2 visits in 4 days (and a small green kabocha) is how fear turned into awe.

Last Saturday nite, post drinking (Suntory scotch with a splash), I was in a sudden rush to catch Shigen-san before midnite. Thanks to some fine red wine loving folks with whom I shared an epic Shibucho dinner earlier in the week, I somehow promised the infamous itamae a freshly picked kabocha would be presented to him that weekend and by god, I wanted to be a man of my words.

For nearly 10 years I’ve wanted to do Shibucho while sitting in front of Shige-san. After the final course of the perfectly appropriate piece of toro (not otoro, NOT chu-toro, really, too “greasy” like “100 grams of Japanese kobe beef”), I admitted my long dormant fears to Shige-san with impunity. What followed, was the most gentle telling of a Gastro Life (Japanese car magazines always used phrases like “Car Life”, “Tuning Life”, etc.) by a never-retiring itamae I’ve experienced, in a room with no one present, over a cup of green tea freshly brewed by hand, from loose matcha, natch.

And folks, that is how one should end a nite of debauchery. Screw the 25 Degree Burger, forget the bowl of haejang gook. Have a bowl of miso made from house-made dashi, followed by some shiromi (engawa, tai, kanpachi – holy shit, that is the softest piece of kanpachi I’ve ever had, not 1 iota of noticeable striation, kanpachi, buri), followed a nimono of 2 pieces of anago; followed by a revelation of how a sushi chef stays healthy: no breakfast, only coffee, dinner of often only quality miso soup with lots of vegetables, and no grease; followed by a sushi chef’s disdain of what has gone wrong in Little Tokyo: bunch of rowdy people in Honda Ya’s smoking in front of fake “Itlian” restaurant in Honda-Ya Plaza (2nd St Cafe, previously blogged here), Korean-operated sushi joints offering 50% off rolls ala Tenno Sushi.

That wasn’t all tho. The take home point of the nite, to poorly paraphrase the itamae cum food philosopher of the nite: “chefs can’t eat too heavy, his cooking won’t taste right”. Ya know, it really made a lot of sense at 1am.

A parting thought: To communicate mano-a-mano with Shige-san, the stars and the moon don’t have to align. You just need an empty restaurant, and this wisdom dished out so eloquently by a LA Chowhound poster back in ’01:

the “strike zone” at Shibucho, at least until you win Shige over, is somewhere above “know little” and below “know it all.”

Shibucho
3114 Beverly Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90057
Shibucho on Urbanspoon

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  • http://inomthings.blogspot.com ila

    so true about that quote… it seems if you know enough about the culture, but not enough to be a buff, then he is willing to teach you a thing or two. i was expecting a scary sushi nazi but he was so nice!

  • http://fooddigger.com Will-FoodDigger

    Hey Tony. Glad you could come out. It was great meeting you and sharing such an amazing experience.

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