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Jan 3, 2002 11:29 AM

What is a sushi master?

  • m

Interspersed thru threads about sushi are claims that particular restaurants have a sushi master on board. What makes one a sushi master? Can you just start calling yourself one? Is there a test? If there is some criterion, is there a roster of such individuals and where they work? Or, does anyone who makes sushi qualify? Sort of like Warhol's "Art is anything you can get away with."

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  1. Technically speaking, a sushi master is someone (almost always a man) who has gone through the 10-year apprenticeship in Japan and learned to make sushi. This is no walk in the park - it's years before they even get to make rice, let alone touch the knife to cut the fish.

    7 Replies
    1. re: PRSMDave
      michael (mea culpa)

      So, how do I know if the person cranking out my sushi is a master or just a pretender? And, why aren't there any female sushi masters now that you mention it?

      1. re: michael (mea culpa)
        Vanessa On The Town

        The restaurant I frequent, Azami on Melrose (just w. of La Brea), has a female sushi chef. I'm pretty sure she doesn't have the Master title, but she did train in Japan. She could probably answer your question. Also, it's worth a visit because her sushi is consistently good and for a reasonable price. Also try the lamb chops and the halibut hot pot.

        1. re: michael (mea culpa)

          I have no idea why there aren't female sushi masters (mistresses?)... maybe women's equality in Japan hasn't spread to this particular profession yet.

          As for how to tell - word of mouth. Otherwise, you could ask him. If you get thrown out, he's a master. If not, he's not.

          1. re: PRSMDave

            Very few women train to do sushi in Japan. There is a common prejudice that the heat of a woman's hands is greater than that of a man's, and that this is bad for sushi. (We all know here that women have cold hands...)

            So a woman who wanted to couldn't get hired on as an apprentice.

            Although I did read a while back about a sushi place that only hires and trains women, and does quite well.

            1. re: ironmom

              I've also heard it said that womens perfumes/powders, etc. are thought to interfere with the flavor of the sushi.

              Which I suppose I can wrap my mind around, but I know no worse or interfering smell than a man soaking in cologne. Especially when one is in an elevator with a Polo loving man!

              1. re: julia

                Scientific studies have shown that women consider this a turn-off, so guys, CUT IT OUT!

          2. re: michael (mea culpa)

            There was a woman preparing sushi at the bar Friday at Sasabune. Nobody was complaining.

        2. There is a pretty famous female Sushi chef at a restaurant called "242 Cafe Fusion Sushi" in Laguna Beach, CA. She used to be a Sushi chef at NOBU restaurant. I've never been there myself but I hear that it is definitely worth a visit. Her creation is beyond your imagination of a typical Japanese cuisine. I heard this from my Japanese friends and I am a native Japanese, also.

          1. Your inquiry makes me ponder the proper title to bestow upon an individual with unchallenged expertise in running a bait shop.

            3 Replies
            1. re: u4ik
              michael (mea culpa)

              Your inquiry makes me ponder the proper title to bestow upon an individual with unchallenged expertise in running a bait shop. >>

              Duh, Big Tuna?

              1. re: michael (mea culpa)

                Nope. Big Tuna is Bill Parcells. Lose one turn.

                1. re: u4ik
                  michael (mea culpa)

                  In the world of sushi, I think I should lose one roll.