It was almost thirty years ago, I was coming out of the subway station in Asakusa (Tokyo) and passed by a simple looking sushi restaurant. It looked old-fashioned and that was a good sign. We decided to try it given my avid interest in learning about and tasting sushi. With my Sensei at the time, we both sat down at the counter to find ourselves the only customers. It was after lunch so it was a good opportunity. The place was simple the counter clean and the ambiance ordinary.
After a few nigiri, I asked him a simple question, “why is the wasabi so green and grainy” and the sushi chef began to sob. I was astonished and once he gained his composure he apologized and explained. He basically said, he worked for his Dad for over thirty years, simply preparing fish, cleaning duties and serving clients. Never once did he prepare sushi for clients at the counter and most of his time he served tea or passed cut fish to dad.He had the experience in the kitchen but never with the public.
One day, his dad passed away suddenly and he had no choice but to take over the counter. He found himself behind the counter serving clients and felt relief. But at the same time some hesitation. He knew the wasabi was unsuitable and he detested it, however out of respect he didn’t change the powdered wasabi his dad used. He relaxed after telling his story and resumed service.