I grew up in New Jersey; the Garden State. Which is the greatest.
Really. I'm not being facetious at all. Until you've had good, summer jersey corn or tomatoes you can shut right the fuck up about how it's the armpit of whatever or how the only thing you know about the place is Newark Airport.
And don't even get me started about pork roll.
I wasn't always vegan.
Another amazing thing about Jersey is that there's a variety of cultures "enjoying" a suburban existence as immigrants have labored and moved out of the city to work towards a better life for their kids. Somewhat unsurprisingly (given the population demographics), there are bunches of folks of south and east asian decent.
Just across the river from NY there are a handful of towns with large Japanese and Korean populations. I love those towns. They have the good food.
There's this shop: Mitsuwa. It's a small chain of Japanese supermarkets. One of which is in Fort Lee, NJ.
Once a year Nobu Mitsuhisa (the chef that founded NOBU) would donate two bluefin tuna to Mitsuwa, along with his own staff who were capable of butchering such an animal. It was overseen by his own sous-chef. The cats would roll up with these dinosaur-sized fish and some samurai swords. They'd butcher the fish into little bits and sell the pieces.
I stood there. I watched the butchery. I wanted a piece. Of o-toro. Shimofuri o-toro, to be exact. Usually about $50 a piece if you happened to find it at a sushi restaurant. But this was $50 for a 1/2lbs!
But I had to brave all the glares and elbows of all the little, old Japanese ladies who didn't give a half a fuck that I was twice as tall as them. My ribs and ego were bruised as I made my way up to the front of the line.
And just there... this beautiful piece of o-toro.
"I'll have that one, then!" I said to the very serious and stern-looking sous-chef. He picked it up and handed it to me....
"So what temperature do you sear this at?" I asked, laying on a Jersey accent.
Cuz did not let go of the packet of fish. He glared at me. And did not let go.
"I'm... sorry," I sputtered, "It was just a joke. I'm going to cut it and share it with some friends as sashimi."
He glared at me. And did not let go. For another beat or so. Then did. But kept glaring. He did not think my joke was funny.
I did. Fuck that guy.
I don't remember the last time I ate actual seafood, much less sushi. Or, at least, I hadn't.
It was... novel. It was OK.
It wasn't sashimi.
I liked it, I'm glad it exists, it reminded me of dishes I've enjoyed in the past. But it wasn't really sashimi.
There are things you can veganize and non-vegans won't even belive that it's not made of murder. Then there are things that vegans can lie to one another by saying, "It's so amazing that it is just like..."
This was the later.