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Jul 17, 2000 01:27 PM


  • b

I love to eat Sushi. I grew up eating it. My problem is that when I take a date out, many of them are intimidated by all of the fish and dont feel comfertable eating. Is there a restaurant in Manhattan that introduces Sushi to the customers in an easy way, so that my dates wouldn't be intimidated?

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  1. r

    Brendan -
    #1 - you should take your dates somewhere they are comfortable. i would save introducing uncomfortable situations for the third or fourth date - when you begin to know the person and they begin to want to "share" your passions with you.

    However, I think you yourself could accomplish the comfort without being someplace in particular. The first time I had sushi it was on a date in my first year of college. I was intimidated (although I did anything I could not to show it at age 18) but my older wiser date was very gracious and engaging and I ended up enjoying it a lot.

    He got me seated at the sushi bar. He explained everything as we went along, got me in friendly conversation with sushi master (my name not an official title) (this was a stroke of genius because it is very hard to spit out food or refuse to eat it when you are seated in front of the chef!). He told him it was my first time - ordered easy stuff - i.e. tuna, salmon, california roll - and lots of more exotic stuff then let me pick whatever I wanted of everything when it was served ONLY TELLING ME WHAT I WAS EATING AFTER I TRIED IT! (key point!)

    I remember being uncomfortable but in the end enjoying the experience because it was all explained and kind NOT A TEST and i realized at some point that this guy wasn't going to think less of me if I ended up hating it.

    To show you the effect on your life your attitude could have I offer another example :

    another meal - same year different guy - i ordered steak tartare - yah thought it was cooked!- yah felt like a jerk - guy saw look on my face and laughed and said - "you thought it was cooked didn't you" (big guffaw, lots of haughty tone - I said no and ate every last bite against my turning stomach with a smile - never went on a date w/him again! Subsequently and perhaps, now that i think about it, relatedly, became a vegetarian within two months of that meal (that only lasted two and a half years).

    6 Replies
    1. re: rebeccahodgson

      Rebecca, what a wonderful post!

      Dating and food is a great (and funny) subject. My friend Dee tells a first date story where the table was so dark that she mistook a ball of mashed potatoes for a dinner roll, and grabbed a handful of spuds! I was treating a relatively new date to a birthday dinner and had a night of mishaps. It started with a cocktail stirrer (and then a knife) flying off the dinner table. Then, there was a partial power failure during dinner (luckily our food was ready, but in NYC you really do need A/C in August). Finally, we ended with drinks at the bar at Jean Georges, where I spilled red wine all over the date's shirt.

      I'm also reminded about how wonderful it can be to introduce people to new food experiences. I love making recommendations based on people's tastes and having them relish the experience. I led both of my brothers to their first sushi, and they're hooked (no pun intended)!

      1. re: mary mary

        yours made me laugh too - the old red wine on the shirt.........considering the lack of AC he was probably glad for an excuse to get that shirt off!

        I should have mentioned to brendan that i would now eat steak tartare but would still not date that guy again - lasting effects! I should give this guy credit though - it was at that meak i discovered how good red wine could be - i dont remeber what he ordered, just remember being impressed that he did so quite confidently (this was previous to his snotty behavior) and knowledgeably, and then thinking "darn this is much better than White Zinfandel" (or Blue Nun, Riunite and wine coolers - my other wine experience up to that point) (unfortunately, i stuck to harder intoxicants during my wild youth!)

        1. re: rebeccahodgson
          Jessica Shatan

          And what a way to get the sparks flying =8-D

          I just has a dating-food-faux pas--luckily, not too serious. The waiter brought a bread basket with a pretty little yellow plate with flowers painted around the border. I kind of wondered why he only brought one bread plate but still proceeded to take a hunk of bread, break off a piece and put the bulk of the piece on the plate. 5 minutes later I reached for the bread on the plate, tore off a piece and got a mouthful of olive oil! And oily hands. It was a white plate and I have never seen olive oil in such a bright yellow, or served on such a flat plate for that matter. The funnier part was I almost spit the bread out at the shock of it. Luckily the guy's a sweetie and was amused when I explained what happened.

          RE: sushi. Pretty adventurous to introduce someone to it on a 1st date. But, as you can see from the posts could score you big points of you do it right. The 1st thing I tell sushi virgins, friends not dates, is that Japanese food is great and not all raw. So we might start with shumai, miso, edamame and move on to a platter with some tuna, salmon, eel, california roll... let them try what they want from the platter. If your date is not full after there is nothing I like better on a 1st date then to stroll a little and duck into a cafe for coffee and pastry-- it's romantic and breaks up the date.
          I had one boyfriend who was allergic to fish but loved to eat Japanese, he'd have miso soup, teriyaki, tempura, etc. I tell my friends this so they can see that WE can go for Japanese and they can eat what they want while I eat sushi.
          In any case, enjoy and good luck.

          1. re: Jessica Shatan

            Years ago, a guy I didn't know at all took me to dinner at Japonica. I really didn't know anything at all about sushi at the time and felt a little self-conscious, but I asked him to order for both of us. He must have ordered enough sushi for 5 people, which was pretty funny, and we had a great time. It was very disarming to do something that was new, especially on a first date. It's also kind of sweet to eat off of the same board as a date, more communal than twirling one's own bowl of spaghetti.

            We took the leftover sushi to go and spent hours trying to get various homeless people to take it, to no avail.

        2. re: mary mary

          And then there was my business meal at a sushi bar where I, in my white shirt and suit, and she, with her white blouse and suit, managed to look like dalmatians by the end of the meal. Soy sauce everywhere.

        3. re: rebeccahodgson

          My first sushi experience was also on a date at 18. My date was a really fun guy, (we're still friends after 20 years). He chose a place where the sushi chef knew him, he to was a fun guy. So, I recommend you go to a "fun" sushi place that has really really fresh fish. I remember the fish, you could taste the cool ocean still in it.
          They even convinced me to try quail egg and uni on the 1st visit. Can anyone rec. a place that's fun and exceptionally fresh?

        4. It's been my experience that more males than females seem to be sushiphobic, and VERY few folks who have tried sushi or sashimi dislike it. So obviously the THOUGHT of raw fish turns off more people than the experience of eating it.

          Some of my techniques:

          1. Don't spring sushi as a surprise. If someone is adamant, why force it? It's also not great date strategy to show a lack of concern for what she wants to eat.

          2. If there is some question about whether your date is going to tolerate sushi, I'd recommend NOT sitting at the sushi bar, even though it might be more fun for you. You are putting her in a lousy position if she doesn't want to order sushi or doesn't like what she samples. Don't put her in the position of feeling like she is insulting the chef. Allow her to order non-sushi items if she prefers, and hope she samples yours.

          3. Start her out with "safe sushi" (this post is starting to sound more and more like a bad high school sex ed. film). For example, you might start with pickles, or shrimp, or custard, or some cooked item. I have never found a single sushi virgin who hasn't liked eel (I usually order a handroll, so that the fish is hidden). But then often the folks who are afraid to eat sushi are also scared at the notion of consuming eel.

          4. Non-sushi eaters fear that sushi will taste "fishy." For the first order of fish, I'd go with a familiar fish, and a relatively mild. If your friend likes undercooked tuna, for example, it's impossible to believe she wouldn't like tuna.

          5. Don't hard sell. She is more likely to be "sold" by watching you enjoy sushi than she is any words you can say. Curiosity is a potent force.

          And if she remains adamantly uncurious?

          Dump her, of course! There's no future in the relationship.

          1. Lots of good advice already.....Here's my two cents.

            The place probably doesn't matter TOO much. Just be sure they have a selection of cooked food, just in case.

            If you don't order piece by piece, then let her try some of your fish, and order something cooked for herself. If she likes the sushi, and you like each other, there will be lots of opportunity to explore later.

            Shrimp is probably safe (not the "sweet shrimp", obviously), ditto California roll and any vegetable roll. If she likes raw clams, giant clam will probably be good. If she likes smoked salmon, the salmon will probably be good. After that, I think the easiest intro is tuna.

            Be sure to point out the wasabi (I remember a scene from some movie with Ted Danson and Whoopi Goldberg where he plops a whole pile of wasabi in his mouth; terrible movie, but funny scene).

            Also, if she tastes something she really doesn't like, ginger tends to clean the palate very well.