I mentioned in my review of the chef’s omakase at Yasuda that despite my overall excellent showing in an all-seafood meal, there was one slip-up that night. My boyfriend was taking notes at Yasuda because he’s an encyclopedia of fish names, and I was no doubt going to be writing down things like “Motown shrimp” instead of “botan shrimp”. Well, at this point in the notes, he writes, “Katie loses her shit.”
Let me explain first that I’ve been having trouble with oysters since about my second one. The first time I tried one, at Momofuku Ko, I didn’t even think about it; I just gummed it a little, swallowed it, and put a gold star on my shirt. Every subsequent oyster has given me pause, though. I actually like the flavor of them, which is the really maddening part, and I don’t consider their texture snot-like or anything along those lines. Something about them, though, just subconsciously goes to work on me, and I have a hard time keeping them down.
Well, at Yasuda this night, I actually didn’t keep mine down. We told the chef to give us whatever he wanted, and he started us slow with progressively finer tunas and then moved into some more adventurous clams and shrimp. I’d heard that the oyster Yasuda serves is this giant, sprawling thing that they slice smaller pieces off of, but I didn’t think that bothered me. And the actual appearance of my oyster was like a nice, creamy alfredo sauce. There were some black, stringy parts, but it’s not like I haven’t seen that before.
So I downed the thing like usual and immediately knew it was going to give me trouble. I gagged a little but told myself, “You ARE going to eat this oyster.” Like there was any alternative. So I took a swig of water to force it down, and instead, a bunch of rice came back up. It felt like all of the rice from all of the previous pieces of sushi, each grain still fully intact. I buckled down and again told myself that I was going to swallow it again, laced with bile as it probably was.
And then I just full-on vomited into my napkin.
I held it to my mouth in an attempt to disguise what was going on, but I’m sure it was pretty obvious to everyone as I abruptly stood up, all wild-eyed, trying to remember where the bathroom was from my only other visit years before. A server rushed over to pull back my chair for me, and I’m sure I looked like an idiot still holding this napkin up to my mouth as I ran to the back of the restaurant. I felt like all eyes were on me and that they all saw the creamy oyster bits dribbling down my chin.
It was such a traumatic event that I can’t remember if I threw my napkin in the bathroom trash or if I tried to salvage it and nonchalantly bring it back to the counter with me, but I hope for everyone’s sake that I didn’t carry a bunch of vomit back into the restaurant. My boyfriend just told the sushi chef that I must not have liked oysters as much as I thought, and I felt up for anything again once it was out of my system, but for the rest of the night, the chef would ask, “Is salmon roe okay? Is eel okay?” before serving us anything remotely adventurous. And I felt like a dumb white girl from the Midwest.
I thought the experience might ruin me completely for oysters and was really troubled to imagine a life in which I not only don’t ever get to enjoy that briny, fresh flavor but in which I also have to annoyingly ask that chefs leave the oysters off of my dishes. Luckily, I’ve had two since then and have just learned to chase them immediately with a glass of water. Which sort of defeats the whole purpose of eating them for the flavor, but hey, at least I’m eating them.