the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Miko, Hot and Wet


I knew the moment we walked into the Torrance, CA restaurant, that there were going to be problems.

“Fast food sushi?” asked Sophia, a concerned look on her face.

“I heard good things about it.  $7.99 for eleven pieces of sushi and rolls?  Where else can you get that deal?”

“OK…OK… Cheapskate.”

We sat down and received our trays of sushi.   I started eating, hungrily.  Sophia reluctantly picked at her Spicy Tuna roll, examining the huge blob of rice.

“Did you notice that none of the workers who made the sushi were Japanese?” she asked.

“So?  What do you think — only Japanese people can make sushi?”


“Racist.  Eat.”

Sophia ate her roll.  She immediately made the International Women’s Symbol of Not Liking Something — that universal scrunching up the nose in disgust. 

“Oh, come on.  It isn’t that bad.”

“I’m not sure how clean this place is.”

“It looks clean to me,” I said matter-of-factly.

“They had this piece of TV last night about how dirty restaurants can be.  Did you know about this teenage boy who died from drinking water with ice because it was contaminated with e.coli?”

“Good thing we’re not drinking water with ice.” I answered.

“It’s because the employees didn’t wash their hands.  I didn’t see the sushi makers wearing gloves.” 

“I’m sure they wash their hands.  it’s the law.”

“Did you notice how the restroom keys are sitting right next to the soda machine?”

This discussion was beginning to ruin my appetite.

“You know, Sophia, I’m not going to listen to you anymore right now.  I’m enjoying my salmon.”

One of the sushi makers/employees passed by and headed into the bathroom.  He was a skinny blond guy in his early twenties with a haircut reminiscent of the “New Wave” era of 1982.

“Look, he’s going into the bathroom,” announced Sophia. 

“So what?”

“Go follow him and see if he washes his hands.”

“I’m not going in there to spy on him,” I protested.

“You brought me to this dump.  If he washes his hands, then I’ll eat the sushi.”

I sighed, and headed for the men’s room.

I entered the men’s room.  Sushi Boy was in a stall.  I went to a urinal to pee.  After I was done, I stood around, my zipper undone, waiting for this guy to finish his business.  He was taking longer than I hoped.   I amused myself by reading some writing on the wall.

It read, “Miko, Hot and Wet.” 

I drifted off for a few moments, thinking of Miko:

“Who was she — this Miko?” I asked myself. 

I was pretty sure I knew what the author meant when he said “hot and wet,” but grammatically the phrase actually read as if Miko herself was “hot and wet.” Did she just come out of a sauna? 

“I wonder if Miko is really hot?”  I thought.   “Did she work here at one time?   I know three male Jewish friends who married Japanese women.  Maybe I should have married a Japanese woman. I bet you they don’t kvetch as much as Jewish women.  Well, actually that’s not true.  Karen Tanaka from college was a major pain in the ass.   Why didn’t I ask her out during sophomore year?  She was cute.  Why was I so scared of asking her out then?”

I shook my head in disappointment.  You can’t go back in time.

“I wonder if Sophia would leave the shower tonight, naked except for high heels and chopsticks in her hair?”

“Yeah, right!” I quickly answered myself.  “Like Sophia is ever going to bow down to me like a geisha girl!”

Suddenly, I realized I’ve been standing in front of the urinal with my fly down for five minutes — and it just seemed, weird. 

“Screw Mr. Sushi Boy.  He’s taking too long.”

I washed my hands and returned to the table.  Sophia looked up, wanting an answer.

“Forget it.  I’m not waiting for him any longer.” 

“OK, fine.  Since we’re sitting by the restroom, I heard you flush and turn on the sink.  So, we’ll be able to hear if he washes his hands right from here.”

Five more minutes passed.  We heard a flush coming from the men’s bathroom.  Two seconds later, Sushi Boy exits, his hands completely dry.  He heads back to make some more California Rolls.

Sophia and I looked down at our plates.

“Let’s get the hell out of here,” I said.

As we rushed out, I grabbed some packages of chopsticks.

“What do you need that for?” Sophia asked.

“Maybe later, you’ll want to wear them in your hair.” I suggested.


A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month:  My Menage  a Trois


  1. anne

    You need to give the name of the place…! Ew.

  2. Karl

    Ugh, gross. I was so going to have Chinese for lunch, too. Reminds me of Poppy on “Seinfeld.”

    “I’m gonna make it speciala myself, just for you!”

  3. Rhea

    Oh, man, there must be something about sushi these days. I just wrote an item yesterday about a place here in the Boston area that advertises “Half-Price Sushi.” I mean, what is it? Day-old or something!?!

  4. 3rdtimesacharm( 3T )

    This makes me heistant to eat at ANY restaurant! As I’m sure this is not so unusual, if you take odds into consideration. WHAT are the odds that on the very first time you have checked to see if an employee in a restaurant washed their hands, they didn’t. If we checked in EVERY restaurant, I’d be willing to wager this happens on more than a few occasions.
    It might be time for me to learn how to cook more.
    Just, EEEEWWWWW! *shudder*

    PS. Did Sophia wear the chopsticks for you? 😉

  5. Paris Parfait

    You are hilarious! I’m surprised Sophia didn’t stab you with those chopsticks.

  6. Lou P.

    I prefer my food cooked.

  7. Kevin

    Did she use the chopsticks?

    I somehow had a feeling the story would end that way… the lack of handwashing, that is.

  8. Neil

    3rd Time — No chopsticks, I’m afraid. We spent most of the night nervously waiting for one of us to drop dead from food poisoning — but luckily, nothing ever happened.

  9. The Retropolitan

    But was it good sushi before the non-washing?

  10. Sophia

    Was not.

  11. Alison

    Oh, geez. We were going to go out for dinner tonight. Now I’m hesitant.

  12. Rabbit

    1.) Nose scrunching is not always a sign of disgust.

    2.) I was totally going out to eat tonight until I read this post. Now G.I. Guy gets pierogies because some guy in L.A. didn’t wash his hands.

  13. justrun

    Ew, ew, ew. And gag.

  14. Sarah

    I may never eat sushi again. Well, I will if its made by Japanese people maybe.

  15. bookfraud

    damn, and i was going to take wife for sushi tonight. good thing you didn’t get any brown on the fish.

    i would have worried more about a 1982 new-wave ‘do than anything else. i just you didn’t call your wife “miko” in your sleep. it would have probably happened to me.

  16. V-Grrrl

    We were at a Denny’s off I-95 in SC one time. I visited the restroom with my daughter and there was no soap in the dispenser. Big sign on the wall about how if there are any problems with the restroom to let the manager know. So we reluctantly washed our hands with plain water, went out and told the manager about the soap. Uh-huh. We’ll take care of it.

    90 minutes later we visit the restroom again on our way out and there’s still NO SOAP. Sign above the sink: employees MUST wash hands before returning to work.

    Oh yeah…

  17. mariemm3

    another reason I will not eat sushi. thanks.

  18. Kelly

    I was at a fast food restaurant in Cambridge, MA where my roommate and I watched the food prep person cough into her hand, wipe her nose, and then reach for the taco shells. My roommate asked her to wash her hands and the worker looked so offended. So my roommate said “Well, I’d appreciate it if you washed the snot off that you just rubbed off of your nose.” The sink was in our view so we saw her wash her hands, with soap. I tried not to think about how many other times she had done that on that day.

  19. Pearl

    This scene is SO Seinfeld.

    “Hi, Jerry. Hi, Elaine.”

  20. Melissa

    Some of the best food in the world comes out of the nastiest looking kitchens. Thank you god for the hydrochloric acid in my stomach.

  21. Tara

    I worked in restaurants for 20 years. Honestly, hand washing (or not) is probably the least of your worries. Lucky for me, I like to stay home and cook.

  22. chloe

    yuck! i mean especially with sushi, it’s raw fish, you HAVE to be hygienic.
    But so funny Neil.

  23. idighootchandcootch

    still, for $7.99…

    where did you say this place was again and do they deliver (to toronto)

  24. Scarlet

    Hmmm…It’s definitely grosser when you know what’s going on. I’m ok with living in the dark about other restaurants, though.

  25. better safe than sorry

    all of our restaurants, even grocery stores for that matter, are inspected and “carded”. red card means instant closure, yellow card means problem areas and green card means a pass. the card is proudly displayed in a window and the red card ones usually close and never open up again.

  26. Jules

    EWWWW!! But thanks for the Geisha idea 😉

  27. Lynn

    This is a great story. You seem to have a lot of respect for Sophia. Your relationship sounds comfortable and fun.

  28. Painterbeachgirl

    I had a similar experience here in Boston, when I ate at a place called “Mr. Sushi”. That should have stopped me from walking in the door but unfortunately it didnt.

  29. Roberta

    What is it with the Jewish guy/Asian girl phenom over the last ten-ish years?
    I’m not complaining; I mean, have you SEEN my stunning nephew?

  30. velma

    dang – I mean dadgummit 😉
    I’m being ‘forced’ to change my name because one of the kids found me…[yes, I got them out before thay saw any of the half nekkid posts or the erotic stories]
    Went through and cleaned up …but now … NOW I want my name to be Miko!

  31. chantel

    I only eat at a place I know is good and fresh. I can’t guarantee that they wash their hands but then again IT IS raw fish?

    However, I’ve had food poisoning too many times to risk it.

  32. kristen

    I got the worst seafood poisoning known to man from some gross pig worker who didn’t wash his hands before touching my food.
    I always get a thrill when your stories are in or around the South Bay. As if growing up there 20 years before, makes me in the know.

  33. elle


  34. Annie D.

    That’s why, if you’re interested in healthy eating at a restaurant, it’s best to order everything deep-fried.

    Nothing bad can survive deep frying, right?

  35. Brooke

    I could tell you restaurant stories that would set your hair on fire. Five second rule, oh yeah.

  36. M.A.


  37. Jessica


    Still, it’s not so bad from the time that an employee from the neighborhood Chinese restaurant delivered my food and was covered in scabs. Yum.

    By the way – your blog crush on Brando? Join the club.

  38. ChickyBabe

    That has turned me off sushi for life!!!

  39. Bill

    I’m not a worldly man. My first thought as I read this was, “Someone can tell the difference between good sushi and bad? How?”

    The taste of it all reminds me of the smell of my father’s aquarium. (But please don’t tell any of my friends I said that – they’ll shun me.)

    I do love the oysters at the local sushi place though.

    Anyway … I’m a kind of throwback. I mostly eat at home, eating food I cook. I generally don’t like eating out. It’s not because of the food. It’s usually because … no, I’m not going to go on that rant. But one day I will!

    But I will say this … For those people concerned about washed hands in restaurants – eat at home!!!

  40. Bill

    A slight recant re: the sushi business … there is only one sushi restaurant I’ve ever been to where you could actually say, “Holy shit! This is good!” (Same place as the oysters I love.) I think this is likely because the people cooking and serving the food actually are Japanese and love what they do.

  41. Fitena

    LMAO!!! “Go follow him and see if he washes his hands.” Priceless! When I come to the US I’ll look up you guys, am never going to be bored! lol! I can’t believe I didn’t find this gross! That’s because it making me lol so hard right now!


  42. bella

    dinner with you seems facinating… if not slightly worrisome. But it’s good YOU washed your hands!

  43. treespotter

    sticking with ducks then?

  44. Dustin

    Bah, wusses. If it didn’t kill you it was clearly just adding to the texture of the meal.

  45. e.

    Heh.. and you know it’s worse when he spends FOREVER in there and then doesn’t wash his hands. Ugh, wretched.

  46. viv

    Chopsticks in hair, it is hilarious….agree with Sophia, I am suspicious of fastfood sushi and non-japaneses sushi makers, handwashing, However, is just the inconvinient truth that we all deal with in any restaurant….super funny

  47. Leesa

    Ewww. I didn’t like sushi before I read this. Now this is all I’ll think of when I see it.

  48. Neil

    Leesa — Oh, once you get into sushi, it’s a real treat. Just don’t go cheap, like I did.

  49. Non-Highlighted Heather

    If you and Sophia ever want some of the best sushi and Japanese food you’ve ever tasted, come down to OC and I’ll take you. The menus are in Japanese, no one there speaks a lick of English beyond “Hello,” “Yes,” and “No,” and we are usually the only white people in there on any given night. Oh man, my mouth is watering. It’s a little pricey, but worth every penny.

  50. Sophia

    Heather, Neil and “a little pricey”?  😉

  51. Non-Highlighted Heather

    How silly of me. Leave that karger at home, just you and I will go.

  52. Gwendolyn

    I really LOVE sushi! It is my choice of restaraunt most always when I am out. But, you are right, you have to go to a reputable place for it. One that gets their fish fresh about 2-3 per week. And, the sushi prepares must appear Asian, which completes the experience and adds to the ambiance. They do quite well comprehending pointing, grunting like the Avis (?) guys and nodding heads and such.It is true that body language is the most accurate human ommunication (true to that person’s feelings). Although, if I started rattling off nonsense (like a Bing commercial), they probably wounln’t notice.HA-HA

  53. Gwendolyn

    Speaking of body language…my boyfriend has been yawning while talking to me on the phone as of late. Maybe he is bored with me and that is why he suggested a menage a trois. Although, or sex is spectacular! What gives?

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