Monday, November 27, 2006

Cowboy sushi

The other night, wifey was in the mood for some sushi. And since the only raw fish seen around my small town is the kind you bait a hook with (some would say the ONLY proper use for raw fish), we ventured into the city to find an establishment worthy enough to separate our funds from our bank account.

A self-proclaimed OKC restaurant guru and eat-out "in-the-know" co-worker of my wife tells her that there exists only one sushi restaurant in all of greater OKC that is owned by a card carrying member who hails from the land of the rising sun.

How could this be?

Off to my fingers go a typing.

What I find sends my right eyebrow skyward and bends my conscious mind towards believing wifey's co-worker, as every establishment claiming to serve Japanese cuisine that's listed within a days drive, is named after the following items:The first of two of the largest battleships ever built
A cat sushi chef
The first novel in James Clavell's Asian saga.
60's crooner Frankie Valli's backup group
One of the most skilled swordsmen in history
The modern capital of Japan
I don't know about you, but none of these items conjure up images of a wonderous Japanese culinary cuisine experience awaiting my palate that is parched for some nipponese soul food.

Yes, food is just food, and between good cooks and great chefs there exists all those who can whip up a good dish no matter what the origin of the cuisine in question may be. And don't get me wrong...I've had good sushi at joints owned and run by Koreans, Vietnamese, Cantonese, Filipinos...even one run by a lady from Guam..all within the confines of the greater Los Angeles area.

In fact, one of my favoritte places to belly up to the uncooked fish bar and get berated by the barely English speaking sushi chef is run by a family of first generation South Koreans, or Seoul-ites, as they westerly call themselves.

And I must also add the disclaimer that I am in no way an expert at all things sushi, nor am I privvy to the secret preparation methods or training regime that a real sushi chef must undergo.

To rise to an expert consumption level, I'd have to take it up a notch and turn the barstool over to my ex-colleagues at my last gig.

These guys were sushi fiends, downing multiple varieties of uncooked seafood and items barely pronounceable to me, much less edible.

To this day, I can't take a bite of the stuff without thinking about the first time I mixed my wasabi and soy while in the presence of Dave, Stu, and Herb, then was shocked to see, hear, smell, and watch them order bits of raw fish and rice that I hadn't eaten since being forced to try as a kid..."it's'll like it...tastes like chicken."

These three, seemingly meat and potato men from as far away as the Jersey coast and nearby as Whitier (LA Barrio-west), opened my eyes to just how pervasive sushi-consumption had become in our country.

To be honest, I felt more than a little immasculated and out-Asian'd by these three caucasiod raw fish consumers as I ordered my California rolls and raw tuna pieces.

Back to OKC ranch, wifey and I settled into the Frankie Valli backup group sushi/teppan restaurant. We were greeted by an atrractive blonde coed wearing a lovely silk kimono that she wore more like a bathrobe. It was definitely not tailored to fit her statuesque proportions...or so my wife tells me...I wasn't looking (ahem).

The sushi chef was from Korean, but he studied under a Vietnamese sushi chef who actually did learn his craft in Japan. Score.

We were seated next to a large party of "horse people" who were in town for the Quarter Horse show happening at the nearby State Fairgrounds.

The image of cowboy hatted, western wear clad, horse folk chowing down on daintly little rice/veggie/seafood tidbits of food took the entire dining experience to a new level.

S and I ordered, and ate, watched the show at the nearby teppan tables, and generally had a grand time, satisfying both our cravings for some "Seoul" food, and our need to empty out our bank account.

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