Here’s an idea for a sushi restaurant. It’s my free gift to you. Nobody has done it yet (to my knowledge) so if you own a sushi restaurant, you could be the first one. You could start a trend!
First, let’s stipulate the following about the art of sushi making in a restaurant:
- Sushi making is performance art
- Sushi making is fun to watch (I liked watching Jiro and Niki)
- Sushi chefs train for years to learn and hone their craft. They are proud of what they do and they like to show off their skills
- When making sushi, all the action is happening from the chef’s elbows to his hands, on the prep table. But what most people in the restaurant can see is the chef’s elbows to his head. (in other words, nothing of interest).
Now, much to the chagrin of many a sushi restaurant patron, many sushi restaurants have big flatscreen TVs facing the seating area. Now, I’m sure there is the occasional patron who would rather watch whatever muted garbage is playing on the TV than talk to their date, but I’m not one of them. I’m in the other group – the group that is in a restaurant to enjoy the food and conversation; large, glowing, flashing intrusions from the outside world are annoying.
Every person with which I’ve had this conversation has agreed that the presence of TVs are unwelcome. Yet, mysteriously, this trend has only expanded. More TVs in more restaurants. And what is on these TVs? The other night at the otherwise lovely Ginza down the block, it was the local San Francisco news showing police interacting with homeless heroin users which, as you might imagine, had some terribly unappetizing b-roll accompanying the story. The news was followed by Entertainment Tonight where, strangely, the endless parade of stretched, Botoxed flesh was even less appetizing than watching the homeless heroin users doing their thing.
I have a solution that will probably please both groups: the TV watchers (whomever they may be) and the TV haters (me and everyone I know). Put a camera on a stick above the bar. Point the camera at the sushi prep table. Put the video feed on the TV. Let all of us in the restaurant watch the performance art. Make the fun of watching sushi-making accessible to all the patrons who wish to watch. Let the sushi chefs show off their mad skillz. Give us all a view of the magic space between the chef’s elbows and his hands. And, give the bored TV-watchers something to do other than to talk to their wretched company.