Was looking through a couple of photos stored on my Macbook pro just a couple of days ago when I chanced upon some from my Japan trip last year August. A first hand experience at a stand-up sushi bar.
Do remember eating sushi when I was a wee lad but didn’t really enjoy it back then. Perhaps it’s the lack of love for Japanese food when I was smaller, or the inability to comprehend how could anyone enjoy eating rice wrapped with multicellular algae.
But anyway, back to business. One of my objectives during that trip was to enjoy the authentic Japanese cuisine as how it should be. Eating at a stand-up sushi bar is seriously a strange, exciting and memorable experience and definitely a “must-try-before-you-die” thing.
I met up with Adun, the mysterious blogger of Moe moe rabu, together with KiKi of Akibanana and a friend who’s currently residing in Tokyo. We were pretty much shopping around in Akiba while Adun spent his monies on goods and I was picking out souvenirs in the adult shops for my friends back at home. One of my friends who knew I was heading to Tokyo handed me 10,000yen, wanting stuff from Akiba. I hand-picked out a tenga flip-hole, eroge and a ero-manga which surprisingly was just within the budget. After the tiresome trip of visiting the various shops, we decided to pop by at a small stand-up sushi bar just a 5 minutes walk away from Akihabara station which KiKi frequents.
You know you want some
We ordered a la carte style, where you shout your order to the sushi chef who is also known as tenchou [店長] in Japanese. I actually prefer this to the now de-facto ordering method where you sit down and choose the sushi that being served via a conveyer belt.
It’s probably this relationship that you create with the tenchou that makes it so special. A space where you get to observe the fine culinary skills displayed by the tenchou while he is preparing the sushi, instead of the conveyer belt system where the chef seems to be churning out sushi after sushi like a robot, though I suspect you feel much at ease knowing there isn’t any ‘additional’ stuff that is thrown into your sushi ^^;
One thing I really like about picture menus is that the fact you do not have give your mind a lil run of imagination on what the actual food is. Given that I don’t know my sushis that well, the pictures come in really handy and help prevent me from ordering some really exotic options of sushi and pay a huge amount for it. Alternatively, you can get a friend well-versed in Japanese to help you out.
There are various types of sushi, though they have a common ingredient, sushi rice. The ones above are known as Nigirizushi [握り寿司] or hand-formed sushi consisting of a mound of sushi rice with a dab of wasabi followed by a topping. The variant with the seaweed wrapped around sushi rice like a cylinder is known as Makizuki [巻き寿司] or rolled sushi. Don’t expect to find California Rolls or any of the Western variants being sold here.
My favorite is actually fried Nama-geso [生ゲソ] or fried squid arm sushi. The one I had at the sushi bar was prepared by ‘frying’ the squid topped with some mayonnaise using a gas blower, giving a cackling sound like burnt firewood, while we watch in awe or horror from behind our counter. The result would be fried squid sushi that gives a strange burned mayonnaise aftertaste that leaves me wanting for more.
And that pretty much sums up my first experience eating in a stand-up sushi bar. Do try it out if you get the chance to and you’ll find that experience vastly different from that of the conveyer system. Too bad we had all forgotten to get a group photo with the tencho and that cute waitresses :/ Oh! Caption the last image ^^