#2 in my series of The Essentials. Collect 'em all!
I do not remember what converted me to Mexican food. All I know is, as a child I found the bland refried beans and Spanish rice at a Wichita chain called Felipe's (still extant, amazingly) to be one of the least appetizing foods I had ever encountered. Nor did I share my sisters' enthusiasm for Taco Tico, the local Taco Bell-like chain, with its thoroughly Americanized takes on the most basic forms of Mexican food. Usually I ordered the Tacoburger. But somehow, by college or a little after, I managed to try enough semi-authentic places (Connie's El Mexico perhaps the standout) that I realized that what I didn't like about Mexican was the part that wasn't Mexican at all, and my journey was begun at last.
I know exactly when I was finally converted to sushi and sashimi: December 27, 2002, at Katsu.
But having thus appetized you, let me back up. I didn't hate Japanese food. I tolerated it. My friends would drag me at lunch to a place called Ya Na Se downtown, which I enjoyed less for the food than for its trapped in the 60s, World's Fair of '64 and Pan Am building, Japanese salaryman scarfing down noodles surrounded by smiling, short-haired JAL stewardesses ambience. (In fact the cooks were mostly Hispanic, and the waitresses were pretty middle-aged, but whatever. It was a trip out of the office and into a Seijun Suzuki
So at some point, I don't remember when, I mentioned to G Wiv that I used to go to Ya Na Se, and he said I should check out Katsu, since Katsu himself used to work there (long before my time). But to pick up with my post on another board after this momentous dinner:
...I took my friend Wyatt (another, actually a considerably more enthusiastic, Ya Na Se fan). How did we like it? Well, the hostess (Mrs. Katsu?) comes up to us at one point and says, "Is everything okay?"