Downtown refuge

"Origami" Japanese restaurant and sushi bar,401 C St., San Diego

by Michael Joseph Oshman
sipped hot healing miso soup from one hand while my eyes were fixed on Nobu, the sushi chef, as he artistically created a beautiful long roll, colorfully filled with shrimp, avocado, and tuna. Next to the roll sits anago, cooked sea eel marinated in wonderful sweet sauce. Since I stopped eating animals, two and a half years ago, anago has been one of those foods that says, "I miss you since our separation."

The miso soup was followed by a "Bento Box:" a beautifully arranged plate of sushi, salad with homemade dressing, fresh plain vegetables and sweet potatoes. At first, I found I was wanting food with more sauces, because that is what I'm used to. So I started to dunk my sushi and the vegetables in the very tasty sweet soy sauce that Origami makes fresh (and now sells for retail). After a bit, I ran out of sauce and didn't bother asking for more, so I began to eat the food naked. The vegetables whispered to me, "Can you taste me, just for me. Do you feel the fresh flavor of fresh organic sweet potatoes?"

I really had a culinary shift while dining here. Origami is trying to bring out the inherent natural flavors of each food not disguising it all in a mush. As the moments continued, I closed my eyes and tried to appreciate the amazing gifts in front of me. I thanked Tamar, the owner, for providing me with food that made me think and remember how amazing food is, in its simplicity and in its complexity. (Incidentally, I went back the next night and ordered the Udon Soup which was more in my comfort zone and just as satisfying.)

Tamar makes a homemade carrot cake, which I enjoyed with a cup of warm, nurturing tea. Ninety-nine percent of the vegetables are organic, and their chicken is free-range and hormone free. Origami has signed the contract to become a member of the Green Restaurant Association and is in the process of eliminating Styrofoam packaging, implementing recycled paper products, and integrating a full-scale recycling program. (They already recycled glass and aluminum.) Let Origami know that you appreciate the care they already take for their customers' well-being and the care they are about to take by becoming a Green Restaurant.

Origami's sushi ranges from $2.50-$4.00. Handrolls are $3.50-$4.00. Hours are M-F 11am-3pm; Tues., Wed, Thurs. 5:30-9:30; Fri., Sat: 5:30pm-10:30pm. Located at 4th and C in downtown right on the Trolley line! 401 C St. 238-3888.

Michael Oshman is president of the Green Restaurant Association, 287-4261. To find the Green Restaurants near you, call the Green Restaurant Referral Service at 490-9695 ext 2.