first time sushi question help
Imm probably the last person in the world who hasnt tried sushi yet but im determined to give it a go tomorrow night. I want to try rolls and my question is how many rolls does everyoone order for themselves when they get sushi. I know the rolls at the place im going to try are a good size b/c my gf has brought some home before. If i get a veggie roll and a california roll will the chefs think im a pig or is 2 rolls an average order for a person? thanks
You aren't the last - don't sweat it... But I would be careful about delving into this part of Japanese cuisine. Very addicting for many, money can be as insignificant to the sushi bar as cash is at the card tables in Vegas, and if hooked, you will constantly be on a lifetime quest to seek out the ultimate sushi experience. :)
I think the culture and traditions that involve sushi can be quite testing for people who are new to this. The numbers of rituals and customs are numerous, particularly at the more authentic places, and some are less forgiving than others when these customs or rituals are violated or ignored. The Japanese culture puts great value on common courtesy, to the point where it is seemingly unctuous and patronizing but that's just the way it is. The good thing about all of this is that service is usually very good.
Obviously everyone is different in their levels of taste and appetite, but if you're a typical guy (I'm guessing in your 20s to 30s), you'll be able to put away a lot of sushi. It's all dependent on a few factors:
The type of sushi you choose will vary in shape, size and neta (topping)/filling:
nigiri - the slightly elongated riceball with a neta (slice of seafood) or ? on top
maki - rolls that you're familiar with but can come in different sizes and shapes
oshizushi - rice and seafood pressed into a mold
chirashi - bowl of sushi rice with selected slices of seafood/other toppings laid on top
fusion - anybody's guess!
Your preferences, tastes, and sense of adventure will play into how much you eat as well. I think this is relatively self-explanatory. If you're new to all of this, and you just want to dip your toes in the proverbial pond, then keep it safe with various maki and maybe a couple of nigiri orders. If you're wanting a true sushi experience that resembles something would get in the finer places here or in Japan, then do omakase (mentioned later).
Your budget is also important. Like the wise do in Vegas, go in with a budget - not how much you're going to lose, but how much you're willing to spend for enjoyment. Depending on where you go and what or how you decide to dine, the bill can run up pretty fast. Of course, sushi itself can be very expensive depending on where you go and what kind of seafood you order, and how it's prepared. Also drinks - beer, sake, shochu (kinda like vodka), tea, specialty beverages, can all run up the bill as well.
Many sushi bars also offer non-sushi dishes that can run up the bill - grilled items, soups, pickles, etc. And of course tax and tip comes along must like anywhere else.
One way to define your budget is to do omakase. This is where you put your trust in the hands of the chef, or in this case, the itamae (sushi chef). NEVER ASK WHAT IS FRESH - this is probably one of the biggest insults to an itamae that one can levy. It is assumed that everything that is up for offer is at its utmost based upon the itamae's skills of selection, knowledge and taste. It is more proper for you to exchange with the itamae your preferences and tastes - he then will select various things available to him that he feels will satisfy you, as well as maybe pushing the envelope just a bit. "I don't care for the more fishy sashimi like aji (horse mackerel) or saba (mackerel) but do enjoy toro (tuna belly) and hamachi (young yellowtail)." Most places will let you determine how much you want to spend on omakase. Others have an unspoken code, where upon the given diner requests a certain type of sushi (often it is the blue crab roll), the itamae knows you're calling it quits. Another custom is to lay your chopsticks down on your plate where they lay parallel to the bar or table. Or just politely let them know you're finished. "Go-chi-so-sama desh-ta," is a polite way of saying, "thank you for the meal," which strongly suggests to the itamae that you're done, and that you truly enjoyed the experience. But even still, one often gets caught up in the momentum of the meal, as it can be fluid and continuous when an experienced itamae with great skills, good pacing and a nice demeanor gets you and your guests going. The sushi keeps coming, you order more drinks, maybe one or two drinks for the itamae, etc. So again - define your budget.
It might benefit you to do a little front-end research for places that you might want to visit, parts of town that you wish to eat in, price levels, etc. It sounds like common sense, but go with the best place - quality of fish, itamae skills - that you can afford. If you're in SoCal, you have a ton of choices at every price level. Search around this website for your area's best recs - You'll often see the same posters' names show up at various sushi-related threads who know their stuff, give great advice, and give blow-by-blow descriptions of what they ate. Here's an example:
As you can see, folks experiencing sushi, and even doing omakase, can put away a fair amount of food and drink, and the tab for one can run up to a weekend getaway for two. This is a more extreme example, but not uncommon. And as you can see, the original poster, or OP tells a blow-by-blow narrative as well as concise observations, comparisons to other places on the same level, etc. My point is not to intimidate you, but to impress upon you that the experience you choose is pretty open-ended, so do your homework, hit a few website searches on sushi and its etiquette, choose a handful of appropriate possibilities and I think you'll come up a winner...
Good post, bulavinaka. Others have an unspoken code...(often it is the blue crab roll) -- why is that?
eateroc, it depends on your appetitie. I would say four rolls is the max I can eat, spaced out over two hours, with a healthy portion of saki. A chirashi was too much for me alone.
On the advice of some here, I recently experienced the best sushi in the world. Well, in Westchester County. I hope you have as heavenly a dining experience as I did.
"Go-chi-so-sama desh-ta," is a polite way of saying, "thank you for the meal," -- nice, I'm going to have to write that down and bring it along next time.
That unspoken code is a mystery to me. I used to eat at sushi bars in mostly Hiroshima, Japan almost every day for lunch (sometimes for dinner) in my younger days, and in Narita (town not airport) as recently as last year. I never witnessed or was told about this custom. Maybe it's an LA thing as I've only read about by LA posters who report on their experiences, and it tends to be at the better, more traditional bars. The blue crab hand roll is very delicate, earthy, somewhat briney and sweet, and usually is anointed with maybe a little mayo or chile oil (my preference), some rice, and is rolled in nori. But I've never been a huge fan of this - maybe because I haven't had an exceptional one - I prefer the flavor profile of cooked crab.