Thursday, May 30, 2013

No, I’m crying because I’m happy

So I’m sitting at Thai Nakorn, hundreds of napkins stacked at the ready.

“How spicy do you want it?” asks the waiter.  “On a scale of 1 through 5?”

Do not say ‘5’.

Don’t do it.

You’ll be sorry.

The waiters will come by later, concerned, and innocently ask, “Too spicy for you?”

And you’ll have to say no, no, of course not, as tears run down your face and water runs from your 
nose and into your napkin as you try to surreptitiously spit out pepper seeds and simultaneously cool the fire with Thai iced tea.

Because, let’s face it, you said 5.  And now you have to suffer the consequences.  Here’s a secret: the only thing that will help your poor tongue now is not Thai iced tea.  It’s sticky rice.  Not regular rice.  Sticky rice.

I always say '4'.  '4' is tongue-swellingly, forehead-sweatingly spicy enough.

But Thai Nakorn doesn’t rest on its fiery pepper laurels.  Its flavors come through, mingled, quite well enough on their own.  The crispy catfish green mango salad is a particularly arresting dish texturally, with the peanuts and crispy fried catfish skins giving a satisfying crunch to the sour and juicy spears of green mango.  The tiny orange half-circles are not some sort of exotic orange Thai pepper; they’re shrimp.  Their microscopic legs and eyes are visible if you peer closely at your plate, but you don’t need to see them to be able to taste them: a savory ocean dash at the edges of your tongue.

Thai, Laotian, and Cambodian food has always thrilled my taste buds at the same time as it pushes my tear ducts' boundaries to the limit.  It's not afraid to offend me, and I LOVE unapologetically pushy food.

Take Vientiane Thai Laos' larb goong (shrimp larb).  There are shrimp chopped tiny and just barely seared, like ceviche, from the lime juice.  There are impossibly crisp vegetables and shredded strips of mint leaves that aren't afraid to take over.  But they don't have to worry about having to do that, because everything is thickly coated in finely chopped red pepper.  

Or the gang thy pa from the same place, a soup that looks like it's going to be a neutral, perhaps coconutty or fishy cross between tom yum and tom yum kai, but then turns out to be a seething bowl of fermented fish sauce, tamarind, and pepper, pepper, pepper.

Sometimes you think you're safe ordering fruit.  Wrong!  Wat Dong Moon Lek Noodle's rambutan salad - rambutan salad, come on! - comes out so shockingly hot that you have to practically mainline your basil-pineapple smoothie just to keep breathing.  Its base, spicy lime cream, is dotted with fiery orange chilies, and the juice from the rambutan spreads over the cream like oil over water, creating a swirled kind of tonguefeel.

Whenever I eat these dishes, and even though my nose is running and my mouth is aflame, I am able to taste straight through to the complex flowery tones beneath, I give thanks to one man.

I know him only as 'Kim'.

He runs Thai Avenue in Boulder and I used to order drunken noodles from his little food court stand weekly.  I started going there in 2006, ordering my noodles emphatically mild.  By 2010, when I left Boulder, I was well into the 'spicy' category and going strong.

I have no evidence of this, but I strongly suspect he upped the pepper content by microscopic amounts weekly to get me accustomed to it.  I never noticed the difference in his plates - they were simply perfect and delicious every week - but I gradually started noticing I was able to hold my own with jalapeño pepper-infused Mexican dishes and Korean gochujang-soaked side dishes.  And more than that, I was tasting them in new and wonderful ways.

Now, you'll find me vigorously entreating Thai waitresses to please believe me, yes I want it spicy, yes I know what that means, yes, I promise I won't run out of here cursing you.  Yes.  Spicy.  Please. 

Thank you, Kim.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Lengua and other 'secret' meats

I'd never been too fond of the idea of beef tongue before this past Saturday.  Or any kind of tongue, for that matter.

Maybe this sounds weird, but the thought of another tongue in my mouth next to my own tongue made me cringe a little.  I mean, what if I forgot which tongue I was supposed to be chewing?  What if my teeth couldn't tell the difference?  It's hard enough not to bite my tongue when it's numb from Novocaine - how would my jaw manage differentiating between multiple tongues?

So, there's been a taco truck that sets up shop next to the Echo Park Walgreens for as long as I can remember.  It's called Tacos Arizas.  Now, I've always been curious about it, but whenever I was in Echo Park it meant I was visiting my extended family, and that meant one thing: meat.  Grandmas and aunts and mothers and cousins all cooking ridiculous amounts of meat.  Chopped liver.  Borscht (yes, this has beef all over the place according to their recipe).  Enchiladas verdes con pollo.  Essic-fleish.  Spareribs - Korean or European style.

The last thing I ever wanted on top of all of that was a meaty meat-taco.

But Saturday, I had my chance.  I had fifteen minutes left on the parking meter from shopping and I was starving.  I ran over to the truck and ordered three tacos: buche, carnitas, and yes, lengua.

I didn't take a picture because: a) I was too busy spilling salsa all over my car as it was, and b) it was in my stomach before I knew it.

Tongue is like a cross between tender muscle meat and liver!  It's juicy, not chewy at all, and much, much more forgiving to chew on than, say, many steaks.  Why did no one inform me of its wonders earlier?

I feel like being raised in the States - for most of us, anyway - is like being raised in a parallel universe where animals just magically lack certain body parts.  They have flanks, they have breasts, they have ribs and muscles and bellies, but their heads have disappeared into the air.  And their hearts, and their organs, and their intestines, and their feet, and their spines too - when the animal is killed, these parts just shrivel up and disintegrate in little puffs of smoke.

And that makes me feel like for most of my life I have been complicit in a supreme conspiracy of waste, of toddler-like pickiness.  What is inherently wrong or gross about eating these invisible parts of the animal?  If you don't like the flavor or texture of a certain part after you've tried it, that's just fine.  But I doubt nearly an entire country would spit out a sashimi-like smooth chunk of tendon or a chewy, fatty intestine if its source were hidden, or sugar-coated.

It sounds like I'm frustrated, and admittedly there is a bit of that, but the overwhelming feeling is that the world of unexplored meat cuts is like an endless platter of potential favorites laid out before me.

What cut next?

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Ashure: Turkish Bakery Wheel of Fortune

One of my favorite dishes at Passover is charoset, which is made incredibly simply, using only apples, walnuts, wine, and sugar.  It tastes like someone deconstructed the world's most perfect granola bar, then turned back time so all the ingredients just fell from the tree (or were squeezed from the cane, or fermented from the grapes, depending on the ingredient in question).

Thanks, Cooking With My Kid - that's much prettier than mine!
I can't really discern whether it's my favorite because it's delicious (which it is) or because it's the only Passover-related thing that my kitchen-challenged self can reliably prepare for a tableful of generally discerning Jewish people (which it also is - I mean, for example, have you seen how you make gefilte fish?!).

Conversely, one of my least favorite things to eat is oatmeal.  This makes pretty much no sense, because I enjoy Cream of Wheat, Asian porridges (Chinese zhou, Vietnamese cháo; even that Japanese grated yam dish that has the consistency of's called tororo, I believe) yogurt with granola, and other oatmeal-like things.  There's just something about oatmeal, its watery slight sweetness, that tastes and feels like someone left Cheerios and skim milk out on the porch in the sun.

So when I peeled the lid off a mystery dessert I got at a Turkish bakery that looked like an exact cross between charoset and oatmeal, I honestly had no idea what would happen with the communication between my tastebuds and my brain.

I ate it on my windowsill to give it more of an 'I'm picnicking in the forest' feel.
It was called ashure, and was more oatmeal-like than charoset-like - but really it departed quickly from both.

I can see how it might be better with fresh peaches rather than canned, because every time I got a surprising crunch and burst of juice from a pomegranate seed, I got a little electric shiver of delight.  The chickpeas lent an almost Asian-dessert-like quality (with its always confounding emphasis on sweet legumes) and the cinnamon sauce all runny in the middle brought to mind a warm, gooey cinnamon roll.

Not bad for something I chose by pointing at random into a display case! 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Stumbling on snails

Before last year, it never really occurred to me to eat snails.

It never occurred to me to NOT eat them either.  They were just creatures that surfaced in apocalyptic numbers after a rain, lining the sidewalks with suicidal determination.  Little molluscs whose intentions I anthropomorphized when they slowly waved their tiny feelers at me as I relocated them to the safety of the bushes.

"Hey asshole, I was halfway across that sidewalk!"

Despite their resemblance to delicious sea creatures like conches and oysters, and despite their fancy French pedigree as escargot, I just never looked at them as lunch.

And then Vietnam happened.

We'd arrived in Saigon at 5:30 that morning after a hellish overnight train ride in upright seats with a terribly dubbed Alvin and the Chipmunks playing on repeat on the train's TV.

This picture about sums it up.  An eye-mask and a neck-pillow were not sufficient pacifiers.

The hostel desk clerk was asleep on a couch by the front desk and no amount of shouting and knocking could rouse him.  So we were forced to sit in the park and watch impossibly early-rising and spry senior citizens make their morning exercise rounds until about 7:00, when we were finally let in to take a much deserved-nap.

When we woke up at 11:00, we were starving, and Bến Thành Market was right there to help.

Now, Bến Thành Market is an earsplitting hotbox of frenetic activity, stalls jammed wall to wall, signs stacked five high, shouting proprietors grabbing your arm and pointing wildly at their wares.

Thanks, Wikipedia - that looks about right.  I would have taken my own picture except moving my arm would have meant drawing attention to my existence and being given no other choice but to purchase 100 belts, áo dài, and bowls of rice noodles.

At the time, I could technically read and understand about half of the Vietnamese menus I saw.  In practice, though, this didn't matter.  I was unable to stop moving long enough to read the words, lest I be physically maneuvered into a chair and practically hand-fed (this literally happened in Korea - I wrote about it here).

So rather than try to read anything, I just decided to look for unfamiliar text and slide into whichever stall advertised it.  Thus, snails.

Also, this snail-cookin' lady didn't even try to get me to eat there.  Reverse psychology works, guys!
This was my first snail meal ever...

Garlic oil snails with pepper.
... and it was so good - simply, freshly, three-ingredient-ly good - that it spurred a mad dash around Saigon looking for more.  I actually came back to the same place the next day, while I obsessively Googled further possibilities.  And I NEVER eat at the same place twice when I travel.

Apple snails with lemongrass (+ bonus jackfruit smoothie).

My Googling eventually led me to a place called Quán ốc út Trang (which I briefly mentioned once before).  It was dead during the day, overflowing at night, and served a staggering array of sea creatures, beef tendon and intestines, duck tongue, random animal cartilage, and yes, snails.

Not that we could tell by the menu what kind of snails they were.

Nail screws, anyone?  How about some horse property?  Chem Copy?  No?  Really?  Well, trenches and EFA sure sound delicious.
Our first half hour consister of me trying to shrink into my plastic bench and disappear while Julian giggled, cackled, roared, and snapped pictures of the utterly unhelpful yet hilarious menu.

Google Translate actually comes up with 'junk' instead of 'interesting components', so you could argue they were going for positivity here.
This page was doing pretty well until the Building Ireland part.
Our next half hour, however, consisted of me threatening to leave Julian for a Vietnamese snail farmer so I could eat like this every day.

Snails are such perfect, mildly-shellfish-tinged bases for flavor, and they combine that with being really, really maddeningly hard to get out of their shells.

But we like food that makes us work for it, you know?  

We love smashing crab legs with little wooden hammers and digging the claw meat out with metal picks.  

We stand at our cutting boards spattering pomegranate juice all over the kitchen, making it (and our hands) look like a bloody murder scene, just for the privilege of a few arils of yummy juice.

We cry as we chop endless onions, cut ourselves shucking oysters, scrape ourselves picking blackberries, and ferment grapes for decades just to have a glass of wine with dinner.

So by extension, coconut snails we have to dig out with safety pins must be about the most coveted dish ever, right?

No, I'm not exaggerating - you do have to dig them out with safety pins.
I'm not going to say that snails are always delicious.  They depend on what they're cooked in.  What they are is a fantastic excuse for flavor experimentation, and particularly in Vietnam, showerings of herbs and oil.  The above-pictured dish - coconut snails - was a rich, silky, tropical indulgence.  The two above (apple and garlic snails) were more refreshing, just vehicles for fresh spices and herbs. 


Where to find snails in Orange County:

I have had snails only twice since returning to the states, both at the same place.  The first time, I got a dish whose name I don't remember - but they were basically little garlic snails you pry out with a toothpick.  They were delicious, with a savory-light sauce.  The second time, I got ốc len xào dừa - snails in coconut sauce - hoping they'd be the same as the Saigon safety pin snails above.  They weren't - they were excessively slimy and almost cloying.

So attempt if you dare - but it's only a $5 gamble, so really, there's no reason not to.  Also, they serve hột vịt lộn* - I tried their version over the weekend and the baby I got was barely developed.  It would be a great place to start if you're squeamish.


*When I ordered the snails, the lady behind the counter was all "UH, YOU KNOW SNAILS RIGHT?" but when I ordered the hột vịt lộn she didn't blink an eye.  I think this may say something interesting about what different cultures think other cultures are apt to find distasteful.

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Theory of the Dive

So, I eat almost exclusively at what most people might charitably call dives.

Why do I do this?  

It's not because I'm a masochist.  If I were I'd exclusively patronize eardrum-shattering bars or Pizza Hut or the deli food bar at health food stores.  Or any place that uses lab-made capsaicin crystal hot sauce for the shock value.

It's not because I am a Guy Fieri disciple - I only know the guy's name because when I see it emblazoned on a formerly cheap, casual dive's wall, it's usually accompanied by jacked-up menu prices and hordes of camera-toting tourists.

And it's especially not, as one recent accusation implied, that I'm a huge foodie-hipster who only thinks restaurants are cool before they're 'discovered' (though I realize my last paragraph implies that there might be a grain of truth here).


What follows is my Theory of the Dive.  The Theory of the Dive is simple and (I think) intuitive:

If a restaurant is dirty, if it's small and the chairs grate, squeak, and wobble; if customers are crowded onto benches with strangers or forced to endure terrible music; if the waitstaff is rude, disinterested, or nonexistent; if there are cockroaches scurrying along the margins or the owner's baby runs around unsupervised; if the decor is neon green or 70's wood-paneled or otherwise garish; if some or all of these things are true, and the restaurant is still in business...

...there must be a damn good reason.

And that reason is usually that the food is phenomenal.

Think about it!

I don't expect everyone to be just like me and eat out solely for the food - I understand that people go out to eat for different reasons.  

Some people like to feel taken care of.  They cook for their family all the time and want to relax and have an experience where they are the ones waited on for a change.  

Some people want to immerse themselves in some sort of crafted scene, an artistically constructed environment, and derive their pleasure from the aesthetics of their surroundings as they eat.  

Some people treat dining as a social gathering and don't even notice what's going into their mouths as long as their friends are with them.

And some treat it as a stage.  A see-and-be-seen catwalk of sorts.

The fact that I have different priorities than these people doesn't bother me.*  I think it's obvious by the strained way I wrote those last four paragraphs that their preferences are hard for me to relate to, but their existence makes it easier for me to pinpoint a great restaurant just by looking at it.

All of the aforementioned eaters-for-other-reasons are eliminated.  

All that's left is replicas of me.  My food-obsessed, blinders-wearing brethren.

And if we're enough to keep the place open, it's almost guaranteed: there is something amazing hiding in there!


My favorite dives in the country (and though it should be clear by now, I emphasize that I say 'dives' with the utmost respect and affection):

Sahara Restaurant, Minneapolis.  Hidden behind a fabric store, occasionally closed at prayer time, kids filing through with backpacks after school... all worth it for how well they cook their goat.

Ghareeb Nawaz, Chicago.  Surly service, chaotic layout, excellent green chile chicken, 50 cent naan.

Good Mong Kok Bakery, San Francisco.  Zero English from the cooks, zero lining-up prowess from the customers, best char siu bao in SF from a storefront the size of a closet.

Banh Mi My Tho, Alhambra.  Half convenience store, half sandwich wizardry.

Sachi Sushi, Niwot.  Shockingly good chirashi bowls in the back of a grocery store next to the dairy section.

Poke-Poke, Venice.  Fresh raw fish sprinkled with all sorts of Hawaiian goodness surrounded by urine-soaked sidewalks, medical marijuana hawkers, and all-around kookiness.


*One exception to that rule is people who think it's appropriate to judge a place on the personalities of employees or fellow diners.  This (perhaps irrationally) enrages me.  The following are 100% real Yelp complaints posted for insanely delicious restaurants where I have had both amazing food and friendly service.

"...the restaurant is basically where fobby old asian guys who don't work go to talk shit and drink beer..." - a one-star review of Binh Dan Restaurant, home of excellent seven course goat.

(I'm sorry, how are these men eating food from their home country impacting your enjoyment of your own meal?)

"the lady could barely speak english...i hate when i go to restaurants where they can barely speak english, that's just not how you run a restaurant here." - a three-star review of Gae Sung, home of wondrous gamjatang.

(Come on, how hard is it to just point at a number on the menu?)

"food is ok, but be ready to learn about the owners political views and opinions about the world ..and they are not afraid to share it ha ha ha" - a one-star review of Zait&Zaatar, who makes the best chicken sandwich I've ever tasted.

(Oh no!  Human contact!)

"I don't care that you can speak marathi, hindi, gujarati, and english. I mean congratulations that you know some many languages..but what does that have to do with my Sabudana vadas?  So yeah, this place would get my 5 stars if the owner guy brought his yakkity yak down a notch." - a three-star review of Mumbai Ki Galliyon Se, whose owners constantly go out of their way to recommend the best combinations of their food.

(I have no words for this, other than I hope the guy never reads this review lest he erroneously think he needs to change his personality for this person.)

Sunday, May 5, 2013


There is a certain balance - it's hard to strike, but it's there - where adding hot pepper magnifies the refreshment level of a dish.  It's when, for some reason, your madly watering mouth and burning lips can form nothing but the word "Ahhhhhh."

That's why a cucumber lime agua fresca tastes just that much better with a thin line of cayenne around the rim.

Thanks, Three Many Cooks!

And it's also why I'm in love with a drink called the chamango.

The fact that I didn't know it existed until I was a good way into my twenties is a source of much regret.

I mean, think of all the experience it could have augmented!  I find myself rewriting history, adding it in where it would have helped the most:

Bodysurfing for the first time, getting my head forced into the sand, swallowing a mouthful of it, plus ocean water, staggering back to my towel and... a chamango waiting for me.

Doing a 10k in the mile-high city, gasping for breath, refreshment tables staffed by smiling, encouraging volunteers holding out little paper cups of... chamango.

What is a chamango?  It's a mango smoothie, first and foremost, but then its inventors had a stroke of genius.

"Mango smoothies are already ridiculously, almost unfairly delicious," one must have said to the other, "but how about we add pickled apricot preserves and chili powder?  We'll make it real thick and beet-red so that when we pour it over the smoothie, it drips through the cracks and looks like blood, scaring away all but the most dedicated refreshment seekers!"

"Yeah!" said the other one.  "And then we'll coat the straw with dried chili powder so just in case anyone ever accidentally makes it unevenly and there isn't enough chamoy in each sip, people's lips will burn anyway!"

Chamango on left, escamocha on right

And they created the chamango, and they saw that it was good.

The preservedness of the apricot and the heat of the chilies makes you thirsty and the mango neatly quenches that thirst, all at once within one stunning sip.


Where to find a chamango in Orange County:

Natural in Anaheim makes a mean one.  They crafted the one in the picture!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Al bap: an addendum

Writing my recent post about al bap must have left me with a raging and untamable subconscious craving for it.  While I'd managed the nine months between Korea and last week fairly well, yesterday morning I had scarcely woken up fully when I discovered that I was at the wheel of my car, speeding down the 5 freeway towards the apparent eden of al bap, Buena Park, CA.

As bossy subconscious cravings aren't known for their attention to details like when it is appropriate to eat lunch, I ended up being that creepy customer with her nose smushed against the front door glass trying to peek through when they rolled the shades up at Surah Korean Restaurant at 11AM.

Precisely like this.

The waiter recovered beautifully from the shock of seeing a hungry and inquisitive face at arm's length, and invited me to take a seat.

Now, I am not unfamiliar with the custom that Korean restaurants have of loading your table with everything but the kitchen sink, regardless of what you actually order.  I love that banchan is pervasive and expected.  However, when I ordered the al-bap lunch special with sides of sashimi and fried fish, I was not quite expecting this:

I literally couldn't fit all the food in the frame without standing up, knocking my knees on the BBQ well, and almost tripping.
See the al bap?  It's in the middle there: the little splotchy rainbow in a bowl.

And even flanked by fanciness such that it was, it was delicious.  I suspect they might make a more simple version for the lunch special combo, as it was a basic, spare rendition: three kinds of roe, pickled red peppers, and rice.  There weren't any turnips or seaweed or sesame seeds.  I imagine that if the al bap is ordered alone, the fully adorned version comes out (also, I saw a picture on the menu).

So it is with pleasure (and relief) that I report that al bap can indeed be had stateside.  Don't miss the cinnamon tea they serve at the end!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


We're sitting in front of Yuji, a chatty, quick-fingered whiz of a sushi chef at Ohshima in Orange, entrusting our dinner fish parade to his whims and tastes.

This is omakase.

He is an excellent chef, plying us with a rainbow of complementary fish, hopping seamlessly from white-fleshed fish to tuna to mackerel to salmon to the more exotic, obscure varieties.  He seasons his dishes perfectly, completely eliminating the need for soy or wasabi.  But he really carves out a permanent place in my sushi-loving heart when he does two things:

- cuts all my nigiri in half, and

- unflinchingly feeds my father and me fish sperm over rice.


He knows I need the first thing the instant he sees me struggling with the first piece on the 10-item omakase.  

I do have a small mouth, but there's more to it than that.  I started eating sushi (sashimi, to be more precise) when I was two years old.   I decided early on that my parents' ginger and daikon-festooned wooden platters of glistening fish were much more interesting than carrot tempura or whatever 'child-friendly' dish I was being fed.  The chef, Kuni (of Kuni's in Evanston, IL) always made sure to cut my fish into tiny little toddler-size pieces, and he still does it whenever I'm home for a visit, despite being much closer to my thirties than to toddlerhood (or even to my twenties, truth be told).*

It's nearly impossible now for me to eat nigiri the way you're 'supposed to': the whole thing in your mouth in one go.  I always try valiantly and end up embarrassingly failing to bite some fish off and the connective tissue gets in the way and the whole thing plops sadly onto the plate, rice flying everywhere.  and if I'm unlucky, soy sauce too.  It's mortifying, especially considering how the Japanese place utmost importance on proper etiquette. 

Ashamed, I look up at Yuji, expecting to see barely restrained distaste, as in most restaurants, but he just smiles.  "I will cut your pieces in half," he declares.

Marry me, I think.


Smoky cherry salmon, buttery bluefin tuna, sweet scallops, crunchy, ribboned sea bream, vinegared spanish mackerel and rosy hamachi later...

"Will you feed us something new?" my dad asks.  "Feed us something we've never had before."

"I will make you a surprise, but there is one catch," Yuji says.  "I won't tell you what it is until after you eat it."

"But even if you tell us what it is, we'll eat it!" I promise.

"No, with this I won't tell until after you've eaten it.  All of it!" he adds as an afterthought, noting my half-slice habit, and turns his back to start preparations.

Five minutes later, we each have a pile of what looks like a cross between pinkish noodles and fat little worms patted into a rough circle on top of a cylinder of rice in front of us.  (Well, I had two semi-circles.)

Thanks, Kuishinbo~Meow~.  This is exactly what ours looked like, but I didn't take a photo.
I look at my dad.  I had thought it would be a fish.  Was it a bunch of baby fish?  Some type of sea worm?  Baby sea cucumbers?  Raw chicken offal?  What?

"You know shirako?" Yuji asks.

We shake our heads.

"Good," he says.  "Try!"

My dad shoves the whole thing in without further comment; I nibble on one of the little worm tails.  I like to eat new things slowly.  It tastes like a cross between mild sea urchin and monkfish liver, if someone had stewed them in pig intestines.  I love all of those things, and I love this thing, whatever it is.

Yuji is watching us closely.  My dad has finished, but I still have a whole semicircle: I close my lips over the rest.  The texture's like Nickelodeon Gak and tofu.  I roll it around my tongue, enjoying the sensation: it's a childish pure textural joy, like rolling balls of dried glue around on your palm or shoving a plate of whipped cream pie in your face.

I swallow, and:

"Cod testicle!" Yuji declares triumphantly and waits expectantly.

If he'd wanted to be circumspect, he could have called it 'milt', or 'eggs', but he didn't, so: testicle.  I kind of love him for it.

"Delicious!" we say, almost simultaneously.  And mean it.


Where to find shirako in Orange County (apart from at Ohshima, of course):

Yuji assured me that most sushi places have it, but don't list it on the English menu.  He further promised that any place would be delighted to hear the request come out of my mouth and would shower me with oodles of shirako.  I have not yet tested this proposition, however.  If you do, let me know how it goes!


*Kuni's entirely Japanese picture menu is the reason I still don't know the English names for many fish popular as sushi.  Had you watched me write this entry, you'd have found me reverse-Google-translating almost everything.  Today is the first day I discovered that amberjack and yellowtail are the same thing: hamachi!