Thanks to a monkey bra and microclimate1, the red eye from San Francisco to JFK wasn’t nearly as bad as it usually is and by 9:30am I’m happily tucking into a Doughnut Plant doughnut 2 on the Lower East Side. A trip to New York typically is planned around things to eat and it just doesn’t seem complete without a doughnut from Doughnut Plant. I’m such a fan of their doughnuts (particularly those of the cake variety) that I made a point of finding their Tokyo branch in the labyrinth that is known as Shinjuku Station.
When you are in New York another thing you have to have pizza. There is just so much of it and a lot of it is really good, both on the high and low end. By comparison, the good pizza options in San Francisco are rather limited. On the recommendation of a friend we went to Rubirosa in Nolita. It’s somewhere between your basic pizza and something a bit fancier, serving crisp, cracker thin pizza that remains stiff when held by the crust. They also serve a solid spaghetti and meatballs on homemade noodles that have a bit of the rough springiness that is more typical in good ramen noodles.
The topper of an amazing food day was sushi at Sushi Nakazawa, a fairly new restaurant started by a disciple of the three Michelin starred restaurant Sukiyabashi Jiro in Tokyo3. You know when you have one of those experiences that just totally recalibrates the way look at something? This was one of those experiences. It’s probably better just to put this in a different class altogether and not even think of it as sushi.
Each of the nine courses came out with just two or three pieces on the plate already seasoned by the chef. There is no soy sauce and wasabi on the table for the diner to adjust the flavor. Just ginger to cleanse your palate between courses. Not all the preparations were strictly traditional, often incorporating yuzu koshou, or smoking a piece of fish over hay, but the variety provided with just fish, rice and some condiments was exceptional. The contrast or complementary nature of each plate was amazing, whether it was the subtle textural or flavor shifts between two pieces of shellfish, hotate and mirugai, for example, or the difference between a shrimp that had been lightly boiled and a raw spot prawn. You could tell everything was very carefully considered.
All in all a truly memorable first day.
Peach, a seasonal doughnut with a subtle hint of the fruit. Too often when people try to execute a flavor like this the balance is off or it ends up tasting artificial. Possibly my favorite of their regular offerings is the tres leches doughnut. ↩
There is a good documentary about Jiro’s approach called Jiro Dreams of Sushi. ↩
A few more days
A final Hi meeting
The local neighborhood bar has a quiet time between six and nine. It is a place that specializes in coffee, beer and seasonal menus. There is just enough of each for a satisfying snack and effective buzz. After the time when the laptop lids close and before the social gatherings start -- there is a sort of twilight*. Often this time is a fugitive ground rife with creative inspiration and meditative work -- of the kind that results in personal reward.*twilight may refer to civil, nautical or astronomical variety depending on your social or terrestrial condition
A man positions his mouse on the edge of his browser window. He clicks, holds and drags the viewport first left then right. The content of a video game promo micro site responds and adapts to the available space. To the man, this is more delightful than the game itself.
A man laboriously moves his piano down three levels onto the subway platform. Classic vocals and strided chords -- he played so well I swore he was blind. Oblivious to the heat on that August stage, he was most in touch with his audience -- whom he elevated with his music.
A woman should do exactly as she pleases no matter what a man may think.
As the Dalai Lama once said, "It is a time when there is much in the window, but nothing in the room."
"No one understands me," she said. Her grandmother was silent for a minute. It seemed she was searching for an answer in the star speckled sky. "But no one understands anyone in this world, darling. We are all unique. It is what gives us a sense of wonder."