Thursday, March 24, 2011

Birthday Sushi

When I was a small child, my family observed a Japanese style macrobiotic diet about which my mom was enthusiastic and thorough. When I suffered from colic and sleeplessness as a baby, mom took me to a macrobiotic consultant whose written analysis and recommendations I still have (but don't follow). Mom even researched, wrote and illustrated a book manuscript about seaweed. And don't get me started on her homemade pan fried onigiri -- brown rice balls flecked with sesame seeds and dipped in soy sauce. Heaven.

Though my parents became more conventional and relaxed about our diet and lifestyle as we grew older, we never abandoned our love of Japanese food. I've always been partial to oyakodon, and mom loved vegetarian sushi rolls.

So, last week, in observance of what would have been my mom's 70th birthday, we went out for sushi. We wanted to go to Takami because the restaurant is donating 100% of its profits to the Red Cross Japanese Relief Fund, but for logistical reasons we ended up at our local favorite, Sushi Sei. Their sushi chefs are all from Japan, and we were relieved to learn that their families back home are safe and accounted for.

Given the situation in Japan, and that our meal was in remembrance of my mom, it was a somber celebration of life; of picking ourselves up and moving forward, stronger from (and never forgetting) our losses. Food is life, and culture, and place, and memory, all of which we are grateful for.

The meal was also an opportunity to play with my new (to me) camera for the first time. Though the following photos are rife with problems (Frankenfood, anyone?), it's remarkable that I was able to capture images at all, given the restaurant's dim green and red lighting.

My amazing husband.
Best. Tuna Tataki. Ever.

Crispy Rice Balls with Spicy Tuna and Avocado

Grilled Salmon and Scallops with Salt and Lemon
(Ack! Too much bokeh! Take a step back, Maggie.)

We made sure to leave room for birthday cake. We headed over to Zane's, which may as well be one of those restaurants that serves food in complete darkness. As you can see, mom's birthday candle was basically the only source of light.

We made a little birthday wish for mom, then devoured the most decadent chocolate layer cake on the planet. Warmed. With chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream. Mom would have approved; even in her macrobiotics days, she always appreciated a treat.

Happy birthday, mom. We love and miss you.


  1. Beautiful photos and a lovely tribute to your mother.

  2. if those are the bad pictures, i cannot wait to see what you do with the good ones...

  3. Went to sushi for some 100% donating efforts myself. Takami scares me, so I Went w/ some "Trust me" sushi at Nozawa. The macrobiotic diet seems DAMNED interesting for an infant Never would've thought of that. The "5S" treatment seems a lot easier than making a 1 year old eat onigiri...