It started out at as a joke. I took a picture of our dishes after the sushi was gone one night and posted it on Facebook. My husband then commented, “The Ninja Sushi Army lay in disarray from the wrath of Debi Smith.” So, now when we go out for sushi I will take pictures afterwards and give it a caption about the Ninja Sushi Army or I’ll set my status to say something about the Ninja Sushi Army.
Now, I love sushi. Especially good sushi. Since going gluten-free, there are some things I that I can’t have anymore like tempura rolls or any rolls with shoyu based sauces. We’ve learned to make sure we ask that none of the rolls have tempura flakes or shoyu based sauces.
One thing I’m still getting used to is people, servers included, asking, “Can you have rice?” I’m pretty quick sometimes and was able to make the connection really fast the first time I was asked. People just don’t know what gluten is, but they are used to hearing rice described as glutinous. So, I explain, gluten is a protein on certain grains. Glutinous is just an adjective used to describe rice. Yes, I can have rice.
I’ve pretty much stuck to sushi and a few appetizers that we know are gluten-free when we go to a Japanese restaurant. The three pictures were taken Saturday after my husband’s chado class when we took his sensei and friends to Ando for dinner. My husband typically eats at Ando once a week when he’s in Cincinnati. He’s made friends with the owners since he’s there so much and they take good care of him while he’s there. Saturday, they brought us some edamame as soon as we sat down, then some fried tofu before we even ordered. I had to pass on the tofu since it was sitting in shoyu. I had to pass on the gyoza (dumplings) and oshitashi (boiled spinach with bonito flakes) because of the gluten. But, I made sure we had things I could have like shishamo (grilled capelin) and yamaimo (sliced mountain yam).
One of the things we love about Ando is the owners are from Japan, even though they haven’t been back in years. It’s rare in this part of the country to find Japanese restaurants that are owned by Japanese. Most of the ones we go to are owned by Koreans. The husband is the main sushi chef and I love watching him when we sit at the sushi bar. His knife skills are excellent. It’s always fun to watch him fillet an entire fish when it’s not busy and he’s done making sushi until the next customer comes in. The daughter will do the sushi some nights, or come out to help him on busy nights like she did on Saturday when it was jam packed in there. She’s really good at making desserts, which she does from scratch.
Our after dinner conversation once we left was discussing the possibility of going to Japan with their Urasenke Chanoyu group in November. My biggest concern with that is being able to stay gluten-free while in Japan. Sushi is always my safe choice because most everything else has wheat in it. The noodles (except for buckwheat) and the sauces are pretty much off-limits. And I wouldn’t be surprised if the restaurants didn’t have dedicated areas for gluten-free prep and cooking. If I don’t want toast from a toaster that has toasted gluten-filled bread for years, I certainly don’t want something from a wok that’s been doing pretty much the same thing for years. We’ll see what happens.
For now though, the Ninja Sushi Army fears me.