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Subpar high-end sushi experience—trying to understand & some lessons [15 East]

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Subpar high-end sushi experience—trying to understand & some lessons [15 East]

calf | Oct 2, 2012 08:06 PM

To be brief, I took my parents out to one of my favorite sushi places thus far. Disappointingly, we were unanimously not impressed. An unprecedented all-thumbs-down, which thus compels me to attempt this soul-searching. To be clear and fair, the opening movements were pleasant, but the nigiri course was, subjectively, such a glaring letdown that that I had barely any inclination to continue. I left wishing I had ordered very differently in quantity and type, or perhaps simply gone to a different restaurant that night. Some key details:

1. It was a Monday. Apparently sushi is a bad idea on certain days of the week? Come to think of it, maybe the Michelin Guide should start assigning stars based on day and time of the week.

2. The chef was not in. I didn't think to ask while making the reservation. Fool me once.

3. I was feeling a little tired and dehydrated, overall pooped. Makes it harder to be "present".

4. Didn't ask for, nor receive any, tea, and I guess I needed it.

5. Noisy atmosphere, compared to prior visit. Sound can make it surprisingly hard to concentrate on food, apparently there are scientific studies about such distraction of sensory inputs.

6. Parents are skeptical diners, not yet enthusiastic fine-sushi converts. Eating with new diners is not like dining alone.

7. Failed to check what the base Tasting Menu consists of (several amuses, a standard sashimi-sushi set, a soup course, and a dessert).

8. Failed to thoroughly peruse and consider the menus. I incorrectly assumed that opting for the Tasting Menu would relieve us of the work of detailed ordering; I experienced it as unwanted trappings and padding (and of course for a different individual it could be the perfect thing to order).

9. Generally failing to interact with the staff and clearly communicate our desire: to learn about and taste good sushi.

So, were one or two of these conditions the kiss of death, or perhaps had their multitude combined into a perfect storm? I don't know. But in this case, I was less happy being at the sushi counter. *Squirm*. It was definitely an expensive lesson, and I really, really, really would like to avoid repeating it in the future. Anyways, I'd love to hear thoughts and similar (funnier) mishaps below!

P.S. At other 1-starred Michelin restaurants, it seems entirely possible to order several "wrong" dishes, again resulting in a sub-par meal. Theoretically, this could happen at any restaurant where a diner isn't acquainted with its specific food culture.

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