By DANIEL MARKS
I still recall the first time I had sushi with such fond memory. I was with Jessica Litwin who lived at the time in Cherry Hill, NJ. She asked me if I had ever had sushi before. I hadn't even heard of it. Like most anyone else, the notion of raw fish seemed odd, but she didn't really present me with a choice. We would be having sushi. My other option was to go hungry.
We drove to some suburban strip mall, picked up the food and took it back to eat with her mother who was ill at the time, with cancer.
Immediately, I fell in love. I returned home to boast to my family about this new food I had discovered. I promptly forced my family to head out to the only Japanese restaurant in our own suburban strip mall. My father was horrified at the high prices but he, along with the rest of the fam, thoroughly enjoyed the stuff. The next week he returned home with a sushi making kit, handing it to me with the advice, "You've got us hooked, now learn how to make it." This was 1993.
I used to eat at Tel Aviv's Moon with my now ex-girlfriend. We lived around the corner and she had her mother's gold card. When we broke up I didn't return for years. Now, with my current girlfriend, I revisited the place. It has since been renovated, expanded and polished. And, anyway, enough time had passed on the emotional front and we weren't eating nearly enough sushi in my current relationship.
Taking a seat at the bar in the front, which has a sushi train running by - toot toot! - we started with the Yakitori salad (NIS 12), which was nice but nothing special. Huge fans of miso soup (how can you not be!?) we took Moon's seafood variety (NIS 19). With no seaweed or tofu and chockfull of the frozen seafood mix available in any international store, it was tasty but I'd venture to say that the regular miso (NIS 13) would have been preferable. The Shikoku tofu (NIS 32) was by far the tastiest dish of this round, though it's no Agedashi, could make a great meal in itself with the additional order of a side of rice.
For our sushi platter we kind of went nuts, though there were no nuts to be found - a good thing. We had the Black Mamba (NIS 34) of rice, salmon, spicy salmon and tuna. With some pieces eaten at the start and others at the end, the flavor increased exponentially when it was allowed to sit. Big fans of the salmon and the spicy, we also had the Spicy Salmon roll (NIS 38) of spicy salmon, lemon grass, red tuna, salmon and avocado. Tom, our friendly, skilled and exceptionally knowledgeable sushi guide and bartender suggested we take this one covered in salmon roe. It added just a hint of bitterness, as Tom said it would, and it was decadent, as one would expect from roe, but it was not necessary to my taste. Then there was the Scorched Tuna (NIS 42) with spicy radish, which was very tasty with lots of wasabi.
At Tom's liberal hand, we enjoyed the house sake and white wine with our meal, adding a pleasant alcohol buzz to the gastronomic pleasure emanating from our stuffed stomachs.
For dessert, which was all but forced on us, we had the pineapple sorbet and the pistachio and apricot ice cream, both brought in from Vanilia. Their ice cream was interesting, if not neat. But the sorbet was so wonderful in all its pineapply goodness that I thanked Tom for insisting.
I would also like to thank Jessica, of whose whereabouts today I have no idea. Her mom, of whose fate I learned around-the-way, passed away a couple years after my first sushi. Now, every time I'm drunk with raw-fish giddiness, as I was when leaving Moon, I fondly recall the Litwin women and have much to smile about.
Moon is located
at 58 Bograshov, Tel Aviv. (03) 629-1155. Sun.-Fri. From noon till 12:30 a.m. and Sat from 7 p.m. till 12:30 a.m. Not Kosher.
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