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Urasawa etiquette question

  • k


Friends and I have a reservation for Urasawa to celebrate a birthday in the group and we are all super excited about the opportunity to experience the legend! However, one person wants to come who does not eat sushi. She's willing to fork over the money to sit in the seat and just not eat and I am totally cringing at the prospect of this and of the insult that I feel it represents. Do I need to get over it? Will Urasawa deal? Or should I make the effort to scratch her from the invite list? Thanks for any advice.


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  1. either go someplace else or find another person

    1 Reply
    1. re: ns1

      this is sort of what I figured. Just wondered if anyone else had ever had this dilemna. And the choice is definitely to find another person... no way I am giving up this opportunity!

    2. i say call and ask them what the policy is.

      otherwise, i will battle servorg for the "trained seal" position. =)

      1. Kesey,

        When you say your friend does not eat sushi, what do you mean? As in she does not eat nigri sushi or any kind of sashimi?

        What about other types of Japanese foods? Usually he will serve things like shabu shabu, kobe beef, and even cooked fish.

        Are those off limits for your friend as well? If they are, leave her at home. If not, it might be worth a shot.

        Oh, and HIro will usually ask what a person likes and doesn't like. So, no, I don't he'll be offended.

        4 Replies
        1. re: ipsedixit

          Thanks for the insight. She doesn't eat any raw fish so she'll deal with some of the other options, I am sure. And it's good to know what he might not be super offended. Hmmm. Perhaps we can make this work. I'll call, per the other suggestion, as well. Thanks guys ...

          1. re: kesey

            let us know the outcome and your experience

            1. re: kesey

              You guys will all be stressed out and it will detract from everyone's experience. Sounds like a bad idea in the making if you ask me ...

              1. re: QualityMart

                i totally agree. it might cause tension within the group, but then again i'm pretty sensitive to stuff like that.

          2. I think it would be very rude. not only to the Itame, but to another person who could have had that seat who WANTED to eat Sushi.

            It would be tremendously insulting to confront your gracious servers and chef and fellow diners to the ongoing presence of someone who is there, but does not like and refuses to eat their food and art. Part of his pleasure in presenting your food is seeing you enjoy it!

            Also, think of the poor sushi, nigiri, sashimi lover who lost out because your friend paid to sit and waste the itame's time and space!

            Tell your friend to meet you afterwards at a bar.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Diana

              If they were poor, they wouldn't be there in the first place!

              1. re: calabasas_trafalgar

                I didn't mean poor as in financially. I mean poor as in sad people who lost out on a chance at sushi nirvana as a chair is taken up by a non-sushi eater.

                1. re: Diana

                  I know; I was just kidding...
                  Personally I think spending $4-500 per person on sushi is just ludicrous. And I'm strictly a nigiri sushi person, no a Sushi Dan guy.

            2. If you let Urasawa know in advance, he can prepare a menu for your friend that doesn't include anything raw. My girlfriend is the same way...on one of my trips to Urasawa, I mentioned to him that I would like to bring my girlfriend, but I can't because she won't eat raw fish. He told me to bring her, and offered to prepare a menu including only cooked items and vegetables.

              It worked out great, and Urasawa didn't seem to mind at all. I've also seen him serving a completely vegetarian menu to someone while their companion had the standard sushi menu. As long as you give him advance warning, I don't think it should be a problem at all.

              1. I don't know anything about Urasawa but do they have other Japanese food like udon and certain kind of rolls? We had a similar situation just last weekend and the person who don't eat sushi just ordered udon. Maybe a lot of sake will make her change her mind. I would be weary of charging her the full price though.

                And for those who suggest finding another person, please. This is a group of friends getting together to celebrate a birthday. If the food is more important than the friendship, then certainly if I were her I would reevaluate the friendship.

                11 Replies
                1. re: PeterL

                  asking if Urasawa serves udon and rolls is like asking if a bentley came with purple fuzzy dice

                  1. re: ns1

                    While I lack personal experience, I am quite sure Bentley will configure the interior of the car in any way you want them to.

                    Other posters with direct experience with Urasaway have said that he would accommodate.

                    1. re: PeterL

                      Agreed. I thought the point of gathering friends for a birthday was first decide with whom you want to share the occasion based on your friendship and then choose the food. And for what you pay at Urasawa, I'm sure that there's no problem tailoring a menu to fit the needs of your friend. I'm sure that he's encountered this situation many other times w/ vegetarians, pregnant diners, etc.

                      1. re: archer

                        And, really, why worry about offending Hiro?

                        After all, you are paying him to serve you.

                        He should worry about not offending you.

                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          I blame that on FoodTV and related shows such as Hell's Kitchen.

                  2. re: PeterL

                    these are good points, and i'm sure urusawa would accomodate and prepare a vegetarian or no-fish menu or something. although if i was her and really wanted to come, i would just suck it up and eat the raw fish, because i'd do it for birthday person's sake! unless i actually had a physical allergy or something that prevented me from eating it, in which case of course it would be understandable.

                    personally, unadventurous or non-open minded eaters bug me, but that's a whole other can of fried worms. at any rate, we're not talking about anything TOO far left field here (at least to me), but rather, quality food at one of the most highly regarded restaurants in north america!

                    1. re: PeterL

                      When you pay almost $300 a person for a sushi experience, it had BETTER be about the food. Groups can hang out anywhere. Urasawa is not a themey "roll with that wonderful spicy mayonnaise, ooh ooh! now give me a philadelphia roll and a Godzilla roll with hot sake please!" kind of place.

                      For that, kindly keep to Sushi Dan's "Rockin'" sushi.

                      1. re: Diana

                        it is not urasawa's birthday.
                        the party, imho, is not about the food, it is about the birthday boy/girl's feelings.

                        it doesn't matter how much money is spent.

                        1. re: westsidegal

                          if i were the birthday boy, i'd make all y'alls eat the shirako and some live ika! =)

                        2. re: Diana

                          The person in question doesn't or can't eat raw fish (there's been no mention that she's seeking gimmicky rolls which in any case also use raw fish), but somehow out of friendship is still willing to pay the price of dinner @ Urusawa. I'm sure the very gifted chef can (for the price of $300+) create an inventive, delicious selection of items such as Kobe beef, tofu, vegetables, seared fish perhaps, etc. He's often had to make accommodations for people & at that price should consider it an interesting challenge to see what he can come up with for her.

                          1. re: archer

                            I agree... although I've never been blessed to have eaten at Urasawa, I have often read that he is trained in the Kaiseki tradition, which incorporates a broad range of foods. Some of the important issues to those who offer a Kaiseki experience is that the ingredients which they incorporate into their dishes must be the best that can be sought out and at its peak, it must be presented in a way that is pleasing to all of one's senses, it should be experienced in a serene environment where the flow of dishes has a natural rhythm to it and the service provided is personal, attentive yet nearly transparent.

                            The kind of proposal that the OP presents probably isn't the first time that Urasawa-san has been presented with this kind of issue. I would think he would consider this more of an interesting twist on what he normally does. Being from Japan, having his depth of training, and being blessed with a gift in culinary ART, he might even enjoy doing things like this. Instead of, "I'm painting another Mona Lisa tonite." Maybe he will see it as, "Cool, I get to paint another Mona Lisa while simultaneous painting Water Lillies with my left hand..."

                      2. The only thing that I've heard him say he'll never make is a California roll. Oh wait, and spicy tuna roll. I guess rolls are not his thing...

                        1. so...what end up happening?