The man who ate Lincoln Rd approached Lincoln Rd this week with a heavy heart and a face like thunder. I was away for nine days on a family holiday in Rarotonga and I wasn't best pleased to be back. It's so beautiful over there! God almighty! The warm lagoons, the blue weather - in comparison, bro, we live in a dump.
And so I trudged once more to that high, flat ridge out west, that ratrace with its daily conveyor belt of 46,000 cars and its barns stuffed with merchandise and junkfood.
Lincoln Rd is a metaphor for Auckland, a rowdy quintessence. My mission to eat at each of the 53 food joints along its four kilometre banks in 2016 has marked an attempt to experience Auckland as it really is - a seething ratrace with meal breaks at fastfood franchises.
It's been an arduous journey and I felt close to despair on Tuesday as I made my way towards the 45th food joint. The thing about franchises is that that you go there to eat something at somewhere which looks the same someplace else, so you could be anywhere and it feels like nowhere. McDonald's and KFC and Burger King and all the rest represent the end of geography. They have no context, they exist unto themselves. They're duplicates, replicants, a zone of clones.
Or so it can seem. Really good service makes all the difference, as I saw for myself on Tuesday at the Lincoln Rd franchise of Bruce Lee Sushi & Roll. The manager there is Addison Huang, 30, and that dude goes out of his way to have a friendly word with every single customer. It makes for a happy ship. It's nice in there, and it also helps that the food is good.
The point of Bruce Lee Sushi & Roll is its inventiveness. The menu features things like the Heaven Roll (peanut butter and bacon) and the Dream Roll (bbq eel and bonito flakes, whatever they are). The biggest seller is the Crazy Chicken B roll which has cream cheese, cucumber, avocado, teriyaki chicken, bread crumbs.
I hate inventiveness. I just like food that looks like food, and I got four pieces of sushi - two salmon, two tempura prawn - with a Coke for $12. Sushi is easy to get right, which also means it's easy to get wrong. The sushi at Bruce Lee was perfect. The salmon was fresh and delicious, the tempura was light and crunchy. Fact: Bruce Lee does the best sushi on Lincoln Rd.
It lifted my spirits. I felt good about being back in this goddamned dump. We're all just trying our best, hanging on in there, out west and all over hungry, rowdy Auckland - it's home, bro.
To the ratings. Bruce Lee Sushi & Roll, 151 Lincoln Rd: 9/10.