Southcenter’s certainly a far drive for Japanese food if you live in Seattle. But with Miyabi getting good reviews (and intrigued that Miyabi on 45th will soon open in Seattle, centered around Mutsuko Soma’s house-made soba dishes, possibly including–of interest to Sexy Feast–bukkake soba), I finally made the trip. The sushi bar was busy, and the dining room was full of people partaking of a wide-ranging menu that includes yakitori, agedashi tofu, and even motsu-ni (tripe and intestine stew).
I was especially interested in trying the ika geso karaage. Geso are the legs of the squid, which are deep fried to the delight of Japanese and non-Japanese diners alike. Hit them with a squeeze of lemon, and those legs are delicious–chewy in that good squid way, begging for a beer to accompany them.
So what does Miyabi’s ika geso karaage teach us about sex?
It’s all about making the terrifying tantalizing.
If you’ve ever had the opportunity to eat a true kaiseki meal, you know that Japanese food is stunningly beautiful. The shapes and colors of the food, the vessels they’re served in, and even the natural garnishes (like the maple leaves in the photo above, which is actually from a restaurant in Tokyo, as I wasn’t in a position to take photos during my trip to Miyabi) ensure that diners eat with their eyes as much as their mouths.
By Western standards, Japanese people eat a lot of strange stuff. I’ve enjoyed basashi (raw horse meat, usually served sushi-style), inago (fried grasshoppers), natto (fermented soybeans), kusaya (literally meaning “smells bad,” it’s salt-dried and fermented fish with a smell that spills into the neighborhood), and more in Japan. These are the kinds of foods that some people can’t even bear to see, let alone eat. But dress an ugly thing up, stylize it a bit, and you can turn even the most terrifying object into something tantalizing.
That’s the case with ika gesso, pictured here in somewhat “sanitized” packaging. Scary to some, but bread it and fry it karaage style, and it’s right up the alley of Americans who love fried chicken, fried clams, and–based on the popularity of fair fare like fried dough, fried Twinkies, and the recent fried butter–seemingly anything fried. Alas, a modification can make a turn-off into a turn-on.
It’s the same with sex toys. Many women, especially, have historically complained about the look of sex toys. They can be too big and intimidating, cumbersome and complicated, and sometimes just too cheap and ugly.
But now there’s beauty in sex toys. New materials provide choice and class in sex toy selection. Have you seen glass dildos lately? Some look like works of art from a museum.
Meanwhile, sex toys are more discreet than ever, often cleverly disguised, like vibrators in the shapes of flowers and rubber duckies. And sometimes the design gives the toy class and appeal. Go to the Good Vibrations store in the Mission District of San Francisco, and you’ll find a museum-like display of old vibrators that are downright primitive. In contrast, in the same store, you can touch and play with the most fascinating-looking and feeling vibrators–like the Zini series. (I featured the Zini Deux in a previous Sexy Feast column about New York Cupcakes, which recently closed.)
It’s not just the toys that are more appealing. There are now discreet, attractive containers for your sex toy collection, and even the stores are classier than ever, like Babeland in Capitol Hill. Though, sadly, Babeland doesn’t seem to carry a squid vibrator. Like the ika geso at Miyabi, it might sound frightening at first, but look at it in a whole new way, and you’ll find it packed with potential pleasure.
First published in Seattle Weekly’s Voracious on October 25, 2012.