The Sushi Question started years ago when I was first introduced to sushi by Nancy Wong. She was of Chinese heritage but adored Japanese sushi.
At first my reaction was, “Oh, ick, raw fish!” Lucky for me I was with someone who knew what sushi was, “A small ball or roll of vinegar-flavored cold cooked rice served with a garnish of raw fish, veggies or eggs.” What I found out is that this sweet-sour rice can also be stuffed with cooked crab, cucumbers, and avocados. I have come to love California rolls surrounded with pickled ginger and just a smidge of wasabi. Wasabi will eat your nose off if you are not careful. I have tried raw fish sushi, including octopus. The many-suckered creature is as tough as rubber ball. It is not for me. We do not have a lot of places to just drop in and have this treat; there are places in Albuquerque and none in out here.
We are quite a ways from the salty seas of the Pacific Ocean or Gulf Coast, so it is not unusual to find sushi expensive and not quite right off the boat. I recommend Mr. Tokyo, a place on Juan Tabo and Montgomery. The other day I pointed out a reasonable, new and clean place. A friend said to me, “I wouldn’t go in that place any more than I would buy sushi from a filling station.” I thought that was a little critical, everyone has a right to their opinion, about food especially. My advice on this subject is, go to Hawaii and try sushi there.
Four years ago, Bill and I went for an extended trip for my birthday to Hawaii. The trip was also over Easter; therefore, it was unusual to see a parade with an over six-foot Easter Bunny with a flowered lei around his neck tossing chocolate under the swaying palm trees.
After this experience, Bill sneaked out of bed on my birthday to get me my favorite breakfast, McDonalds. It was a little different from here, it came with two huge cupfuls of white rice, Portuguese sausage, eggs, and a coconut shake. After that big meal, we drove the car we rented to the north shore. Lots of surfers work up an appetite, and there were sushi places all over. When we stopped to fill up the car, the filling station also sold sushi! Nothing smelled fishy, it was so good looking and fresh, I bought the entire counter full. We took it back to the hotel and feasted like Hawaiians of old. Buying sushi in the land where it comes from (including poke, a raw tuna appetizer or main dish) is wonderful on the ocean watching the sunset.
While people love it, I like my food cooked, except for barbecued lettuce. I saw that on a Texas BBQ show. Bill and I do not shun gas stations for food just because they sell fuel. The thought crossed my mind that the back road to Santa Fe passed the King Ranch, and up to where there is a main turn into Santa Fe, there is a great gas station side business, The Best of New Mexico Burritos. Each time we go to the capital city we stop and fill up with these tasty, delicious, festive foods.
There are those who say, “Never get Mexican food from a pause for petrol.” Ha! Just as fish is good from Hawaii, corn and flour tortillas filled with beans, cheese, meat, and chile are what you need on a road trip. The very spirit of New Mexico will float with you all the way. We swear that’s what it is floating with you all the way. Pull over and sit on the hood with burrito in hand, watching the majestic mountains and unbelievable sunset.
Don’t let anyone tell you where to eat on vacation. You can figure it out yourself. Look for those signs of success: packed parking lots, lines out the front door waiting for a seat, and finally, smiles on the faces of those leaving. We don’t need Las Vegas neon to point us to places of palate perfection. Roaring Mouse rubbing a full tummy, over and out.