Have you ever gotten a piece of “bad” sushi? By that, I mean sushi that was contaminated with something that made you sick?
Related, I once put a raw oyster in my mouth that felt and tasted like it was on fire. I spat it out very quickly (and without maintaining even a hint of my cool exterior), but that horrible flavor lingered in my mouth for hours. I’ve said it before, and I will say it again: That must be what evil tastes like.
Well, being the kind of guy who has always eaten sushi (and raw oysters) frequently, I tend to have favorite places for certain things, and to be honest, most of the places around town have, at the very least, been reliable. But a few months ago, I got some not-so-fresh sushi — and it caused me to go on sushi sabbatical.
The sushi didn’t make me violently ill; but I noticed as I was eating some salmon that it didn’t taste exactly like I had come to expect it to. Not spoiled or contaminated, necessarily, but there was something unfamiliar about the flavor, something off. And for the next 24 hours, that odd aftertaste came roaring back to me over and over again. It was not pleasant, and sadly, that experience made me un-crave sushi.
I hate that, because sushi has always been sort of a comfort food for me, but for a good three months, I swore off one of my favorite cuisines. Now, I knew during the sabbatical that I would one day return, because I sincerely feared at times it might be a change in my physiological makeup that had made me sushi intolerant. I had to know. So I finally buckled down and went to my go-to, the place that has never let me down: Kobe Japanese Steakhouse in Jeffersonville. Yes, Kobe focuses on the hibachi grills and the big show, but I’ve always enjoyed delicious sushi there.
When I went for my big return, I enjoyed maguro (tuna), Suzuki (striped bass), super white tuna (escolar), sake (salmon), and uzura (quail egg) — and my taste buds and belly were jubilant. Kobe will remain my go-to, at least for the near term.
A week or so later, I happened to be in Nashville with my girlfriend, and we decided to have dinner at Goten, a place near our hotel room we’d visited once before, and where I remembered having sushi that was good but not great. So, I decided I’d continue the rebound experiment with an uncertain contender. The sushi I had that night at Goten was not Kobe quality, and the nigiri/sashimi selection was limited, but the whitefish, tuna, and salmon I ate were all quite good, and the experience was better than I had remembered from the previous visit. Checkmark.
A couple of weeks later, I returned to a spot in the Highlands where I’ve had good sushi experiences previously: Wild Ginger. I did so mostly because the recently-remodeled Sapporo was on a 45-minute wait, but once again, I had a fine sushi experience, with fresh and flavorful nigiri, and no stomach distress.
Finally, last week, I ended up having lunch — just to be completely sure — at Sakura Blue in St. Matthews, and I’m happy to report that once again, all was well. Apparently, I just got a random bad hunk of salmon, and one bad hunk can be quite a spoiler. I hope I never experience that aftertaste again; it wasn’t evil-oyster bad, but it was still pretty bad.
I’ve not been to every sushi place in town, but I also know Sake Blue in Buechel to be a top destination, and I’ve always liked Oishii Sushi as well, and of course Dragon King’s Daughter is a treat of a different flavor. My initial sushi experience nearly two decades ago was at Café Mimosa, which is better known for its eggrolls and Vietnamese fare, but I still go there sometimes as well.
But what I am getting to is this: Anyone reading this that has a strong recommendation for sushi in Louisville, I’d love to hear it. Where is your favorite place for sashimi or nigiri? What is your favorite sushi roll in the city? Is there a place serving fish that isn’t so easy to find, such as black marlin? Please send me an e-mail to let me know; I’d love to hear your recommendations.