Throughout the year, Restaurant Editor Bill Addison will travel the country to chronicle what's happening in America's dining scene and to formulate his list of the essential 38 restaurants in America. Follow his progress in this travelogue/review series, The Road to the 38, and check back at the end of the year to find out which restaurants made the cut.
Watching Hiroyuki Urasawa as he made nigiri sushi felt almost intrusive. His expression was tender. He was smiling to himself. He looked like he was practicing tai chi, each movement studied and precise. Each time he coupled a sculpted piece of fish with its thumb-size portion of seasoned rice, Urasawa placed the sushi before him and paused for an instant to consider his handicraft. Then he lightly painted it with soy sauce. Some pieces would be dribbled with freshly squeezed yuzu juice; a few received a flurry of green yuzu zest.
And when, one at a time, he laid the series of ten or so morsels in front of his tiny band of customers, we snatched them in a flash. We were following instructions. At the onset of the sushi progression, the meal's extravagant pinnacle, Urasawa had told us to eat every piece within ten seconds. Dude was dead serious.