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October 28th,
written by Arthur

I’m exhausted and energized in that way you only feel in Las Vegas: the feeling of a untold number of hours without sleep away from the sun or any other indication of the true time. I’m tiered from the near sleepless thirteen and a half hour flight from New York to Tokyo, but as I emerge into the Narita airport I’m vitalized. I’m in Japan. It’s just a short layover extended an hour or so by my connecting flight’s delay–still I’m at least partially in Japan.

I’m not hungry, but it would be a crime against myself to not eat something. The first place I pass is a McDonalds. I’m always curious to see what this sandwich franchise chooses to put forward abroad. The most interesting here is a (from what I could gather with no English as a guide) a double quarter pounder on black/gray bun with a black sea weed sauce. Japan really gets into Halloween by changing up its sandwiches. Seriously, this a Halloween thing. The picture of the burger on the board is next to a grinning jack-o-lantern and above a witch fly a broom. Still, I pass McDonalds. I consider a noodle place or a spot offering something called a spicy hamburger and potatoes (which is depicted as a burger patty, mashed potatoes and what looks like gravy) or some curry. My unhungry stomach is not persuaded. I keep walking until I stumble on a sushi restaurant. I’m skeptical of the sushi spot. Wouldn’t ramen be a better airport food? But ramen just seems like too much food so I grab a seat at Sushi Kyotatsu. I made the right choice.

Sushi Kyotatsu

Sushi Kyotatsu

I ordered a beer an look over the menu. I decide on a sampler and a side order of sea urchin. The food arrives fast. I mean really fast. Before my sleep deprived brain can fully take in the restaurant or the half dozen or so men behind the sushi bar. The plate looks great. Everything in a neat little place. I notice that there is not wasabi to be seen. (Legit sushi establishments pack as much wasabi as they think a given bite needs onto the nigiri  or into the roll and don’t let the diner mess up the meal with their own seasoning.) There is soy sauce at the table which I pour, but, after trying a few virginal bites, I decide to go without.

The meal is amazing. Hands down without a doubt the best tuna roll I’ve ever eaten. Flavor (tuna, small bit of wasabi, a little hit of rice wine) is all there. And the texture is perfect. The salmon nigiri is among the best I’ve had. The high quality cut of fish nearly melts in my mouth. The sea urchin is more of a choped solid than the goo I’m use to–a wholly different texture– and of course the flavor hits the mark. The other fish, the roe, and the egg don’t disappoint. At this point I’m full. I don’t need another bite. But I scan the menu for something else to try. Tragically, they are out of octopus so I adventure and order the sardine which is also incredible. The sardine tastes like nothing out of a can has a perfectly prepared amount of wasabi and soy sauce on the nigiri.

This country takes their fish seriously. I can’t wait for the day that I can venture out of the airport and see what Japan really has to offer.


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