Before we went to Japan, Husband contacted one of his business associates (actually a client) and asked if he would be free for dinner one night in Tokyo. The gentleman said yes–that he and his girlfriend would be happy to meet us for a meal. I suggested sushi and the arrangements were made.
They met us at our hotel. Before we headed out, we had a drink in one of the hotel bars…2 beers (ours) and 2 coffees (theirs) amounted to just over $63–just to give you an idea of the cost of food and drink in this very expensive city. During drinks, our friend mentioned that his boss had wanted to join us, but couldn’t…he did, however, want to pick up the tab and had made reservations at a sushi bar in the famous Tokyo fish market. This market is known for having the world’s freshest–and best sushi. I was soooooo excited.
The restaurant was small–sushi was the only thing offered and we had seats reserved at the counter.
Behind a glass separating us from the chef was an array of fresh fish and shell fish. Hmmmmm…this was going to be interesting.
The chef dipped his fingers into a bowl of vinegar and reached into the rice cooker. He pulled out a small ball of rice and rolled it in his hand…he dabbed a bit of wasabi on top and added a piece of salmon.
OK…I can handle this. Next came the tuna.
Yummm. Hey…look at me…I’m eating real sushi in Japan. Yep…I’m a bona fide foodie…nothing I can’t handle.
Next was squid. Imagine taking the eraser off a pencil. Now roll the eraser out thin with a rolling pin. Plop that on a rice ball and eat. That’s what squid tastes like. Also, keep in mind that proper etiquette dictates eating all these pieces in one bite. It’s not easy. But I got it down. Obviously, I wasn’t going to love every piece.
Little did I know, it was only going downhill from there.
This is half beak. I knew there was no way I was even trying this one…not even if I drowned it in soy sauce. I just played with it and pretended like I was getting full. (Oh, and can I mention here that to wash all this down we had sake. Sake tastes like boiled sock water.)
I’m starting to realize I’m in serious trouble here. As husband says, I had definitely bitten off more than I could chew.
Then I spied this behind the counter:
Clams. Fortunately, the woman beside me could see that I was getting in trouble…I told her that there was no way I could eat the clams. Truth be told (and all you cosmopolitan types out there can laugh), this is what I was expecting:
Unfortunately, for my next piece, this is what I got:
That there is your basic raw sea urchin. Just a short while before, it looked like this:
I had to get it down, no matter what. It was our host’s favorite. If I didn’t eat it, I would be insulting him. I grabbed it with my chopsticks and dipped it in the soy sauce. Then, trying to remember that this is one of the world’s greatest delicacies, I put the whole thing in my mouth.
It was too big to swallow whole and too mushy to chew. I literally gagged (albeit in a quite, ladylike fashion). They were all staring at me. My eyes were watering and my throat was rebelling…every cell was telling me spit it out. But, this being Japan, there were no napkins. I had no choice. Our host’s girlfriend didn’t think I would make it…and neither did I. But finally it was gone, washed down with some boiled sock water.
That was all for me. The others had a raw crab leg and some salmon roe.
Then we all had a nice bowl of grass soup and called it a night.