It was the summer of 2014 when my aunt and cousin came to visit my mom and I in New Jersey. By that, I mean, of course, they wanted to go see Manhattan. During our stay in New York, we decided to go to a Japanese restaurant on the Upper East Side. On the night of that dinner, we encountered a small encumbrance on our way to fish paradise. It was a Friday, during rush hour, and there were no cabs available. The hotel was located in midtown, and the restaurant was more than thirty blocks away. Our options were either walking or biking. My aunt and cousin immediately voted for biking since we wanted to experience what biking in the city felt like. However, what my relatives did not know was I had a fear of riding bikes, especially in a city with so many cars, ever since I fell off a bike at seven, which resulted in a permanent scar on my right knee. Knowing this fact, my mom told me the decision was completely mine to make to whether to walk or to bike. After five minutes of deep introspection, and imagining what my funeral would look like, I made the grave decision to hop on that absurdly tall Citi bike.
I held on tight to the handlebar, and sat stiffly, like a wooden stick on that bicycle. During the whole journey, I rode in silence, completely focused on the back of my cousin’s head, fearful of being left behind, and getting run over. After twenty minutes, we arrived to the restaurant safely. When we entered the restaurant, we were greeted with the utmost of Japanese hospitality. The maître d’ guided us to our table, where immediately hot teas, along with cold water, were put in place. When we sat down on the chairs and settled in, I finally drew a breath, and sighed peacefully. After feeling relaxed, I began to take in the atmosphere of the restaurant. It was cozy; the maximum capacity of customers allowed was around thirty. The waiter came around and I decided to opt for the omakase (selections by the chef) because after having the most dangerous ride of my life, I simply could not make any more decisions.
Not making a choice about what I should eat was the best decision I made. The omakase was exceptionally amazing and innovative. The first course kicked off with one fresh oyster lying gracefully in its shell on top of a bed of moss green seaweed. The second course consisted of perfectly sliced sashimi. The plate of fish was like a piece of Andy Warhol’s art. The fish were vibrant shades of red, pink, and yellow. The toppings on the fish were what really made the sushi pop. The fish were either decorated with unique sauces, such as tofu puree, or combined with distinct food like seared tomatoes. However, the surprise had yet to come.
When the waiter came out with the third course of nigris and started introducing the fish, I was unable to hear a word he said. I was completely enraptured by the sight of the seared Japanese Halibut. The halibut was eggshell white with chestnut colored streaks. The sashimi draped elegantly over a bed of perfectly sized oval- shaped rice. On top of the fish, there was a precisely rounded poached egg sitting gently in the center of the body of the nigiri. This work of exquisiteness was finished off with a drizzle of truffle oil. When I tasted the sushi, it was as if a Mentos-Coke experiment took place in mouth. The halibut melted instantly when I took the first bite. Then, the liquid egg yolk came into mix with the fish and rice. The taste of the egg and truffle oil was delightful, for they did not overpower, but blended heavenly with the halibut. My feelings at that moment could only be best represented by a Pollock painting.
I could never have tasted that impeccable piece of sushi if I had not conquered my fears about riding a bike.