Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Sushi boats and psychics

Last night I went to dinner with my friend Caroline at this lovely Japanese place downtown. They do that fancy restaurant theatrics thing where you sit in a u-shape around a huge griddle while the chef tosses bowls and knives around and basically does for veggies and meat what Tom Cruise and Bryan Brown did for bottles of vodka and rum. We didn't sit at one of those tables, though. We sat at the all-you-can-eat sushi bar instead.

This isn't any ordinary all-you-can-eat scenario like at the Great China Buffet my parents are so fond of, however. No. This place has an oblong bar that wraps around the sushi chef's* station, and in between the bar and the sushi guy is a little moat. Yes, as in a moat filled with water, just like they used to build around old English castles, except significantly narrower and shallower and therefore offering decidedly less in the way of protecting and guarding capabilities. Anyway, in the moat are a bunch of small, plastic boats all chained together and powered by some unseen mechanism that keeps the boats gently circling around the bar. As the sushi not-chef prepares each little plate of rolls and sushi and edamame and whatnot, he places them into the passing boats, and you simply pluck off whatever you want as it floats by.

* I know he is not called a "chef," but I am too lazy to look up the right word for this now.

Now, if you had asked me before last night whether I could imagine any situation in which a mobile buffet could be anything but tacky, I would, of course, have been skeptical. Can you imagine Old Country Buffet, for example, instituting something like this? First, the boats would probably be not-so-mini-seaworthy, what with being weighed down with prime rib and honey-baked ham and mounds of mashed potatoes and all, but second, most of the people at Old Country Buffet can probably use that little walk from their rickety table to the giant serving pans on the buffet islands. I don't want to be mean or to make sweeping generalizations here (oh, who am I kidding; of course I'm going to be mean and make sweeping generalizations here), but probably my favorite thing about Old Country Buffet on the rare occasions I go there (my favorite thing aside from the mashed potatoes and the make-your-own-sundae bar, of course) is the fact that I can nearly guarantee that on any visit, I am bound to be among the top ten thinnest and most attractive people in the place. There really aren't all that many establishments where I have those kinds of solid odds, so I like to appreciate them when I can.

But anyway, I digress. The little floating and moveable feast was charming, and I am entirely won over by the whole concept. I think I probably tried a bit too hard to get my full $30 worth at the meal, however, as it is fifteen hours later and only now am I feeling like maybe some lunch would be a good idea. You know how they say not to throw rice at weddings, because the birds eat it and it expands in their stomachs and they could actually sort of explode? I know that warning is only for uncooked rice, but I still feel like that is what was going on in my stomach up until about 11:00 this morning. Well, that and this sort of "off" and twisty feeling that felt... well, that felt basically like I'd just eaten a boatload of raw fish (tiny boat or otherwise). Note to self: sushi is maybe not the food most conducive to trying to get a fair amount from the all-you-can-eat pricing arrangement. And that's about all I need to say about that.

In any case, Caroline and I had a lovely time. She is a friend I rarely see, but every time we get together we remember how much we really do enjoy catching up and swapping stories, and we vow not to let so much time pass again before our next visit. We make that vow and then we promptly forget it, it seems, and then we reconnect again four months later, like clockwork. This time, I am hoping we actually follow through on our much-discussed plans, though, because what we talked about doing next is to see a psychic with whom Caroline is familiar. All this talk of psychics lately has made me curious to give it another try, and since I won't be making it to Philly anytime soon to see Jackie the Wonder Psychic, Caroline's sounds like an excellent backup plan. If she too tells me that some Indian lady many generations back is responsible for my perpetual singlehood, I'm not sure exactly what I'll do, but that is a risk I am willing to take. I shall keep you posted, for I'm sure another story is forthcoming. Of course, this being a with-Caroline plan, "forthcoming" may mean four months from now. So, um, you know--stay tuned.

All right then. I'm sure most of you are out of here this afternoon for a few days of binging on things other than sushi, and I hope you have a lovely time with all of that. I'll still be here, determined not to drop out of this NaBloPoMo thing in the final eight days, but I suspect most of you will not. In that case, see you next week. I'll try not to write anything too terribly exciting in the meantime. I'm sure I am up to that challenge.

Happy long weekend!


Anonymous said...

Hey, send me the name of that restaurant because I want to go there. I want to eat sushi off a mini-boat!

And I will not be able to write, but I will be able to read your posts on my blackberry (and maybe leave an error-riddent comment or two), so don't make your entries too boring.

stefanie said...

Ooh; aren't you all fancy and connected with the nifty blackberry and all... You have all the best toys, R.

I shall send a link your way momentarily... It's Ichiban, but I need to confirm the spelling on that.

Stinkypaw said...

Rice bloat because of too many boats, that's a good one.

LOL when I read "my favorite thing aside from the mashed potatoes and the make-your-own-sundae bar, of course) is the fact that I can nearly guarantee that on any visit, I am bound to be among the top ten thinnest and most attractive people in the place." Don't you love palces like that? I do! Gives a whole new meaning to "instact gratification".

Since we (Canucks) celebrated on Thansgiving In October, I'll be around (not that you really care...).

stefanie said...

Sure, I care, Stinkypaw! I got your email about your new blog; I just haven't gotten the chance to check it out yet. Will do so soon.

Darren McLikeshimself said...

I tell you this in all seriousness: That sounds like about the BEST restaurant! God, I SO want to go there!

As far as what you wrote about Old Country Buffet patrons goes, that sounds like age-ism. And it's wrong.

Glad to see you worked in "moveable feast" because halfway through the description of the restaurant, I thought, "If I were writing this post, I'd call it..."

The Other Girl said...

I think a sushi chef is just called a sushi chef. If I were in Japan I might call him sushiya-san (literally, Mr. Sushi Restaurant Man), but I've never heard anyone here say anything but sushi chef. I could be wrong, though.

Man, I love buffets. Whenever I go to Vegas, buffets are a good 1/3 of the reason why.

stefanie said...

Darren--You're right. I totally should have titled it that. I'm not sure why that didn't occur to me. At least I thought to work it into the post, though!

Other Girl--Really? He is a chef? I was thinking that wasn't the right word, since he's not really cooking anything. I don't know why I thought chef had to mean cooking with heat, but whatever.

stefanie said...

P.S. Nice "Say Anything" reference, Darren. :-)

guinness girl said...

Ooh, I can't wait to hear about your psychic visit! And - if I ever make it to Minneapolis, pretty please can we go to the sushi-moat restaurant? That sounds so awesome. Hee!

stefanie said...

Of course we can, GG. But I still need to take you to the tikki bar, too! I guess you will have to stay for more than one day.

Cornealius said...

If your into psychics you might wanna read this