THE DISH: A visit to Tokyo - Daily Nation

THE DISH: A visit to Tokyo

Wednesday January 9 2019

The beautiful sushi rolls in question - spicy crunchy roll (I had the mixed option, of tuna and salmon) . PHOTO| ABIGAIL ARUNGA

The beautiful sushi rolls in question - spicy crunchy roll (I had the mixed option, of tuna and salmon) . PHOTO| ABIGAIL ARUNGA 

By ABIGAIL ARUNGA
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It just so happens that in the last couple of weeks I've been to Tokyo Restaurant in Lavington twice, after having talked about how I want to go for ages. I am a fan of sushi in most of its forms – it's sashimi that I haven't quite had the bravery to enthusiastically take up. Maybe that should be one of my new year's resolutions?

Eat fish as raw as it possibly can be (sashimi is 'a Japanese delicacy consisting of very fresh raw fish or meat sliced into thin pieces and often eaten with soy sauce').

The seating area right next to the sushi counter at Tokyo Restaurant. PHOTO| ABIGAIL ARUNGA

The seating area right next to the sushi counter at Tokyo Restaurant. PHOTO| ABIGAIL ARUNGA

I've had sashimi maybe once or twice in my life, total, and both times were good, but I had to be convinced into it, so maybe I should now convince myself into it. And I've eaten its variation, tataki, which is the same raw fish slices 'quickly and lightly seared on the outside, leaving it raw inside.'

All those people doing raw food diets can't be completely wrong, can they?

LESSON ON SUSHI

But I digress. In writing this, I discovered that I've probably been referring to sushi wrong this whole time. 'The word "sushi" is often ambiguous for non-native Japanese.

We think of it as being interchangeable with raw fish (but it isn't). Sushi is vinegared rice topped with other ingredients.

Sashimi, which is slices of raw fish alone, is not sushi because it isn't accompanied with rice.' And so, the toppings for sushi or what's wrapped in the roll, can be raw or cooked. 'If you eat sushi rolls in Japan, they are simpler, with a circle of white rice encompassing a raw fish and wrapped tightly with nori.

The Yaki Udon. PHOTO| ABIGAIL ARUNGA

The Yaki Udon. PHOTO| ABIGAIL ARUNGA

American sushi is almost a different food group than traditional sushi.' Now you know.

Back to the topic at hand – I've had sushi at Tokyo twice, as a prelude to one day hopefully going to Tokyo itself. And both times, I've had the exact same version of sushi – a spicy roll, accompanied with ginger and wasabi that melts in your mouth so quick, you don't even notice that you've finished the 10 roll platter by yourself. Like a pig. Or a carp, if you will, now that we're sticking to the theme.

The salad they give you before the main course at Tokyo Restaurant. PHOTO| ABIGAIL ARUNGA

The salad they give you before the main course at Tokyo Restaurant. PHOTO| ABIGAIL ARUNGA

Both visits have involved excellent and conscientious service – which, if we're being completely honest, is reason enough to go back again and again to the same restaurant, and both visits have delivered consistent food quality and standards of cleanliness.

I didn't like the udon noodles, but then again I don't like them anywhere, and not just at Tokyo.

If you can't tell, though, I'm officially sold on this new sushi place, so much so that I might have to go and visit a few of my old haunts just to remind myself why I liked them in the first place – and re-educate myself on how to use chopsticks.

Chopsticks truly fly way over my head. Sometimes I get them, and sometimes my fingers have absolutely no muscle memory – so much so that someone on the table I'm on usually has to re-teach me how to use them.

Usually, I just do the African thing and use my fingers to pick up the little rolls and move on from there.

A word of caution to new sushi eaters – wasabi is not mukimo.

The place seatings at Tokyo Restaurant. PHOTO| ABIGAIL ARUNGA

The place seatings at Tokyo Restaurant. PHOTO| ABIGAIL ARUNGA

The last time I was at Tokyo, someone told me their story of being abroad for the first time and seeing a green paste on the sushi platter that made them immediately homesick and hopeful – and so they took a big helping, and a big spoonful.

Wasabi, or Japanese horseradish is a 'plant of the Brassicaceae family...a paste made from its ground rhizomes is used as a pungent condiment for sushi and other food.'

Wasabi is hot and spicy at the same time, and usually elicits coughs of surprise and sensations of burning when taken in large quantities. You can imagine what his first mouthful resulted in...

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Wondering where to get the 411 on what's happening in and around Nairobi's foodie scene? There's a lot of places you could go, but here's where we want you to be – getting the dish on the dish. Get it? We knew you would.

                                                                                                             

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