The vast quest to make homemade sushi, with sushi-grade fish purchased from a Phoenix market, finally came to a close the other night. Based on the recommendations of the fine folks over at Wasabi Fusion Sushi (Southern & McClintock, Tempe) I traveled back to LeeLee’s Market (Dobson & Warner, Chandler). It was Saturday, and apparently a big shopping day. We were packed in tight, all of us moving together en masse, and if you would have told me so I would have believed that I was wandering around a Taipei market. Or, at the very least, an Asian market in downtown Los Angeles.

And I have never been so lost in my entire life.

There was very little English — and I didn’t know what was what. It was merely guess work. But I enjoyed this. I got to look around and explore, but I could only capture glimpses of new things and then move on — lingering was not permitted in this environment, for we were a consistently moving herd of people who never took the time to stop and count calories.

I grabbed some Asian noodles — the kind that I think I liked, yoinked from the shelf because they had the characteristics of the noodles I like at AzN Vietnameese Diner (yes I know Vietnameese noodles should probably not be mixed with Japanese sushi, but what are you going to do when its the son of an Irish immigrant making the meal?).

I then grabbed powdered wasabi, a jar of pickled ginger, and remembered that I already had the brown rice, rice vinegar, carrots, cucumber, avacado and crab sticks at home. I also stood, rather lost, in front of the large selection of nori — those green-black, dried out pieces of seaweed that are used to give shape to the roll. A kind gentleman in a bamboo hat recommended his favorite nori. A trip down the adjacent isle for a bamboo rolling mat and chopsticks, then to the fish counter. I had to stand in quite the line.

There was a language barrier.

After a probably-too-lengthy-then-it-needed-to-be discussion I was handed sushi grade salmon and tuna. It wasn’t marked sushi grade?

“Is this okay to eat raw? Sushi?”

“Yes, yes.” They were smiling.

I got home, and Justin eyed the contents of my grocery bags and uttered an expletive. “Do you want to join me for sushi?”

“Have you done this before?”


“It doesn’t say sushi grade.”

“I know.”

“You might die.”

“Possibly. That’s all the reason that we shall drink that much more vodka tonight.”

“I suddenly like the idea of you making sushi.”

“Because I might die?”

“Or drink more.”

An hour and a half later, I had my meal of a California Roll topped with salmon, and salmon sashimi. I had a bite of the raw tuna (I was going to cut it into tuna sashimi) but it was too fishy and I knew that sushi should never taste or smell like raw fish. And the nori had a pungent odor, and made the whole roll something somewhat disappetizing.

But the salmon sashimi, that my friend, was the best I had ever had. I sat on top of my laundry in the plush brown chairs that once sat at the old Gilbert & Baseline Starbucks, and consumed two servings of salmon sashimi dipped rather generously in a wasabi-soy mixture. Justin sat across from me, quietly and curiously observing, wearing the bright red “Coca-Cola” in Hebrew shirt that I brought him from Jerusalem. “That is the grossest thing I’ve ever seen you eat, Will.”

The cat then left his side and sat next to me. She understood me.

4 Comments so far

  1. Lloyd (unregistered) on September 20th, 2006 @ 1:11 pm

    I have been disappointed with Lee Lee’s fish. Next time, and I hope you try again, go to what was 99 Ranch and is now some other name. Anyone?

  2. Nash (unregistered) on September 20th, 2006 @ 2:11 pm

    Hmm. Seriously the salmon was great, but again I steered away from the tuna. Smelled bad. Where is/was 99 Ranch?

  3. Lloyd (unregistered) on September 20th, 2006 @ 2:17 pm

    It is in the Chinese Cultural Center on 44th Street just south of the 202.

    Wait… you made sushi with brown rice?!?!?

  4. Nash (unregistered) on September 20th, 2006 @ 3:46 pm

    I totally did! I had it that way once in Laguna and it was quite the incredible treat! I know, it’s probably a blasphamous act somehow. Sorry.

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