Posted on | October 5, 2007 at 11:34 pm | 7 Comments
I miss going to Fontana Sushi for lunch. Oh, there are plenty of sushi restaurants near the new office, but none of them are as good as Fontana. In fact, there’s even another Fontana Sushi nearby, but I think it’s owned by different people and the food and service are not as exemplary as at the Littleton one. They just opened up a Mt Fuji Sushi & Hibachi near the new office, where the old used CD store used to be. Even though it’s not as good as my old Fontana, it’s passable. The staff is extremely friendly and the owner is always wandering around talking to customers and making sure everything is okay. The best part is that it’s a short walk from the office – no driving involved. Now if only they had something as good as the Manhattan Maki.
So today I was eating alone at Mt Fuji, glancing at the latest Westword, and thinking about a great many things. Mostly I was thinking about my friend Bryce (mentioned many times in these pages) and how he taught me to like sushi. Before Bryce showed me the way, I was a sushi tolerater, not a sushi lover. Oh, I would go out with friends and order it sometimes when they ordered it, but I always struggled a bit to get it down. I went on a disastrous business trip to Tokyo in the mid-80s, and got really sick of sushi there. At one point, I came very close to throwing up all over the customer I had gone out there to do business with.
But then, just around 11 years ago, Bryce and I had just been laid off from NRI and we both had gotten jobs with Ixchange – he in sales and me in development/tech support. One day we went to lunch at the local Japanese/sushi place Happy Teriyaki (”Happy T” to Bryce), which has since gone out of business. Bryce was the one who first exposed me to mixing soy sauce and wasabi and dunking the sushi in it. Before that, I always ate it “plain” or with just some soy sauce. I know, I know, the whole soy sauce/wasabi thing is a gross American invention, and real Japanese (and real sushi lovers) wouldn’t be caught dead doing it. But dammit, that’s what made me really like sushi. And it was even enough to push me over to the point where I learned to enjoy it even without the soy sauce/wasabi (but I still prefer it with).
The thing about Bryce and sushi is that he has an extremely elaborate procedure for making the soy/wasabi mixture. He puts a little soy sauce in the little dish (shoyu sara?) and then adds a chunk of wasabi. He then mashes the wasabi down using a fork (chopsticks won’t do) until there are no chunks of wasabi floating around – it’s all just a thick soy-wasabi paste. He will then add a little more soy and a little more wasabi, mashing down the wasabi again, until the dish is filled with the paste. Lastly, he will add enough soy to thin out the mixture and make it ideal for sushi dunking. I picked up on this method and used it for many years. However, after awhile I got tired of asking for a fork and just mashed as best I could with chopsticks. It’s not the same, but it’s passable.
While we working together, and for a little while after I quit, we would get together once a week or more at Happy T and do our little sushi ritual with the sushi lunch special. Later, we would get together whenever we could for dinner or lunch at Fontana. The last time we met there, which was probably around 10 months ago, he wasn’t able to have any sushi, but I think he enjoyed watching me follow his ritual. My relationship with Nancy was fairly new at that point and he gave me some valuable advice. Bryce is like that, always willing to help out, whether it be sushi consuming instructions, relationship advice, fixing a VCR or DVD player, showing me how to get through a difficult video game level, or helping to install a car stereo or satellite dish. He’s always there and always ready & willing to lend a hand.
Blog entries may start to get sparse for a little while. These are difficult days.