In 2008 I started teaching English near Central in Sydney. A creature of loyalty, I soon began to frequent the same places for meals and snacks. I loved the old Russian couple at the pie shop on Eddy Avenue, those accents. ‘You want plastic bag?’ the old man would say, then his wife, ‘Thank you, thank you very much,’ every customer a penny from heaven. Next door to them, the guys slapped battered fish on my chips, and I’d slap them a tenner. At the convenience store Mohammed would tell me how hard life was here. I nodded sympathetically, my Coke in a sweat.
Then there was the new sushi place in Haymarket, across the road from work, and I fell in love with nattou maki, hand rolls filled with fermented soy beans. Sushi chef John would lay out the crispy wafer of seaweed, dab on the rice, then squeeze on the supple nattou. The seaweed rolled into a cone, a fine sprinkle of shallots on top. Mm-mm-mm. I ordered three as a rule, didn’t want to be too greedy.
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