Ja in Bavaria, wo die Sushis aus Fisch sind!

The intrepid Gastrognome and I have a monthly tradition that dictates that on at least one day we must eschew the consuming of lunch in anticipation and preparation for a dinner which involves consuming large (okay, okay–excessive) amounts of sushi and sushi-related food items. But what to do when you’re in a foreign country and the reliable restaurant that you normally frequent is an ocean away? This could have been cause for serious concern a mere score of years ago, but thankfully in this day and age the awesome power of Google is just a click or two of the mouse away, and thus a potential conundrum like this is solved with no more effort than it takes to type “sushi” followed by the name of whatever city you happen to be in and then hitting enter.

So it was that we found ourselves in the city of Köln (Cologne) in Germany in the surprisingly blustery, rainy and definitely not shorts-appropriate month of June. The power of the internet had guided us to a restaurant called Sweet Sushi, selected thanks to the dual virtues of getting good ratings on review sites and being within easy walking distance of our hotel. The place was small but had a friendly look to it in spite of the fact that when we arrived there was not a single table free. We opted to decline a waitress’s offer to seat us at a table with another couple (this is not uncommon in Germany) and chose to simply wait for a few minutes until a table was free. Luckily this did not take much time at all.

Once we were seated, it was on to the ordering! Seeing as we were in Köln, we skipped our traditional Sapporos in favor of Kölsch as the primary beverage of the evening.
(Time for an aside: Kölsch has become a popular summer seasonal for a lot of American craft breweries, but for all the things that US craft beers do right—and there are a lot of them—Kölsch is not among them. I’ve never had a US-born Kölsch that was anything but a pale imitation of Kölsch in Köln.)

Once the drinks were taken care of, it was on to the more interesting matter of selecting fish from the German-language menu, an act that put our knowledge of the names of many sea-creatures to the test. In the end, we opted for a sashimi plate, some nigiri, and a roll with pickled shiitake mushrooms. The food arrived with some sort of additional, complimentary roll that involved shrimp, vegetables, and tempura batter on the outside. It was a nice surprise, but ultimately probably the least interesting thing on the table that night.

And now it’s time to Learn German with Sushi!

Sie bekommen die Sushis in Bavaria! Ja, in Bavaria, wo die Schafe selten Brille tragen!

(from top down, left to right)
die Jakobsmuschel: scallop (nigiri)
der Schiitake-pilz: shiitake mushroom (roll)
das Gemüse: veggies (roll)
der Langflossenthun: albacore (sashimi)
der Lachs: salmon (sashimi)
der Thunfisch: tuna (sashimi)
der Krake: octopus (sashimi)
der Wolfsbarsch: sea bass (sashimi)
der Tintenfisch: squid (sashimi)
das Geschenk des Hauses: on the house (literally the gift of the house)

die Sojasoße: soy sauce
der Ingwer: ginger
der Wasabi: wasabi

The food was very good with the exception of the rice that came with the nigiri, which was a bit overly sticky and vinegary. Fortunately that could easily be solved by simply pulling the fish off the top and eating it without the rice. Standouts were definitely the squid which is definitely something that I’m not always a fan of but which was really sweet and tender here, and the pickled shiitake, which had a really unique and pleasing texture on top of just plain being super tasty. It was good enough that we decided to go…
On to Round Two!

Mahlzeit! Mahlzeit!

(left to right across the back)
eine große Rolle: a big roll (this had assorted fish and veggies)
der scharfer Thunfisch: spicy tuna (roll)
noch ein Geschenk: another gift

The last two pieces of nigiri were a bit of a gamble, since we did not actually know what it was that we had ordered until it came out. You see, earlier we had scoured the menu for our beloved white tuna, but hadn’t found anything that seemed to fit that description. That is, until the Gastrognome discovered a promising lead: Butterfisch.

Butterfisch. Butterfisch. What in the world is a Butterfisch? Considering the sushi-restaurant setting, it seemed a safe bet to guess that it would some sort of fish and not some sort of butter. A buttery fish, most likely. And what kinds of fish could be described as buttery? More than that, what kinds of fish could be described as buttery that we hadn’t already been able to identify elsewhere on the menu? White tuna, for sure. Yellowtail—another exceptionally mouth-watering denizen of the deep—could fit the description as well.

We’re not gamblers, but the Gastrognome did grow up in Vegas, and she felt certain that the odds were in our favor. Very well, then: “Dazu noch zwei Butterfisch-nigiri, bitte!”

And the result: Victory! ‘Twas white tuna indeed and it tasted all the more delightful for having come after such a mysterious buildup. The meal was closed with the also delightful surprise of a pair of complimentary glasses of plum wine. (I don’t know why we kept getting free stuff, but it seemed like one of those situations where it was better to just let things keep happening the way they were instead of questioning them.) It was a great dinner full of good food and drink, good company, good atmosphere, happy surprises and it set the stage for the even more wonderful things that would happen later on that night. 😉

PS. 50 Falquan funbucks (that’s right, I’m offering them your money!) to the first one to get the title and caption references.

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