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Question from a sushi virgin....HELP

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eateroc Sep 19, 2008 08:08 PM

Im 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

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    Grubber RE: eateroc Sep 19, 2008 09:01 PM

    I'm certainly not a sushi purist that doesn't like rolls. I like them but also like plain old sushi. I'm also a big eater. Don 't worry about ordering too much. For me, I could eat 2 rolls plus a couple orders of salmon and blue fin (with a couple Sapporos mixed in)

    Enjoy and.....Don't be scared!

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      aventinus RE: eateroc Sep 19, 2008 09:08 PM

      rolls are the way to go at first. two rolls are a light meal for a male; no one would think you're a pig.

      1. Das Ubergeek RE: eateroc Sep 19, 2008 09:29 PM

        You could probably easily put away three or even four rolls -- but honestly, in addition to the rolls, try some nigiri (that's the sushi that's the rice ball with the stuff on top). It's really worth it. For your maiden voyage I'd stick with fairly normal stuff -- tuna (maguro), yellowtail, salmon, shrimp (which is cooked), maybe egg. You normally get two pieces per order.

        I am notorious for my hatred of the sushi police ("here are the four hundred and ninety-seven rules you must observe, etc."), so the only two things I will mention are:

        1. Sushi is absolutely a finger food and anyone who says differently is a filthy liar. (Okay, correction: there is sushi that is not finger food but it's because it's got mayonnaise-based or eel (sweet) sauce on it and will get your hands all sticky.)

        2. If you dip nigiri (the fish-on-top-of-rice-ball kind) in soy sauce, do it fish-side down. There's a lot of "you'll be wrecking the chef's creation" claptrap out there -- the reason not to dunk the rice in the soy sauce is because it makes the sushi too damn salty.

        Enjoy -- it is a wonderful world of fish and seafood out there, and even if you decide you only really like the rolls, you'll have something new you can eat.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Das Ubergeek
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          cls RE: Das Ubergeek Sep 19, 2008 09:41 PM

          Hmmm, "I hate anyone who has sushi 'rules' except mine..."
          Develop a taste first, if later you choose to learn a bit about the culture and "rules" you will have a better experience.
          Don't worry about ordering two rolls, and if you choose to branch out, ask the chef, they are almost universally proud of their creations and willing to help.

          1. re: cls
            Das Ubergeek RE: cls Sep 19, 2008 10:58 PM

            Sure, I'm just railing against the "sushi-ya as religious temple" people. You know exactly who I mean, I'm sure.

            Common courtesy will get you far... and frankly if you like your sushi rice dripping with salty soy sauce, go for it. It's easy to add more soy sauce -- it's impossible to remove it once you've added too much.

            As for the other "rule" -- ever watch someone who has difficulty with chopsticks try to manoeuvre an entire nigiri into his or her mouth? Yet somehow this idea of "you must use utensils" sprouted in the U.S., especially if you're watching the people sitting at tables instead of the sushi bar. Want to use chopsticks? Fine... but I bet a sushi virgin would be intimidated by chopsticks.

            It's not bloody tea ceremony. It's just sushi.

          2. re: Das Ubergeek
            Veggo RE: Das Ubergeek Sep 19, 2008 11:59 PM

            A reminder that most nigiri has a "swipe" of wasabi between the fish and the rice, that you can't see. If you turbocharge your soy dip with wasabi, which I always do, you can get a double-whammy sinus blast similar to snorting battery acid.
            I'm waiting with great anticipation for my next one, attenuated by a nice box of premium sake. Gimme a hot steamy towel, and my fingers do the walking.

          3. J.L. RE: eateroc Sep 19, 2008 10:32 PM

            I too started with rolls when I first began eating sushi years back. Eat as few or as many rolls as you like. There are no real rules when ordering rolls.

            Tuna (called maguro) and salmon are the best starter fish, and from there, move on to other fish, like kanpachi. You'll find that texture (not just taste) is a big deal in the different seafoods. From there, you can pick and choose whichever seafood you like. Some can be acquired tastes (it took me 2+ years to like sea urchin, AKA uni, but now I can't live without it).

            Don't "drown" your sushi is soy sauce - a little dab'll do ya.

            When you feel ready, you can go into sushi joint, sit at the bar, and order the omakase (which means you're putting yourself in the hands of the chef). Tell the chef what you like/don't like, and most importantly if you're allergic to anything.

            A lot of good sushi is actually cooked. Shrimp can be cooked thoroughly (though I'm sure many "purists" will prefer live raw shrimp). Freshwater eel (unagi) is cooked, as is sea eel (anago). Egg (cakes), or very light and fluffy omelettes, known as tamago, is usually served at the end of a meal.

            Sashimi generally means cuts of any seafood without rice.

            Read "Sushi for Dummies" (I'm serious! It's a good book) if you're more interested.

            See you at the sushi bar one day!

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              bulavinaka RE: eateroc Sep 20, 2008 12:48 AM

              Hey eateroc - just noticed you posted on the LA board as well... I responded to your post under the General Topics board. You're in luck - SoCal has a wealth of sushi options and a lot of posters who know more about sushi than a lot Japanese eaters do. As I mention on the other post - Don't be intimidated. There's a ton of culture and codes of etiquette relating to sushi, but not all places live by them, many are used to popping cherries like yours and most just want you to enjoy your experience. Don't be intimidated - the level of immersion is up to you. Do some homework on basic terms and customs, set a budget, and check this board for recs. You'll have a wonderful time... Did I mention not to be intimidated? :)

              1. ElsieDee RE: eateroc Sep 20, 2008 01:23 AM

                I'd think of two rolls as being a small order - three or four might be more filling (unless you're getting other items, of course).

                In addition to the veggie roll and the california roll, you might want to try something like a shrimp tempura roll (basically a california roll, with a tempura shrimp wrapped in side) or one of the more "saucy" rolls, such as the baked scallop or lobster or dynamite rolls - they're usually california rolls with a mayonnaisy (plus the seafood) sauce on top - they tend to horrify the sushi purists, but have a certain appeal to folks like me, and I do think that that they're a decent place to start.

                Enjoy venturing out and tasting new things!

                1. Akitist RE: eateroc Sep 20, 2008 09:01 AM

                  Eateroc, sushi aren't very big so eat as many as you want. Normally you get one or two installments at a time unless you order a platter. Rather than thinking you're a pig for eating too many the shop will think you're cheap for not eating enough and taking up space. Split one of those big bottles of beer with the GF while you're at it.

                  There are "purity levels" in sushi, and folks who are comfortable at different levels. Start at "affordable" with the funky rolls and work your way up the ladder. You need to explore the delights of a good bit of prime fish at some point.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Akitist
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                    bulavinaka RE: Akitist Sep 20, 2008 09:39 AM

                    Speaking of purity levels, my mom had a very close friend in Japan. She was rather well-to-do, and when we visited her in Japan, she and her husband would take us to the really nice sushi houses and restaurants. The best meals I ever had were the ones that she (as well as my relatives) treated me to - really upscale stuff.

                    When she and her husband first visited LA, my mom made them the ubiquitous California roll. Having never really tried avocado (this was back in the 70s), the couple was first taken aback, initially thinking my mom had packed massive amounts of some sort of wasabi in the roll. My mom tried to explain to them what the avocado was all about. She even brought out an avocado (courtesy of our generous neighbor's tree) and sliced it, poured some shoyu in the half, and urged them to taste it. They both first smelled it, not really picking up a whole lot on the nose other than shoyu, then both scooped out a small spoonful and tasted it. Their first reaction was one of pause, then scrutiny, then nods of approval. Japanese folks typically find it rude not to finish what they started so they polished off the avocado half. They then turned to the Cal rolls, each politely grasping one section with chopsticks, took a slight dip of shoyu, ate it, and the looks on their faces was like they had just struck gold. They continued to visit over many years and when my mom would ask what they wanted for dinner, the lowly California roll was one fo the things they always requested...

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