“I think I’ll order the skewered chicken hearts,” said the Beast as he looked over the menu at Ematei. It’s my favourite Japanese restaurant in downtown Toronto. I was introduced to Ematei by my Italian friends who frequent the place so often that beautiful plates of sushi and sashimi are delivered to their table before they have a chance to open up a menu. I brought the Beast here when we first started dating and although he has a hard time filling up his tummy, he quite enjoys it. He always asks me to do the ordering, but this time around the Beast must have been feeling rebellious. It’s in his nature.
Foodie: Why in hell would you order chicken hearts? You’d do that just to torment me, don’t you?
Beast: And they also have fried chicken skin on a skewer!
Foodie: That’s horrific.
Beast: How’s it any different than Swiss Chalet?
Foodie: You want miso soup?
Foodie: And yam tempura?
Foodie: And the Buta Kimchi?
Beast: You order the usual and I’ll just tack on a few of these skewers.
So I did. I admit, I’m not a fancy-pants when it comes to Japanese cuisine. I presume a true gastronome would order plenty of sashimi—that’s raw fish served straight up. The Italians love it. In fact, it’s not that different from what they’d eat in the coastal south of Italy. I like it when that raw fish is nestled in between some rice and other things and then rolled up in seaweed. I usually order the barbequed eel maki roll, the shrimp tempura one, and a yellow-fin tuna roll with scallions. And l love, love, love the Buta Kimchi. It’s a spicy and saucy dish of thinly sliced pork that’s fried quickly and served with kimchi, which is Korean pickled cabbage I think. I dream of Buta Kimchi.
Foodie: You know, Buta Kimchi is sort of like a deconstructed cabbage rolls. It’s got the cabbage, and the pork-
Beast: It’s like a “fusion” cabbage roll.
Foodie: Yes. I’d love to learn how to make-
Beast: But there’s no rice in it, and there’s rice in cabbage rolls. I always ask you to order rice here but you never do.
Foodie: That’s because I don’t want you to fill up and not have room for your fucking chicken hearts.
Beast: But I’m always hungry! Don’t you get it? I don’t fill up. EVER.
Foodie: Do you want me to order rice?
Beast: No. Let’s split a giant Japanese beer instead.
Beer tastes so good when you poor it into little glasses. And it was just what we needed to take the heat off of an ongoing argument we’ve been having: the Beast has been accusing me of hiding his instruments (they number in the 30’s) in order to teach him a lesson about cleaning up after yourself.
Beast: Are you going to tell me where you hid my fife?
Foodie: How many times to I have to tell you that I don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t even know what a fucking fife is.
Beast: Tell me where the fife is and no questions will be asked.
For the record, Ematei never disappoints. And I didn’t hide the fife.