Who knew love could taste like raw fish and crab guts?

On a seemingly endless quest for romance, our Japanese-language writer Seiji Nakazawa recently consulted with a self-proclaimed “Kura Zushi Master” with a wish of wanting to re-experience what it feels like to fall in love for the first time. We’re not quite sure how plausible of a request that is, nor why Seiji consulted a sushi master for such a thing, but the Master obliged, and brought Seiji to popular conveyor-belt sushi chain Kura Zushi.

Master Kurara, as he is called, boasts over 10 years of Kura Zushi experience, having eaten at the chain at least once a week over that entire span. At Seiji’s request to experience “first love” again, Master Kurara expertly picked three plates of sushi off the conveyor belt without hesitation.

3. Mikan amberjack (product of Uwajima) – 100 yen (US$0.88) for one piece

The first sushi presented to Seiji is a standard nigiri sushi, with a slice of raw Japanese amberjack on top. This particular amberjack is raised on meals of mikan oranges, the taste of which is said to permeate the delicately fatty flesh.

“The essence of mikan in the meat will promote the same feelings of invigoration that falling in love for the first time does. Like memories of spending a summer in a town graced by the winds blowing off the Seto Inland Sea,” explained Master Kurara.

2. Raw sakura shrimp – 100 yen per plate 

Next, Seiji was faced with a plate of nori-wrapped sushi topped with cucumber slices and a mound of minuscule sakura shrimp. Master Kurara explained, “If you were to ascribe a color to ‘first love’, it would most definitely be the color of sakura shrimp… like meeting that girl on a hillside road scattered with pink cherry blossom petals.”

1. Kanimiso – 100 yen per plate

“The first two were like glorified romances from an anime or TV drama,” Master Kurara continued, “when in reality one’s first love is likely to be slightly bitter. And so we have kanimiso.”

Kanimiso is the miso-like paste found inside crab (kani) and other arthropods’ intestines. It is rather unpleasant in terms of looks and smell, and has a distinctly strong flavor that most either love or hate.

“This emulates the taste of defeat, when you don’t have the courage to confess your feelings to the girl you like and stand back and watch as she starts dating one of your friends,” Master Kurara described.

Seiji ate each plate of sushi while listening to Master Kurara explain each one, memories of his youth flashing before his eyes. He definitely recommends these flavors to anyone wanting a taste of youthful romance again, and the flavor of a 10,000-yen gold-leaf sushi roll to anyone wanting to taste desperation.

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