It’s that time of year again. The changing of seasons. Another asthma season for me. Stuck on the couch, at home in an exhaustion-induced coma, I really don’t want to move at all right now. Each breath feels like a push-up, and I’ve been doing these push-ups non-stop for almost two weeks now. Exhaustion is my middle name. At this point in time, I hate social events, but there is one type of social event that I will drag myself to regardless of how I’m feeling. Birthdays.
It’s somewhere around 6:30-7:00pm and it’s getting pretty close to the dinner date, which is starting at 8:00. I’m staring at myself in the mirror, bleary eyed, tired, and hating everything that moves or breathes. Especially anything that breathes without an asthmatic condition. I’m resentful of that. Just a little, though. I’m using positive reinforcement, Jedi mind-tricks, and relative thinking to try and pump myself up to go. I eye myself in the mirror.
“At least you don’t have to go to the ER anymore.”
This pep-talk sucks. I think of something else to motivate myself to go.
“JUST FRICKIN’ GO! IT’S A BIRTHDAY!!!”
I try to put on something that looks nice. T-shirt and jeans? My fashion sense was never my strong suit, especially when I’m feeling like this. Ehhh, whatever, T-shirt and jeans it is.
Steveston is the little fishing village at the end of Richmond, a Municipality close to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. It’s widely known for its charming little small shops, a wharf, and an abundance of Japanese-Canadian culture. An incredible Japanese restaurant, Ichiro, has opened up here, and my birthday host has chosen this place as the gathering point.
I finally find the place and meet up with the birthday crew. We exchange greetings, and my mood starts to lighten. We stand outside the restaurant for a little while and survey the place. Simple arrangements decorate a pseudo-rock garden. Christmas lights. Little gold-fish dance in a stone bowl just outside the door. A pleasing arrangement.
We enter and find ourselves standing atop a lacquered hardwood floor and wooden tables. The kitchen is open, and leans to our left. The lights are bright. Windows surround us. A nice place.
The Sashimi plate leads the parade. With an assortment of Tuna, Salmon, and Yellow Tail, the presentation looks pleasing and begs to be gobbled up. A good appetizer. Each bite from each of the respective ingredients is firm and fresh. Also, just as important, is the fact that none of the cuts give off that disgusting aged fishy smell. Good.
An innovative take on the traditional Agedashi Tofu dish arrives. Branded the ‘Steveston Agedashi Tofu’, it pairs the familiar Golden Tempura-Cooked Tofu with Salmon, Shrimp, and Tempura Sauce. A refreshing and interesting way of serving what is generally an excessively common and bland dish.
The Beef Udon provides a subtle but satisfying mix of Beef Soup Broth, Veggies and Udon Noodles. Completely devoid of MSG, I don’t have to drink any water to get the dreaded starchy Monosodium Glutamate off my tongue.
A plate of Tuna wrapped in Cucumber and Rice, and drenched in crimson makes the next appearance. Spicy Tuna Rolls provide a hot, mouth-puckering bite. A little zing to our otherwise less intense dishes.
Crispy Rolls arrive. Tuna and Avocado are wrapped together and are topped off with what appears to be Dried Noodle Bits. A very unique dish that I have never seen before. The Tuna and Avocado have a refreshing bite, and the Dried Noodles provide a crunchy finish.
“The dragon’s head is no match for my mouth. I be-head the sucker, pop it in, and start chewing.”
Our server brings the next plate. Slices of Barbecued Eel rest atop of Rolls made of Imitation Crab, Asparagus, and Avocado. The pieces are all lined up in a rather peculiar way. A head…a body…a tail…a dragon! I guess the menu wasn’t lying when they called it the Dragon Roll!
I’m a little wary of this monster at first, jabbing it here and there with my chop-sticks. Don’t wanna over-extend myself. I’m trying to slay a dragon. Finally I find its point of weakness. The dragon’s head is no match for my mouth. I be-head the sucker, pop it in, and start chewing.
The Eel has a sweet but slightly savoury flavour. Chewy and slightly singed, it provides an excellent complement to what tastes like a modified California Roll.
After concentrating on giving the food the attention it deserves, I catch up with friends, and enjoy the birthday atmosphere.
I take a breath.
It still feels like I’m working the bench-press each time I inhale, but now I have a spotter.