Sushi Belly Tower
Thirteen years ago, Michael Stember was a Stanford student, a sub-4:00 miler and the host of an underground sushi club in his dorm room. Ten years later, following the 2000 Sydney Olympics and his retirement from professional athleticism, Stember decided to get back in the sushi game. He sent an invitation to 60 friends and asked his mother to paint a giant cherry blossom tree across the four walls of his downtown Los Angeles apartment. 4,000 cherry blossoms and one month's rent worth of raw fish later, Stember was hosting an underground sushi dinner in his loft. He pushed his couch into the hallway with a cardboard sign - SOLD - to make room for forty guests, 3 nights in a row. His regular barista doubled as his sous chef and a bartender from a local watering hole played Stones covers in the corner.
As Stember's dinners multiplied, so too did his noise complaints. He took to the streets - traveling five times across the US to host dinners in volunteered spaces around New York.
Nowadays, Stember is still running sushi tours like he's running a marathon. Every few weeks, he gets his team together, secures secret locations, cuts the highest-quality fish and boozes up 40 strangers.
This month, Sushi Belly Tower is in Los Angeles. Next month - San Francisco.
Dinner and drinks run at a $150 donation per head. The sushi (and experience) is worth it.