Durham News: Opinion

Hannah Mitchell: Mmm sushi

Hannah Mitchell
Hannah Mitchell

True confessions. I didn’t try sushi until after college. I have no excuse. I was just raised “eating in,” and sometimes I would forget that restaurants existed in the world.

Which is no way to live, especially in light of an open-since-January eatery in the basement suite of the historic building next to The Durham Hotel on Chapel Hill Street.

I didn’t know this place existed until a few weeks ago when my boyfriend said, “I made dinner reservations at M Sushi.”

I was excited. I had a lot of years of not eating sushi to catch up on.

And that evening, after the bite of sashimi, I turned to Caleb and agreed that I had, as he’d predicted, instantly developed champagne tastes on a beer budget for this cuisine. “I’m sorry,” he said, and grinned.

M Sushi: No imitation crab. No pre-minced tuna. Real wasabi. Specialty blend Koshihikari rice with a touch of Shiragiku Japanese rice vinegar. These things will indeed ruin you for pre-packaged grocery store BOGO deals.

A little Google search revealed that this omakase-style establishment (omakase, for those like me who said “omawhatwhat?” is a meal in which the chef chooses and pairs the dishes) may be the first solely seafood sushi restaurant the Triangle has seen.

If you are into minimalism, and like to savor the quality of the ingredients in whatever is set in front of you rather than expend energy on choosing from a long list of options, this place is for you.

Menu information overload is one of my adult life handicaps, so I am on board with seasonally rotating choices dictated by the catch coming in from the Japanese, Korean, and U.S. coasts.

Just tell us which kind of fish you’d like to feed us, and we will delight in it.

The chefs in their chambray double-breasted jackets did just that as they slid asymmetric dishes full of shaved ginger and fish onto the counter above our seats. Their pride in their offerings put me at ease.

Because sushi actually gives me a touch of anxiety.

(“Well my dear,” my orthodontist said to me years ago after he’d had to pop into a different clinic for child-sized instruments, “if anyone ever tries to tell you that you have a big mouth, you can tell them that it’s scientifically untrue.”)

Sushi are just a touch too big for me to eat comfortably. They represent a legitimate physical challenge.

And I have learned that trying to bite a piece so as to tackle it in two parts is an apt metaphor for what can happen when you try to do anything halfway. The whole falls apart, the beauty of the moment is lost, and you are left with a mess.

Also, your date will probably laugh.

But the sleek rustic-modern atmosphere, the suggested Savion blanc, and the enticing ingredient pairings will allow you to meet M Sushi where it is. They don’t do things half way, so you won’t either. It’s an all-in-one-bite kind of place.

And if you happen to be a small-mouthed human, don’t worry. Take a very deep breath, open wide, breathe through your nose, and pray that nobody asks you any questions for at least a full minute. Which they won’t, because they’ll be busy savoring too.

P.S. Our favorite rolls on the current menu are the spider and the twisted mango.

You can reach Hannah C. Mitchell at remarksbymitchell@gmail.com