Poetic Toro

Say “Omakase.”
Utter this and nothing else.
Shibutani nods.

No seats at the bar?
Regular tables are fine.
His wife serves us here.

Her smile melts our hearts.
Steaming-hot towels are brought out.
It refreshes me.

Cup of hot green tea;
The vapors cloud my glasses.
Our palates are primed.

First course is fish cheek.
It's soy-simmered with daikon.
Mirin sweetens it.

The nigiri comes.
Row upon row of colors.
A fine work of art.

Lovingly arranged,
On a wide plate with green leaves,
Which glisten with dew.

We pick up each piece,
Daintily with our fingers.
A dab in shoyu.

Oh-so-rich toro;
Tuna marbled with sweet fat.
It melts like butter.

Sake is silken.
Sinus-clearing wasabi,
Lurking underneath.

Loved the ikura.
These orange orbs burst like bombs,
Bleeding fishy brine.

Mirugai, giant clam,
Chews like chicken cartilage,
But finishes clean.

Sublime unagi,
Tied in a nori bundle.
Brûléed like candy.

There's more on this plate,
All are sparkling, fresh, vibrant,
Morsels of the sea.

Next platter arrives,
Just as vividly colored.
We are almost full.

The uni oozes,
Looking like frothy egg yolk.
It's sunny yellow.

Wet, cold and sexy;
The seawater saliva,
Of a mermaid's kiss.

Silver-skinned ahi,
Is brushed with sauce and scallions.
Tastes of mild sardine.

Crisp salmon skin roll.
It's packed with veggies for crunch.
So delectable!

Unknown salted fish,
Steals the show with its sharp tang.
Tiny bones tickle.

His wife brings hot soup.
It warmly soothes our gullet,
Concluding the meal.

Total cost per head?
Thirty-two, not counting tip!
Fifteen pieces each.

Sushi Shibucho:
Artistry in a strip mall.
Next door? In-N-Out.

Visit Goei's food blog: elmomonster.blogspot.com.

SUSHI SHIBUCHO, 590 W. 19TH ST., COSTA MESA, (949) 642-2677. OPEN MON.-FRI., 6-10 P.M.; SAT.-SUN., 5:30-9:30 P.M. DINNER FOR TWO, $20-$100, EXCLUDING DRINKS. BEER, WINE, SAKE!

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