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Feb 7, 2007 02:49 PM

A little sushi omission

I tend to talk a lot at work about all the so called weird things I eat (my co-workers call them weird anyway) and today, based on my reputation, I was finally invited out to lunch to eat sushi with the other weird food eaters. They said "You do EAT sushi don't you??" I lied and said of course. Truthfully, I never have and am kind of scared of it. So, how can I start gently without giving away my secret and ruining my reputation? Any important buzz words to know?

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  1. Here's a good link to get you started.

    Enjoy your first time.

    1. These days, you can say you eat sushi without ever eating raw fish. Sushi places make so many crazy rolls with cooked salmon or deep fried shrimp (I've even seen one with chicken teriyaki in it) it drives me nuts... mostly because I love raw tuna, sweet shrimp, etc and it's not as much fun to have to share rolls of tempura shrimp with someone who "eats sushi".

      Anyway, I think you can start off with mellow sushi even with a reputation of eating "weird food". Tuna's pretty basic. Shrimp is cooked. Uni (cooked eel) tastes like teriyaki fish (don't anyone yell at me, it's the easiest way I can describe it to someone who has never eat it!). I like ama ebi (sweet raw shrimp with the heads deep fried - weird!) but I don't eat uni (sea urchin). Some people only eat halibut. Some only eat tuna at certain restaurants.

      Spider rolls are like deep fried soft shell crabs in a roll with some imitation crab, maybe. I throw this out because some people are freaked out by the leg sticking out of one end, so maybe you could save your "reputation" by eating it?

      Just because you said you eat sushi but you haven't, doesn't mean you have to now be an expert at it. Unless you said you love sushi and have been eating it for years, etc. If they start wondering why you don't eat the crazy sushi they do, just tell them that with all the other wacky foods you eat, you prefer to keep your sushi tendencies nice and simple.

      21 Replies
      1. re: leanneabe

        uni is sea urchin.

        unagi is cooked eel.

        1. re: hotoynoodle

          Never confuse the two. You willfind very strong opinions for/against both uni and unagi (and its cousin unago). I will eat unagi/unago all night, but will shut down immediately if uni placed in front of me. Most of my colleagues are just the opposite.

          1. re: jfood

            i'm not the confused one. i eat both.

            1. re: hotoynoodle

              sorry, i would never think you were confused. i replied to OP but hit reply under you. oops

            2. re: jfood

              It's "anago", not "unago". Unagi is a freshwater eel and anago is saltwater eel. There's no word "unago", but "inago" means grasshopper!

              1. re: Silverjay

                Thanks SJ. thats why i point a lot at sushi bars. I understand that there is an even better closeness in words with ochinko and ashinko.

              2. re: jfood

                Anago, not unago. Unagi and anago. Unagi is delicious and anago is crap. Unagi is freshwater eel and anago is saltwater eel- dry, fishy saltwater eel.

                1. re: John Manzo

                  Unagi is never served at sushi restaurants in Japan. It's not considered a sushi fish there- too greasy. But it seems to be used in sushi in N.America, probably because of availability issues for anago. Because of it's high oil content, it's often frozen and shipped all over- often reheated over flames....Anago is lighter, "fluffier", more delicately flavored, and less greasy. When in season (from early summer), it's almost always served fresh.

                  1. re: Silverjay

                    lol, there's LOTS of stuff served here you'd never see in japan.

                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                      you're exactly right. Anyone care for a slab of phialdelphia roll? YUK!

                    2. re: Silverjay

                      My former neighborhood sushi chef would never allow me to order unagi. He said it was pre-packaged and he was embarassed to serve it to anyone who really appreciated Japanese food.

                      1. re: omotosando

                        I'm pretty sure that 99% of the unagi served in America is the stuff that comes pre-sauced and pre-cooked in cryopacks from China that you can buy at any asian grocery. They have pre-packed unagi from Japan, but it's a lot more expensive (something like $15 for a 10 oz. "side") so I doubt that many places serve it. In spite of this, I still regularly order unagi at sushi bars. I don't know why, though, since I could just buy a whole pack and toaster oven it just as well as they do at the restaurant for significantly less money. I'd love to visit a place that makes unagi in house.

                        1. re: Humbucker

                          i have had unagi made in house several times in LA and OC. it was lusher, fattier and oh so delicious. i can't remember the price though.

                      2. re: Silverjay

                        Thanks SJ, I was wondering why i only saw Anago in Tokyo and never saw Unagi. Your description of fluffier is spot on, and is a more delicate flavor. I loved it.

                        1. re: Silverjay

                          Hold on a second. I frequent many sushi shops in Japan. Unagi is one of my favorite choices. It's generally served in the summertime to revitalize. Maybe you didn't visit the shop at the right time of the year.

                          1. re: kansai_mike

                            HMMMM- pwned am I, I think- I should give anago another try!

                        2. re: John Manzo

                          Sorry you had bad experiences with Anago. It is quite good when prepared well

                        3. re: jfood

                          You might surprise yourself someday and find you like uni. I would not eat it for years, and now I love it, but only at extremely high-end places. I think it is partially an acquired taste, but also that low-grade uni tastes worse than, say low-grade tuna. Apparently almost all of the high grade uni goes for export to Japan, so it is hard to find the good stuff in this country.

                          1. re: omotosando

                            Omo, you might be right as my tastes have changed over the years.

                            1. re: omotosando

                              yeah you really have to have it at a decent place because if it's good, it's sweet, creamy, and absolutely delicious. beware gray uni.

                        4. re: leanneabe

                          Always been like that. Sushi implies vinagared rice. Some sushi--more "modern" to boot--may have sashimi.

                        5. Very helpful folks-thank you and one more question. One of the diners said that perhaps we could just get bento (?) boxes and bring them back. Are these just sushi assortments?

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Velma

                            assortments, which also usually have non-sushi items like tempura (deep-fried battered veg and/or fish). also they often have rice and teriyaki. it's kind of like a grab-bag.

                            1. re: Velma

                              Think of bento-boxes as the Japanese/sushi version of that old-classic Swanson TV dinner ...

                              You'll get some sushi, some sashimi, rice, maybe a teriyaki dish of some sort, salad, etc.

                              See picture below.

                            2. Sushi = vinagared rice prepared in different ways, including with sashimi on top
                              Sashimi = raw fish or seafood
                              Bento box = lunch box with compartments, may or may not have sushi or sashimi

                              1. Yes uni is more of an acquired taste... definately do not wish to confuse the two.