Archives for the month of: August, 2015

While the prudent stand and ponder, the fool has already crossed the river.

Raffi, “The Fool”

In 1880, Raffi (Hakob Melik Hakobian) wrote “Khent” (The Fool). The titular character is exasperated with the way the majority of his fellow Armenians act and think and thus acts and thinks in a way that many regard as foolish…

After sitting at a crowded cafe, spontaneously seeing some wonderful people who moved to Armenia long before me, I decided it was appropriate to celebrate the people who had the foresight to do what some (read: most) consider “foolish.”

To the fools who came to Armenia in the 40’s. The place may not have been what you were expecting, but you uprooted your entire life and started anew based on your love for your country.

To the fools who moved to Armenia right after 1991. Not only did you create a path for many to follow now, but you chose to live in a world without avocados for many years.

To the fools who voluntarily stayed after 1991. Your offspring is amazing and because of you, they believe in the future and are establishing a foundation to build on.

To the fools who came to build and never uttered the dreaded words “help,” “third-world,” or “charity.” You have come to terms with the fact that you do not deserve a ticker-tape parade or applause and are the ones who are starting a new, sustainable dynamic.

To the two fools from California who went to Armenia to start a life here. He with a love for i-anything and she with a love for anything witty and clever, you have become inspiration for countless others and continue to be so through your legacy.

To the fools who believe, really believe, in the intense awesomeness that is possible in this country. Understand that you are the reason that intense awesomeness is/will be coming to fruition.

And to the fools sitting far away, reading this at their computers, not giving into the naysayers bombarding them with their pedestrian platitudes but who are still vacillating about whether to join their fellow fools. Know that though you will not get a pat on the back, you can now find avocados, that many have come before you and that crossing the river isn’t so bad.

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Armenia is known for many things including a staggeringly impressive cultural and intellectual history; the ability to survive genocide, pogroms and other cornucopia of systematic attempts at ethnic cleansing and something about Christianity…but, believe it or not, authentic Japanese cuisine is not on this list.

Enter Yuji.

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Yuji making Udon noodles from scratch.

Over a year ago, Yuji visited Armenia and he liked it. Later, he was told that there was a dearth of quality, authentic Japanese food in Yerevan and that Armenia had favorable conditions to open a restaurant. So he came to Armenia and opened a restaurant.

Sakurada, located at the hip intersection of Tumanyan and Nalbandyan, is where Yuji creates his gastronomic masterpieces. The menu includes an assortment of sushi selections as well as udon, tempura and other culinary creations along with hot or cold sake and Asahi Beer(!) And it is all darn tasty.

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But besides the fact that the food itself is delectable, Yuji and his staff have cultivated a friendly and warm environment. The place is just pleasant to be in. The walls have been painted (by Yuji’s local Armenian friends) with traditional Japanese motifs and the staff are dressed in kimonos (from the Greek word…hah, jk).

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At the end, it is just another example of that age-old story of the Japanese chef who comes to Armenia with hopes of making a sushi restaurant successful…so, if you are in the area (and I know about half the Armenian world is in the area right now), “roll” on by and try it out.