After eating at just about every steak house in the San Fernando Valley, I finally convinced Gary to let me pick a restaurant for a change. I suggested sushi and he reluctantly agreed. As dusk was setting with a brilliant red, pink and blue sunset, we got in our cars and he followed me to a little hole in the wall on Ventura Boulevard that I knew served the freshest tuna in town.
It was a tiny place with a lively sushi bar that catered to a local crowd of loyal diners. Unlike Gary’s steakhouses, this restaurant was brightly lit with rock n’ roll music blaring in the background. Behind the chefs, the menu hung on the wall painted on wooden slates in black letters and corresponding red Japanese lettering. Fresh fish was kept in a glass display case on top of the wooden bar where Sushi Chefs worked their magic for the guests. There were a few individual tables but most patrons preferred to sit at the bar.
“You’ll love the spicy tuna roll,” I promised Gary as we entered.
“Konnichiha!” three Sushi Chefs shouted in unison and bowed as we entered. I smiled, Gary jumped. We were seated at the bar with about ten other people. One of the sushi chefs immediately brought us warm towels for our hands and iced water. He was small and slim dressed all in while with a white cap on, not the kind of chef hat you see in other restaurants, more of a bucket cap. The name of the restaurant, Half Price Sushi, was embroidered on the left breast pocket.
“I don’t know about this. I don’t trust eating at a place called half priced anything,” Gary whined.” I rolled my eyes. The sushi Chef heard this and rolled his eyes too, handing us square plates, empty except for patches of ginger and wasabi. Gary looked overwhelmed already. He pointed to the wasabi.
“What’s that green stuff?”
“It’s like Japanese horseradish,” I explained.
“You wedy oder?” the Sushi Chef asked.
Gary was turning up his nose, staring at the raw fish in the glass case in front of him. He looked as though he was going to be sick. The Sushi Chef gave us some orange wedges. Gary took his reluctantly.
“You okay?” I asked.
“Do I have to eat that raw stuff?” Gary asked back.
“You know what? We don’t have to do this after all,” I gave up. “Let’s just go.”
“Oh thank you thank you thank you thank you.” Gary got up practically before I ended my sentence and was out the door in a flash. Surprised by his quick exit, I took out a $5.00 bill for a tip and apologized before making my exit.