Lunch date #5, Friday February 10, 2012
Now I knew Mom was really getting into the spirit of our project when she suggested we have sushi! I can guarantee that she has never, nor would ever, do this had she not been possessed by the adventurous spirit of our outings! Since we were still in the mood to center our efforts downtown, it seemed appropriate to hit Main Sushi, 411 Main St., for our first foray into Japanese cuisine. Although I loved my trip to Japan, I don’t tend to go after sushi by choice—so this was going to be an interesting experience for both of us.
Critique #1 Location: 5 points. Right in the heart of our quaint downtown Pleasanton, how could you get any better than that!
Critique #2 Ambiance: 3 points. Wow did we differ on this one! I sat with my back to the river-rock studded half-wall and had a lovely view of the dining room. Although we did have a nice window table, my mom didn’t enjoy her view of the river rock wall over my shoulder. I would have gone for a 4: liked the pendant lighting and bamboo along the walls. I thought it was open and airy, and still with an Asian flair. Mom was pretty sure nothing better than a 2 was indicated…so what to do? Compromise at a 3! Note to self: next time I should be the gracious daughter and give my mother the better seat/view!
Critique #3 Menu: 5 points. They definitely scored here. We were impressed by the good selection from the sushi chef, as well as numerous other choices, including udon, tempura and teriyaki.
Critique #4 Service: 5 points…and I mean a FIVE!! This was by far the best service we have seen since our project began. When we arrived, the restaurant was nearly empty, but rather than ignore us (alla Forno Vecchio), the server was very attentive, but not overly so. She promptly brought out our tea and it was nice and hot. The meal was delivered quickly and served very attractively. The udon was served quite hot also—perfect soup temperature. We asked her to take our photo using my iphone—which she handled quite well—she was concerned that the back lighting of the window caused shadows on our faces. She came back, without prompting, about 20 minutes later to see if the light had improved so we could try the photo again! My mom was determined to eat with chopsticks, but when our observant server saw her struggle, she brought out a “cheater” hinge device (like they give to kids) that was a huge success (Mom even asked if she could keep it—I think she wanted to practice at home!).
Critique #5 Food: 4.5 points: Mom ordered (with my suggestion) the udon soup with tempura. I also went with the udon, but with the chicken. After her first mouthful of tempura, Mom called out “FIVE!”. I do have to agree, a properly done tempura is very tasty. Everything tasted fresh and was not at all oily. Mom was having a great time eating the edamame (can’t believe I had never served that to her before). Then it was time to try the sushi. To keep this experience positive, I do have to admit to going soft on ordering here. I went with a California roll (cheating, I know) and a tekka maki—not the spicy tuna, nor sashimi grade ahi, but the basic-no-frills tuna roll. Here is where Mom wanted to down grade the score just a bit. She just couldn’t get into the whole take a slice and pop it into your mouth thing, and then she had trouble trying to bite into it. The seaweed was a bit of an obstacle, even more so that the raw tuna. I’m proud of her though-as she was able to eat a whole slice from each roll, and then got back to work with those pincher chopsticks to eat her tempura and udon. I thought the broth for the udon was quite nice—not too salty, great flavor, tons of udon noodles.
Critique #6 Value: 4 points. We spent a lot for lunch that day. Admittedly, we ordered a lot of food because I wanted mom to try two different types of sushi and I pretty much knew the udon noodles would be a hit with her. She was very excited that our lovely server was willing to pack up all of the left over udon “to go”. I had plenty of sushi to take home also—funny that mom didn’t want to also take that!
Overall score for Main Sushi: 4.4 points. We had a fabulous time and I would recommend this one to a friend. Not being a sushi aficionado, I can only report that if you have half the fun that we did that day, you’d feel happy too!
Necessary Addendum: We left Main Sushi giddy with laughter—we had a great lunch and an enjoyable date. When I chatted with Mom later about how impressed I was that she enjoyed our meal, she had a completely different memory! She didn’t care for the udon when reheating it at home later. I don’t think that udon is designed for eating later. I don’t know if it was the fun environment of eating with the chopsticks and the excellent service, trying new things (edamame and tempura thumbs up, tekka maki: no), but we really did have a lovely meal. I think some things are better left finished, then and there. Taking home the “doggie bag” in this case was a big mistake—it left her with doubts that our lunch was as good as the novel experience. I can accept that eating the left-overs/doggie bag..whatever we shall call it, is part of what my mom enjoys when dining out. I get it: living alone and having to always cook for yourself gets old—having that left over meal is great to have on hand. Perhaps not so for udon.