Engawa!

Engawa may be the single greatest and most important item of sushi that you will ever order. A bold statement? YES! And here is why.
It is so important to the true sushi connoisseur that I am dedicating an entire blog post to this one precious, incredible, perfect, ultimate piece of sushi.

What is Engawa? Why is it so important? Why do you need to order it, especially when you are at an unfamiliar sushi bar? Read and learn!

Engawa is quite simply, the fin (or the muscle area that controls the fin) of a halibut or Fluke. It has a firm, chewy texture and a very mild flavor. Typically it is served with Yuzu, Sea salt, and YuzuKoshu. It can also be served seared or torch seared. Or, you may just like it with nothing on it and dip into a little soy sauce. Any way the chef wants to prepare it is fine by me. Here are a few examples:
asanebo engawa

 

Above: Asenebo in Studio City

kiriko engawa

Above: Kiriko in Santa Monica

Engawa is favorite among Japanese people but is considered almost trash here in the USA. You will never find it on a sushi menu because Japanese chefs think that Americans won’t like it. They do however save it for customers “in the know”. All great Sushi Chefs in the USA have a secret stash of Engawa. If you ask your chef for engawa and he doesn’t know what you are talking about…GET OUT OF THERE, YOU ARE IN THE WRONG PLACE!!!!!!!

So first of all you just have to try it because it tastes GREAT and has a wonderful texture. But furthermore, if you ask your chef for engawa…he will immediately know that you are for real and you deserve the best of everything that he has to offer. That’s right; all you have to do is ask “do you have Engawa today?” You will be treated in a whole new way with a whole new respect from your chef. He will begin to pay attention to things like your soy sauce bowl…its it a green paste full of wasabi? Or is it clear soy sauce. Sushi chefs in USA are so used to American eaters that they can become jaded and actually not give you their best service or products. If they realize that you are looking for real sushi, they will definitely begin to treat you better.

Here is a story of what happened to me at a small sushi bar in Northern California: (Actually a review I wrote back in 2008)

“I was very disappointed with Sakae for two reasons. One was the quality of fish, and the other was that I was discriminated against for being a white boy!

I started off with some of the specials off the board, Kampachi, Wild Salmon, Shima-Aji, Everything was very average.

I asked for a recommendation from the chef and he gave me Aji…which again was really nothing special. Being pretty disappointed with everything, I asked for the Aji bones (which was not on the menu) the chef kind of looked at me funny. Just then the owner came up to me and said…”Oh you like fried Aji bones?” I said yes. He asked how everything else was, and I replied “pretty good, but I am looking for something special”.

We started talking sushi, and then he realized that I wanted the best possible stuff he had to offer. He told the chef to break out the Seki- Aji and a few other items and he actually sat down and ate with me, It was late and I was one of the last customers. He told me that they didn’t know that I cared about good sushi and that most of his customers are Yuppies with kids and can’t tell the difference between fish and really good fish. He admitted that they save the best stuff for their Japanese customers or their regulars that knew what they liked.

I was kind of appalled that i got the “White Boy” treatment and I told him so. He invited me to come back and they would give me the full Omakase Japanese treatment and not hold back the good stuff. I agreed to come back, but I’m not sure that I will.

Maybe I am being naive, and that many sushi bars do this. I know that when you are a regular, the chef gets to know you and what you like, but to profile a new customer this way does not seem to be a good Idea.

I usually go to Sushi Koo when I am in this area, but I wanted to try a new place. I think next time I will go back to Koo where they have been treating me well from the first visit.”

If you are still a novice sushi eater, you can now ask your chef if he has any other, more traditional or exotic fish you should try. You may suggest Saba or Kohada which are also Japanese favorites.

So that’s the deal with engawa. Order it and enjoy!

WADiNGA

Work from home? My story and 7 tips for working smarter.

Working from home is not all it’s cracked up to be. It can be great for the VERY self-motivated, but it can also be incredibly difficult to stay motivated.

I was working for a small company back in 1997; it was a national distributor for building products. I absolutely hated it. Having to be there at 7AM every day, and abide by all of their rules. I am an independent thinker and I don’t like being boxed in, caged up, or held back.

One day I decided that I could do it on my own from home. Now I wasn’t going to be a stocking distributor like the company I was working for, no I would sell the product and have the manufacturer ship directly to the customer. I negotiated a great deal with one manufacturer, where they would do all the billing and I would just fax my orders over and they would pay me a 10-15% commission based on price sold.

I quit my job and started working from home. Risky? Yes. But I was confident and ready. The first month I worked day and night and only sold 1 order for $5000. That’s only $500 to me for about 350 hours of work. Do the math, that wasn’t going to pay the bills. But, I can tell you that that first order tasted so sweet and it gave me hope that I could do it. I kept at it, working and working, and the next month I sold about $25,000. Much better. After a while I was consistently selling between $50K -100K every month and that’s pretty damn good from home!

So that’s the short version of my story, it was not easy and I had to work very hard to make it work. After about 5 years I did move out of my house and opened a full brick & mortar store which I still own and operate. I have 3 full time employees and last year we did about $2 mil in sales.

So here some tips and things learned along the way about working from home:

1. Get up early, take a shower and get dressed just as if you had a regular job. When I first started I would get up early, grab a cup of coffee and dig right in… You guessed it, in my underwear. About noon I would take a break, get something to eat and take a shower. The problem is that if an opportunity arose to meet someone or take a client out to lunch, I wasn’t ready.

The other reason to be dressed and ready is to put yourself in the right state of mind. If you’re showered, dressed well, and ready to go at 7 or 8 AM your mind is right and you will be much more productive.

2. Set business hours. The tough part about working from home is that you never leave work. Every time you walk down the hall and look at your desk, something starts to nag at you and before you know its 2am and you’re still working. In the beginning, if you are eager, you will work almost 24 hours a day. But I learned after about a year that I had to close shop at a descent hour for my own sanity and for my family. My business was based on talking to other businesses, so 7am-4:30 worked well for me. So at 7 AM I was showered and dressed, and I did not take a call after 4:30PM. I found that I got just as much done within the set hours because I was better focused and more organized.

Set whatever hours work for you, but set hours and have some home time for yourself that is NOT work related. If you do not do this, you will soon find that your home is not a place to relax and you will be one big stress monster. Your home should be your sanctuary so separate work from home the best you can.

3. Start a corporation. There are many reasons to be incorporated, which would require many blog entries to describe. But for the purposes of “Tips” I will just go over some basics. All money is paid to the corporation, and then you pay yourself as an officer/employee of the corporation from payroll.

4. Get a corporate credit card. Use it for all of your expenses. Office supplies, restaurants, travel, everything. This will give you clear documentation of company expenses at tax time.

5. Expense car and anything/everything else. You are self-employed now, no one is going to be withholding taxes from your paycheck. When tax time comes, you need expenses…otherwise you are going to owe big bucks on April 15th. Your corporation should own your car, pay for your auto insurance, cleaning bills, and anything else you can think of. The main reason to do this is: ALL OF THESE THINGS ARE PAID FOR WITH PRE-TAXED INCOME. WHATEVER IS LEFTOVER IS TAXABLE INCOME. As an example, if I pay for my Sushi client lunch out of my pocket, I am using my personal money that has already been taxed. If I pay with the company credit card, it becomes an expense before taxes and reduces my tax liability and overall profit. I still got a great sushi lunch, but the company paid for it and I wasn’t short on my own cash. By the way, my wife is an employee so EVERY REASTAUARANT GOES ON THE COMPANY CREDIT CARD.

6. Fax-a-deal…nobody uses fax anymore! How many email blasts do you get every day? If you’re like me you get way too many. Mine usually go unread. Ahh, but faxes…if you get a fax, you pick it up and read it. I used to set up my fax machine too run all night sending a promotional page to potential clients. I picked up quite a few new customers using this technique. In fact, writing about this just made me think…I need to do it again!!! It is still a great idea!

7. Don’t give up. Many days my phone didn’t ring. Many days I sold nothing. But I never gave up, I would attend trade association meetings and dinners, I would get involved on the board of directors of these associations, I would volunteer for as much as I could. I would make cold calls all day long. I did whatever I could think of to generate business. It’s not complicated or difficult, it just takes persistence.

And one last bit of advice… It is easy to get distracted when you are working from home. TV, Social Media, Hobbies, whatever. TRY THE BEST YOU CAN TO SAVE THOSE ACTIVITIES FOR AFTER WORK HOURS. I remember some days, I turned on the TV at 10AM to catch up on one of my favorite shows from the night before…before I knew it, it was 4 o’clock and I had gotten nothing done. It is easy to get distracted so stay focused.

After 5 years of working from home I decided I needed an employee, someone to help me with everything because I was selling about $1 million/ year from my house. I didn’t want an employee coming to my house every day, so, if I was going to have an employee, I may as well have some stock on the shelf to sell and things just kept growing from there. It was a well needed change for me, because even though I tried to separate work from home as best I could…it is still almost impossible to really do it. Now home is home and work is work. I really much prefer life this way.

-WADiNGA-

I wrote this silly little song for my daughter

I also drew the pics, she loves to sing along with it.

YouTube pick. These guys make covers their own

I had a dream

I am really getting into all this social media stuff.

This is a song I wrote and recorded on my phone in my bathroom playing ukulele.

I had a dream that I would be a rock star
Not for the money mm mm or the fame mm mm
But so I could here my song on the radio in my car
Drivin down the road bobbin my head singin along
My song
I had a dream that I would travel the world on a tv show like Anthony bourdain
Not for the money mm mm or the fame mm mm
But so I could see my face on the tv in my living room
Sitting on the couch flippin the channels there I am
My tv show
I just want someone to love me
I just want someone to love me
I had a dream that I would be a great inventor
Not for the money mm mm or the fame mm mm
But so I could see my face on the pages of my history book
Sitting in class turnin the pages there I am
Right next to Thomas Edison
And if my dreams they don’t come true
Well then there’s just one thing to do
I’ll just keep dreamin again and again
Cuz there’s nothin wrong with dreaming
Again and again again and again
Driving down the road bobbin my head singin along
My song
I just want someone to love me
I just want someone to love me

I’m gonna fly original song

There’s a big mountain I’m gonna climb to the top
When I reach the peak I’m gonna try to jump off
Im gonna fly
Everybody’s gonna look in the sky
They’re gonna say hey hey so can I
Im gonna fly
Dont Try to stop Me cause Ive made up my mind
I’m gonna spread my wings and fly
Don’t try to tell me what I can’t do
Cause Im all ready gone
Everybody wants to know
What it’s like to be alive
I’m telling you that I feel hope
for the first time in my life
Floating high above the world
Isn’t it great to be alive
I know there’s so much more to life
Follow me and let’s get high
There’s a redwood tree 400 feet tall
I’m gonna climb each branch I’m not afraid to fall
I’m gonna fly
They gonna call the cops and say stop that man
I’m gonna climb to the top just as fast as I can
I’m gonna fly
Dont Try to stop Me cause Ive made up my mind
Im tellin you that I’m feelin fine
Everything is clear from up above
It feels too good to ever give up
Everybody wants to know
What it’s like to be alive
I’m telling you that I feel hope
for the first time in my life
Floating high above the world
Isn’t it great to be alive
I know there’s so much more to life
Follow me and let’s get high
I. M . Gonna fly
I. M . Gonna fly
I. M . Gonna fly
I. M . Gonna fly

There’s a skyscraper way downtown
The tallest one for miles around
I’m gonna fly
They gonna put me on the tv news
I’m gonna say hey hey check out the view
I’m gonna fly

48 with a 3 year old

 

So my life is a bit backward.   I’m 48 years old; most of my friends have kids in high school or even college.   I however, have a 3 year old daughter.  I’ve been married for 20 years, and my wife and I finally, happily, made it into parenthood.

What’s it like being an old guy with a young kid?   Well, I thought I would list the Pros & Cons:

48 YEARS OLD 30 YEARS OLD
I am financially stable. I was dead broke!
Partying days are behind me, I am home every day at 4PM and every week end.  I have put my girl to bed every night for 3 -1/2 years. Wild man, bars, music, drinking, crazy, stay out all night.
I’m Tired. Parenting takes a lot of energy.
I can appreciate and be more grateful. Who knows what kind of Dad I would have been?
We are supposed to be enjoying our long term marriage, Travel, etc.  Now we still travel, but we take Bayla with us and it is very different. We traveled a lot over the past 20 years, unencumbered by kids.  Had lots of fun!
Marriage is stronger than ever. Over the past 20 years, we hit some rough spots and even separated once.
I will be an old man in her teens. She would have been 18 now.

hawaii 3nola

So all and all if you look at the chart above… there are a lot of good reasons to be 48 with a 3 year old, assuming I can stay healthy.  It’s just the way things worked out for us.   We always wanted kids, but the years just flew by.   I will say this, if I knew how much I would love being a Dad, I may have done it a long time ago!

All things considered, I HAVE NEVER BEEN HAPPIER IN ALL MY LIFE, and my little girl is the most important thing to me.

Any older parents out there with any insight?  Please comment

WADiNGA

Bob Marley is one of my all-time favorite heroes

I’ve been listening to Bob Marley for 20 years. The more I listen, the more I like it, the more I feel it, and the more I feel connected to him. I do not however admire the whole man as a person, just his music and the way he delivered it to the world. This is the case, I think with many of my Heroes. I tend to project and believe that someone is perfect in every way, when it is really just the parts that I see which I admire. With Bob Marley, it’s just the Music.

He had 11 children with seven different women. He spoke of love and peace and one love. It’s easy to be charitable and kind to strangers, but it is difficult to stay close to your family. Strangers go away, family is forever. One Love is easy with everyone; it is very difficult one on one!

I’ve been married for 20 years; I still love my wife very much. She is not perfect, nor am I, but we do have ONE LOVE.

My greatest joy in life is being with my daughter. If I had 11 children with 7 different women, I don’t know how I would be able to really connect with my little girl. I do become obsessed with my heroes, I become envious and I fantasize that I wish I were like them. But I could not and would not give up my relationship with my little girl to be Bob Marley.

But his music…his music is magical. His story, his struggles as an artist, his early death, and his vision is legendary. I do love his music, but I don’t think I love the man. I can’t get an image out of my mind though, when I was a kid I used to watch a TV show called Kung Fu. There was an episode where an artist died and Kwi Chang in an attempt to comfort the grieving family said “is this just a statue (the man’s art) or is it the man himself. So is his music just music? Or is it the man himself?

I say…it IS the man himself. I don’t have to worry about his personal relationships, they don’t affect me. I just get to dream about how he must have felt on stage, being and doing what he did best.

A few choice quotes/lyrics from Bob:

“Emancipate yourself from mental slavery none but ourselves can free our minds”

“The stone that the builder refuse will always be the head cornerstone”

“One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain…so hit me with music”

ALL BOB MARLEY FANS need to watch the whole movie

I just love creative original people

I have know idea who this girl is… But this song is cool

So Lets Talk Sushi

There is a secret club of Sushi connoisseurs (you know who you are) who are on a never ending quest for the greatest slice of fish on the planet. This slice is simple, yet complex. The texture is firm, but not too chewy. The chef has dressed it with subtle yet explosive flavors that are sometimes barely visible…sometimes bold and in your face.

This club does not welcome members who believe that saucy Americanized rolls with seven different kinds of fish are really worth eating. The club does however welcome newcomers who finally see the Sushi light. There are no regular meetings except the chance meeting of a fellow connoisseur at some “off the beaten path” sushi bar like Go’s mart or 4 on 6.
Kevin does a great layout of Go’s Mart here: Kevin Eats Go’s Mart

So what is the type of sushi that I am talking about? It starts with PERFECT rice. I know it seems simple, and it is. The rice is very, very important. If you really want to understand about Sushi, you need to watch the documentary film; Jiro Dreams of Sushi.

Sushi is the greatest food on this planet. It is light and healthy, it tastes fantastic, its all natural, there is simply nothing like it. Some may call me a sushi snob but I don’t really feel like I am a sushi snob. I just love authentic Japanese sushi.

This is real Sushi: 

gos tai

This is not real sushi.

typical roll

I will be discussing, in depth, why the above roll is really not sushi in the coming months…but the main reason is- Whenever you mix different kinds of fish together, then cover them with sauce, then dip it into a bath of wasabi saturated soy sauce…you can no longer taste the fish.  That is a shame!

The only problem is that the way I like sushi it is very, very, very expensive. I think it is worth the money I spend, and I never have regrets. A typical sushi meal for me costs about $100 per person.

I started eating sushi about 20 years ago and just like everyone else I started with Americanized rolls and jalapeno poppers and spicy scallop dynamite and the like. I loved it was great. One day I took a client out to sushi dinner and he started ordering some of the exotic stuff that I’ve never tried before. Giant clam, Octopus, and Sea Urchin. As well as ordering the most simple, but perfect little pillows of rice with a simple slice of fish on top, Nigiri. I was hooked from that day on.

The difference can be subtle, but once you really are able to understand and taste the difference, you will never go back to eating sushi the way you do now. In this blog I am going to pick apart all of the finer nuances of what is REAL sushi. It does not include a bowl full of Soy Sauce filled with wasabi. It does not include Rainbow rolls, it is all about the best possible slice of fish.  If you stay with me…you will learn!

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