It’s Not a Proper Birthday Without Conveyor Belt Sushi

Remember this blog post? The one in which I verbosely extolled the virtues of Aomori’s winter and romanticized how beautiful it is? Yeah, after this weekend, I am seriously rethinking that pro-winter standpoint. After a monster of a snowstorm stranded me out in one of the small towns that surround Aomori City on Sunday night, I had to shell out nearly ninety dollars in taxi fare to get back into the city for work this morning. Trains were canceled, bus services were limited…but such is the nature of the beast, I suppose. If this – a slightly thinner wallet and a minor headache – is the extent of the grief that winter this year causes me, I’ll consider myself a lucky woman. (As I am running on about three and a half hours of sleep, I’ll also consider myself a lucky woman if I don’t faceplant into my coffee today at work.)

But this post is not about the trials and tribulations about Aomori’s winter conditions. Nope! This post is about birthday celebrations! Last Wednesday, February 20th, was my 24th (!!!!) birthday. This past year has been an absolutely fantastic one, and I can’t wait to see what the next holds in store.

For celebrations, five friends and I headed to Kantaro, our favorite conveyor belt sushi restaurant. Kaiten-sushi (回転寿司) is hands down one of my favorite styles of eating in Japan, as it’s usually cheap and quite convenient. However, some conveyor belt sushi joints leave something to be desired in the “quality” category. Kantaro, however, is downright delicious and is pretty cheap, as well. Those two things make for a perfect restaurant, in my opinion.

Put scallop sushi in front of me, and I am a happy woman.
Put scallop sushi in front of me, and I am a happy woman.

The problem with Kantaro, though, is that I usually accumulate quite a pile of plates. I have never been a “just a salad” kind of girl; I like my carbs and protein, preferably in large quantities. And with kaiten-zushi, you can just grab plates as they go by. You’re in complete control of how much food you can eat; you can stop after two plates or you can stop after twenty. I often have a hard time convincing myself that I don’t really need one more plate of salmon nigiri (a piece of sushi served on a little pad of rice). And as my rationale was “hey, it’s my birthday, I’ll eat what I want!”, I accumulated this monster stack…

Restraint is not a virtue I possess.
Restraint is not a virtue I possess.

Basically, if something went by that even slightly tempted me, I grabbed it. Salmon (in embarrassingly large quantities), 比目魚 (hirame, flounder), まぐろ (maguro, tuna), 鰤 (hamachi, yellowtail), 穴子 (anago, conger eel) and ほたて (hotate, scallops) all disappeared down into my stomach.

炙り (broiled) salmon is one of my favorite dishes at Kantaro.
炙り (broiled) salmon is one of my favorite dishes at Kantaro.

I even got two awesome surprises to make the meal even better. First, my friends all grabbed a few of my plates at the end of the meal, so I ended up not even having to pay for dinner. (Equal parts guilt and happiness competed regarding my accumulation of plates.) Then, my friend Ryan presented me with a glorious bottle of 100% みかん (clementine) juice. If you’ve read this post, you know I’m nuts for clementines. Roughly 65 kilograms and counting consumed this winter…

A present tailor-made for someone who loves clementines.
A present tailor-made for someone who loves clementines.

And in the hallowed tradition shared by so many restaurants, the staff even brought me a piece of cake and sang to me with abundant enthusiasm. And in the hallowed tradition of birthday celebrators everywhere, I turned a deep shade of red of happy embarrassment. (And then I happily scarfed down my cake.)

An excellent end to the meal: strawberry cake!
An excellent end to the meal: strawberry cake!

All in all, a very fantastic birthday celebration. Bring on year number 25!

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