Now, if you've been reading this blog since its inception, you know that I came up with the idea for the project while sitting next to my vegetarian coworker/friend and deciding to try a new dish at a restaurant where tried-and-true had been the name of the game. I found it fitting that Kane, this same friend, should be the one to introduce me to what was a pretty significant installment of
Today's New Activity: Raw Fish, Hold the Fish
Now...I'd just begun to eat fish a couple of months before becoming vegetarian (going on 9 years ago now). I never made it as far as sushi because, well, if one makes it to the age of 24 before even venturing to taste cooked fish, raw fish is definitely an idea that takes some getting used to. I also never even ventured into sushi restaurants because it was my (incorrect!) assumption that all sushi involved sea creatures. Oh my goodness, have I been missing out!
Kane knew of a vegetarian Japanese restaurant in Berkeley called Cha-Ya, which served sushi as well as a number of appetizers and noodle dishes. I don't normally go to vegetarian restaurants; I'm guessing that's because--9 times out of ten--when I'm going out to eat I'm going with at least one other person (never another vegetarian) for whom 50 vegetarian menu items are not enough to choose from because they're all missing one crucial ingredient.
It occurs to me, after today's experience, that my approach has been all wrong. Must needs find more vegetarians to eat with! Or at least VERY VEGGIE FRIENDLY meat eaters. It's a whole new, wonderful experience to walk into a restaurant, open the menu, and see nothing but line after line of things I would actually order instead of hunting around for the few veggie options or asking the server to hold the meat on some pasta dish or Mexican dish.
At the same time, it was a bit overwhelming to have so many options, and it took a while for us to decide on the order: three different types of Hosomaki (which are small sushi rolls--we chose avocado, sea salad, and asparagus), Kinoko (mushroom) noodle soup (we chose soba, the thin buckwheat noodles, since I'd never tried those either), and Gyoza (pot stickers). They also served us Miso soup and Sunomono (cucumber salad).
Damn. So many yummy flavors! I have to say I liked but wasn't crazy about the sea salad sushi rolls. The flavor was good but the chewy texture was a little off-putting to me. Other than that I love everything.
And I also love eating meals that involve such variety of tastes and textures. It feels more ceremonial since it just inherently takes longer. And Kane was a passionate eater...it's always fun for me to be in the company of people who eat with abandon and to their heart's content.
The biggest takeaway for me in the aftermath of this meal is the affirmation that this project is one of the best ideas I've ever actually acted on. Eating this meal made me wonder, of course, what *else* I've been missing out on all this time, food and otherwise. So I'm off to continue finding out...