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The Sushi Monster That Ate New York! - The Book of the Celestial Cow

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January 18th, 2008

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11:44 pm - The Sushi Monster That Ate New York!
So it turns out you guys really like fish. Jesus God.

Inspired by the many helpful suggestions, I declared to Lisa (danea) and Rick (ellric) that I wanted to have sushi for dinner before seeing Cloverfield. And although they had just had sushi last night, they were more than happy to have it again. That is the power of sushi!

We went to Coach Sushi, where they were regulars. Rick surprised them by saying we were eating there, since they normally got take-out every Thursday.

The menu was full of helpful pictures, and Rick and Lisa guided me through the choices. I settled on a Hamachi Roll (yellowtail with green onion) and a Rock'N Roll (eel with avocado, inside-out) because rachelmanija had recommended yellowtail and eel (though I now see she said "sea eel," and I don't know whether that's different), I had to eat some Unagi in honor of Kyoshi Island, and how could I resist something called Rock'N Roll? Lisa was a fan of the Philadelphia Roll (smoked salmon and cream cheese) and the Dynamaite Roll (salmon, yellowtail, tuna, and spicy sauce). Rick was all fancy with his Caterpillar Roll (avocado, tobiko [which turns out to be flying fish roe...I'm not sure I wanted to know that], and eel) and Dancing Bonito (tuna, hamachi, and salmon with spicy sauce, tempura-style [also, there are dancing little rice things...that really dance]).

We ate some edamame as an appetizer while they looked for Lisa's sake box. They couldn't find it, so she got a new wooden box to drink sake out of. Also, Coach shook my hand.

First to come out were the regular sushi rolls. Rick showed me how to fill my dipping station with soy sauce, and I also grabbed some wasabi for my plate. I should note, since I wasn't clear before, that I have had vegetarian sushi before, so I am not completely unfamiliar with it. And vegetarian sushi is quite tasty. But this would be my first real sushi.

I picked up a piece of the yellowtail. I could see the little bit of fish inside. It certainly looked raw enough. I dipped it lightly in the soy sauce. I wasn't certain about the protocol, but Lisa confirmed that, yes, I just put the whole thing in my mouth.

So I did.

I began chewing. Rick and Lisa watched me, observing Sunil's First Sushi, and I couldn't help laughing mid-chew. It didn't help that I was making all kinds of funny faces as I was trying to suss out the raw fish in my mouth and isolate the texture and taste. The whole conglomeration rolled around in my mouth, and everything was sort of buried in the mush of rice, the true salient ingredient of sushi.

I swallowed. I had done it!

Rick had tried one of the eel rolls and liked it, to his surprise. After trying a bit of the yellowtail with some wasabi, I tackled the eel, which had much more flavor to it! There was of course the avocado, but the eel was cooked in some tasty sauce (Rick said it was BBQ-like). It took a little more chewing, and I wasn't sure at the end whether the last bit of toughness was the seaweed or the eel, but I tried not to think about it too much. Since the Caterpillar Roll was also avocado and eel, Rick encouraged me to try it, and I liked it as well.

Lisa had thought I'd like the Dynamaite Roll because the three fish were cut up into little tiny pieces so they were almost a paste. That one was very good, texture-wise and sauce-wise. The Philadelphia Roll was too overpowered with the cream cheese to really decipher the taste of salmon. And the Dancing Bonito was predictably good, as fried things so often are.

I returned to my yellowtail, saving the eel for last because I knew I liked it. I focused on the eating, at one point definitely realizing I was tearing at raw fish but still having no sense of what it tasted like. I wasn't sure why Rachel had recommended it to me. I think it would be good for a first-time eater of sushi, period, to acclimate him to the texture and taste, but it wasn't that different an experience from eating the vegetarian sushi. The eel, on the other hand, had the special sauce they don't bother to put on the cucumber rolls!

My first sushi experience was definitely favorable, but I don't know that I will ever become an addict because, just on principle, I hate paying so much money for so little food and still feeling hungry afterward! Rick and Lisa were happy to pay for my sushi indoctrination, however, so that was nice.

Besides, we had saved room for gelato! At Gelato Firenze, Lisa made me sample rice (which tasted like vanilla with bits of rice) and pumpkin pie (which tasted like...pumpkin pie!). I ordered a hazelnut/pistachio/chocolate mix, but the lady misheard and at first only put in pistachio and chocolate and then, when I thought I'd corrected her, took out the pistachio and replaced it with hazelnut rather than letting me have the triple-flavored gelato I so desired. Ah well. The chocolate was rich and fabulous. All the milk and cream helped fill my remaining hunger.

"And after all this, there's still a movie!" I exclaimed. It was a very good Friday night so far.

And it did not stop being good when we entered the Grand Lake Theatre and took our seats to the sounds of a man playing an organ. The one negative was that there was zero decline, and I sat behind someone with a big head that took a semicircular hole out of the screen for me.

After months and months of anticipation, it was time for Cloverfield!! Which was totally sweet. I thought it was very successful at being The Blair Godzilla Project, and its flaws are just part of the genre (thinly drawn characters whose actions sometimes leave you with a bit of the ol' WTF).

It does a great job of capturing the experience of what it might be like if a giant monster randomly started destroying New York. The way our civilian heroes don't know what the hell is going on (in a normal disaster movie, you'd be getting the military perspective too, but the style of the film forces a certain POV that works to restrict the audience's knowledge believably). The way you only see glimpses and parts of the monster for most of the movie (I've seen some criticism of the monster design when you finally see it, and while it may be a little odd, that's not the point: the movie is not about the monster; it's about our civilian heroes). The way most of the movie is spent running and hiding because they're not the ones fighting the damn thing; they're just trying to survive.

Props to Drew Goddard, though, for getting in some truly hilarious moments generally courtesy of Hud, the man behind the camera (who, of course, requires the most suspension of disbelief because OH MY GOD PUT DOWN THE FUCKING CAMERA).

The special effects are pretty fucking fabulous, too, and all the more impressive given the filming style. There's one attack scene where the camera is going every which way, and I can't imagine how difficult it must have been to properly track the effects in the scene so that however erratic the camera movement was, it still looked like it was filming something real; that is, the computer effects had a mapped placement in the real environment. I did notice some animatronics in the credits, so that would have helped. I described this scene as "fucking psychotic," and I wouldn't dream of spoiling anything about it for you.

The movie is extremely effective at drawing you in, as was clear from the audience reactions. There were gasps and shrieks and all that good stuff. I found myself reacting to things on screen, moving around in my seat. When the movie ended, there were some boos, but that just means they wanted more, right? I wanted more myself, but I also didn't care because what we had gotten was so effective at what it was doing. From the moment the monster attacks, you're in a state of constant tension. The movie actually clocks in at a mere 74 minutes, but I honestly did not notice: it felt long enough due to the extreme pacing.

When the credits for The Blair Witch Project rolled, I noticed that my right hand had gone numb because I had been gripping my wrist so tightly during the final sequence. When the credits for Cloverfield rolled, I realized I was still gripping my thigh and leaning back, tense. That doesn't sound as extreme, but that's because all the intensity of Blair Witch is packed into the last ten minutes. Imagine that lasting an hour, and you have Cloverfield.
Current Mood: satisfiedsatisfied
Current Music: Chevelle - An Evening with el Diablo

(54 memoirs | Describe me as "inscrutable")


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Date:January 19th, 2008 07:50 am (UTC)
I think the general consensus of Cloverfield is just as you said - a few thin bits but so much goodness and tenseness that you are prepared to forgive. My movie of the year so far.
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Date:January 19th, 2008 07:52 am (UTC)
Well, it doesn't have much competition, now does it?

But yeah. Any complaints are outweighed by the fact that it's really fucking good at what it's trying to do, which is make you feel like you're in New York being attacked by a giant monster.
[User Picture]
Date:January 19th, 2008 08:09 am (UTC)
Bonito is actually a fish. The little dancing things are shavings of dried fish. (It's also frequently used to make a broth called dashi, which gets used as a base for many other things.)

I really prefer yellow tail sashimi to yellow tail rolls. It's a really delicate, light flavor. (I also usually eat it with a little ponzu sauce instead of soy sauce which tends to overpower it.)

The sauce on the eel is... eel sauce. (It's mostly sugar and soy sauce and then you caramelize it. If you're at really good places, they'll make their own. You can substitute any thick teriyaki sauce in a pinch and the not-so-great places do. The medium places buy eel sauce, but it's actual eel sauce.)
[User Picture]
Date:January 19th, 2008 08:29 am (UTC)
Bonito is actually a fish. The little dancing things are shavings of dried fish.
Ah! Weird!

I really prefer yellow tail sashimi to yellow tail rolls. It's a really delicate, light flavor. (I also usually eat it with a little ponzu sauce instead of soy sauce which tends to overpower it.)
Ah! What's ponzu sauce?

Good ol' eel sauce!
[User Picture]
Date:January 19th, 2008 08:18 am (UTC)
Hmm. Sushi is actually a very odd intro to fish, I think. The Japanese actually prize the best sushi for not having a "fishy" taste, and as you noticed, it's more about the texture and accompanying ingredients. I haven't looked through the comments to your other post (it was at 90 when I first looked, jesus god), but I think you'd probably like fish and chips because it's fried and slightly more fishy.
[User Picture]
Date:January 19th, 2008 08:30 am (UTC)
I will definitely be trying fish and chips at some point. (And in case you missed it, my actual introduction to fish was salmon.)
(Deleted comment)
Date:January 19th, 2008 08:35 am (UTC)
Mmm, sushi. When I lived in London by a Japanese restaurant I would order a bit of sushi as part of a bento box to overcome the "it's not filling enough" problem. As sophia_helix said, though, you could go fishier. I'm a shellfish person myself. (World's. Worst. Jew.)

[User Picture]
Date:January 19th, 2008 08:46 am (UTC)
dude, sushi has a range of price just like any other food genre. there's cheap sushi in the bay area, believe me.
[User Picture]
Date:January 19th, 2008 08:49 am (UTC)
Hee. Food genre. "I had a sci-fi lunch and a political thriller dinner!"
[User Picture]
Date:January 19th, 2008 09:49 am (UTC)
Mmm... sushi...

If you really want to see what the raw fish actually tastes like, try sashimi. Tuna and salmon are my favorite. (And tuna sashimi tastes nothing like tuna salad, so don't let that throw you off.)
[User Picture]
Date:January 19th, 2008 10:01 am (UTC)
iI hate sushi for those reasons (price, non-fillingness) too. Luckily the sushi place near my school is too far away to walk to during winter or I would be spending $10 on lunch every day.
[User Picture]
Date:January 19th, 2008 10:05 am (UTC)
Do'h, I could have been there for your first sushi experience? I like eel, mostly because of the sauce (and cooked). My favorite eel rolls are the caterpillar roll ('cause it's pretty), and the dragon roll. The other sushi-fish I like is fatty tuna. Toro, I think it's called? Damn expensive though. I used to think the little orange fish eggs were weird to eat, but now I like them.

Uh, rice flavored gelato??
[User Picture]
Date:January 19th, 2008 12:31 pm (UTC)
I like sushi, but the sushi place on campus (called the Honor Roll, if you can believe it) always has super long lines. When they don't, I eat there and they make a good tuna and avacado roll.
[User Picture]
Date:January 19th, 2008 01:58 pm (UTC)
I had about the same reaction as you did to sushi.

I turned to Bert just now and said, "What do you think of this movie Cloverfield? He was so impressed that I knew what it was. Thanks for making me look cool.
[User Picture]
Date:January 19th, 2008 06:31 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]
Date:January 19th, 2008 03:01 pm (UTC)
Oddly, I find that sushi fills me up more than most other food. O.o
[User Picture]
Date:January 19th, 2008 05:31 pm (UTC)
Okay, that is BAD yellowtail if it's flavorless. It's supposed to be rich, succulent, and buttery. Next time try it at a better restaurant, and not as part of a roll, just as sushi (plain with rice) or sashimi (plain.)

Sea eel is unagi, yes. That's best without additions other than rice, too.
[User Picture]
Date:January 19th, 2008 06:29 pm (UTC)
Dammit... I just had sushi on Thursday but hearing you describe it gave me SUCH a sushi craving... my mouth is watering... damn damn damn!!!!
Date:January 19th, 2008 06:33 pm (UTC)
You know my feelings on eel. But if my tummy is behaving next time you feel like having sushi, puh-leeze let me know! Also, the "not filling" thing is usually best solved by ordering lots and lots of sushi. I find.

There is no world where I want to see scary movies, but I'm glad y'all enjoyed Cloverfield. Yikes.
[User Picture]
Date:January 19th, 2008 06:50 pm (UTC)
I saw Cloverfield last night too, in Emeryville. There weren't any boos at the end, just some guy exclaiming "damn!" and then everyone else laughing. It was quite suspenseful. Many unexpected turn of events. Oh man, when Rob's parents called... the movie showed some realistic emotion.

"There's one attack scene where the camera is going every which way, and I can't imagine how difficult it must have been..."
The camera work was pretty sweet, for it to be jerky and thrown around but you can still understand what's going on.
[User Picture]
Date:January 19th, 2008 06:58 pm (UTC)
I saw Cloverfield last night too, in Emeryville.
Aw! I didn't have your e-mail address; I meant to invite you!

Oh man, when Rob's parents called... the movie showed some realistic emotion.
Yeah, that was sad and real.

The camera work was pretty sweet, for it to be jerky and thrown around but you can still understand what's going on.
Right? Although I think it was still pretty hard to understand exactly what was going on and how much damage was being inflicted.

And, ooh, Cloverfield is doing nicely: almost $18 million last night. It's not bombing like SOAP (which made less than that its entire opening weekend)! Three cheers for Internet hype!

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