A night at Stillwater's preeminent sushi house gave Laura the One Girl and I a bang-up arrangement of rolls and pushed me a step or two toward a permanent rapport with The Raw Fish Food -- but first, it gave us three solid minutes of chopstick shenanigans.
I think I speak for most people when I say I'd have better luck rubbing them together to make fire than handling them for a whole meal. The chopsticks don't care if you critique food, and they don't care where your descendants come from.
"I'm a terrible Asian," Laura said as a veggie roll refused to stay pinched between her sticks. She tapped out first, sheepishly requesting a fork.
At least she knows the proper way to hold them. I stuck one stick between my index and thumb, the other between my ringer and pinky. My action tremor would spasm them out of alignment, sending the roll flipping like a Super Bowl coin back onto the plate. I wrangled a few, but lost my patience after the fourth or fifth flip. My rolls were finger food thereafter. Tails it is.
I think I enjoyed mine more than she enjoyed hers, but neither of us left disappointed.
The Basics: Murasaki is the eminent figure of a new-age church-looking strip mall just north of Highway 36 on Stillwater Boulevard. You can find their website here. Reservations are recommended.
Murasaki's website contains one of my pet peeves, menus without prices. There's a saying, "If you have to ask, you probably can't afford it" ... but, I mean, what if I just want to know?
Did you buy a deal voucher? Check it. They are no longer accepting vouchers from Restaurant.com, but Groupon's remain valid.
Laura managed her time properly after work and arrived with plenty of time to spare. I nearly committed countless vehicular homicides, may or may not have run a red light, and screeched into the lot with a loogie of gas in my tank and one minute to spare. When I got to my table, she was on her fourth shot of sake and wavering through the chorus of "Toxic."
I'm kidding. She had nearly finished her first glass of soda.
Murasaki has a sit-down dining side and another for teppanyaki. We went left, into a room done with powerful hues and sparse decor. They are, at least ostensibly, aimed on a stately ambiance more than driving the ethnicity point home. How else would you explain Dean Martin being played in a sushi bar?
First, I ordered a sake drink called Eager Ninja. It was sandwiched between drink names like Fuji Sunset and Autumn Wind on the drink list, a red flag I ignored. The waitress giggled as she walked off, and returned to present me with this:
I'm glad I could provide our waitress a laugh, because she gave me one by forgetting my order and returning to have me repeat it. The sweet time our bill took to reach us was markedly less amusing, however. The most important thing is how soon the food arrives, though, and I thought it came in good time.
On Laura's side of the plate was a vegetable platter with cucumber, kanpyo, and mixed veggie rolls. She described them afterward as "Good, pretty basic veggie rolls which I always think could use more flavor. I preferred the kanpyo because they had sweetness to them, [but] nothing made it stand out to me to make it better than any other sushi place."
On my side were laid out red dragon and dynamite (very hot sauce!) rolls. I've only had sushi one other time and it was too long ago to compare them, but I can say I quite enjoyed my haul at Murasaki. While the dynamite rolls existed mostly to put scorch marks on the tongue, the dragon rolls -- arranged in serpentine fashion -- were the true exhibition of flavor. The spicy mayo and avocado collaborated for a smooth hot-cool combo, a ride made more intense by tagging in the dynamite rolls. Take two, then take two. It worked famously.
For three sets of rolls and my drink, the tab ran $56. I haven't had sushi enough times to say for sure where that price point lands on a feasibility scale. I didn't feel ripped off in the least -- then again, I had paid $25 for a $50 voucher. I tipped our waitress better than I should have and we stole off back to our vehicles.
I've been told the real action is on the teppanyaki side, and I'll probably do that next time, but I was more than happy dining on dragons and dynamite. Laura mentioned that an order of dipping sauce on the side might have helped her cause, a note worth filing away should you dial a veggie platter up in the near future.
Have some. If you're fluently functional with chopsticks, then screw you -- but for the rest of us, stab it, fork it, pinch it, bob your head down and pluck it off the plate with your mouth if you have to. You might just enjoy it. The food won't be too bad, either.