Daily Archives: June 29, 2006

A Fishy Kind of Heaven


I’ll write all about the wacky and wonderful adventures of our Las Vegas trip in my next post.

Right now, I am in love, and I must tell the world!

Sushi, how did I live without you for so long?

Up until Thursday, I had never set eyes on a plate of sushi except in a magazine, where its pretty colors and ornamental presentation made good eye candy for restaurant reviews. I always figured I’d try it one day, but I wasn’t really in a hurry to sample this seafood turned art form. I had no previous gustatory experience to which I could compare it.

In short, I didn’t know what I was missing. Egad, the wasted years!

The very first night of our Vegas vacation, Tracy suggested we try out Ra, a sushi bar situated handily right next door to our hotel. I placed myself in the experienced hands of my friends, and they ordered three of Ra’s signature sushi rolls: “Gojira”, a crab and shrimp mix with spicy tuna, cream cheese, and cucumber, rolled in spinach tempura; “Viva Las Vegas”, a rich combination of kani kama, crab, spicy tuna, and lotus root; and “Tootsy Maki”, crab, shrimp, and cucumber drizzled with a delicate sweet eel sauce and topped with crunchy tempura. That was my favorite. I’m thinking of naming our next child Tootsy Maki, actually.

After a brief lesson on soy sauce, pickled ginger, and wasabi, I was ready to go. I fumbled a little with the chopsticks, but finally got a round and precious slice of Gojira up to my lips.

How can I describe the vivid and perfect union of sweet and tangy flavors in that first amazing bite? The richness of the crab meat, the crisp freshness of the cucumber, the zing of the tuna, all in harmony together, the flavors playing an unfamiliar but resplendent chord across my taste buds. I think I may have left my body for a brief moment. More bites followed, in different combinations, each a savory experience all its own.

And do you know we went back there every single day while we were in Vegas? Five times in all, and each time we ordered something new. California roll, Rainbow roll, sashimi, even something called Crazy Monkey that mingled smoked salmon with mango and cashews in a fruity sauce. We worked our way across nearly the entire menu, and there was nothing that I didn’t like.

On the fifth day, before we caught a taxi back to the airport, we ate at Ra for the last time. As we sat over our empty square plates with satisfied grins on our faces, I thanked Tracy and Regina for introducing me to sushi.

“Oh, you’re thanking us now,” Tracy said, “but wait until you go home and find yourself sitting up in bed at two in the morning with a sushi craving and nowhere to get a fix.” We laughed a little at that, finished our cokes and got up to leave.

I’m not laughing now. Coeur d’Alene, while delightful and full of natural beauty, is not exactly the culinary center of the universe. What if I never have good sushi again?

Fortunately, Paul has some sushi-loving coworkers. When he told them of my dilemma, they had one word to say: Takara. I haven’t tried it yet, but reviews are promising. Now I just have to figure out how to order Tootsy Maki from a new chef.