This started as a standard night out in a 1 Michelin star sushi restaurant and turned out to be a fun cross cultural exchange. It wasn't just the food and the performance from the maestro, Tomotake Imai, wielding the sushi knife or the sake, although the sake helped. It was the other customers. Tonight there were 3 other couples here that in the beginning kept more or less to themselves but as the evening went on they figured out that we were Aussies and started chatting to us. One fifty-ish man had been to Australia a couple of times and seemed happy to talk to us and translate to his wife. He'd also translate the Japanese names of some of the fish to English to us. He asked for something from Tomotake Imai and was given a book which turned out to be the Encyclopaedia of Sushi which they used to show us what fish was what. Gorgeous book too.
The highlight though was chatting to older lady, she was 73, and her husband who was a little older. She told us in slow halting English that she had learned English at university 50 years ago. Her husband had done so too. He said she had studied Shakespeare which made her titter like a school girl. She said she had not spoken much English in the next 50 years so she was a little embarrassed to speak it now. I told her English was outstanding considering and she giggled behind her hand. I think the sake helped a bit too though. She told me I reminded her of her son who is my age. They reminded me of my parents a little too. Except for being Japanese that is. My parents aren't Japanese. Hi mum and dad. They pointed out the kanji symbol for Imai that was part of the restaurants name and said that it was also their name but that they weren't related to the chef.
So as we ate we chatted about fugu (poisonous puffer fish), sake, sushi, Japan, Australia and we laughed a lot. The older couple were eating fugu and we taught them how to say puffer fish in Engrish. This one has been one for the highlight reel even if the food had been lousy. It wasn't though of course.
The sushi was a combination of the local Kansai style and Tokyo (Edomae) style. You'd think we'd be sick of raw fish by now but you'd be wrong. Every time we go there is something different. There are variations in preparation of the fish or rice or both. I'm tempted to use the words exquisite, delicate, divine and delicious a lot.