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Entering an old-school Edomae sushi shop for the first time can be daunting — even for the most self-confident of us. The welcome is often so vocal it verges on the aggressive. The cedarwood counters look scrubbed to the point of sterility, the gleaming bright interiors afford little sense of warmth or familiarity, and there is minimal cover for taking stock of your situation.

There is also the question of where to sit. Position yourself at the counter and you may feel pressure to engage the itamae (sushi chef) in conversation, to display your savvy and demonstrate that you cannot be palmed off with second-rate cuts of seafood. Yet to retreat to a table off to one side is to miss the visual pleasure of watching a sushi master at work, fashioning your nigiri with the barest flick of his fingers.

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