Don't kid yourself. You have never really tasted the most delicious, the freshest and greatest variety of sushi and sashimi until you have it in Japan--and it doesn' t have to break your bank.
A visit to Izumida Sushi in the city of Hakata, Fukuoka only reinforces this bold statement. Recommended by the staff of Hotel Croom Hakata, this place is not visited by Western tourists very often, which was what I was looking for; and it was only a few blocks away.
A nice young man I asked directions of on the street offered to escort me there. The foreigner can always count on the Japanese to offer kind assistance.
Once inside the small establishment, I took a seat at the sushi bar. Only other customer seated was a man in a suit, who had loosened his cuffs, opened his collar, tucked an I.D. tag into his pocket and was obviously enjoying his sake.
I could only read a couple of the offerings, written in Hiragana and Kanji on a board on the wall, so frankly, I was at a loss. Looking into the refrigerated case, I couldn't positively identify many of the fish inside. There were fish that I had not seen before. Many were pre-sliced--hopefully an indication that they anticipated heavy volume of customers later. I had some concern about exposure to air. I needn't have.
That fellow seated near me offered to have me try his aji (mackerel) sashimi. "I'll have one of those!", I giggled to the sushi chef. You can see how fresh it was, (above) and the lime juice and fresh grated wasabi along with the wakame seaweed made the dish memorable. It was all uphill from there.
I kept ordering, and piece by piece, as eating became an ecstatic experience. Lacking language skills, I found myself letting out soft screams of pleasure, most appreciated by the chef and my seat-mate, who eventually said goodbye and left the restaurant.
I took a break, and was sipping my sake, as a chef came out of the kitchen and set a special teapot containing dobin mushi, a tangy broth with seasonal mushrooms. I hadn't ordered it. It was a parting gift from the fellow with whom I'd shared this extraordinary meal!
2-19-17 Hakataekimae, Hakata-ku, Fukuoka, Fukuoka Prefecture
The bill for all I could eat, and the sake too? $29.