When It Was Time to Stop Working for My Father

Last week, I talked about how to recognize when it’s time to leave your organization. If they’re telling you: “Don’t try new things.” “Toe the line.” “Do what worked before.” Then it’s time to go. It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? Of course, quitting your job never is. This is the story of quitting my first job after college… working for my father. I worked for my father for about two years, starting in the winter of 2008. It was one of the best learning and life experiences I could ask for. In hindsight, we opened the first restaurant, Shogun
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The Finer Points

He watched. Caress with the index’s paddy flesh paddy, then square off the block of rice. With two fingers, shape it: give it a curl that’d make Goldie Locks blush; an arc so gentle baby’s bottoms gives it a rash. Rotate, and repeat.  21. 22. 23. Rotate, repeat. Rotate, repeat. It takes 10,000 repetitions to achieve mastery. 26. 27. 28. “Let me show you something.” From the bar, Joe come-hithers with a wagging digit. He plucked the Saran wrapped rice finger without a raised eyebrow. The sliver of warm sushi rice, encased in a sheet of plastic would prompt questions
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Creare

He cuts the nori into tiny pieces. Not like mincing garlic; it’d leave the sheet in assorted flakes sizes and shapes, a confetti of seaweed. Michael wants order. He slices the seaweed into strips first, turns, slices again. He doesn’t rush, his expression neutral as he works. He imagines the taste and look, the visual balance between nori topping and garnish. He takes the two rice balls he made earlier, tennis ball-size, and gently rolls them over the flakes. The sticky, short-grain sushi rice is perfect for latching onto the seaweed. It lifts the shards easily, and Michael coats each
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Rolling With Michael

He wants to build his vocabulary and improve his grammar. So we don’t say much in way of conversation as I stand to his left, his wakiitai, his side-cutting board. Instead, we practice expressions while taking turns scooping rice from the Zujirushi rice warmer, pressing fluffy mound onto nori. Broke, I say. “Bloke.” Broke, I repeat. “Bloke. Bloke down.” I nod my head. But broke down, you can only use that when you’re talking about your car. Everything else, you just say broke, I say in Chinese. “Yeah, car bloke down,” he says. Then he points to an imaginary object
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Pride

He wanted to say something. I could feel it in the air – that tension tingling in the space between us. I put down my tray. He waited. I took off the three tall soda glasses, and fit them snugly into one hand. My other hand reached for the soda gun. My thumb fired off two “D’s” and one “P.” Besides the fizzle and pop of carbonation striking soda mix, it was quiet. He waited. I handed my patrons their respective refills. When I returned to the bar, I put him out of his misery. What Martin? I asked him.
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Sushi Rice

Cold water poured from the faucet. It struck the steel strainer filled with mi, uncooked rice, below. Drops scattered and jettisoned as they hit individual grains sitting at precarious angles. Silently, we watched the water level rise. Clear turned to an opaque, milky white after a few moments, like mayonnaise on Wonder bread. “Watch,” Danny instructed. His right hand scooped down, scraping the bottom of strainer. In a wide circular movement, he pulled a handful of rice out, breaking the surface. His left hand quickly rubbed the rice, before letting it slip back into the water. The right dove back
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Heart

“When Old Man cook, it more tasty, right?” Danny glanced at me. We sat at the bar. He was hunched over his dinner: white rice, beef cooked in oyster sauce and Chinese cabbage. I took another bite. I was sympathetic to Chen Sifu’s cooking, since I’d been told my own cooking was pretty bland. But Danny was right; whenever Chen Sifu cooked, it required hibachi hot mustard to make it an enjoyable experience. I nodded. “Yeah. See, this guy, no good.” He shook his head, then glared at the contents of his bowl. “I think no one teach him. He
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