Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Is martial law at the sushi bar too much to ask?

February 18, 2011 |

Whenever I have a little extra cash in my pocket (which is almost never) I often get rid of it at Fuji Chef. I know Davis has several other lovely sushi places, but there’s something about those little boats that adds a hypnotic effect. As if there wasn’t already enough serenity intrinsic in a never-ending stream of soft-shell crab and California rolls sliding by before your too-big-for-your-stomach eyes.

Besides all the sushi you could never manage to eat in a week, let alone one sitting, there’s an added bonus to sitting at the sushi boat bar: If they put you in just the right spot, you don’t have to look at anyone else, and no one else can look at you. Why is eye contact bad at the sushi boat bar? Simple. I don’t want to see the look in anyone else’s eyes when then see the number of plates I can stack up. Eye contact means eyewitnesses. They are to be avoided.
It’s not my fault. There’s heroin in the sushi. I just know it. And if there’s a Sushi Eaters Anonymous out there? I’m not interested. My skimpy wallet protects me from full-blown addiction.

My mode is to slink in to Fuji Chef at odd hours, avoiding the lunchtime madness, and should there be a long waiting list for the boats, no problem. I can kill time at Tibet Nepal. There’s always something in there that I didn’t know I wanted until I walked in the door.

Sometimes I get to Fuji and the wait is long enough to be annoying, but not long enough to justify one more labradorite pendant at Tibet Nepal. So I just park at the front door, and crane my neck up from time to time to see if anyone feeding at the sushi trough shows any signs of slowing down, or maybe bursting all over the walls like an overfilled soccer ball.

I don’t mind waiting for folks who are still eating, because I figure what goes around comes around, and in just a bit, someone else will be waiting for me and wondering if they should don a rain slicker like the ones they wear in the front row at Gallagher performances before they walk past me. Just in case.
The ones that really get to me, however, are the ones who lean back in their chairs like pot-bellied pups and yack for another 20 minutes after they’ve had their fill. There needs to be some sushi boat etiquette rules. A 15/15 rule. Something like, if you have 15 empty plates in front of you or if 15 minutes have gone by since your chopsticks last touched your mouth, you need to get up and go.

Hmmm. Maybe there needs to be a sushi recovery area, where you can go stretch out into a sushi coma for a bit? That might help clear the boatside seats up more quickly.

Of all the Chatty Kathys hogging up bar space post-meal, I’ve observed that college students are the worst offenders. I know it’s a developmental thing. I know that in your 20s, you don’t understand that you really aren’t the center of the universe, and the concept of “what other people might need” is totally foreign. And it’s bad enough when the 20-somethings are chit-chatting amongst their group. But when they just sit there and yap on their cell phones in front of the skeletons of their sushi-fest for half an hour or more, I have to fight the urge to grab a chopstick and give them a good poke.

Move it, sister. The ebe is calling me.

Then you have the Hoovers. As in vacuum cleaners. These folks position themselves at the headwaters of the sushi boat stream and scoop up all the salmon sake before it can float on by to someone else. Then there are big, beefy 20-something Hoovers who tend to snag all the teriyaki chicken skewers, which is fine with me, because I don’t go to a sushi bar hankering for cooked chicken.

Big macho guys who gag at the taste of fish. Oh my, oh my, I could have such a romp with that topic, but as they keep reminding me, this is a family newspaper.

Another thing about the 20-something boys. Because males of that age are actually unable to see women over 40 (all they see is air — we’re completely invisible to them) they aren’t aware that hovering over us like big, stanky bears and reaching for sushi plates while we’re eating might be a tad rude and obnoxious. At least go to the end of the bar with the Hoovers and hog everything up from there.

These are just some of the typical, routine Fuji infractions I’ve learned to tolerate. I mean, you have to, if you want any dragon roll. But one evening, I saw sushi bar rudeness come to its zenith

There I was, forced to eat at a table because the bar was full. A group of three men, and they were my age and should have known better — sat in front of at least 40 empty plates between them, yacking about this and that, to each other and on their cell phones — totally oblivious that anyone else in the room, let alone waiting in line, might appreciate a space at the bar.

And then one of them did the unthinkable: reached out his hand and grabbed a single California roll off a passing plate, popped it in his mouth, and kept on talking. And on sailed the plate, minus one roll. But crawling with his nasty, crusty germs.

Ewww and ewww. Besides the 15/15 rule, I propose a Death Penalty for Grazing law at the sushi boat bar.

This is sushi, my friends. It’s serious business.

— Follow Debra DeAngelo on Twitter. Links are posted at and and Find Debra’s columns online at, and



Debra DeAngelo

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