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THERE'S NO SUCH THING AS TOO MUCH SUSHI Indeed, there is not! I love sushi. I will grant you, the first time I had sushi, my cousin and I both got food poisoning... but this was back in the Dark Ages of sushi in the US... back when it was only for the super trendy elitists... and therefore someone was probably doing something wrong. My best friend, Countess, is the one that really got me into it after that hideous experience with the uncooked shrimp, and from there, there was no going back.

One of the downsides of loving sushi is, of course, that it's prohibitively expensive, especially in a land-locked desert state like AZ. There are (or were at the time I heard this) only three places in Flagstaff that got fresh fish delivered daily, and I only know two of them: Buster's, an upscale bar & grill, and Sakura/the Radisson, which also has very upscale fare. I can easily eat $30 worth of sushi in a sitting. Now, Arno, as you can probably guess, knowing him, isn't a big fan of sushi. It's not the raw fish that bothers him so much as the seaweed, which can be dry and hard to swallow. HOWEVER, we've found a solution that works to our advantage on both of these fronts: Shabu Shabu. This is an all-you-can-eat sushi place right next to the theater that we go to, and they also serve a variety of fried meats, fish, and other vittles (which keeps Arno happy). Shabu Shabu offers two rates: 18 euro for lunch, and 25 for dinner. They offer a few different specialty items with dinner, and you can only order 5 items at a time (per person per round) for dinner service, whereas you can order 8 at lunch. The caveat is that if you order too much and don't eat it, they charge you 2.50e per item (so you can't order a bunch and then take it home as a doggie-bag, I imagine to be one reason... but also so food and prep-time aren't wasted). We have never run into these charges.

On our most recent visit, they had upgraded to using tablets, so you could select your items for the round and sent the order directly to the kitchen when you were ready. I see this as greatly beneficial to the servers and customers... servers no longer have to keep checking up on tables to see if diners are ready for another round, and diners don't have to wait for servers to show up to take the order slips in. Plus there's no paper waste with this system, and people aren't walking off with your pens. I think it's a very smart way to do things. People are much less likely to walk off with one of your tablets.

Now, you thought this whole post was going to be about sushi, right? But I'm going to change the focus a bit. Back in January or so, we had a visitor! Our friend from the old Station 8 days, Mika, happens to be a stewardess, and from time to time has a few days off in Amsterdam. She spends a lot of her time going to museums and sightseeing in her time off, but complained about being bored. We suggested she come for a visit with us. (She has, of course, visited Arno before, with her friend Yanbing.) Mika and I agreed to meet at the train station, since Arno would be working, and wouldn't be home until about 6:30. We didn't say WHERE at the train station, though, and both of us ended up circling around looking for one another. After a full round, though, I decided to switch directions, and it's a good thing I did! We found each other almost immediately then! We walked back to the house, chatted a bit, then found out that neither of us was a very brilliant source of conversation. Awkward... So I offered for her to go through our movie collection and we'd watch something to kill time until the conversationalist of the group got home. We watched How To Train Your Dragon, which she hadn't seen before, then did a short walk with the dog, meeting up with Arno on the way back, and we headed to Shabu Shabu for dinner. It wasn't a pleasant walk... the weather had turned windy and a little rainy. Mika enjoyed the sushi, but said that the name wasn't exactly accurate. "Shabu shabu" is actually a pot of hot broth, and you take pieces of meat and swipe them through the broth until they're cooked to your liking. The Japanese onomatopoeia for the swishing sound as the meat goes through the broth is "shabu." (The Japanese are masters of onomatopoeia.)

This was back when they were still using the paper menus, and I either ended up marking a selection wrong or they read it wrong, and I ended up getting two pieces of a kelp-filled roll instead of the mango-aloe vera rolls that I'd wanted. It was very strong-smelling. Arno bailed out and went to sit at the next table over; he couldn't take it. I did make an effort and ate one (it was as horrid as it smelled), but we asked for the other one to be taken away as soon as we could flag down our waiter. At least it gave us some entertainment for the evening!

Yes, there is.

It's true: I don't like sushi. Actually, that's not quite the case... I won't eat sushi. But that's a problem I generally have: I don't want to eat 'weird' food. Of course, there is nothing weird about raw fish rolled in rice, wrapped in sea weed. Oh, no!

But, Beedoo! loves the stuff. And since it is generally preferable to her people eating diet, from time to time I try to please her sushi-wanting ways. Shabu Shabu is a god-sent in that respect: it serves sushi, but also other Japanese stuff. Some of it even approaches the realm of normal, ordinary food, edible by normal dragons such as myself. In fact, the entire 100+ item menu has at least SEVEN whole items that I can eat! So this works out. Beedoo! happy; me, fed.

But here is the irony: my colleagues like Shabu Shabu as well. Sometimes they go out. Sometimes I even pretend to be social and come along. The end result is that I get more Shabu Shabu than Beedoo! does. In fact, the day before Mika came to visit, my colleagues and I went out as a farewell gesture to a colleague that was starting his own business. Where did we go? Shabu Shabu. Shabu Shabu twice in two days does tend to be a bit much, and the seven edible items do tend to wear a bit thin after that. ;)

Still, I insisted that we went there. Beedoo! enjoys it and, hopefully, Mika enjoyed it as well. It'd been a long, long time since I'd seen her. I hope I hadn't changed so much that I was a disappointment!

It's funny that Beedoo! and Mika had so little to talk about. Me, I have learned frowing up that every silence needs to be filled or we're not having a good time. I obsessively fill every silence there is, despite really wanting to be in the background somewhere. So sometimes I am the glue that holds conversations together. Again, irony. Alanis Morisette should write a song about this... ;)

We'll probably be going again next week. We got a chocolate bar for taking care of the neighbour's cat. Beedoo! did most of the work, but she is not that fond of chocolate, so I'm trading her. Sushi for chocolate. Fair deal, right?

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