When the Aged P’s are in town for a day, there’s only so much you can do. Since I inherited good Foodie genes, the best thing to do with parents who appreciate fine dining is to take them to a restaurant.
We were travelling around with my Japanese friend Shigenori and his girlfriend, so they recommended a good fish restaurant in Nishi-Shinjuku: Zau-o. Now, Zau-o is apparently an upscale chain of sorts, where you can order your fish as normally as at any other normal restaurant.
Or, you can catch the flippy-floppy buggers yourself.
Y’see, throughout Zau-o there are these giant fishtanks. The arrangement of the tables is clearly around the tank, not the other way around. We’re talking a lot of fish here. So you can ask for a fishing rod and a net and if you catch a fish, they’ll cook it up however you request and charge you a slightly lower price for it.
So I ask for this “fishing rod,” not expecting a top-of-the-line toy, but man. It was a plastic rod with a string on, and sad little hook dangling from the frayed end of the string. Fortunately, the net look sturdy.
After killing about 20 minutes trying to get a bite, my parents were getting ravenous. Shige and his girlfriend were respectfully not mocking me. And I had started gnawing on my left hand.
I had to take drastic action. I rolled up my sleeve, fish net in hand, and stuck it into the tank. Within a few minutes, we had our first course of the night: sea bream!
The waiter came by, gave a little speech, clapped twice and took our tai off to be sashimi’d. It was time to catch the second course, so I stuck the net in again.
I turned the net so it was parallel to the current, and then waited. And waited. A fish came by, I snapped my wrist, the net opened and I yanked our wriggling, soon-to-be second course out of the water. Another sea bream, this one to be grilled.
The food, once prepared for consumption, was actually quite good. We had sashimi and grilled sea bream, crab, miso with lots of seafood in it, the re-grilled head of the bream, and a yudofu.
It just goes to prove the old adage: If you buy a man a fish in Tokyo, he eats for a day. If you teach a man to fish in Tokyo, he’s saved enough money to buy himself dinner for the next night, too.