As long time readers are aware, Bajira has a nearly unhealthy obsession with the delectable, perfectly sized, and incredibly affordable culinary delights offered by Kotobuki. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: Kotobuki’s cuisine reigns supreme. The nigiri are delicate slices of heaven that don’t threaten to gag you when you pop one in your mouth. The rolls are perfectly balanced with the right amount of warm rice and buttery soft goodness. At a buck and a quarter per nigiri and less than a fin (heh) for six rolls, any meal there is incredibly cheap. If you enjoy or at least can easily tune out a constant loop of The Beatles, then this is the place to get your sushi fix. Located right above the pricier, snootier (dress code, wha?), but allegedly authentic Makoto, you just KNOW the sushi is identical and the only difference is the packaging.
[insert video clip of The Simpson’s “Worst Episode Ever” where the following occurs:
Homer and Marge visit the Squidport.
MARGE – So many restaurants.
HOMER – Oh, I can’t decide! I throw myself upon the mercy of the food court!
MARGE – (approaching one) Um, I guess I’ll have the Chicken Tandoori.
HOMER – (at a different stall) And I’ll have the Beef Wellington.
We see that underneath the stalls, a man puts the same “All-Purpose Meat” onto different ramps, serving each restaurant.]
The only downside to Kotobuki is its location. In the nether regions known as The Palisades, Kotobuki is not metro-, bike-, or foot-accessible to us AdMo folks. You have to drive there following a very serpentine path which, if you are not paying attention and having too good a time with visitors from the North and miss a street here or there, you can get very turned around. That’s where Banana Leaves comes in.
Normally, we tend to shy away from restaurants that appear to be a mishmash of cultures and influences. The new restaurant not only falls into this category, it revels in it: “We serve freshly prepared dishes from Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, China, Japan, Singapore, Indonesia and elsewhere in the Asia.” [Aside: “elsewhere in the Asia” translates into “suck it Laos, Cambodia, and you other nothing nobody nohow countries!”] Mix-n-match restaurants invariably disappoint because in the attempt to offer a little bit of something for everyone, they end up offering a lot of crap of everything. Nonetheless, on a particularly rainy and crummy evening, we decided to give it a try. It was new, it was reasonable, and it offered free delivery (considering it was just around the corner from our house, we figured the food could not take more than a few minutes to arrive). I don’t know whether it was because it was a Friday night and the chef was in a particularly fine form that evening, but the dishes we ordered (although an hour getting to us) were delightful. Our guest was happy with his Banana Leaves Rice (spicy shrimp, curry chicken, egg, peanut, cucumber, and onions served with coconut rice wrapped in a banana leaf), TP enjoyed his BaBa Curry (Melaka style blended spice paste with coconut milk, onion and potato served with rice), and I got just what I wanted in the Tuna Lover (four pieces of tuna nigiri, four pieces of tuna sashimi, and spicy crunchy tuna rolls.
As my eyelids began to droop in sheer pleasure, my heart started to ache. I loved Kotobuki so much. I am very slow to change anything in my life, including my allegiances to restaurants. But excellent sushi just a hop, skip, and a jump away threatened to replace Kotobuki’s honored and esteemed place in my soul. Breakup songs started playing on the radio as the tears on my cheeks matched the tracks of the rain on the windows. Good thing I tried Banana Leaves again. SUSHI FAIL. The spicy crunchy rolls were still good but the sashimi was streaked with fat which made chewing them unpleasant and unwieldy and the nigiri seemed to have been prepared with a much heavier-handed chef more fond of thick slabs than subtle morsels. I was annoyed but also perversely pleased. I can’t explain it. Suffice it to say, I am happy that everything is back to status quo and I can send all my loving to Kotobuki.