Friday, October 24, 2008
Chef Kazunori Nozawa at his flagship restaurant, Sushi Nozawa, in Studio City, Calif.
Talk about making Seinfeld's "Soup Nazi" look tame?
If you're seated at the sushi bar at Sasabune in New York, Sushi Nozawa in Los Angeles, or Sawa Sushi in Sunnyvale, Calif., a few words of advice:
Don't try to order -- the chef will decide what you eat. Use extra soy sauce at your own risk. And don't ask for a California roll. You might get kicked out.
Never fear, however. You've just entered a recent wacky parallel universe known as the domain of the "sushi bullies."
Basically, what we're talking about here, are top sushi chefs who serve only what they want, how they want it and to whom they want. Their rules are often posted on signs throughout their restaurants. And some of these chefs are notorious for ejecting patrons who annoy them.
On her first encounter with one of these raw-fish autocrats in San Francisco, a customer tried to add some soy sauce to her seaweed salad. Sound simple? Actually, it turned out to be a big mistake. The tyrannical chef immediately scolded her, telling her, "No, no, no. No soy sauce!" Then, she had the temerity to scrape some wasabi off a piece of sushi, because she doesn't like spicy food. The chef's response: "No! It needs the wasabi." Hence, she obeyed, and choked down the fish.
"I was so nervous, I spilled my miso soup," said the patron, whose meal for two, with no alcohol, cost $75 -- before tip.
Now in all fairness to this growing trend of hardcore sushi disciplinarians, I have had encounters in Italian restaurants, whereupon asking for some freshly grated parmesan cheese , the waiter would come back with a "request" from the chef, that I "try" eating my entree without it -- thereby, allowing the natural flavors to come through. However, in each of these instances, the chef was in the kitchen, and the "request" never came across as anything more than just that.
In any event, read more here to see how the familiar Seinfeld catch phrase: No Soup For You apparently still applies today.