Got to the Evanston Farmers market a bit late two Saturdays ago so a light lunch, before going to a family party later that afternoon, seemed just the ticket. Just as I had this thought I noticed an open meter directly in front of New Japan, time for lunch.
Place had just opened for the day and there was a pleasant, slightly older, Asian woman serving as waitress, hostess and prepcook. The first wee tickle of annoyance came as she asked me if I realized that this was a Japanese restaurant, and, even though I answered in the affirmative, double checked, pointing to the name on the menu. OK, no problem, I was hot, thirsty and she seemed well intentioned.
Wanting something light, and having just spent more money than I would have ever thought possible on tomatoes, peppers and fruit at the farmers market, I opted for the reasonably priced and imaginatively named Sushi A this was where the real annoyance began. As soon as I ordered Sushi A she asked me if I knew that this was sushi...raw fish...uncooked fish. Even though I answered in the affirmative and thanked her for the info, she was not close to satisfied. She explains, again, that this is fish, raw fish, on rice, not deep fried and that might I not prefer shrimp tempura, which is deep fried.
OK, at this point I am starting to get actually annoyed, but the thing is that I am a bit grubby and sweaty from wandering the Farmers Market in 95° heat and not in the best of moods, I do not want, under any circumstance, to over react, so I do not react at all. Also given the fact that I am 3 times as large as her and, even though I am friendly as a puppy, don't appear that way, I simply, and politely, restate that I would like to order Sushi A, raw fish and all.
What was actually running through my head at the time was asking her if when she walked into an American style coffee shop for a burger, coke and fries the counter man asked if she knew she was in an American restaurant. If she knew that french fries were not really French and were deep fried. Did she know that hamburger came from a cow and was griddled ground beef served on a bun, that it was......well, you get the point.
Now if the food had actually been good, well then maybe it would have been worth the inquisition, but the three bland nigiri that came with Sushi A were better suited to the day-old bin at Dominck's and the California maki was ridiculous, and I am not referring to the surimi instead of crab, which I expected, but the fact that from the texture of the rice I could tell the maki rolls were made the day before. (The texture of the rice is the giveaway, not the nori. Pre-made maki are rolled/stored in plastic wrap and wrapped with nori just before service.)
I will say the miso soup was quite good, obviously made with shaved bonito, kombu and someone who actually cared about what they were doing. If the soup is any indication of potential I may just have caught them at a bad moment, or maybe it was my punishment for ordering a combo with California rolls in the first place. (smile)
New Japan Restaurant
1322 Chicago Ave
Evanston, IL 60201