100,000 sea otters can’t be wrong

“Is there any sushi you don’t eat?” I asked my dinner companion this past weekend while walking to my favorite sushi bar where omakase is the only way to go. “I’m not fond of sea urchin,” he replied. That immediately threw out introducing my favorite killer combination on a utensil “Spoonful of Happiness” at Koo. But maybe he sensed my disappointment. Maybe he wanted to impress me. Maybe he just wanted to give it a second chance so he added, “But I’m willing to try it again.”

Uni, I know, is an acquired taste. I know more people who dislike rather than like it. Of those who like it, LOVE it. I’m in that camp. My ego is convinced that those in “the other” camp, have either had a bad urchin experience or just dislike the texture. I, myself, will only order it at the top shelf sushi bars.

“Two orders of Spoonful,” I told Suzuki-san, our itamae for the night. I prepared my friend for the Spoonful accoutrement – ankimo (monkfish liver) wrapped in whitefish, raw quail egg, tobiko (fish roe), served with ponzu and white truffle oil. Excitement and anxiety simultaneously hit me like a ton of maguro. This experience could either prove embarassing for the both of us (a gagging reflex is not appealing to both the gagger and the gaggee) or enlightening (in my ideal world, everyone loves all the foods that I love, and will love me in return for introducing them to this new found cuisine).

Suzuki-san set our Spoonfuls before us. First down the hatch for both of us was the ankimo wrapped in whitefish. My friend nods in acceptance. I smile and bodily vibrate with oral joy. We take a break. I wait in anticipation. He waits for, what I can only guess is, gumption. The lemon and orange sherbet colored second spoonfuls of the raw yolk of a quail egg alongside the sea urchin ‘nads patiently sit before us in their zen state. We both pick up our spoons like synchronized eaters and take it in at the same time, as I secretly watch him from the corner of my eye, gauging his reaction to tasting a dish he earlier claimed he disliked.

Well, he neither gagged or joined me in my culinary giddiness but it warmed my heart to no end that he was willing to give this dish a second chance. Omakase, which basically means, “I’m in your hands,” is a wonderful thing at at a sushi bar when done right and that night he entrusted me enough to try uni again. As we walked out of the restaurant at the end of the meal, satiated by the Spoonfuls, sea bream, blue fin, yellow fin, scallop, baracuda, and two orders of black cod, he told me he would order uni again. And then I swooned.

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