All this talk about a guy named Jiro and sushi got me thinking it’s time to post this story I wrote in the LA Times. My editor at the time, Leslie Brenner, came up with the idea, which was way before it’s time. Every similar story I have seen since pales–not for the writing. (Not my best lede!) But because Leslie had a great idea about what people really needed and wanted to know about eating sushi, even if they didn’t know they wanted to know, which is: how am I supposed to do it?
The story came about at a lunch–baby vegetables hidden under salad greens at Patina, if memory serves me—as I told her over the course of a casual conversation, about how I’d been eating around with my Japanese friend, Hiroshi. I met Hirsoshi through the Chino family of Chino farms in San Diego. When I came to Los Angeles from New York, from what I can guess the Chinos assigned him to be not just my hair stylist, but my friend. Every Friday night Hiroshi would take me out for sushi, and sometimes on Saturdays, to Japantown for a steam bath followed by shabu-shabu. “Means splish-splash!” he told me. “Because that’s what you do with the meat.” But it was at the Friday night sushi dinners that I got my real education.
Sadly Nobu (not that Nobu, another, better Nobu), the inspiration for the story, left the sushi bar where he was then. He is now looking to open his own thing but he’s been saying that for awhile. He needs a Bill Chait to help him along. Or maybe Bill Chait. In the meantime, I recently asked Hiroshi where he goes for sushi, so that I could go there for sushi. “Nowhere. I don’t eat sushi right now except when I go to Japan.”
As for me? I have the luxury of having a great sushi experience with Maru, the sushi chef at Taka Sushi in downtown San Diego, who I have gotten to know as he provides a sushi bar at the Chino’s annual Mochi Tsuki, or New Year’s celebration. Last time I took my one and a half sisters: my whole sister Christy, and my half-sister, Iridia. We ate at the sushi bar, of course, and I told them how it was done and they were nice enough not to throw their chopsticks at me.
“The best way is to let the sushi chef decide,” I said. “Are you up for that?”
Iridia was up for anything.
“Okay,” Christy said warily. She’s the sort of person who takes flies out of the house instead of killing them. “Just as long as nothing comes while it’s still alive,” Which of course, ruled out the crabs.. You gotta read the story… Here.)