"You have to try the sushi at this gas station," a friend said to me in the middle of a recent food conversation, the sort of phrase that stops you for a moment and makes you ask: "I'm sorry, what?"
Sushi has become an eclectic, but increasingly popular food choice in American dining. The food's origins are documented as far back as the Edo Period of Japan (1603-1868), then used as more of a method of food preservation than imported delicacy.
For years, however, sushi and Corsicana are phrases that would have never coexisted with each other until 2018, with the opening of Fuji Sushi. The fact that such a place exists locally is nothing short of a revolution, bolstered by the fact that it offers a varied and tasty menu of rolls and sashimi.
As someone who had lived on the West Coast for nearly two decades, I was curious at the prospect of local sushi, and certainly delighted that Fuji has become a part of the new wave of dining choices as Corsicana has stepped up their food game in the last few years, with more diverse and higher quality food selections.
While there may be some that still view the concept of sushi with the same state of mind as fishing bait, I've heard more stories of people embracing this unfamiliar food type, and enjoying what they tried.
But my friend assured me that "gas station sushi" was not only a thing, but existed in Ennis. With that, I texted the Missus, told her our next outing, and so began our Saturday outing to the Bristol General Store.
Let's be clear: You aren't going to just stumble upon the Bristol General Store. It's not a "take an exit, there you go," sort of stop. You have to plan for this outing. After getting off Interstate 45, and about seven miles or so of winding country roads, the little gas station sits like an oasis in the desert, an unassuming diamond in the rough that gives no clue to what lies inside.
Inside, the place looks like any other small town convenience store. Soda, snack, and a folder on the counter with a surprisingly wide variety of sushi selections. "Where are ya'll from," the clerk asked as we paged through the numerous rolls. When we said Corsicana, the clerk said that she gets a lot of people from the area. We ordered three selections of rolls, paid for our sodas, and went next door to a tiny side dining area. And we waited.
Within a few minutes, the waitress brought three sets of sushi rolls on Asian-styled ornamental plates. "Your fixings are over there," our server said, and it was set up like one of those hole in the wall barbecue places, except stocked with soy sauce, wasabi, ginger, and chopsticks. With food, drink, and our meals set up the way we wanted them, the chopsticks went out to that first tentative roll.
And it was good. It was really good.
"It's wild knowing that this amazing sushi is on this dirt road in the middle of nowhere," the words of my friend's earlier endorsement came to mind as I ate, because sure enough, there's not much out there past the gas pumps and green grassy fields. But I'd be lying if I didn't say that was some of the best, high-quality sushi that I've had in a while. I'd consider this weekend outing a test run. Now that I know what the Bristol General Store is capable of, I'm going to scour their menu until I've tried them all.
A dining couple smiled our way as we got up to leave, our stomachs full after our filling lunch.
"It's a real hidden gem isn't it," the man at the neighboring table asked.
"Yeah, it really is," I replied.
"A friend told us about this place," the man continued. "We decided to try it out, and now we come here all the time."
The Missus and I stepped out into the dusty parking lot. Again, the facade of the weathered old store gave no sign that authentic Japanese cuisine hid within its unassuming doors. I think we're going to end up like that couple, and have this become our own regular "thing."
Between Fuji, and now Bristol, my stomach grumbled contentedly in agreement.