"Sushi was the world's first fast food. Sushi "restaurants" were the world's first food trucks. A billion years ago, outside the walls of the city of Edo, a bunch of grubby Japanese fishermen got the bright idea that they could probably make a few bucks off all the junk fish and scraps they had left over after a day at the market if they were to set up along the main drag--the course walked by all the merchants and businessmen coming and going from the city--and sell fish to people who were likely hungry and looking at a long walk home. Having no refrigeration, they would salt the fish, or cut it thin and dry it. And to serve, they would press a piece of it down into a ball of vinegared rice, smile, and ask for their cash.
Edomae sushi became huge. Everyone ate the stuff. And while yes, the cuisine has been refined over centuries (if there's one thing the Japanese are good at, it's refining a thing down to its basic principles, its constituent elements), it is not a lot different today than it was then: quick grub for the hungry and cash-strapped. And in that way, all those strip-mall, dollar menu sushi joints with their buzzing neon and maneki niko good luck cats are doing more to uphold the tradition of classical Edo sushi than any Nobu or Masa ever has. Sushi is not special. It is no more or less important than grits or dumplings or coq-au-vin.
Which brings me again to that central question of proximity and parity. Is it more important that sushi be great or that it be available? Is 'good enough' enough?"
From this week's review of Nijo Sushi Bar & Grill
And the answer is yes. Some of the time. Depending on what it is you're looking for, what you're craving, and whether you happen to be very close to a place where "good enough" falls somewhere on the spectrum north of poison and south of a $1000 omakase menu that you'll remember for the rest of your born days.
For me, Nijo is that place. It is close. It is convenient. And while not always great, it is good enough of the time to make it my equivalent of some road-side fish seller on the way home from the gates of Edo.
The full review will be online and on the stands tomorrow.