It was a Friday night. I had just finished my last final of fall quarter, I was rocking a new pair of sneakers, it was my birthday in T-minus four hours, and I had just stepped foot into one of my favorite sushi spots in the city: Yuzu Sushi & Robata Grill. All things considered, I was in a great mood, but I was determined to not let my enthusiasm influence the other party with me. I wanted honest feedback from my date on some of the main categories: atmosphere, aesthetic, and taste.
The menu was written as if it were plucked from the shelf of an English Renaissance bookstore. Descriptions of the dishes were eloquent, exciting, and endearing (I mean, c’mon, one of the sushi rolls was named “Boy Meets World”). The lighting was dim enough to mask the post-finals bags under my eyes, but bright enough to catch the twinkle in the eyes of the waitress when we ordered the “Over the Rainbow” roll. We listened to the music of the staff’s feet gently shuffling on the floor harmonized with light conversation from the couples around us, and the occasional cork pop of a wine bottle. As we waited for our food, I probed for the rating on atmosphere: “9 out of 10,” he said. At ICO, a 90% falls within the “A” category, so I told him I was pleased with that score as I folded my napkin on my lap and prepped my chopsticks.
When the food arrived, we both quickly agreed that it was almost too pretty to eat, and spoiler alert, we both gave aesthetic a 10/10. Here’s what I saw: a beautiful blend of colors exploiting the appeal of contrast between blues, reds, and whites. The sheen of the sauce gave it incredible dimension and flawlessly complemented the bumpy texture of the rice and striations of the fish. The simple wood board was an effortless canvas for such a vibrant painting of color and texture. It didn’t take away from the glamour of the sushi, but instead imposed a necessary ruggedness to the art piece. The cartoonish look of the plate evoked a sense of playfulness and although hesitant to ruin such a masterpiece, I couldn’t help but smile as my chopsticks dove toward the roll.
Taste: 9.5/10 (for the mere fact that I don’t hand out 10’s lightly, and aesthetic already won the 10 for the evening). The other three rolls we indulged upon were just as pretty, just as tasty, and made me smile just as big.
When I came to optometry school, I was unsure of the impact that ICO training would have on the artist in me. I’d be looking through slit lamp lenses, condensing lenses, minus lenses, plus lenses, and glasses lenses, but what about the creative lenses I was so used to wearing? I knew that one of the reasons I was drawn to ICO was the apparent freedom it gave its students to be expressive: whether it be through blogging, working on art installations, or just simply being located in a city that challenges my creativity on a daily basis. Now that I’m in the home stretch of my third year here, that opinion holds more firm than fish on rice; my artistic side has been more than just preserved, but it has blossomed.
As I savored my last bite of sushi, I looked at the wood board holding the remnants of colorful sauce and realized that it represented the juxtaposition between the structured profession I was working toward and the beautiful creativity I got to bring along for the ride.
Epiphany: 10/10 (I guess I’m more generous with 10’s than I thought).