Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Turning Japanese at Niwanohana Sushi (I Really Think So)

Sometimes you need to revisit something you haven't experienced in years, just to find out if the memory matches the current reality. Of course, that opens the door to possible disappointment, but thinking that just because something once gave you pleasure it still could is nothing if not presumptuous. You don't know until you try.

So with last night's cold and rainy weather yet again, my dining partner and I headed down to the Slip to Niwanohana Sushi in the space that was Hana Zushi forever. In fact, when I first came to Richmond, HZ was the only authentic Japanese restaurant to be found and had been a favorite of my friend's when I first met him back in the 90s. The weather was dictating a big bowl of soup and we were counting on Niwanohana to deliver.

Since it was a Monday night, the place was quiet, with only one customer at the sushi bar when we arrived. Unfortunately, once she finished eating, she apparently got bored with herself and got on her phone, filling the room with a personal conversation neither my friend nor I cared to hear. Why don't people realize how rude this is? I don't think it was just us; I can't think of anyone who enjoys hearing someone else's phone conversation while they eat their miso soup and salad.

We tried focusing on the music, but it seemed to be an endless loop of the Goo Goo Dolls' greatest hits and that got a bit tiresome. Luckily our food shortly arrived and we got to the business of eating, first with a Futo Maki roll. Next up was Nabeyaki Udon/Soba Soup and it really was just what a person should be eating on a cold and damp evening, full of chicken, surmi, onion and those lovely noodles; the accompanying tempura shrimp were the perfect dipper.

The restaurant was graced with the presence of a foursome, loud and gregarious, and I might have made a smart-assed observation or two about them when they entered, but it didn't take long for me to be proven right. Minutes after taking their seats, they began singing country songs...loudly. As in, serenading the other seven of us in the restaurant. True, I do have a bias against country music, but I can't imagine what made these people think that such behavior was socially acceptable. I'd have told them to take it outside, except they were all much bigger than me. Especially the woman. Luckily, their food arriving superseded their need to be annoying and we got a reprieve.

Slurping our noodles through theoretical conversation about the differences in how men and women perceive friendship, the choice of being struck blind or deaf and other such important issues fortunately pushed the other guests to the background, leaving us to enjoy our meal.

As to conclusions drawn about revisiting the past, sunshine and lollipops aside, it would appear that occasionally the new reality can actually surpass the memory. Even with the Goo Goo Dolls and country music for a soundtrack.


  1. i had a friend once tell me he used to carry a little portable cassette recorder with him and when people would broadcast their phone conversations unnecessarily loud in public places (such as on a bus or train or even restaurant) he would pull it out in front of them and start recording,to which they would (ironically) be offended by!
    food for thought.

  2. And perfectly delicious food for thought at that! I wish I'd thought of it first.