We try out an exquisite gilded sushi roll, inexplicably packaged in cheap plastic.
Last Friday, 3 February, was Setsubun in Japan. It is an old fashioned day in which some households throw beans to ward off evil and invite good fortune into their lives. That custom is said to be gradually fading away, however, only to be replaced by the custom of eating huge sushi rolls known as ehomaki (lucky direction sushi roll).
Since luck is at stake, Mr. Sato decided not to pussy-foot around this year and tracked down the most expensive ehomaki he could find. Located in the basement of the Shinjuku Isetan, the sophisticated Tokusen Kaisen Jyuni Hitoe Maki came with a hefty price tag of 10,800 yen (US$96).
The name references the 12 main ingredients, seafood items carefully selected from all across Japan. Apparently, in an effort to keep costs from going too out of control, the Tokusen Kaisen Jyuni Hitoe Maki is served in a quaint plastic tray with two colors of tissue paper.
No problem, though. There real party is happening in the middle of this ehomaki. Here’s a rundown of what’s inside:
- Tuna from Oma, Aomori
- Japanese puffer fish from Hyogo
- Red sea bream from Nagasaki
- Longtooth Grouper from Nagasaki
- Oval squid from Nagasaki
- Kuruma prawn from Ehime
- Steamed abalone from Miyazaki
- Boiled conger eel from Miyazaki
- Boiled horsehair crab from Hokkaido
- Salted herring roe from Hokkaido
- Salmon roe pickled in soy sauce from Hokkaido
- Raw sea urchin from Hokkaido
Almost as impressive as this list of premium seafood is how they managed to cram it all into a single sushi roll. Like a congested freeway overpass of luxurious food during rush hour, all of the items push the rice to its structural limits. Luckily it is held together not only by seaweed but a thin sheet of gold leaf.
Here’s how it looks from the side.
Things have been going fairly well for Mr. Sato recently with him accidentally becoming a poster boy for human rights in America. So, he thought this lucky ehomaki would be wasted on him. Instead he tracked down the most downtrodden, loserish person at RocketNews24 he could find.
If anyone needed a gilded cylinder of luck, it was our eternally single Seiji Nakazawa. Also, as a native of the Kansai region where the ehomaki originated, he was the biggest fan of these tubular talismans.
Without needing instruction, Seiji pointed the ehomaki north-by-northwest, the lucky direction prescribed for 2017 and took a big hopeful bite.
Needless to say it was delicious. A magnificent blend of some of the finest seafood in the entire country was destined to be great. If anything it was too much, but “too much” is what an ehomaki is all about.
As for the luck factor… Well, we’ll have to wait and see what this year has in store for Seiji. Maybe – just maybe – he’ll get that call from the guys in Guitar Wolf he’s been hoping for.
[ Read in Japanese ]