The Brunching Shuttlecocks Ratings

Sushi Boats
A charming yet unsettling idea; little carved boats that go around a moat. People sit at the bar, and reach into the boats when they see one loaded with the particular fish treat they desire. You'd think that such a neat idea would spread to other forms of cuisine like buffalo wings and jalapeño poppers, but a heat lamp would probably ruin the effect. The main problem: you try eating a small truckload of raw fish while watching boats go around and around and around and around and around and around. It's not an exercise for the delicate or those inclined to vertigo. C+

This is a green substance that apparently took a childhood vow to destroy mucus membranes wherever they may be found. A violently flavorful paste, it makes a nice accent in reasonable doses, but many sushi-positive guys use it to impress women, in spite of the conspicuous absence of the phrase "must snort horseradish like it was the sweet scent of morning lilacs" in "Women Seeking Men" personal ads. Still, if you're in the mood to convince yourself that you're God's gift to macho displays of emotional grit, too much wasabi is a smarter way to go about it than, say, nude shark pummeling. A-

"Warm wine! How silly! People from other cultures certainly do amuse!" Shut up. A society that produces Zima has no right to criticize the booze of other lands. Sake is a delight, combining the best aspects of white wine and hot toddies, and sushi is best eaten half-drunk anyway. The little cups are fun, too, allowing you to toast and gulp, toast and gulp, until you find yourself ordering the live gecko roll just for the heck of it. B+

Plastic Sample Sushi
This is another sushi restaurant feature that would work well in other venues. Wouldn't you like to be able to see the latest McDonald's burger strain in glistening 3-D, rather than buying it based on the macro-zoom photos they typically put up, the ones that make it look as if their sandwiches are about the size of a couch? With well-made plastic sample burgers, you'd have a much better idea of what you're getting into. B

Sushi Itself
Okay, it's time for the Brunching Shuttlecocks Hint Corner. Tired of hiding behind wimpy California rolls and cucumber maki? Ready to order something that all timid friends wouldn't touch with a three-meter chopstick, but not quite up for the raw fish experience? Repeat after me: unagi. Oo-NAH-gee. First off, it's cooked. Secondly, it's braised with a pleasant teriyaki-esque sauce. Close your eyes and pretend it's a fish stick. Here's the catch. It's eel. But don't let you bother you. At least it's cooked and once you're ready to admit to yourself that you've eaten eel, a little raw tuna will seem like a stroll. A

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