Back in Oxford. Eating Sushi. Obviously.

Salmon, Tune, Roe and Avocado Gunkanzushi

It’s been almost a year since I first said “this Thursday I’m going for saki and sushi at Edamame.” I never went. I kept not going.  The whole thing was a huge hole in my integrity. Eventually, a paper or a party, or a whatever is just not a good excuse.

Edamame is small and mysterious. No joke.  You have to check the website for its weekly opening times (, and then stand in a line that reaches down the street.  Inside the toy box restaurant there there are just a few smaller tables pushed away into corners and three very long tables where multiple different dinner parties are squeezed together around big communal pots of creamy wasabi.  On Thursday nights you can be sure that from 5-8.30 they are serving their select but satisfying sushi menu–just one type of tuna, squid, shrimp, roe, or sweet omelet and veggies.  A few nice but equally purist specials are posted on the wall, variations of spicy and california rolls.  There are only two types of saki to choose from so you really can’t go wrong, or feel like an idiot. The more difficult choice is after ordering Saki when the server brings a whole basket of assorted mismatched, ceramic saki-bowls.  The whole concept has a humble elegance with its few choices of fresh food and a few still loud and boisterous tables.

Loll and I waited in line for 30 minutes after arriving around 5.30 (yeah, I know really early!) and then spent an hour and a half on the stools at our corner of the communal table.  We ordered once from the menu and then decided to order again, this time from the specials.  The transformation from awkward perches on the stools and our necks bent stiffly away from eye contact with the neighboring diners was quick.  Soon we were loosing deep secrets into the din of constant conversations in the little room.  The eclectic cups and the eclectic groups at tables give everything in the seemingly plain restaurant a vibrant buzz like the one lurking in its wasabi bowls. And luckily, you don’t need a lot of elbow space to eat sushi.  Maybe my new battle with integrity will involve the statement:  “sometime this week, not Thursday, I’ll be eating the not-sushi-night menu at Edamame.”  I have the sinking sense this trip will take even a little longer to realize but maybe the surprise opening hours will work in coincidence with my schedule sometime soon.

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