Friday, February 6, 2009

Newlywed Fogies Out on the Town

F and I have old-people tendencies. Our idea of an ideal evening is eating a home-cooked dinner on the couch and watching Lost. We sit side-by-side under a comforter. Our roly-poly black cat, Barry, sits on F’s lap, and our six-pound gray cat, Pickle, curls up tightly on the back of the couch above my left shoulder. It’s very domestic.

“Honey, I hate to say this, but you’re starting to sound like an old woman,” my mother said last week, when I informed her that F and I had been invited to see a play on Friday night, but that I would really rather go home, have dinner, and get to bed early. She was right. It’s not normal for twenty-something newlyweds in America’s second greatest city to want to stay home on a Friday night. It is time for us to get out and enjoy ourselves—even if we have to force ourselves to go to restaurants and movie theaters and see other people.

In the spirit of change, F met me on the corner as I got off the train last night after work. We had decided to start small and go out for dinner and a movie in our neighborhood, Old Town, and I came up with a short list of the best low- to mid-priced restaurants within ten minutes of our house. Luckily, we live in a popular neighborhood with thriving nightlife and a plethora of boutiques and restaurants. Just within that ten-minute radius, we had our choice of Italian, French, American, New-American, Japanese, Japanese Fusion, Bar/Pub, Diner, Fast-Food, Chinese, Lebanese, and Greek.

We settled on sushi. Last night, we went to Kamehachi, which the Yelp reviewers gave four of out five stars—and for good reason. Kamehachi, which means “eight turtles” in Japanese, has five locations in Chicago and was founded in Old Town in 1967 (although the original building was located down the street). Little did we know that we were eating in Chicago’s first sushi bar.

F is relatively new to sushi, but he’s enthusiastic. I have loved Japanese food ever since I spent a month in Japan when I was seventeen, but I do not pretend to know anything more than the basics of Japanese food. With our rudimentary knowledge of Japanese cuisine and our eagerness to try the exotic and extraordinary, we ordered:

Boiled soybeans in the pod

F especially loves edamame, which he calls “Japanese French fries.” They are actually a lot like healthy French fries; in Japan, edamame is a popular, salty snack eaten with beer.

hiyashi wakame
Assorted seaweed marinated in a red pepper and sesame dressing

This was beautiful. Centered on a white plate was a delicate bundle of four or five types of seaweed, each with its own distinct texture and shade of green. There were diaphanous, emerald ribbons that crunched. There were deep green seaweed noodles that slid through the chopsticks. There were vibrant, crimped strands that coiled out of the artfully arranged pile. The sesame oil dressing added a nutty flavor to the salty ocean taste of the seaweed. I have never tasted anything like it.

sashimi moriawase
Chef's artistic presentation of today's freshest sashimi assortment (filets of seafood), served with miso soup and rice

We figured that we would trust the chef to choose the most delectable fish of the day, and we were glad we did. Our pristine white plate held two small samples of seven different fish: octopus, shrimp, tuna, salmon, eel, and two white-gray filets that we couldn’t name. My favorite was the briny, chewy octopus, while F declared the tuna his favorite. We agreed that the two unidentifiable white-gray filets were extraordinarily fishy, which is not a bad thing in itself, but was just a little too strong for us.

Full, satisfied, and feeling very young and carefree indeed, F and I decided we had enjoyed our city enough for one night, and postponed the movie for another evening. We stopped at Treasure Island on the way home for Cheez-Its and ice cream, and retired to our couch to have dessert under a blanket with our kitties. It was a perfect evening.


  1. That seaweed was delish!

    also "America’s second greatest city"?
    Which city do you think is the best?

  2. I live in the first greatest city, and I gotta say--Chicago wins.