I was minding my own business at Nagashima’s sushi bar last night, when a customer walked in with an enormous bouquet of greenery and presented it to a grateful sushi chef. It took me a while to recognize the greenery in question because I’d never seen so much of it in one place: It was shiso, the tart, fuzzy frill-edged leaf used as a garnish with sushi.
The shiso (AKA perilla) was handed to a waiter, who brought it into the kitchen. I grabbed my camera and went after him, but the sushi chef, Jin, followed me and beckoned me instead to the restaurant’s back door. Outside, in the parking lot, he showed me his own potted shiso bushes (one green, pictured here, and one red), along with a Japanese cucumber plant and two Styrofoam boxes in which grew curly parsley.
I’m not a big shiso fan, but when I returned to my post at the sushi bar, I dutifully ate the locally grown leaf on my plate—as well as the parsley I had been planning to leave over.
Nagashima is at 12A-1 Jericho Tpke, Jericho, 516-338-0022.