I still remember my first sushi experience. Although I was initially skeptical of the “raw fish” factor, it was amazing and I’ve never looked back. For poor students such as ourselves, all-you-can-eat buffets are crucial to us as sushi-lovers, who need to fill the void with as much sushi as we can physically sustain to justify its cost. Sometimes, however, a reminder of great sushi is necessary, which brings me to Watami Sushi & Sake Bar in our very own Uptown Waterloo. Watami is an elegant location with a cozy, intimate feel, featuring tons of wooden furniture, a fake fireplace, and quaint splashes of Japanese decor. Arriving around lunchtime for sushi, I opted to take advantage of a mixed bento box (a neatly organized package of sushi, maki, sashimi, and salad) and throw caution to the wind with a tantalizing <em>matcha</em> (green tea) cheesecake. The first arrival was the miso soup. Fairly delicious like most soups I’ve had, it was slightly thin in terms of tofu, packaged <em>wakame </em>(edible seaweed), and scallions. However, as soon as we’d finished, our bento boxes arrived, giving Watami bonus points for quick and efficient service. No one can deny the beauty of a bountiful bento box, and this one was no exception. Opting to try the items that were actually in danger of getting cold, the gyoza dumplings came first and they didn’t disappoint. Crispy on the outside, they also had a slightly sweet, tender meatiness on the inside which, combined with vermicelli noodles, was enough to make me swear it was pork but turned out to be vegetarian, fueling my admiration even more. The salad that usually accompanies a bento box is normally an insignificant addition to the meal, and something I tend to dismiss. Yet at Watami, even vegetables are made extraordinary as their fresh salad buzzed with a drool-worthy fruit dressing that held subtle notes of apple and tangerine. Finally turning to the sushi, I found it to be as decadent as it looked, being exceptionally fresh with no fishy or refrigerated quality at all. With its thick and lusciously pink slices, the salmon sashimi proved the most memorable, practically jumping down my throat. The only complaint I could possibly have about the sushi (and this is if I REALLY tried) was that the rice on the maki rolls could have potentially been a bit fresher. Overall, the bento box ended up exceptionally filling, and even though I was very full, I just couldn’t stop experiencing how good everything was. After such a lovely box, I didn’t expect things to get better. But then, a beautiful matcha cheesecake arrived, with an elegant stroke of raspberry syrup on the side. Smooth and creamy, the subtle flavour of green tea shone through, being lit up like a tree with Christmas lights by the tangy zip of the raspberry syrup. The perfect ending to a lovely meal, I couldn’t deny that despite the higher price tag, my entire experience here had been worth every penny.