OK...that's SARCASM, and I don't mean it. Anya happens to be one of my most favorite people in the world. One of those people I met and instantly knew I would get along with for years to come.
Anya was my mentee last summer at SDSU. She was going through a teacher training program, and I got to learn her in my class in the afternoons. And learn her, I did. Unlike most people passing through my life, I actually kept in touch with her...and we even went out for drinks the other day.
It was at this meeting that I discovered Anya does not understand sarcasm in written form. I made a passing comment about my Mom and she oddly responded:
Yeah, [your mom] is a little whacky, isn't she?
Now although this is true, if not an understatement, I could not for the life of me figure out how a person who I had not seen in about a year, nor had ever spoken to about my mother before would make such a comment.
My curiosity piqued, I inquired...
Why would you say that?
Not mean. Not judgemental...I was honestly just curious.
Oh, you know...how she said that Eva Longoria was a piece of ass and you blogged about it... and how she left you some crazy message pretending to be your friend and you blogged about that, too.
And it struck me...she did not realize that these were jokes...sarcastic, hyperbolic jokes.
But humor is in the eye of the beholder. All things being equal, Anya really doesn't know me (or my mom) that well, so I guess these intended-to-be-humorous moments COULD be seen as true. Who knows. (But seriously...you think my mom would say these things???)
What I do have to thank Anya for is that this conversation made me think about my days working as a member of THE Casual Critics. What...you didn't know I was a certified, bona-fide, fill-in-the-blank-i-fide food/retail store critic? Well, you, my friends, have missed out!
And so I bring you one of my favorite pieces of writing of all time from CasualCritics.com.
Now keep in mind (Anya), some things I write about below and on this site are real while some are SARCASTIC. It is up to YOU to decide which is which. As a little background, my friend Darron and I would actually go to restaurants and/or retail stores, take notes, and then write about them later.
Tomodachi Sushi Bistro
24123 Hesperian Blvd
Hayward, CA 94545
Casually criticized: 6/19/04
Why we went there
This is a very special Casual Critic Review. Why? you may ask. Is it because we actually got some real training on how to critique food? Is it because we are the best IMers in the entire country? Is it because Darron went on a date last week? We say "No" to all of these reasons. This is a very special Casual Critic Review because the woman who sprung Mark from her loins joined us with our review. No...not Elizabeth Taylor or Joan Rivers...but Mark's Mom, Yvonne. She added some deep insights into this evening's festivities...so many, that we have a new section in our review called "Mark's Mom's Gems." It should be noted that Mark's mom had no idea that Darron and Mark are THE Casual Critics. She obviously doesn't get out much.
So why are we telling you this? Well, we went to Tomodachi's Sushi Bistro (Yes, a sushi bistro in Hayward, California...right next to a junk yard) because Mark's mom felt like "having fish" and Red Lobster was just too damn far. (Darron and Mark have tried for months to critique Red Lobster...but they always come home so full off their Cheddar Bay Biscuits, that they pass out. Check back "soon" for a critique.) Mark, after driving by the sushi bistro for months, and being awed by its presence in Hayward...couldn't resist bringing his mother there. What better way to see how dangerous a restaurant can be...than having it mother-tested and approved. Kix be damned.
Upon being seated at the sushi bistro, we were served piping hot tea and edamame, which confounded Darron and Mark's mom. "What are these little green things?" They questioned. "Mark, how do we eat these?" they begged.
Mark could not hold back his laughter, as both Darron and Mark's Mother asked these questions while the soy bean pods were in their mouths, and they were trying to chew through the tough exterior, unable to figure out how to release the beany goodness that awaited inside. So instead of telling them how to eat the edamame correctly, he let them continue to eat the covering. Good fiber, he thought...as he quietly chewed the beans sans pod.
We all ordered a wide variety of dishes, with Darron choosing the Beef Sukiyaki, Mark the Sushi & Roll Combo, and Mark's Mother the Salmon Teriyaki. For an appetizer, they ordered the Hawaiian Poke.
Mark found the Sushi and Roll Combo to be interestingly served without rolls. He did not complain as he was served a more expensive dish with sashimi that he got at a reduced price. The fish was tasty...and he felt there was only a slim chance of getting food poisoning. There was a plethora of fish given to Mark on his combo from salmon to squid, all extremely fresh and delicious.
Darron's Beef Sukiyaki ended up being a beef soup of some sort. Because of the soup-like quality of his dish, our server, Cindy Wu, had the unfortunate task of letting Darron know that while both Mark and Mark's mother received a miso soup with their dinner, that Darron would be unable to have such a treat. When he questioned why, her response was "The Beef Sukiyaki IS soup. Your dinner is soup. SO...huh huh huh...no soup for you...or salad." When Darron asked why his dinner would also not have a salad, Cindy Wu replied "There will be salad in your Beef Sukiyaki." It seemed that much like God, the Beef Sukiyaki was all things and everywhere...and does not come with a soup appetizer. The soup contained thinly sliced beef, silky tofu, large fungi, and sickly-sweet broth. Too much suki, not enough yaki.
Mark's mother initially wanted to order the Seafood Stirfry...but only after she was able to ask what seafood the stirfry would contain. Upon hearing that the seafood contents did indeed come from the sea, she decided that the seafood stirfry was not for her. So instead...she ordered the salmon teriyaki which she deemed appropriately sea-worthy for her fish dinner.
The appetizer was the Hawaiian Poke which was a sweet and spicy mixture of raw fish and onions (not an Hawaiian sexual position as Darron had hoped); it was very fresh and uncooked. If you desire large, pink, and fleshy, this is the appetizer for you.
The tea served at dinner was too hot for Mark's young, feminine, and delicate hands to hold. Darron had no problem with the temperature of the tea, and had to regurgitate the tea into Mark's mouth for him. This was awkward for the wait staff, but they grew used to it after awhile...and were actually seen doing the same in the back room by the end of dinner. Mark's mom beamed with pride.
Do you like speaking English to your wait staff? Do you like to understand what is being said to you? If so, Tomodachi Sushi Bistro is not the place for you. Mark had an odd understanding of the waitress's feeble attempts to converse with our table, which left Darron impressed and begging for more sukiyaki. Let's just say he didn't get anymore sukiyaki...but his begging for more never stops.
The staff was quick to refill water and Venus-temperature tea, which Darron help to cool by spooning some out for Mark while blowing cool, motherly air on it and making "choo-choo" sounds for him.
The staff was quite concerned if "everything was alright," which they asked repeatedly during the last fifteen minutes of our stay. Darron felt that this may have been their new English catch phrase for the night...but Mark thought it may have been because they asked Darron this while he was choking on some poky during dinner. He almost died.
Darron felt the lack of attractive women hindered his digestion. Not very fun. Using chopsticks is always a blast...so that is pretty cool, and there were even private rooms for authentic sushi bistro dining. It is also neat to burn your hands on tea. Of course, and all you Navy folk know this, when Mark's Mom is around...FUN isn't too far behind (don't worry, she'll never read this).
Bang for Your Buck
As far as Sushi Bistros go...this was relatively cheap. For Hayward standards, this place was the Ritz Carlton. Tomodachi promises lots of interesting dishes...but it doesn't promise that you'll leave for under $50.00.
Mark's Mom's Gems
As with any mother. sometimes special treats come out when they decide to talk or complain about anything. This is no different with Mark's Mom...and so we bring you...her gems for the evening.
(1) While walking into the restaurant, Mark let both Darron and Mark's mother know that sushi would be on the menu. He knew that both of them weren't exactly sushi fanatics, so Mark thought it would be gentlemanly to make them aware. Mark's Mom's knee-jerk reaction to hearing about this monstrosity was "Sushi...I don't want to be up all night." Mark, obviously confused, replied..."Yes, the caffeine-like qualities of sushi are world renown." Mark's mom chuckled at this...but you could still see in her eyes that she would be on the look out for any sushi products...insomnia hung in the balance.
(2) When Darron went to the bathroom, our soup and salad were served. Although there were three of us, we were only given two soups and one salad. Mark's Mom looked longingly at the soups and said "Well, this soup may be Darron's, but I'm going to eat it anyway." She then greedily downed the soup. And even when Darron questioned where his soup was, Mark's Mother innocently stated in passing, "I thought this salad was yours." Lying is such an awful habit.
(3) While eating Darron's soup, Mark's Mom asked Mark if the white blocks in the soup were "Toofoo," Mark replied "No, but they are tofu."
(4) After ordering our dinners, Cindy Wu repeated our orders back to us. Mark's Mom was convinced that Cindy had stated that Mark's Mom had ordered the Salmon Sukiyaki...when Mark's Mother had clearly stated that she wanted the Salmon Teriyaki. After a few tension-filled moments and a stare down between Mark's Mom and Cindy Wu...it was clear that teri and not sukiyaki would come from the chef's door. Mark's mother doesn't joke around about two things in this life...her favorite low-carb light beer and sukiyaki.
(5)Mark's mom let Mark and Darron know that Mark's sister had new braces. Darron asked if they were the metal kind or the invisible kind. She said "I think they were the invisible kind because I noticed them."
(6)While waiting for our food to come out, Mark's Mother indignantly picked up some chopsticks and then slammed them back down onto the table while loudly protesting, "Do THEY expect me to eat with THESE?"
(7) On the way home, Mark's mom stated that tomorrow is Father's Day. She then asked Darron "Are you expecting any cards in the mail?" The humor here is that Darron is not married, has no girlfriend, has no kids, and has not had sex since Clinton was in office. Mark's Mom got a good ZING in there. Mark's Mom 1 point...Darron 0.
Darron started to wheeze and grow very tired shortly after ingesting his mushrooms and sukiyaki. Little did Darron know that "Sukiyaki" is Japanese for "Poisonous and estrogen-filled dessert for little girls." Cindy Wu could hardly contain herself when Darron requested this dish usually reserved for pre-pubescent female children.
A nice restaurant in Hayward. Come while you can. It will be turned into a Taqueria by September.
They have wood-flavored toothpicks.
Right before we left, one of the waitresses ran from the kitchen crying. We couldn't figure out why, but we assumed it was something Darron did.
Mark: 4 out of 5 women's open-toed shoes
This was by far one of the best (of the oh-so-many) restaurants that we have critiqued. The fish was spectacular and I didn't order anything made for a little girl. I was stuffed when we left, and I didn't get into one fight with my Mom. This was quite a success if you ask me. Tomodachi Sushi Bistro...go for the sushi, stay for the third-degree burns from the tea.
Darron: 2 out of 5 Hawaiian shirts
I did not like it. I'm wheezy and sleepy. I feel like I'm drunk now...there's something in that sukiyaki.