Tales Of An Omakase Brat: Why Today Is Devoted To The Food Of Japan

I saw my chance. Some mother had made the mistake of leaving her California roll unattended at the table as she went to tend to her troublemaking son in the sandbox. You see, this was in the midst of my second grade year and I found myself at a classmate's birthday party in a New York City playground. Our group was snacking on hot dogs and burgers and I was, well, less than impressed. Ever the curious, rude little boy, I seized the opportunity to grab one of the abandoned roll pieces and stuff it stealthily into my over-privileged mouth. Never mind that my father soon informed me – quite entertained – that I had just eaten some combination of crab, avocado and seaweed. It was love at first taste.

While my family has raised me, above all else, a proud GREEK (capitalization for emphasis) over the past 24 years, there were always signs that I was fascinated with the many flavors of another culture. While my childhood friends alternated between playing soccer during the day and video games at night over summers in Greece, I'd spend the entire day diving for sea urchins, cracking them open and slurping their insides.

Since age seven, I've had my birthday dinner at different sushi restaurants in New York. During this annual outing, I began ordering omakase – to waiters' amusement and my parents' horror – at the advanced age of nine. My parents affectionately dubbed me an "omakase brat." At least, I hope it was affectionately. To this day, friends refuse to trust me with choosing venues for weekend brunch, knowing that their Saturday will end up being full of ikura, natto and oshitashi. Not exactly Eggs Benny.

It was only fitting that I chose to pen one of my first articles for Food Republic two years ago about the rules of eating sushi. Following some insightful commentary from Anthony Bourdain and chef Morimoto, I recognized that I certainly have quite a ways to go before becoming any sort of authority on the subject. My passion for Japanese food, however, remains as strong as ever, and so it was a no-brainer which cuisine I'd choose for my day in charge of Around The World In 5 Editors.