Tonight we’re celebrating the long anticipated start date of my first job with dinner at Mac’s Shack. Located just down the road from the Welfleet Town Pier, this old 19th century house that was once a nautical shop, has since been transformed into one of our favorite restaurants on Cape Cod.
It’s just my parents and me tonight, the original summertime trio. We know we’ll have to wait for a table so we skip the post-beach happy hour that usually occurs on the porch around 5:00.
Mac’s Shack is alive with a sweet summertime beat. The outside bar is packed with raw oyster-slurping ‘locals’ and vacationers alike, tapping their sandal-clad feet against the broken seashell-covered ground. A cool breeze soothes our cheecks, where the daytime sun has kissed our skin.
Dad orders our drinks, pino grigio for me and mom, and a Whales Tale Pale Ale for himself. After a blissful 20 minutes or so, our pager buzzes against the white-washed, wooden bench.
We open our menus. I quickly scan the variety of familiar appetizers and entres, knowing I won’t order any of them. We’ve come for sushi…at least I have anyway. I flip to the sushi menu and skim the long list of special ‘maki’ rolls, in search of any new additions. Before making any final decisions I re-read the descriptions of my favorites, just to make sure they’re still my favorites.
Deciding how many rolls to order depends entirely on who else is at the table; this is phase 1. So I sit quietly waiting for mom and dad to decide. If the whole family where here… Andrew wouldn’t eat a piece of fish if you paid him (really, my dad used to offer him $50), so he’d be out. Pete will eat just about anything so you know he’d be willing to split a few rolls and mom always claims to “only want a few pieces”. It all comes down to dad. He could go either way; a few sushi rolls or a traditional entre. Tonight he chooses sushi. I think mostly because he knows it makes me happy.
We know from experience that we’ll need about 4 maki (sushi rolls). Deciding which rolls to order is phase 2. A well-balanced variety is key. We try to avoid ordering two rolls with cream cheese inside, like the Philadelphia roll, or multiple rolls with the same piece of raw fish, like tuna or salmon. At least one roll with a little kick to it is always good, too. Of course, at Macs we have our long list of go-to favorites, making this phase a little easier. Dad and I decide on…
- Gan Jah Mon: Tuna, mango, cream cheese, avocado, black tobiko (always a no brainer)
- Wave Roll: Spicy tuna, shrimp tempura, avocado, cucumber, wrapped in soy
paper (here’s the one with the “kick”)
- Crabby Crunch Roll: California roll topped w/ tempura flakes & sweet soy sauce & a drop of sriracha (nothing too crazy, mom will like this one)
- Rainbow Roll: California roll layered with tuna, yellowtail, salmon & white fish (another classic staple)
For only wanting a few pieces, mom still has quite a bit to say about our selection (Is that one spicy? I don’t think I like that one. Ooh ya, let’s get that!).
Enough time passes to devour a small side of seaweed salad, when 4 rolls are presented at our table. 4 rolls to be split, as evenly as possible, among 2.5 people. Now comes the trickiest part, just how many pieces of each sushi roll are mine, dads and now officially added to the equation, moms. I try to follow a system, one Gan Jah Mon, one Wave, one Crabby Crunch, one Rainbow, repeat. I try to keep that going for as long as possible. Dad has a similar technique.
After trading a few pieces here and there (“I’ll give you one of my Rainbows, for your last Crabby Crunch), and sorting out the uneven distribution that moms random sampling has caused, it comes down to the final round and the toughest question of all: which piece will be your last? The one you can still taste as you exit the restaurant and in the car on the ride home. Will it be a piece with a kick to it? Or one that’s savory and sweet, like the Gan Jah Mon? To each their own.
Rarely are we disappointed with our choices, the many, many choices that are required when we all sit down for sushi. At the very least, if we didn’t order enough or mom sneaks in a few extra pieces than she had originally planned, there’s always room for ice cream.
Visit the photo gallery for more pictures of tonight’s meal at Mac’s!