Have you watched the documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi? If you have, you must know how agonizing it was to look at the beautiful sushi masterpieces for over an hour.
The documentary is about an 85-year-old sushi master Jiro Ono, a living national treasure of Japan who owns a three-star Michelin sushi restaurant in Tokyo. Although the place is tiny (only ten seats!) and located in a subway station, Jiro’s restaurant is world-famous and loved – customers even have to make reservations at least two months in advance!
When P came to visit, we finally executed the plan we had for months by then: to watch Jiro Dreams of Sushi and then eat sushi to satiate our cravings for sushi that would be amplified by the documentary. Although we love Fish Market and go there whenever we want sushi, we wanted to go to a Japanese restaurant near the Coolidge Corner Theatre. So, we Googled and found a place called Osaka.
Osaka is apparently known for its hibachi, but the reviews were good in general. As you may know by now, I go to Japanese restaurants mostly for sushi only. Because it had such good reviews, we decided to give it a try, longing sushi like we never did before.
The place wasn’t bad. The restaurant seemed to go with a modern Asian interior, and it was alright. The problem we had, however, was the noise level. Too loud! No, we did not expect a completely silent space, but we did expect it to be less noisy than a sports bar. We got seated in an area where the tables were so close together that the kid from the next table kept kicking my things. Not very pleasant.
The servers were not very likeable either. Literally one minute after we were given the menu, one came to ask us if we were ready. We smiled and asked for a few more minutes. He came back thirty seconds later to ask us if we were ready. This happened two more times, and we felt very rushed and annoyed, even.
We both went with the Sushi Deluxe, which said “10 pcs of sushi with one tuna roll.” Ten pieces and a roll, not too bad. Ten pieces isn’t too many, so we naturally thought that we would get ten different kinds of sushi. Nope, we were given two sushi pieces of five kinds.
Alright, I guess we should have asked to make sure that they would be different. We were a little taken back, but shrugged it off and dug in.
The presentation was beautiful, and I hoped that the nigiris would taste just as beautiful. But again, we were disappointed. Not all the fish was very fresh – the texture was a little mushy. The rice to fish proportion was off, and every nigiri piece was different.
Our biggest shock was the tuna roll. Excuse me, do you really call this a roll? When lifting the roll, I saw that the bottom of the “roll” was not even connected – I could see the rice and tuna coming out because the seaweed was too short. There was barely enough rice on the seaweed, and it was very uneven, as you can see in the picture. The seaweed itself seemed to have been left out for a while, and had completely lost the crunchiness. We only laughed from disbelief. No joke, we could have made better tuna rolls.
After a huge disappointment that made me quite angry (although I tried not to show it), P ordered Blue Fin Toro nigiris for us. Blue fin Toro is the beautiful fatty belly of the tuna that melts in your mouth. They had screwed up the sushi platter, but this is toro after all, so they can’t really screw up, right? Especially when one piece is eight dollars, right?
Well, I guess they can. We were shocked once more, and laughed again in greater disbelief. These sushi pieces had the most ridiculous fish to rice ratio I had ever seen. The fish piece was about the length of my hand, and the rice was about a quarter of the fish’s size. (Hence the start of our inside joke that referenced to this fish.)
Not surprisingly, when we ate it, the fish lingered much, much longer in our mouths than the rice did. This was more like a huge piece of Blue Fin Toro sashimi with a side of rice! If we wanted sashimi, we would have ordered it – but we didn’t, and asked for sushi. It was not as if the fish itself was marvelous, either. The meat was weirdly tough, and we both had chewy pieces that stayed like gum.
We regretted very much that we did not go to Fish Market or any other place that’s around. It would have been much more worth it – after all, the walk from Coolidge Corner to Harvard Ave isn’t too bad. Osaka did not satiate our sushi craving, but did the exact opposite: it made us desire great sushi even more.
I guess we should have gone to a restaurant that boasts its sushi more than hibachi to have good sushi. However, if a restaurant has in its menu such vast selection, I expect some decent sushi. I was almost angry at how outrageous all some of the sushi were. We laughed it off (although it died away when the bill came, after we didn’t enjoy the meal at all), but I was sad that the two restaurants P and I went to so far were so disappointing.
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