares all, had me over her place in Tsukiji for sushi the day before departure. Her apartment actually overlooks the famed Tsukiji fish market where die-hard fans go to see the frenzy and eat sushi at cramped counters before Starbuck's even starts grinding beans.

The big lacquer boxes from Sushi Iwa arrived stacked and wrapped at her apartment.  From the market, to the restaurant, to the table was probably about five miles. And it shows up so pretty every time. As usual, it rocked the house. We must not be the only ones getting our dose of sushi before a trip abroad, because Sushi Iwa has a shop in Narita airport. Just before you go through security, you can get your last fix.
The ikura and uni were so good I feel like I should have digitized the photo.
I know some of you don't love the salmon eggs and/or the sea urchin. But maybe you need to try it in Japan. Neither the Professor nor his brother, the Evil Genius, liked it on American soil. In the US, people tend to use words like 'bitter," "strange," and "acquired taste," the last of which translates to, "I am going to discreetly spit this into my napkin now and drink sake until I forget it was ever in my mouth. I hate you." And yet, on a recent trip to Tokyo, the Evil Genius declared uni "the butter of the sea."  The fishiness that troubles people when they eat ikura is also not present in the best of it here. Instead, creamy, delicate little globes.

Amai-ebi--again with the creaminess from the sea!
Sushi nazis will get you all nervous about what to order, how to dip, when to eat the ginger. Ignore them and relax.  Dango-ra, like many Japanese, picks her sushi up with her fingers. And there is no delicate way to eat futo-maki, or "fat rolls," which was our nickname for Mini Z when she was an infant, by the way. They are so stuffed with goodies like eel, egg, shrimp, and pickled vegetables, that you just have to take bites and hope your companions are looking at their own plates. The kids love them, but it ain't pretty.

Futo-maki are just the thing when you show up hungry.
When it's all over, you stack the empty trays, tie them up in a cloth, and leave them outside your door to be picked up by the delivery guy. What could be better? And yet I can't help but wonder how fast the trays would have disappeared in our old neighborhood in Brooklyn. Oh, like you wouldn't pick one up.

Sushi trays ready for pick-up. So much prettier than those pizza boxes that pile up accusingly in the kitchen.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, i'm taking a chance at trying to reach you and i could find other ways to get in touch with you.

    My name is Shawn Thompson, I am photo researcher for enRoute magazine
    (Air Canada's in-flight magazine) which is read by over 1 million
    passengers a month and distributed internationally.

    In the "Ask the Frequent Flyer" section of our November 2011 issue we will mention the Sushi Iwa in Tokyo.

    During my photo research for the piece, I came across some fantastic photos of it that you have posted on here. We would maybe like to use one of your photos and are interested to know if a.) they are yours/you took them/own the rights to them and b.) if you would be interested in giving us permission to print one. We would credit the photos to you and would send you a couple copies when it is launched.

    We are working on a bit of a tight deadline. If you could let me know if this is possible, I would appreciate it.

    The image that we would like to possibly use can be seen here:


    Please email me back at sthompson@spafax.com

    Thank you in advance. I hope to hear from you.

    If you have any questions at all please don’t hesitate to get in touch
    with me. Thanks in advance for your help!

    Shawn Thompson
    Photo Research Intern
    4200 boul. St-Laurent · Bureau 707
    Montréal, Québec · H2W 2R2
    514 · 840 ·5311