But I still had one nagging question: to bite in half or not to bite in half? I knew sushi was meant to be eaten in one bite, but many sushi lovers find it too big to eat all at once. That wasn't my problem; I preferred to eat it in two, to double the pleasure. Was this a terrible faux pas?
No, it wasn't too big. I explained my thinking.
But the fish would taste different, she explained, if I didn't eat it exactly as Onodera had cut it. Biting it in half was like salting my food in a fine French restaurant. I was messing with Mori-san's cooking.
I turned to Mori and asked him if he thought that the fish would not taste as good if I bit it in half.
"Hai!" he said. He was smiling in a way that said, I'm having fun with you, but I'm serious. Yes. One piece, one bite.
Where to seek the special stuff
Here is a by-no-means- exhaustive list of sushi bars where you might find unusual fish prepared with extraordinary care. Reservations are required at many; others don't take reservations. Caution: Great fish tends to be pricey. Call to inquire about reservation policies and hours.
Hamakawa, 209 S. Central Ave., Los Angeles; (213) 625-8125.
The Hump, Santa Monica Airport, 3221 Donald Douglas Loop South, Santa Monica; (310) 313-0977.
Kiriko, 11301 W. Olympic Blvd., West Los Angeles; (310) 478-7769.
Matsuhisa, 129 N. La Cienega Blvd., Beverly Hills; (310) 659-9639.
Mori Sushi, 11500 W. Pico Blvd., West Los Angeles; (310) 479-3939.
Sushi Gen, 422 E. 2nd St., Los Angeles; (213) 617-0552.
Takao, 11656 San Vicente Blvd., Los Angeles; (310) 207-8636.
Ta-ke, 8866 W. Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood; (310) 659-6580.
Tama Sushi, 11920 Ventura Blvd., Studio City; (818) 760-4585.