My brother and I were wondering where we should take our parents out for a nice dinner, and my father insisted that he wanted to check out a small sushi-ya called Mako Sushi on the third floor of the Weller Court (next to the New Otani Hotel) in Little Tokyo. My father emphasized the intimate aspect of Mako Sushi saying it was the perfect size of a good sushi bar; anything larger, and you lose the personal touch that is essential in a sushi bar experience. He'd been there once before and was sufficiently impressed, and we gave it a whirl. Even if this place turned out to be mediocre (which it was not), I knew we'd get great service since my father is a great talker -- it seems to run in the family.
Five of us sat at the bar, and immediately my father took the reins and requested an omakase meal starting with sashimi. We were first served a complimentary appetizer of cold cooked tuna simmered in a sweet soy sauce (a very typical japanese flavor). Then came a clear soup with nice chunks of snapper (I think). Then out came the sashimi -- mirugai (giant clam), snapper, squid, tuna, kazunoko (herring roe) and abalone. Then came a four-sectioned plate containing shiokara (marinated raw squid in a sour sauce), baby octopus in a vinaigrette, namako (sea cucumber), and shark fins spiced with sour plums. Then came generous slices of ankimo (monkfish liver) in a vinaigrette. All were delicious.
All the while Mako and my father continued to gab away while they downed a tall Sapporo, and the sake was flowing. It seems inevitable when I get my parents in the company of other japanese people, the topic of conversation turns to the difficulty of raising kids (us, that is), and trying to be a disciplinarian. Mako-san reciprocating with his own difficulties. My father offers out the exaggerrated war stories of the escapades of our childhood as my brother and I look at each other with a sigh and a shrug of the shoulders. Then, imagine if you will, the street thug side of my father comes out when he gets a little under the influence, and he starts in with Mako in a teasing tone, "hey, we're getting hungry over here! How about some sushi now."
The sushi came out at a nice even pace. First kohada and akagai (red clam). Then uni and ikura. Then mackerel and something else. Then Mako broke into a new large slab of chu-toro. Marvelously silky. Meanwhile, Mako would hand my father a bowl of something and say "try this." I can't remember what the first bowl contained, but it was good. The second bowl was abalone liver in a vinaigrette -- wow, even better. Then came the anago. We had a couple casualties at this point, however, the men (my brother, father, and I) were still going strong. Our reward was negi-toro hand rolls. I know I'm missing a couple of items, but the point is that we were completely sated and content. After tea and ice cream, we were through.
I was afraid to see the bill, but it was remarkably reasonable for the amount and quality of food and alcohol we consumed. The total was $400 for the five of us including a nice tip. I'm planning a return trip to Mako before I head back to NYC. I just hope I have enough room after gorging on BBQ, fish tacos, pupusas, Zankou chicken, etc. Not to mention some home cooked meals. I might have to live a few months on that subway sandwich diet and lose the excess weight I've gained ... nah.
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