My husband and I had been living on my mother-in-law’s backyard harvest and whatever food she would kindly bring us in the morning after her daily church routine. (Now, these veggies are the REAL organic!) Thank God for her, I didn’t need to bring out my culinary skills (ha!) much this week and my husband had been eating his vegetables cooked to perfection (I have a tendency to overcook veggies for some reason :/).
After earning my keep at work for the whole week, I think I needed to get me some favorite food to celebrate Friday. Not that I did’t enjoy my mother-in-law’s cooking. But I wanted to eat something else. Husband had to work today, unfortunately, because he said they’re “fully booked” with patients at the hospital. So it’s just me. But that’s not a problem. I actually enjoy eating alone. He teases me a lot about how I can sometimes eat at a Chinese buffet by myself, but I really can. *Shrug* I just can. I really can’t find any explanation for that.
My taste buds were in the mood for something light and uncomplicated. There really wasn’t much to think about – I decided to go to the sushi place hubbie and I go to. When we want instant satisfaction for Japanese craving we will always choose this place because a.) it’s just 5 minutes from home, b.) their staff are friendly (the Filipina waitress knows us already), c.) the food is delicious and d.) it won’t make a dent on the bank. So, at 5:30 pm, I was out the door and drove down Belair Rd to the Belair Beltway Plaza Shopping Center and in about 10 minutes, tops, I was parked right in front of the Arigato Hibachi and Sushi. They’re on the right side of the mall, along where Verizon Wireless is and it’s in between Anchor Staffing and Cash Plus.
First, a little description of the restaurant. It’s not a big place (I honestly have no concept of measurements but believe me it’s not big ;). The sushi bar is on the left as you enter the door with the kitchen right next to it. There’s probably about 10 – 15 tables including the booths by the other wall. It has a very cozy vibe, nothing strict, nothing fancy.
Around this time, thee were a few customers but most of the tables were still free. The corner table wasn’t occupied, which happens to be my place everytime I eat there alone. One of their friendly waitresses approached me and I didn’t waste much time thinking of what to order. I wanted sweet iced tea, and a bowl of their Chirashi sushi. I was thinking if I wanted some tempura, but I decided not to and I’ll tell you why later. A few minutes after, their Filipina waitresses came by my table to ask how I am. She’s really very sweet. I like her.
The food came in no time at all. Maybe because there isn’t much preparation anyway for a Chirashi sushi. “Chirashi Sushi” in Japan means “scattered sushi”. Most Japanese restaurants I’ve been to usually have about 8 to 10 slices of different fish sashimi arranged nicely on top of sushi rice in a bowl. So the rice isn’t hot, which would probably cook the fish if it were. Contrary to what I’ve been used to, a lot of chirashizushi on the web show Japanese recipes made entirely of non-fish items – carrots, noodles, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, eggs, tofu… Whatever leftover you have and then just “scatter” them on your bowl, hence the name. A no-brainer kinda meal. In fact, I might try one of the chirashi’s on this page I discovered that shows 50 Chirashi (Scattered) Sushi recipes. Interesting…
So there was my bowl, looking so pretty with 2 slices each of octopus, salmon, red tuna, white tuna (my favorite), yellow tail and red snapper. My mouth waters… There really is no hard and fast rule of eating this. Some mix all the rice and fish together picking on the pieces randomly as you go along. Me, I am a sucker for order. I leave the rice at the bottom and take one sashimi at a time, smear a little wasabi on it, dip it in soy sauce, eat it and follow it up with rice . This makes me fully taste each fish and let my tastebuds enjoy the ecstasy of it. I even have a heirarchy I follow – from my least to my most favorite. So this time it would be octopus first , then red tuna, yellow tail, red snapper, salmon and finally, white tuna. Oh that white tuna that just melts in your mouth…
At a different restaurant, I’d be alternating my sashimi delight with a bite or two of shrimp and vegetable tempura. Unfortunately, this is the single item on Arigato’s menu that I do not have any fancy for. I like my tempura coating airy but crispy. Unfortunately, their tempura is densed, like its made with panko. I know some restaurants do that, but it just reminds me of the box of ready-made ebi (shrimp) tempura you buy from the restaurant depot. Its just not for me. I think I prefer the panko breading on tonkatsu (Japanese made-for-western-tastebuds deep fried pork chop with breading) instead.
But even without the shrimp and vegetable tempura. I still enjoyed my meal. I savored every slice of sashimi alternating with small chunks of sushi rice. Heaven. So while I caught up with friends on Facebook (and checking out for Pokemon sightings) from my Samsung, I was enjoying my dinner. By the time I was done I still had some rice left, but I didn’t feel like loading up just on carbs. (I’m being good.) I paid my bill, said goodbye to my favorite Filipina waitress and I was out the door probably after an hour from the time I came in. And in that span, the restaurant was full. Just a normal night for Arigato.
I’ve already recommended this place to friends who also live around the area. It’s a perfect spot for a quick lunch or dinner when you can’t cook… or don’t want to, ha ha ha.