Once you try “old guy,” you’ll never go back.

The conveyor belt sushi business is very competitive and restaurants often need to find an original angle to stand out from the pack. Sushi cakes and sushi burgers are but a few of these creative ideas.

And then there are some places that sell something amazing without even trying. Such is the case with Oedo, a chain of revolving sushi restaurants found scattered around Tokyo and Chiba. It was just by chance that our reporter Yuichiro Wasai entered his local Oedo and found something surprising on the menu.

▼ Oh, let’s take a look at “Today’s Special!” We got sea bream…sea bass…old guy….yellowtail…

Listed among the commonly eaten fish was an oddity called “ojisan.” The word “ojisan” technically means “uncle” but is often used to describe any older man. Not in the sense of a senior citizen, but a fair degree older than the person using the word. For example, a teenager might call a guy in his 30s “ojisan,” while a guy in his 30s would probably refer to a guy in his 50s as “ojisan.” I suppose “pops” would be a fair English equivalent, but I don’t think people use it for men other than their own fathers anymore.

Anyway, it’s very commonly used this way in the Japanese vernacular, but seldom seen on a sushi menu. Since Yuichiro himself is a devout ojisan, he decided to order some of this auspiciously named sushi for 200 yen (US$1.67).

▼ In fairness, Yuichiro has really gotten himself into shape since this photo was taken, but I’m trying to illustrate a point here

Upon his order the staff moved about shouting to each other, “We got one ojisan over here!”

Yuichiro shrugged off the possibility that he was the butt of an inside joke and begun fantasizing what ojisan fish might taste like. Given the name it would have to be rather greasy and smelly.

It quickly arrived at his seat and had a brilliant whiteness to it and a fresh texture. Taking a bite, Yuichiro discovered it has a light and refreshing taste that doesn’t really fit with its name, and is similar to, but still distinct from, red sea bream (called tai at Japanese sushi restaurants). Indeed, “old guy” fish was a really pleasant surprise and one Yuichiro will be sure to order every time he has the chance at Oedo.

By they way, since these restaurants are in the cosmopolitan metropolis of Tokyo, naturally they’d have bilingual menu cards on which we can clearly see that “ojisan” in English is “five-barred goatfish.”

Both the English and Japanese names share the same reasoning in that these fish’s faces tend to have barbels coming off the chin that resemble the beard of a goat or old guy.

Nevertheless, it is a tasty fish that anyone should try if it ever pops up on a sushi menu. Luckily, we have brave souls like Yuichiro who are willing to put their gastrointestinal tract on the line by eating whatever mysterious fish comes their way so the rest of us don’t have to first.

Photos ©SoraNews24
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