Monday, June 12, 2006

Sekisui Pacific Rim

Sekisui Pacific Rim
4724 Poplar

Last Tuesday night after derby practice in Collierville, Moxie Dynamite and I drove back to Midtown by way of Poplar Avenue. (I was too tired to deal with the expressway.) Neither one of us had eaten dinner so we started talking about food. “We should go out to lunch tomorrow,” I said since we both work downtown.

“We could go back to Bluefin,” she said since that’s where we had our last lunch. “I can eat sushi this time since I’m over my stomach virus,” she said.

“Mmmm, sushi would be good,” I said. Sushi always sounds good to me. (They don’t call me Smashimi for nothing!)

“Do they have tekka ju there?” Moxie asked.

“What’s tekka ju?” I asked interested. I had never heard of this.

“It’s just raw tuna on top of sushi rice. A whole bowl of sushi rice.

“Mmmmmmm. I love raw tuna. Maybe we should go to Sekisui instead. Have you had the ocean pyramid?” I asked.

Before I could fully describe the dish to her, I realized we were about one block away from Sekisui Pacific Rim. “Hey, why don’t we just go to Pacific Rim right now?” I said knowing that they had a late night sushi bar. (It was 9:30pm.)

“Oh yeah, we should definitely go right now,” Moxie agreed.

By the time we put in our order, I had sold Moxie on the ocean pyramid, which meant I had to order something else. Before happily ordering the beef tataki roll—with cucumber, avocado, scallion & tataki sauce—and an inuyasha roll—shrimp tempura inside, tuna on top with spicy sauce, I noticed that they didn't offer traditional Japanese dishes. In fact they actually had a hamburger on the menu. I wondered aloud, “Why would anybody come here and order a hamburger!?

Once Moxie and I were sated we agreed to make late night sushi our regular after derby activity, even though we both decided that the hardcore dance music was a bit much.

Wednesday at work, I just couldn’t get the ocean pyramid out of my mind. When I made my standard 4:30pm “What’s for dinner?” call to Warren, I was pleased to discover he had no plans to cook. “Why don’t we pick up the monkeys, go to Target to get some swimming stuff, and take them to Pacific Rim?” I suggested. (Throwing in the Target trip was key to me getting a yes in this case.)

“Pacific Rim?” he asked surprised. (New Hunan is our usual post-Target dinner spot.) “Isn’t that a little fancy for the monkeys?”

“It’s fancy, but not that fancy,” I said reassuringly. “We could go right after we pick them up so it won’t be too busy.” (Taking the monkeys to eat on a school night is always a crap shoot, but I was determined to eat an ocean pyramid.)

“Okay,” he said. “Bring some extra clothes just in case they are filthy when we pick them up.” (Both monkeys enjoy coloring themselves and their clothes and rolling in the sand at school.)


We got to Pacific Rim around 6:30pm and as soon as we walked in the door the monkeys made a beeline to the fancy waterfall that separates the sushi bar from the dining room. As I tore Satchel (age 4) away, I tried not to draw attention to the fact that there were now two very grimy handprints framing the glass. Jiro (age 2) refused to budge, but luckily he wasn’t tall enough to add his paw prints to the palette.

The dining room was actually a lot more crowded than I anticipated, but there was nothing to be done about it. I also noticed that we were the only people who actually had children (of any age) with them. We were quickly seated at a table that was half-booth, half-table near a large fish tank. Both monkeys climbed in the booth part in order to put their noses to the glass, bang on the walls, and exclaim “Nemo! Nemo!” Of course the monkeys began fighting over who got to stand closet to the tank and immediately got the attention of everyone in the restaurant.

As I tried to appear to be a competent mother and talk them down, I noticed a quick footed waitress sprint towards the other side of the booth and remove the large metal sculpture that decorated the space between the rows of tables. (I couldn’t tell if the couple on the other side of the wall from us had requested this or what, but I certainly wasn’t going to argue with the decision to remove it.)

I got Jiro to sit next to me in a chair and Warren cornered Satchel in the booth. After the monkeys thoroughly examined the table and figured out that it was actually two tables made into one, kind of like a puzzle, they settled into their seats. Warren scanned the menu while I sat quietly waiting for the waitress. “Do you already know what you are getting?” he asked, stunned.

“The ocean pyramid and the crab salad,” I said.

“What’s an ocean pyramid?” he asked.

“It’s rice, raw fish, and three kinds of roe,” I said. “It’s what Tracey always gets here and it’s supposed to be delicious.”

His face dropped. “You aren’t ordering sushi?” I realized for the first time that he always relies on me to get a bunch of fancy stuff for him to taste while he safely eats his tonkatsu or teriyaki or tempura.

“Not tonight,” I said. “But you can get some—they have a lot of good rolls here.”

“That’s okay,” he said. “I’ll just get the burger.”

The burger! (I learned a long time ago to keep these kind of reactions to myself.)

When our waitress came over, she said, “Oh hi! I waited on you last night!”

I smiled and looked at Warren. “You were here last night?” he asked.


“Uh yeah, Moxie and I came after practice. I must have forgotten to mention it,” I blushed as I gave the waitress a “shhh!” look.

I quickly ordered some edamame and miso soup for the monkeys plus a crunchy shrimp roll for Satchel and the tofu Japan (fried tofu with seaweed salad on top) for Jiro.

The soup actually came before the edamame and it was the fanciest miso soup presentation I have ever seen—it was served in a wide flat ceramic dish with a doily underneath. The monkeys thought they were eating something new and exciting. I wondered if I shouldn’t have checked the price before ordering two. Jiro got his spoon and started investigating his bowl. “Dofu! Weeweed!” he exclaimed happily. Pacific Rim didn’t have the big soup spoons like they have at the regular Sekisui so I had to help Jiro a bit, but Satchel had no problem cleaning his bowl completely.

The edamame arrived with my salad. Jiro tasted a few of my crunchy wontons and a had a bite of crab (which he thought was cheese) before he started in on the edamame. I normally peel his for him, but he’s been shelling pistachios at the dinner table for over a week now, so he refused my assistance. I had about two bites of salad before I noticed a soybean sail over the table. (Jiro was honestly trying to get them in his mouth, he just hasn’t perfected his technique.) The woman on the other side of the wall shot us a disapproving look.

“Oh, it’s that kid,” she said to her date. The man looked over his shoulder and I smiled in an effort to diffuse whatever was brewing.

“Try to get them in your mouth honey,” I said to Jiro.

I offered Warren the last half of my very yummy salad and convinced Jiro to let me help him. Then the waitress brought my ocean pyramid and I went to my happy place where I can’t hear or look at anything other than what’s on my plate. Once my tastebuds stopped orgasming, I asked Warren if he wanted a bite. He said no, but I gave him one anyway. As I carefully put my fork in his mouth, I saw Jiro fall backwards out of his chair out of the corner of my eye. Luckily the waitress was standing between him and the table behind us and managed to break his fall a bit.

I scurried to pick him up and he seemed dazed, but okay. The waitress was kind of freaked out and the three women at the table all seemed amazed that Jiro wasn’t screaming his brains out. “What a tough little guy,” they cooed.

Satchel unphased by any of this, was busy licking his soup bowl. “Where’s my sushi?” he asked. When I told him it would be just a minute, he said he needed to pee. I was actually relieved because I needed to, uh, relieve myself too. Satchel and I went in search of the "potty" with Jiro hot on our heels. Amazingly we passed a little beanbag lounging area without either on of them attempting to lounge. We then had an unremarkable visit to the ladies’ room. (Okay Satchel did remark, "Ooh they have the foamy soap that I like!") On the way back to the table, Jiro discovered the rows of wine bottles lining the bottom of the bar area and set about touching every one and making them clank dangerously against each other. I started cursing in my head, but managed to get him back in his seat without incident.

The rest of our food had been delivered and right away, Satchel popped a piece of sushi in his mouth. And then spit it right out. Jiro looked at his tofu Japan and said, “No!” I tried switching their plates, but neither monkey wanted what the other had. Jiro went back to working on the edamame and Warren gave him a French fry.

“Do all of these sushis taste the same?” Satchel asked.

“Uh-huh,” I said.

“Nu-uh,” He argued.

“Okay, then eat another one.”

He obliged and said, “See this one isn’t yucky.”

“Okay, good, then eat some more. Maybe they all taste different,” I said hopefully.

Obviously, Satchel also depends on me to order fancy sushi for him to try. While I enjoyed my ocean pyramid immensely, it was a bit on the spicy side, and I missed getting to taste a lot of different things. On my next visit, much to everyone's satisfaction, I will probably go back to ordering sushi.

I noticed that Warren had been awfully quiet. He was busy eating his giant teriyaki burger. “How is it?” I asked.

“Good,” he said and offered me a bite.

Honestly, I thought the burger was nasty. “Mmm,” I said as I chewed and nodded noncommittally. The teriyaki burger was just a big hamburger patty covered in teriyaki sauce as far as I could tell. It was served with what looked like half a head of iceberg lettuce and french fries sprinkled with cayenne pepper or something else red and spicy. It seemed totally out of place in this shwanky restaurant.

I tried to coax Satchel into eating more sushi, but he refused. “It’s a nice plate though,” he said as he ran his fingers across it. I offered some to Jiro and he did actually eat a couple of pieces.

We boxed up the rejected tofu Japan and I left a huge tip. Satchel said, “I like this place because it has cool music and cool lights!”

Then he let out a humongous burp.

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