I love sushi, I hate sushi.
It’s not so much the sushi I hate but the burden of the sushi-train-price-system.
It all looks so deliciously innocent, tooting around the restaurant on it’s little train, each morsel hiding under it’s plastic sneeze-protector cup. Some of my favourites putter by, as I prepare my wasabi, ginger and soy sauce combo , mixing it to the perfect spice to salt ratio. Maguro Nigiri (tuna), Amaebi (prawns) and Hotate Nigiri (Scallop). They are right there - just begging me to reach out and rescue them from another trip around the track.
Then there are some that make my life much so much easier, as I wouldn’t eat them even if they were free. I see you Ikura Gukan (orange jelly balls), Kappa Maki (waste of money cucumber), Futomaki (so many ingredients ain’t nobody know what’s in there.)
There are multiple steps and considerations that need to be thought through before you just can reach out and grab something. What, are you crazy? Each min-meal requires the mental aptitude and the alertness of a Chinese tiger. One wrong move and you either leave hungry or with no money left for frozen yoghurt.
Let me take you through the basics:
1. Measure the speed of the pass zone. The area in which you can (without looking like a total novice) appropriately reach out and secure your plate. This will let you know the time you have for what will be critical on-the-spot assessments.
2. Set a hunger to cash limit. If you are really hungry but only want to spend $15, you know you are going to have to go for piece-per-dollar value. This isn’t easy as you will need to assess the value of the kind of raw fish on the plate, verses the number of pieces, verses the desire for that particular dish (also know as the fish-lust quotient.)
3. Set an upper spend limit. For those times when you only realise that you are hungry when you start eating. This leads to a related point - start with a fiver plate. It doesn’t matter so much what it is, just grab something cheap with five items. This will help asses where you are on the sushi hungriness scale from 1 to 10. With 1 being “I could just eat the ginger and leave” and 10 being “stick the whole sword fish in my mouth and let me munch - I don’t care about pain.”
4. Know your plates. Every colour is a different price, from about three to eight bucks. Every restaurant values the type of fish to cost-colour-plate differently. It’s this kind of arbitrary price setting that makes me even more bamboozled by this kind of dining. If they are charging more than $4 for three 3 cooked tunas - leave immediately.
5. You need to constantly update your budget verses hunger level and choose accordingly. Think it through before the burden of the pass zone becomes to much.
6. Don’t look like a guts-ache. Looks are important. Go for higher piece plates if you are hungry, don’t stack up a pile of ten $2 plates - it doesn’t matter what you think - you look like a gobble guts. Especially to the Japanese who like tiny little portions and sensible eating.
7. “Seagull” your neighbour. Start by saying “oh my goodness what is that, it looks amazing.” Only do this on four-count and above plates, that way your friend or significant other will feel selfish if they don’t share “just on bite”. Always choose the biggest piece without drawing attention. If you “seagull” every two plate, you can reduce your overall spend by 12% and your hunger level will round off much better by the end of the sitting.
8. Drink water. No soft drink goes well with Sushi. That $4.50 is much better spent by choosing a tasty four-count or above plate. Is they have Saki you aren’t in a sushi-train style restaurant. Start with one bottle on and empty stomach, order whatever you feel like and have someone else pay with your credit card at the end of the night. This is the preferred way to eat sushi as it avoids all the guilt and angst of the train-system.
Well done, if you have followed all these points you are now full and don’t feel ripped off. Congratulations it’s time for frozen yoghurt. Oh my god, it’s the pay per weight system. This can be fraught will peril especially if you don’t know your biscuit to candy aproximate weight per spoonful decision matrix.
You know what, just stay home and order pizza.
That's not me in the pic, just sayin
This question was asked of me over the phone, near to midnight, in a hotel room in Datong, Taipei City. It was after a super long day at the studio shooting a TV commercial and I needed to wind down and go to sleep fast. I called up hotel services to see if they had a massage service (which wasn’t a special-late-night-very-happy-time- kind of Taiwanese massage that you get offered on your way to 711 late at night.)
We recently moved and one of the heavier boxes the removalist had to lift was a large box of CDs. Remember those kids? Shiny round discs that we used to buy for $30 each, and download to our ears. The perceived value of these discs increased if they happened to have a secret track – what a treat! They lost that value however if it was a heavy metal album, and the secret track was three minutes after the end of the last “un-secret” track and the secret-surprise scared the crap out of you.
‘Hands-on-heads! Face the front. Sit up straight!’ Is what I expected her to say next. My film crew had just boarded a Dash-8 plane to the middle-of-nowhere-in-particular. If I were trying to sell the Dash-8 on eBay (which is where I might sell other tiny goods) my blurb would read: ‘This adorable little plan even flies! Don’t glide comfortably through the air on a normal, boring plane; feel as if you’re really flying on the Dash-8. [Makes a fantastic necklace pendent, accessories sold separately, buy now to avoid disappointment.]’
I recently moved from Pyrmont to Parramatta. For Sydney-siders you’d know that the only similarities between the suburbs end with their respective first letters. Pyrmont is more patisseries than panel beaters, more suits and less track suits, more cafes than kebab shops.
Every now and then, when a slow news week rolls around, there is a story about how religion is dead – or at the very least dying. This week was one of those weeks. I am not joking as I retell the story of a kitten that got stuck in a car’s suspension spring. It climbed up there overnight to stay warm and couldn’t get out in the morning. Nor could it get out as the owner of the car drove it around his suburb all day. Don’t worry, it ended well when (cliché alert): firemen saved the kitten! I didn’t know they actually saved cats in distress, I thought that only happened in American movies. I was surprised that it was such a slow news week but there is only so much you can say about the tragedy in Japan and the travesty in Libya at the moment. It’s not news when an awful situation remains the same.
Because I’m committed to green urban transport, and/or the fact that it would otherwise take me half an hour to walk to work, I ride a kick scooter. Don’t get the wrong idea, this is not a tiny Razor scooter with wheels fit for a leprechaun’s tricycle, and sparks that fly off the back when you press the brake down, (although my little nephew has one of those sparky-brakes scooters and I thought it was pretty awesome, just quietly.) No! My scooter is a man-scooter. Made of light-weight solid magnesium and engineered for speed and kick-efficiency. It’s so fast it comes with two sets of brakes (not that I’d ever touch the brakes; I’m like one of the street racers in the film Tokyo Drift.)
I’ve found on Californian radio that they have songs on an even higher rotation than we do in Sydney. I didn’t think that anyone played the same songs over and over again more than 2Dayfm, but I present to you KissFM in LA. It doesn’t matter if Ryan Seacrest is annoying you with his strangely bogan/over-excited accent in the morning or if you are still listening late at night, you are guaranteed to hear Willow Smith’s riveting new song “I Whip My Hair Back and Forth.” within minutes.
So I’m in the US for a few weeks and I decided that being on holidays gives me even less of an excuse for not blogging. Sorry I only write occasionally, but perhaps you are secretly pleased that you don’t have to hear from me all the bloody time.
The other day I jumped on a train and ventured out of the city to have coffee with some mates. When you think of heading out for a great coffee you would normally make your way into town, not out west, but it was all about the great company and these three guys I was catching up with were also coffee aficionados so with this in mind I thought the café couldn’t be too bad and was looking forward to the night out.
PETE CAMPBELL is a Creative: Writer/Producer based from Australia, now based in LA. He has worked on projects for McDonalds, So You Think You Can Dance, Nikon, TEN, The Waratahs, Royal Bank of Scotland, Sydney Opera House, Bankwest, HP, Gumtree, Kijiji Taiwan and a stack more.