Is there anything that warms the Korean heart more than a lunchee special? I can count on my hairs the number of times I've heard my mother use the words "lunchee special" with an intonation combining reverence, greed and fear in equal measures. Usually this is because it's a weekend and there is no lunch special as is obvious from the menu which clearly instructs that the lunch special is reserved for Monday to Friday dining. Nonetheless, my mother always asks if there's a lunch special even though it's a Saturday. The funny thing is she's always a bit disappointed when it is confirmed that the lunch special is a Monday to Friday event. She recovers but she longs for the lunch special with its ample portions, its delightful bounty and its absurdly cheap prices. I must confess that secretly, the same longing for the lunchee special rings fast and loud in my own Korean heart.
Of the fabled lunch specials this town has to offer, the one I've longed for ardently has been the lunch at Sushi Gen. Well, several weeks ago, my friend Lisa and I organized things so that we could realize this long deferred dream. She called up and made a reservation and was instructed to show up around 11:00 a.m. I picked her up for this momentous event and we made our way to Sushi Gen as instructed. There was a short line but when the doors opened, we filtered in and were seated at which point we both lost our heads. Having failed to research, panicked by the crowds and our own ignorance how to proceed, we did the unspeakable: we ordered the chicken teriyaki. When we saw that everyone else had a sashimi platter, we realized the depths to which we had plunged, we felt the cold seep into our bones and the life ebb from our flesh. Much as Adam and Eve staggered out of paradise, we trudged our way out of Sushi Gen our breath reeking of chicken teriyaki flavored remorse for what could have been.
The line-up starts around 10:50 a.m. or so. Everyone was seated and it appears that you can come as late as noon without having much of a wait for a table.
Miso soup and tender tofu braised in a sweet soy sauce with chunks of beef.
Salty pickled cabbage and cucumbers.
Sashimi slices that accompany the Teriyaki Chicken lunch special. The chicken was wonderfully crispy on the edges, tender and full of that sugary umami smoky flavor of teriyaki.
Unlike the original sinners, however, Lisa and I returned to the scene of the crime, as it were, and we made things right. We ordered the sashimi lunch special for $15 and this is what we got.
Tuna, spicy tuna, crab meat, salmon chopped up and seasoned with sesame oil and green onions, octopus, squid, hamachi, braised tuna in a soy reduction and grilled salmon.
You walk out of there looking like this fellow.
A few weeks later, I brought my mother because I knew if anyone would get a kick out of this almost too much abundance, "it would be she" as a Real Housewife of New Jersey might say in lieu of saying it would be her. Not only did she get a kick out of it, she took out her little notebook where she keeps all manner of phone numbers, addresses, trivia, english pronunciations, bon mots, recipes, birthdays, gifts received, gifts bestowed, who owes who, etc. etc. and she opened it to a random page and began writing down the address and phone number so she could come back with her cronies.
We then marched triumphantly to Mikawaya for some mochi ice cream and mochi. Whilst eating our Sakura mochi with its salty cherry leaf and its delightfully bumpy strawberry like appearance, my eye was drawn to one of those machines full of stuffed animals and a mechanical arm that you can use to pinch a plushie.
I hankered for the plushie with all the fervor of an eight year old. My mother provided the dollar and I gave it my best shot but I didn't even come close to pinching a fat plush head. My attempts to wrest a further dollar bill from my mother being unsuccessful, we left this plaza of broken dreams. On our way back to Sushi Gen, in the Honda Plaza, we passed this sweet shop, Frances, that I had never seen before. I stopped in and was dazzled by the desserts. Being too full I could only photograph them like the food lecher that I am. However, there's always room for chocolate so I got a green tea and a salt truffle. They're hand made but they're also $2 each. I got them to see if they'd be suitable for gift giving, and while they're nice, they didn't punch you in the guts with flavor which is essentially what a $2 choccy should do. I'd definitely try a tart though. Next time I guess. After I win myself a bratty looking plushie doll or two.
Yes, those cuticles belong to me. I guess my hand modeling career is over.
Suitable for all ages. That's what it said.
This is the bratty face and bangs of the plushie that I wanted to pinch with the metal tweezers. So cute huh?
Frances has been around for like 30 years according to the bakery employee I spoke with. I have no idea why I've never seen it before as I've been to the Honda Plaza numerous times.
The saran wrap really hurts the presentation but there's a large selection of treats.
The fruit tarts are stunningly gorgeous. Look at those purple black blueberries and those scarlet strawberries. Yum.
I love the look of these truffles.
My hands are just dry. That's not leprosy. Anyhows, I highly commend Sushi Gen for their sashimi lunch special and I would bestow my bratty looking plushie doll to them if I had one to bestow. The fish is fresher than fresh, the portions are obesity inducing and the price is so very right. This is a lunch special that makes for a very special lunch indeed.