Lanna Thai vs. Sushi Nazi

The Varmint and I are at lunch at a fantastic new Thai restaurant in our neighborhood called Lanna with his dad, Monte, and one of our favorite guys in the universe, The Amazing Jim Morisson. (I could not make this stuff up. That's his real name.)

The new restaurant is right next to Sushi Ota, perhaps the best and truest Japanese restaurant in the city. Ever see the Seinfeld "Soup Nazi" episode? We call Sushi Ota the "Sushi Nazi" restaurant. They aren't thrilled with sharing their deliciousness with the masses. And yet, they are always jam-packed.

I snapped this shot of ladies in kimonos who had just finished dining at Sushi Nazi from the comforts of the amazingly delicious Lanna. I used the new purse-camera The Varmint gave me for Christmas: I take it with me everywhere; it's easier to lug than the Nikon and it has already paid off several times when you see stuff like this and say, "Crap! I wish I had a camera!".

Lanna is my new favorite restaurant. I think they will benefit from their location next to Sushi Nazi, because people, emaciated and dying from hunger after waiting an hour and a half for a table will drag themselves to try the New Place Next Door. They will be pleasantly surprised by Lanna's tranquil atmosphere, the fantastic and reasonably-priced food, the friendly, welcoming service. (Service-wise, comparing Lanna to Sushi Nazi is like comparing Shirley Temple to Attila the Hun. Unless, of course, you're wearing a beautiful kimono and speak Japanese.)

At Sushi Nazi, if you don't speak Japanese, sometimes they'll give you food - but maybe not. You sort of get relegated to the second-rung. The rule seems to be: If you're not a regular customer (code for Japanese), be prepared to wait a looooong time for a table. My experience each time I've dined there: Regular customers always have "reservations", so if you've been waiting and hour and 15 minutes for a table, and - yay! - one finally pops up, and then a first-rung regular saunters up at exactly the same time you're about to be seated, you're shit outta luck.

Once you're done with your fabulous meal, there is no loitering over coffee, either. If you talk like you've got a mouthful of chewing gum, you're pretty much expected to pay the bill and get the fuck out. And yet? It's always an event eating at Sushi Ota.

People who are into sushi say there is none better, and most are willing to humbly take the abuse because the tastebud rewards are worth it. Mostly, however, I think Americans secretly want what they can't have. Makes it more tantalizing, somehow.

Anyway, as for me? I'll be stuffing my face next door at Lanna, wallowing in the delectable fare, and feeling superior because I'll be in and out by the time the Sushi Nazi folks are just getting seated.

Plus, it's sort of fun watching the gringos who don't know the Sushi Nazi universe get their noses all bent out of joint: It's the anti-entitlement floorshow.


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I am a writer and lazy artist who loves travel, architecture and design. Right now, I'm into photography. My fabulous husband (a.k.a. The Varmint) and I are also the principals of a San Diego-based creative agency - and new parents to the divine Baby Mak. Read More >