All-you-can-eat sushi. Two things that don’t initially make a ton of sense when combined. Why are you forcing yourself to eat a bunch of a delicacy made from raw fish? That sounds like not what would be fun.
But it’s sort of a thing here! Right? People take cabs to Sushi Palace on the regular. Sports teams and societies and people who are friends without the aid of sports teams or societies eat there. And besides Sushi Palace, Sushimizu recently opened. Well, it opened a while ago or something, but for some reason a lot of people are only just now realizing it is there.
When we realized this, we decided to go to Sushimizu. But that sounds like something that normal people might do. We, Cokey and Nell, are risk takers. So we decided to go to Sushimizu AND Sushi Palace on consecutive nights. This is a big deal. Usually, we need to fast for about a day and a half before going to Sushi Palace, and afterwards we don’t eat for about another day and a half, like bears. (Bears!) But when you are challenging your stomach to eat a lot of raw salmon, also like bears (More bears!) you may as well go for broke. All-you-can-eat sushi-eating becomes a test of a lot of things: how much can you eat? Do you want to be full, or literally eat as much as you can until you vomit? Or after you vomit? Do you want to get your money’s worth? Does that mean a good, filling meal, or ALL OF THE SUSHI? And most importantly, are you going to be able to eat the ceremonial scoop of ice cream at the end?
These may be pretty existential questions to ask about novelty sushi restaurants (or they may actually just be practical). But we think people’s approach to all-you-can-eat sushi has a lot of relevance to our lives at Yale, and because Yale is everything, to life in general.
People here love to complain all the time, you guys. We’ve never been to Sushi Palace without someone moaning about how much they ate. Then why did they eat so much? Whoooo knows! Because they can, we guess. But they can’t do it silently. Someone needs to recognize their struggle. And now you need to recognize our struggle.
We began with Sushimizu because we had never been there before and didn’t have negative, grief- and nausea-related associations with it. Sushimizu! Naturally, we assume “mizu” is Japanese for “Palace” (not unlike “on Chapel,” which — little known fact! — translates to “Palace where you eat only normal-sized portions of limited food”).
It’s always difficult to decide your initial approach to AYCES (all-you-can-eat sushi, please try to keep up). We are seasoned regulars, and decided to order a practical amount of sushi that would still probably come out pretty quickly. If you order everything on the menu, mostly it will take forever AND they will cut some of the orders without telling you. Pro tip. We also ended up ordering only things that had “spicy tuna” in the description somewhere. When the big plates of sushi arrived (VERY fast!) everything looked and tasted pretty much the same, which is to say, it looked mushy and orangey-pink, and tasted good.
When the sushi was gone, we were full. But simply being “full” is not what AYCES is about. So, “We’d like more sushi, please,” we said, at which point Cokey involuntarily muttered, “but I’ll DIE.” The waitress looked completely blasé. Probably people say that a lot.
Anyway, we didn’t die. But it was a close call, and we still had to order free ice cream (Green Tea flavor). You have to get the ice cream — it’s like some sort of signal that the meal is actually over and you can leave. We thought about testing the system and trying to leave without eating it, but our waitress looked mean and like she might be able to physically bar us from exiting. So we ate it, just to be safe. Here’s the thing: the ice cream at Sushimizu is served in little plastic dishes. The dishes look like glass at first, but they’re plastic. Stylish AND practical. Also, the ice cream is perfect consistency and actually delicious. In short: dainty as fuck.
Hoping for more daintiness, we headed to Sushi Palace the next night. You have to drive to Sushi Palace, down a street in Hamden that is basically the polar opposite of picturesque, and on the way we were pale and drawn, like soldiers going back to the trenches. Even the warm, welcoming red of the Sushi Palace entrance felt threatening. We were tired, and one of us accidentally ate half a box of Cheez-its, and that same person is an idiot and didn’t make a reservation. But Sushi Palace, at 5 in the evening, was eerily quiet — devoid of its usual football players and/or Zeta brothers. Sitting down felt like starting a process we had no power to stop, and we filled out our white order sheets perfunctorily: spicy tuna, spicy tuna, salmon. The waitress took them from us, and we settled in to wait.
And then something miraculous happened: “I completely cannot WAIT for this sushi,” Nell said. “I thought going into this that I was not going to want to eat sushi, but I sit here eagerly anticipating its arrival,” noted Cokey. The misery of our force-fed fullness from the night before was forgotten; the sad emptiness of Sushi Palace in the late afternoon faded away. We were hungry, and we wanted sushi. All we could eat of it.
That anticipation lasted until the sushi came — a short five minutes later — and it was fucking delicious. The anticipation was the best part of the meal, even though the Hamden roll at Sushi Palace is really quite good. It lasted until we had each eaten about eight rolls and realized we still had at least eight more to go, apiece. Then, once again, we were tired and miserable. Our stomachs had become the trenches — crowded and miserable. But we did it — we ate, piece by piece, until all the spicy tuna was gone. We emerged triumphant, and asked for the check.
Our waitress smiled at us. “Do you want ice cream?” she asked, and together, zombie-like and defeated, we nodded.