I am NOT a seafood person. My taste buds have a hypersensitive ability to detect, and subsequently detest, anything that tastes like it has ever lived in water. We didn’t really eat much seafood growing up, and try as I might, I have never been able to do anything other than grimace at the flavor.
When I told friends I was moving to Japan, many expressed excitement, immediately followed by confusion. Their facial expressions conveyed a mental double-take: “but… you don’t like seafood.” I declared it would not prevent me from surviving there, which earned me everything from looks of doubt to utter disappointment, bordering on disgust. After all, lots of folks love their SUSHI.
I managed to make it nearly a full two months here without partaking. The strange thing is, during that time, I had actually been interested in trying it and actively began inquiring about where to go and when someone might be able join me to hold my hand through the anticipatory torture.
Finally, after an afternoon spent on a patio drinking cocktails, some friends asked me if I was up for going. They knew a place that had decent sushi, offered at an extremely affordable price. We made our way to Sushi Ro.
The restaurant reminded me of a diner. We were greeted by a friendly hostess, who brought us to our table. She gave us a spiel about ordering or something, but I failed to listen well, partly because I don’t understand Japanese and partly because I was distracted. A moving menagerie of small dishes was sliding by the side of our table on a conveyor belt. My friends explained what was passing by and whether they thought I’d like it, but I sat and sipped my tea and continued to stare, mesmerized, for a full five minutes after they had already begun grabbing plates and digging in.
I started with something that wasn’t seafood- some not-so-choice looking beef with loads of fat just waiting to be cut off. The growing hunger and the difficulty I had trying to separate the fat from the meat with my limited chopstick skills increased my boldness. I clicked on the screen and ordered some seaweed wrapped rolls that appeared to have cucumber and miniscule pieces of tuna inside.
Just before it arrived on the conveyor belt at our table, some tinkling bell-music played, signaling that it had reached its destination. I dipped one in a bit of soy sauce and chewed half of it. The verdict: not bad, not bad at all.
Next, I took a giant leap and snatched one of the passing plates that presented a veritable visual circus. Two rice rolls, each nearly the diameter of my first, stuffed with green cucumber, pale pink shrimp (!) coated in crusty fried tempura and a glob of light yellow mayonnaise, garnished with vibrant orange fish roe of some kind. In a daring move, I scooped it into my mouth, chewing as quickly as possible just in case it was horrible. However, the flavors came together well, and the shrimp wasn’t even overwhelming. For the win!
I finished with an airy piece of chocolate cake. Even though my friends had both polished off double that of what I’d had, I decided not to try anything else on the chance that the next dish would spoil the experience. We summoned the waitress via the “excuse me” button, she measured the height of our plates with a ruler, and doled out our respective receipts. When I arrived at the counter, I was in for another surprise. My total was 420 yen- the equivalent of only about $5!
Overall, I was pleased with the outcome of this adventure. I had had to psych myself up for the ordeal, but I could now relax and be content in the knowledge that I had lost my sushi virginity, and survived.