By Adam Capelin
Keira doesn’t like seafood very much. The brakes are applied after crumbed whiting and calamari rings. No prawns, no oysters, nothing further. So what about Sashimi – the Japanese raw fish delicacy? This was going to be great I thought.
Some background information – how did I get Keira into a Sashimi restaurant? The truth is I didn’t. I’d love to take the credit – but that goes to Chiba san. In late June 2008, Chiba san’s daughter Amane san stayed with us for 5 nights while she was in Brisbane working for a Japanese tour group company. I guess in her own way Chiba san wanted to say thank you, in true authentic Japanese style. Apparently Amane loved this restaurant – so it was fitting.
We started with some cold Sake (Japanese rice wine). I hadn’t tried Sake yet, and since this was going to be an evening of trying new things – why not! The cold Sake came in a beautiful small transparent sky blue bottle with gold flakes floating inside. Sake is generally a very clear coloured liquid, like tequila, and is served in small shot like glasses.
Kampai! Cheers! Yarrrughhh! Yuk! Sake looks like tequila and leaves the after taste of tequila lingering inside your mouth. I had another glass. Same result. To compliment the Sake, Chiba san ordered Amane’s favourite entree. A plate of dried fish fillets arrived at our table. The fish heads were absent but the fish skeleton and tail had hitched a ride with the fillet. Dry, salty, crunchy and embarrasing to eat with chopsticks. It tasted better than it looked. Keira’s eyes were searching the restaurant for an exit. The bathrooms were her next best option. Her hands were held captive between her knees. She was trapped between politeness and her desire to flee. Don’t be fooled by the photograph. Keira knows how to work the lens. We needed some safe territory I thought, something familiar to retreat to after each mouthful. Sapporo beer – a safe and satisfying option.
Chiba san asked Keira if we wanted to try Sashimi? Chotto, just a little, Keira replied politely while trying to mask the fear in her stomach. Hai, yes, nodded Chiba san enthusiastically. I was sitting next to Chiba san when 3 long plates of no fewer than 7 different Sashimi servings each and 3 nori rolls filled with sticky rice and fish roe arrived. I was smiling on the outside. But on the inside I was roaring with laughter. I pinched my self to stop my internal emotions from sitting next to me at the table. Poor Keira. This was going to be a test for me. Raw fish. The kind gollum loved from LOTR. Poor Keira – she looked mortified. She stared through the table instead of at it. Just a little Sashimi.
Sashimi is served on a small portion of wasabi on a cake of sticky white rice. Each serving of Sashimi is meant to be eaten in 1 bite. That’s a lot of raw fish to eat at once. But there was the safe familiar taste of beer to retreat to. To wash down the wasabi burning the back of your tongue. The texture of Sashimi is soft and fine. Its not juicy like a mandarin, or firm like a medium rare steak. Sashimi is a delicacy to be savoured. Each serving offered is a different fish species each with its own subtle flavour to be enjoyed. I enjoyed it! But like most things – too much of a good thing is well, hard to swallow. I think I ate 6 out of the 7 servings of Sashimi on my plate. And Keira, like a real trooper and with Chiba san’s encouragement and happy smile ate 4 servings. We both left the fish roe for another day…
Thank you Chiba san.