Keitai Photodiary 10/24/05

Last Friday was a company holiday, so on Thursday night we had an enkai (drink-up) for the new guy at work. We went to a smoky yakiniku joint which was quite excellent, but all I could do was stare at the plastic toothpick holder on the table because I was trying not to think about work and whaddaya know, I was fucking surrounded by people from work, so I was actually quite lucky the toothpick holder was just so damn interesting…
In the world of the Japanese corporate drinkup, the meal is followed by drinking at a bar or “snack” (variations on this theme include karaoke, etc., but everybody knows not to fuck with my “never, ever” policy regarding karaoke) with scantily clothed hostesses (“hos” for short). Being newly married and having to patronize such a place posed a slight moral dilemma, but I am nothing if not a problem solver… I chose the place with the ugliest girls, I mean these girls were like modern day haguro (ladies of old with black-stained teeth) transplanted from Bumfuck, Kyushu, or something, so I wouldn’t be tempted to look even the slightest bit at who was serving me, and instead concentrate on getting through the compulsory bottle of shitty whiskey as soon as humanly possible. And that is how I learned that the marketing team for Ballantine’s must be passing around a big, fat dutchie (errr, on the right hand side) during their strategy sessions:
GO PLAY!… I would only have been more impressed with a “DRIVE HOME!”, or, “OPERATE HEAVY MACHINERY!”, or maybe a nice recipe for a ROHYPNOL/WHISKEY FIZZ on the back label.
It’s so cliche to talk shit about the new guy, but this one has basically started off on the wrong foot with me. First of all, he’s a typical young cunt bragging about bitches and wine and women and beer, but I’ll be damned if he wasn’t nursing a CASSIS AND FUCKING ORANGE in a tall cocktail glass all night. And by “a” cassis and orange, I mean “one.” He’s one of those fuckers who insist they’re on their fifth drink when it’s quite obvious by the top layer of melted ice in their cocktail glass that they haven’t drunk shit. And then who like fucking with people who really have been drinking when they get sloppy. Hey motherfucker! We EARNED the fucking right to be sloppy, bitch!
A while after that, we went to a sushi place I had never been to. I fell in love with the food there and despite my advanced level of inebriation, recognized this place as the Real Thing. Good Food, Good People, and fresh fish from local waters. The master and I hit it off instantly. I told him to keep the whole counter open for me on Saturday night, I’d bring in some friends. I also reserved the biggest maruhagi (type of triggerfish; sometimes called a “leatherjacket”) in the fish tank. I stared him down as he looked at me through pursed lips, fins aflutter. “You are miiiine,” I said. Eat up, fishy, put on more weight. Your day is a-coming.
That was how the weekend started.
Friday, Gatson called me up to ask for a ride to the high speed boat terminal near my house. He was taking a ten day trip back home to Oregon with his wife, baby, and in-laws in tow. So I took a shower and brushed my teeth three times, then went over to pick them up. Gatson’s wife, Chie, was in that paranoid did-I-lock-all-the-doors-and-shut-off-everything mode, which I was admittedly only making worse by asking “did you remember to lock the upstairs windows?” and “what about the gas line?” every five minutes, all the way to the boat terminal. She was kind of stressing out about taking her elderly parents overseas for the first time; they had called asking if “six bottles of water are enough for the plane ride” the night before, so I guess she was justified. Little Sona-chan was an angel who slept the whole way after her initial “bursting into tears when seeing four-eyed Justin” routine, so that was good.
Anyway, we got to the Sumoto High Speed Boat Terminal and I found this absolute gem taped to the stall above the floor toilet:
Even though this is only funny to English speakers, it is not as funny when explained in English, but I will try. The intended meaning in Japanese is, “Return lever to upward position after flushing.” However, since the Japanese isn’t written very well as well as the fact that they use the originally foreign word “cock” in place of “lever,” the sentence could also read “Slide your cock back up when you’re done using it.”
Shit, some things just don’t carry over from one language to another. Toilet humor, though, is usually universal. I guess the exception may be written toilet humor.
Saturday night, some friends came out from the mainland. My brother Adam and my homeboy T. Stephanie from Mimizan (Air France stewardess). Michelle from Scarsborough, Canada (living a floor below Adam in Juso). We went to aforementioned sushi place and ate like starving cats from a goldfish tank. It was soooooooooooooooooooo good. The signature dish there is only made for special customers. I am special. We had several signature dishes, the nature of which I will not reveal at this time as words can only sully what I like to think of as “perfect heaven on a plate.” I mean, seriously. I have been to $700 sushi dinners with gold-flake toppings and endangered Indochinese goby eggs, but this new creation is THE BEST SUSHI I HAVE EVER EATEN, BAR NONE. And that is coming from a fish snob.
I will only be here on the island until some time next year, so here is an open invitation: Come to Sumoto. I will take you to eat the signature dishes. You will not regret it.
That’s the master holding down the fish I reserved earlier in the week, plus an identical friend.
There are two main types of triggerfish eaten in Japan, the maruhagi and the kawahagi. The maruhagi, as the name implies (many Japanese boats, including ones that are gutted when an American Navy submarine surfaces underneath them, are dubbed the “something maru“, but “maru” in this context just means circle), are rounder than kawahagi. In Kansai, they are both simply called hage, even though they are distincly different species (Kansai people could care less about etymology, they only care if something tastes good or not). When the maruhagi are in season, the kawahagi are not, and vice-versa.
Preparing a hage (pronounced “ha-gay”) to eat is a bit of a bitch – there’s a special cutting technique involved, plus it needs to be skinned. The master was a stud, though. He got more sashimi off of those fish than I would have imagined possible. The texture of this fish is a bit rubbery, but in a good way. The flesh resembles that of a fugu, but is more tasty in my opinion. It is also delicious when steamed, but it would have been a waste to eat such fresh fish that way. The surprising thing about this fish is not its flesh, though. The liver of this fish is dipped in ponzu and eaten raw. It is the creamiest, most naturally sweet flavor you can possibly imagine. You would never think that it is part of a fish you are eating, nor would you think it is liver. More like ambrosia.
But the fish pr0n doesn’t stop there.
The best mackerel I have ever eaten – a whole filet arranged as a giant futomaki. I should have taken my real camera for some close-ups, then you could have seen the perfect striping of the filet. I associate mackerel with a stinky, nasty, fishy stench and flavor, but there was not a trace of that in this fish.
In addition to the above, we had fresh aji, shima aji, tai, ika, maguro, and an awesome akadashi (red miso soup w/fish). The shop’s master procures all ingredients including garnishes, soy sauce, and rice from this island, and swears by the quality of everything produced locally. How very trendily regional that may seem to those who care about such things, but like I said, what matters in Kansai is that it tastes good. And it does.
Sunday, we went fishing down at the port. I had seen some big fish under one of the boats moored in the harbor when I dropped off Gatson and his family on Thursday, so we returned to that spot. We took many photos with a real camera, so I will continue this story later, but it bears saying that the girls totally outfished the guys. Except for a pitifully small rockfish that T snagged and maybe something Adam caught but that I have no memory of, we (and especially I) were skunked – and yet it was a lot of fun.
More later.

5 thoughts on “Keitai Photodiary 10/24/05

  1. Okay now, seriously, is there such a thing as too much good sushi at one time? It sounds as if you cleaned out an entire section of Monterey Bay Aquarium! Wish I was there.
    Thought of you kids yesterday while hiking and fishing up in Yosemite….caught a really nice 18 inch brown trout with a bit of a hooked jaw…he gave me “the look” and I agreed with him…it was too wonderful a fall day in all that majestic beauty, to kill such a beautiful fish! We caught and released a lot of native brookies and browns, and smiled a lot during this weekend jaunt up the the high country. Come home and fish with me!

  2. once you get 3 to 400 miles south of San Diego, any structure on the water – islands or logs hold huge numbers of triggers and puffers. They are such nuisances. I wonder if the triggers are like rockfish – hundreds of different species. Never thought of eating them though. So you guys did the fishing and the girls did the catching. Good thing I wasn’t there.

  3. In an old “Engrish” book, the translation in one restroom read “To stop drip, turn cock to right.”
    I once had a homestay where the host mother had a potholder emblazoned with the words “Joy, Joy, Cock.” True story.

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