I love eating out alone. Don't get me wrong, Bananas, I love eating with you too. But there's something really liberating about having a great meal by yourself. Of course, I'm compulsively burdened with the urge to write a blog post in my head, and then I kick myself later for not remembering all the amazing phrases I came up with, because whatever I wrote always sounds better in my head then when I actually try to put it on paper. But anyway.
Per Bananas' early post, I'm currently in Houston for work, and what a week it has been. Turns out Houston is a vast culinary wasteland where "high class" means "steakhouse" and "delivery" is pizza. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not against these venerable institutions of american meat and american cheese, but every once in a while a girl just wants a little sushi deposited right on her doorstep, ya know? Well, after I couldn't get my delivery sushi fix last night, I asked around today and was pointed (by the concierge at the Doubletree, where I am not staying) to Azuma, a very schwanky sushi restaurant located in what I imagine is downtown Houston. (Houston appears to have been planned by a very drunk man on a very bad night... the urban layout has no rhyme or reason and I find it infuriating.) Inside, Azuma is, like most schwanky sushi places, lacquered black and red, with a long slate-topped sushi bar and softly glowing paper lanterns hanging from the ceiling. I was badly in need of a drink after my meetings today, and ordered a lychee martini, which was very sweet and tasty. I also got chirashi sushi (my test of a sushi restaurant-- plus, it seems like chirashi is usually made by the head sushi guy, which increases the likelihood of its excellence) and an order of uni, which tasted properly like the bottom of a fisherman's very dirty shoe. (Uni always makes me think of that Calvin & Hobbes cartoon where Calvin is staring at a cow udder and saying, 'I wonder who was the first guy to say, "I'm going to squeeze this and drink whatever comes out!"') The service was great and I left much happier than when I went in. One minor beef was that the waitress asked me, before I ordered my drink, if I would like some edamame while I "waited"-- and later, said edamame was waiting for me in the form of a $4 charge on my bill. How do you feel about being charged for something when you'd gotten the impression that it was complimentary?
(As a side note, while the sushi was good, I thought it was not nearly as tasty, as big, or as nicely presented as the sushi at Asahi, my little place in the Courthouse plaza.)
While I sat at the sushi bar, enjoying my lycheetini and my (not)gratis edamame, I was channelling Anthony Bordain and coming up with a really interesting thesis about how sushi bars are the original open kitchen, and how, in a way, they are also one of the world's most acceptable (and practiced) forms of voyeurism, in which you can watch, covertly, all kinds of down-and-dirty of things that you probably shouldn't be seeing (the de-tentacleing of an octopus, for example) but that still entice and excite you none the less. But that's one of those things that sounds better while I'm eating alone and blogging in my head.
Moral of the story: Don't go to Houston to eat. But if you do, have a lycheetini.