Kokoro revisited

I was up in West Lafayette this week for a couple work meetings, and it gave me the great opportunity to head back to Kokoro for some sushi. I fell in love with Kokoro during my years at Purdue and took Lynne there for an early date, where she loved it, too. When we lived downtown, we were only two blocks away, and if it weren't for the cost, probably would have eaten there weekly. I declare that Kokoro serves the best sushi in the states. I know, you'll probably laugh at that one, since how could a land-locked small town have such great sushi? But it all comes from a very unique man, who doesn't do traditional sushi, but "Tony food." Tony has been called the Sushi Nazi (ala Seinfeld's soup nazi) because he is a strong personality with some simple rules. No hats, no special orders, and "My Way or Highway!" He's been a chef for over 45 years, and he's still going strong. We always try to sit as close to his work station as possible so we can enjoy his banter, ordering around of his crew, and playful cussing out of his patrons.

At Kokoro, I was lucky enough to be the only person there late that evening, so I had Tony all to myself. We caught up, talked about how business was struggling due to the economy (weekdays were pretty slow, fewer international students were coming for dinner, etc.). I told Tony that I would cry if I ever saw the place closed for good, and he reassured me at the end of the meal not to worry. Tony and I also talked about Lynne, and the imminent baby arrival, and he was excited for us. When I told Tony that Lynne was sad because, being pregnant, she can't enjoy raw seafood, he said he felt bad for her. I then told him that I still ate it, even though she couldn't, and, in his heavy accent said, "That's really nice of you...Asshole!" He then laughed incredibly hard. That is quintessential Tony, and why we love him.

Also, whenever Lynne and I would go to Kokoro in the past, Tony would have reggae music playing. Much like Pavlov's dog, this conditioned me to salivate and want sushi whenever I hear reggae! This time, Tony wasn't playing reggae though! I asked him why not, and he said sometimes he needs other music. I explained about my reggae conditioning and this concept (and the trials run on Pavlov's dog) to Tony, and he howled with delight and then promptly changed the music back to reggae for the rest of the dinner. We both agreed that his restaurant is the only one in Indiana where you can listen to reggae, and that it's probably the only place in the world you can eat sushi and listen to reggae.

I also got to talk a bit with Ton'y wife, who is the sweetest petite Japenese woman. After dinner was over, I did bring home some tempura roll for Lynne, so I won some bonus points there, as she was so sad to miss the Kokoro experience. Here's wishing success to Tony and Kokoro and for them to weather this economic downturn! Lots of restuarants are going out of business, and Kokoro better not be a casualty.

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