Raw Fish, True Tales
by Ms. Moko Jeeno

Under the Table at Kenichi

It's always such a treat to go on a first date at a restaurant's opening night. There's an energy, an enthusiasm, a sexy nervous tension to the air that both rivals and contributes to my own optimism and hopeful desires.

We walk into Kenichi, downtown's latest sushi restaurant, and are immediately greeted by two very lovely hostesses, one of whom writes my name down under a gentle halogen light. She invites us to have a drink at the bar. I look around and am pleased to see that the place has lived up to its designer hype. Exposed beams, custom tiles, and a hand crafted, restaurant-length sushi bar give the restaurant a refined, big city appeal.

Our cocktail needs are immediately attended to and we are seated very shortly. Although our table is a little close to the folks next to us, the atmosphere is still intimate. Beautiful dim lighting and a darkened decor contribute to an already sensuous affair. My date is an incredibly attractive woman and I'm secretly enjoying how much her glossy brown eyes and parted dark hair gives off the most elegant hint of severity. The lighting is just right. But then again, Janice is the kind of woman you'd want to make out with even under flickering fluorescents that give off a low, buzzing hum. [and, just as an aside, I could go on and on about her incredible voice, slick and gravely, with a native Texan accent gracefully refined by her years living in the Middle East.]

I'm wearing a dark suit with a flashy green tie. When the waiter steps into our cozy little butch femme scene, he gives a friendly hello and tells us the evening specials. I think he is actually quite charmed by this whole arrangement. And after all, this is a casual, progressive place -- the kind of place where, he explains, its ok to ask for a fork at anytime.

Our sushi platter is quite delicious. Silky salmon and tuna sashimi, warm, comforting unagi, and a yellowtail roll that tastes sweet and spicy on my tongue. Great edamame too. My date, enjoying it for the first time, comments on its unique texture and eating procedure. She is a smart one, and there's just no getting anything past her tonight.

Every once in a while a loud booming sound emanates from the back of the restaurant. Another patron has discovered the gong. Although disturbing, this does make for some nice chitchat with the folks next to us. Being a therapist, Janice is quick to quip that it's a good thing none of us suffer from post-traumatic stress or panic disorder. Sushi with a shrink. I love it! This is so my dream date!

There is a certain discreteness to the dining layout, but the table's length makes it difficult for my foot or knee to get too close underneath. Any antics will have to happen above the cloth, and they do, and her hands feel really, really great.

I'm rather entertained by the ambiguous, squiggle shaped signs on the restroom doors. I'm not sure which door to enter but a staff person walks by and points out which one is the men's room and which one is the women's room. "People have been confused the whole night," he says, and I say, "oh, that's great," and walk through the door with the oddly shaped 'W'.

When one of the partners comes over to personally thank us for coming out tonight, we feel like we are actively contributing to Kenichi's hip, urban feel. We later joke that they should be paying us to be there. After all, ha, ha, we are sooo chic.

Our fine meal concludes with the bill placed squarely in the middle of the table. When there was some question about our order, our excellent waitperson adeptly spoke directly with me about the clarification. Perhaps schooled in the world of alternative lifestyles himself, he does not push things by presuming any financial deferments. He is most diplomatic with his check placement. I, of course, take care of things. Janice offers but I smile and say, "Please, do entertain my butch ego and allow me this pleasure." She graciously agrees.

On our way out of Kenichi we notice the water wall right by the door. We both run our hands through the delicate, steady stream and wonder off to drink some more. . .