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   After a winter evening exploring the streets of SoHoand riding the South Ferry, my family stopped at a small Japaneserestaurant. Two halogen lamps poured overlapping pools of light onto anotherwise black and orange street. It was the culmination of our weekendforay into Manhattan. Dad was well-versed in Japanese culture and asushi enthusiast. I preferred the more substantial fare of a local dineror fast-food joint. But it had been a thrill-ing day in which we sampledmany of the city's riches, so I decided to be adventurous.

Thedoors opened into a warm, fragrant place. Japanese waitresses, mysticaland delicate-looking in their colorful kimonos, greeted us. Dad amiablyreplied in Japanese, with the air of a member of an exclusive club,acquainted with its secret codes and intricate customs.

We wereescorted down a small staircase to a cozy table. The ambience wassublime, with soft lights, wood-panel walls and Japanese musicalternating between soulful and fast. The menu was in English as well asJapanese, but I still couldn't figure out what most of the items weresupposed to be. Once again, Dad took command and ordered while Mom and Ilooked at the various items of Japanese culture decorating thewalls.

The meal started with an appetizer, shrimp tempura. Largeshrimp, fried in flaky breadcrumbs, was served with a saucer of soysauce. I dipped one side of the shrimp in the soy sauce and smiled indelight as it melted in my mouth. Then came the sushi, a variety ofexotic raw fish wrapped in rice and seaweed. We also dipped these in soysauce, which was mixed with a bit of spicy green mustard. I gingerlychewed the first piece, careful to detect all the subtle flavors.Besides cold water, we were served fragrant green tea, which swirled inmy mouth.

After we finished the sushi, an attractive waitresscame with a pot of water. It was heated by a gas burner on the table.She then brought out a large tray of vegetables and seafood. All thefish were very delicate in flavor, unlike the stronger tasting varietiesof Korean cuisine I am used to. Mom and Dad conversed with the waitress,asking questions and confirming their knowledge of Japanese cuisine. Ilooked at her hands, which were quietly, busily preparing the dish. Theywere the finest hands I'd ever seen. I was mesmerized. The boiledvegetables and meat were fished out and dipped, once again, in soysauce. After that, noodles were added to turn it into Udon, Japanesenoodles.

The whole meal was a mellow, dreamy affair, with none ofthe food or flavors overpowering another. My stomach was comfortablyfull when we left. We started home in the car, leaving the tallbuildings behind as we crossed the Queensborough Bridge, and I fellasleep with the memory of soft scents and colors.






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This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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