Abe parked the car and walked quickly down a back alley. He turned right into an arcade and entered the first shop on the left under a blue awning. “Welcome back, Ginchan!” the proprietress, Naoko Ito, beamed to him. He’d been gone a week making sushi at events in Tokyo and she seemed genuinely happy to see him. Then she said, “Sakana ga sukunai…”
Taking a look around, he made a few inquiries and then walked further down the narrow arcade to a second vendor, a large open space on the corner. Abe stood in front of a case of pink fillets for a long time, particularly interested in the snapper. “They aren’t so good” he murmured to me. “How do you know?” I asked. “The color. It’s thin.” He gently pressed the flesh of one to feel its consistency. Walking over to a stack of Styrofoam containers, he pulled the tape off one and opened the lid to reveal a neat row of kuruma ebi, Japanese Imperial Prawns. “These aren’t so great either,” he whispered, again noting the color. Walking back to the first case, he settled on a piece of kanpachi, amberjack.
We walked back to the first shop. Inside the atmosphere was warm and friendly. Ito brewed us each a cup of hot coffee. As we chatted with her, two young men stood facing each other gutting and filleting a few items that Abe had chosen. Abe looked around some more and chose three mizuica, Bigfin reef quid. The longer we stayed, the more he inquired, and settled on further purchases. I should decide what I want before I get here,” he mentioned. “I always buy too much.” Ito stood at a counter measuring out portions of mozuku a jelly like sea vegetable resembling angel hair thin noodles. Her husband pulled a large snapper out of a tank stunned it with an ice pick to the forehead, then sent a long wire down its spine. As he let it bleed out in a basin of ice water I realized I had just seen ike jime firsthand for the first time.