Sashimi on Sado Island
Sushi is as much a delicacy there as it is here and MORE expensive than it is here. Great sushi bars in Japan are about as rare as they are here and carry higher price tags.
I've eaten at a sushi bar two doors down from Tskuji market, the sushi was incredible. It was 1985 - when you got 280 yen to the dollar - the bill was 56,000 Yen or $200. Today that would be about $360! Trust me, we did not pig out, it was all about the quality and I was told that I was being given a "gaijin discount, to honor my visit". If the chef was using previously frozen fish and was found out, he'd probably off himself on the spot.
Indeed, it was delicious, but the best sushi I've had, however, was on Sado Island off the coast of Niigata (Northern Japan). Walked into a tiny little restaurant/bar and I ordered sea urchin in English:
"May I have uni please?".
Blank stares and one guy runs out the back door in wooden "slippers". Klop klop klop...
Couple of minutes later same guy comes to my table with a basket full of fully thorned still moving around urchins.
Whole place cracks up! Don't know if they were laughing more at his attempt at English than my expression.
"HAI! OISHI!" (Yes, delicious!).
They all stopped laughing suddenly...staring at me...
I have (had at this point, sigh) a knack for pronouncing Nihongo with very good local accents. My friend's brother taught me when I lived with them near Tokyo. Imagine a Japanese tourist coming up to you and saying, "Wicked.. wicked.. hahd!".
So, I quickly said...
"Domo arigato gozaimasu. Sore kudasai! Hashi?" [Thank you very much. I will have it! Chopsticks?]
They all burst out laughing again. He immediately took it away and came back 5 minutes later with uni sashimi with ikura (salmon eggs, my favorite). I ate some and rolled my eyes ...
They all applauded!
I was treated like a king after that - they kept bringing food until I declared defeat! Great people, who incidentally don't see gaijin (foreigners) much since it's not a popular tourist area and also requires a hovercraft ferry ride (I was rich due to exchange rates then).
Thanks for letting me share these memories - it has been a long time since I even thought about that day. It was a great time and rare experience! [Double entendre there!]
Closer By The Fly!
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