We have a favorite place to eat when we're looking for Japanese food:Sushi Takahashi is one of Portland's kaiten zushi places - in Japanese "回転寿司" or "conveyor-belt sushi". There are several of these in the area, but we've always liked this unpretentious little spot the best.
Now, let be be honest; you will not get the best...or the second best...or anything close to the best sushi in Portland - which is a damn demanding sushi town, perhaps the most discerning outside LA - at Takahashi. Which, believe it or not, is why I like it.
At bottom I'm a sergeant. I've been a student, geologist, mechanic's assistant, husband (twice), father (again, twice), medical assistant...but I suspect that the real key to my personality is the hackneyed sergeant's snarl: "Don't "sir" me, goddamnit, I work for a living!" I like things simple, practical and effective. If they are graceful and beautiful, all the better. But nothing irks me quicker than affected flourishes and posing that adds no value to the person, place or thing. Be what you are, dammit, be the BEST you can be, and quit prancing the fuck around.So kaiten zushi works great for me 90% of the time. It's tasty, quick, clean and reasonably priced. It's a workingman's kind of sushi, the kind of place you'd expect a couple of hard-handed riveters from the Mitsubishi yards to stop off at the end of a hard day building Imperial carriers to sink the Yankee Fleet to wash down some tekkamaki with a half-rack of cold Sapporos and argue about this year's Yomiuri Giants.
It's a fun place with good food for a good price. And the maguffin here is the little toy train that serves as the conveyor - my kids call this place "Sushi Train".
Well, tonight was Mommy's Night Off - I try and take the kids one evening during the week and several hours one weekend day to give Mojo some down time; otherwise she'd be jumped on as constantly as the cutest boy in an Afghan Army barracks.
I first proposed "Zoolights" or the Victorian Mansion place up here in Kenton or Peacock Lane and was informed by The Peep (in his best "how-the-hell-does-someone-as-frigging-stupid-as-you-walk-and-breathe-at-the-same-time" six and a half year old Who Knows It All voice) that "Lights are BO-ring". He confided that "Games are fun and you do stuff. Lights are boring because you just LOOK at them. Let's go the the Nickel Arcade!" Missy chimed in "Nickel Arcade! I want Nickel Arcade!"
So we went to the Nickel Arcade.
But before that Daddy got him some Tempura Tai.The menu says it's halibut, it's not - it's tilapia. But it's so damn good it can make a strong man weep, and its buttery deliciousness and spicy sauce make a perfect counterpoint to the hot oiliness of the cheap hot sake'. Two orders of tai and a flask of the hot rice wine and you're ready to charge Tokugawa's ashigaru with nothing but a cat toy.
Not that I want my children to try this.
I filled up on my favorites, Big Boy wanted nothing from train sushi but the chocolate cake dessert, and little Miss ate her Burgeville fries, and chicken, and some flying fish egg, (tobiko) and a little tamago (egg omlet), and THREE orders of amaebi (sweet shrimp).
Did I mention that girl loves her some shrimp?
Peeperman was at his loving and playful best, Little Miss was adorable and winning - she utterly charmed the little group of two sisters and their brother on our left to the point where Older Sister spent much of her evening smiling at and cajoling her - and made a glorious mess. It was a good evening with two sweet kids.And even the Nickel Arcade was good, cheap fun. We sure shot the hell out of those androids.
We arrived home to a languid Mommy in her pink spotted bathrobe who distributed hugs and kisses, toothbrushes and jammies and stories and bed. Where they are all three now, sleeping soundlessly, as the waning crescent moon sails overheadin the cold, deep, clear, dark, silent sky.