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Ask Sushi Man

I've read some brogs on sushi in here and noticed that some of you have wrong knowledge or info about sushi. I've been making sushi over 30 yrs in LA and more in Japan before. I'm here to point out few and give you guys the right info.
1. WARM RICE; It seems to me it's a trend in LA that good sushi must accompny with warm rice.
This is false. Rice should be room temparature so that it doesn't over power each fishes delicate flavor not mention it may warm temparature of chilled fish.
2.OMAKASE; Omakase in Japan means chef's choice of meal suitable for his long time regular customer not the chef's choice of best or unique items of the day. If you are long time customer of that chef, he will know what you like, how much you can eat and most importnatly how much you can spend usually. It doesn't mean pre fix meal nor sky is the limit rip off meal. You have to eat his food at least more than few times in order to ask him omakase. I have fuuny story you may like about this but save it for next time.
I know history about sushi, manners not mention how to make good sushi etc. You can ask me any questions you have about sushi or you can challange me about sushi knowledge. I know I can answer most of the q's. Over all I'm here to help you guys educate and have fun with you sushi fins.
Here is the sushi fyi; Modern style sushi was founded about 350 yrs ago in Edo [ Tokyo now] by Mr Kobei. He was a drop out chef and he only knew how to fillet fish and make rice at the drop out point. So he created the sushi to sell at his food stand to make living. At that time soy sauce was in the community bowl on the counter. Yak!! ha ha. He broke down common meal style[ Sashimi plate and bowl of rice] in to bite size snack.[ Like Taco stand--Smart ha?]

Waiting for your response. Let's have fun!!

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  1. What's your opinion on Yama Sushi on the Lake in Mission Viejo?

    1 Reply
    1. re: JAB

      Hi You Are the 1st one. Well unfotunately I never eaten any place in Mission Viejo. The girl I had crush on 28 yrs ago was from there though. That's the closest I can relate to Mission Viejo. Struck out Sorry.

    2. Do the sushi chefs get angry if you put ginger on your sushi or mix wasabi onto your soy sauce or rub your chopsticks together? These are all things I have heard are offensive. I look forward to your thoughts.

      3 Replies
      1. re: PinotPlease

        Wasabi and ginger for the same reason. To him or any chef trained good in Japan feels that you are destroying the sesnsitive flavor of fish he is proud to serve you. That's the reason he ggets angry. He thinks you disrespect his work. It's just different view towards food we have here and in Japan. It's similar thing that in europe ,they don't have salt and pepper on the table. Get it? Sushi already has decent amount of wasabi in it. You can only mix wasabi in to soy sauce when you have sashimi. Sashimi doesn't have wasabi in it right? But some part sushi chef is wrong. Why sushi is always srved in 2 pieces? You eat first one the way it is only with soy sauce. 2nd piece you are able to adjust to your liking. If the chef still get angly after that, he got ego problem. Chop stics case; It just bad manner. But you have to in order to avoid small wood piaces stuck in your mouth right? You do it under the counter so that nobody sees that. You have to hide the action to avoid pieces of your chop sticks ends up on other's food. Ok?

        1. re: bigtuna27

          sadly, many sushi chef in the US are convinced americans do not want wasabi on their sushi, or only use wasabi by mixing it in soy sauce, or they just think that not being japanese americans wouldn't know any better anyway, but they do not put wasabi on the nigiri. it's maddening, and insulting

          1. re: thew

            I no linger assume it is there. I check then add between rice and fish.

      2. Hi bigtuna,

        It was kind of you to offer to answer questions. I have some for you. What affordable (I'm a student at UCLA) sushi restaurants do you feel offer the freshest, best quality fish? Also, I've recently gotten into making my own sushi at home and was wondering if you knew of a place I could buy shiso (japanese mint)? I love it with scallop sushi but haven't been able to find it in any regular markets. Any other tips you might want to share would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

        8 Replies
        1. re: shoegal

          Hi. Shoegal
          Closest place for you to buy Shiso is probably "Nijiya Market". It's on Sawtell blvd right before Olympic blvd east side in the 3 story biz building . 1st floor. They open untill 11pm I think. About sushi restaurant; They are all some how pricy ,if the quality is good. I don't know your budget so best bet is to hit the happy hour. And settle with california roll or spicytuna. Try Chaya Venice's Happy hour It's pretty good and You can meet the good looking boys and girls too .ha ha.

          1. re: bigtuna27

            Shoegal, I don't know how much room you have but shiso is very easy to grow at home. Just be sure to grow in a container as it's very prolific. It's good in a lot of things.

            1. re: Richard 16

              Good dea. I forgot mention. If you grow in the yard ,it'll grow big. If you want to do it in container pick a large and deep one. 10" and up. if you want to have soft leaves like you get in the market, you have to make it like hot house so that it can avoid wind. Wind make the leaves get harder. There are red shiso too. Don't put green kind close to red kind or colored Basil.The color of the leaves turn to red. Shiso is a Basil family. You can buy baby plant at nursely near by around spring time. When they blossom pinch flowers. Other wise it'll die soon. Good luck

              1. re: bigtuna27

                Thanks! That's a wonderful idea... I will definitely check out my local nursery. I love Shiso, so I am very excited to grow it. Would you know what the plant is called? Is just called a shiso plant?

                1. re: shoegal

                  Green shiso the one you like. There is red shiso too. little different flavor. I like to smell red shiso but like to eat green one. Good luck.

                  1. re: shoegal

                    There are several kinds - green and red (more purple in color, actually) being the biggest distinction. It's also called beefsteak leaf, but more commonly Perilla.

                    The flower buds and seeds are used as well, but I never have. One type of red is used in making umeboshi plums. Korean perilla (kkaennip) generally has larger leaves; green on top with a reddish "blush" underneath.

                    The bigger leaves of any type are tougher; chiffonade them They make great tempura, and lend great flavor to Kim Chee.

                    1. re: Richard 16

                      hmmmm shiso.... is that the herb i can't identify in my vietnamese summer rolls? Or is it mainly a japanese ingredient? On a side note... if it's not shiso, can anyone tell me what it is???? It has a bit of a bite, and looks like a dark lettuce (i think, it's shredded). It has perplexed me for months!!!

                      1. re: kubasd

                        Shiso is mainly Japanese and Korean, although I have seen them in SE Asian food stores. The spring rolls generally have Thai basil, and sometimes, mint. The basil is similar to western basil. If you've had Pho (Fer), it' s usually served on the side with sprouts and lime (and hoisin and a hot sauce, such as sriracha).

                        applehome - http://applegigo.blogspot.com

          2. I have a few questions:
            1. Sometimes I see big tip jars on sushi bars and sometimes I see patrons tipping sushi chefs outright. Is this required? Do sushi chefs get part of tip from my bill?
            2. When is it OK to offer sushi chefs a drink?

            6 Replies
            1. re: citizenx

              Hi. Q #1 No It's not required to tip sushi man outright. It depends on the system each restaurant have.Tthey'll usually share tips at the end of night with wait personal. Some customer appriciated the food and service that sushi man gave so sometime they tip extra directry to the chef beside the tip they left on the tab. The tip jar probably for that perpose. Direct tip usually shared among sushi man only.Q#2 Just ask them. There are no right time set. If you do biggining of the dinner, they'll probably love you more and you may get freebee. If you don't want them to think you are expecting freebee, at the end or middle of the dinner may be better idea. In japan most of the places prohibit sushi man to take drinks from customer because it may affect thier performance. You know some of them can't hundle drinks well. Not me though. ha ha

              1. re: bigtuna27

                Ok, Mr. Sushi Man. What happens if you sit at the bar and there's no tip jar? How do you tip in that situation? Do you give it to the waitress and say it's for the chefs? Do you just leave it at the bar? Or does it mean that tipping is not expected?

                And if you do tip the sushi chef, how much do you tip? Is it 10% of the bill? A flat tip?

                1. re: Miss Needle

                  Some place thinks it's not polite to have tip jar on the bar.I'm one of them. Just hand it directly to sushi chef and tell him it's for him only. They like extra tips of cause. you probably tip on the bill 15~20 % already so amount is up to you. i had few customer said waiteress was hollable but I was good. So they tip few backs for them and gave me a lot and said not to share with waitress. It's all up to you how you do it. You wanna come back and get even better service from him? Then tip him good.

                  1. re: bigtuna27

                    Bigtuna-san, how do we leave tip for itamae when we pay with credit card?

                    One time, there were four of us for sushi. We sat at counter, had two large beers and had lots of good sushi (especially aoyagi/live orange clam). We figured $200-300 for bill; it was only $85 (we asked and waitress double checked with itamae), so we left $100 tip on credit card. Does the staff know it's for itamae? Of course, this was a nice, proper sushi-ya, so no tip jar.

                    Do I need to put itamae tip in otoshidama envelope? haha Thank you.

                    1. re: OCAnn

                      If it's true,you got a hec of a deal. Probably they shared with all of them. Come to my restaurant. ha ha.

                      1. re: bigtuna27

                        Of course, all this is not a sushi tradition but rather an American thing. In Japan, there is no tipping, either at sushi restaurants or anywhere else.

            2. Seriously?
              Mr. Hanaya Yohei started nigiri in Tokyo at a roadside stand post WWII. Before that sushi was fermented rice used to preserve fish and later vinegar was added as a preservative. The origins are much older than 350 years.

              Sushi rice is warmed to body temperature, unless you like your room really hot.

              Not sure what this post is about, but it ain't correct.

              17 Replies
              1. re: cls

                hi. may be Mr hanaya did have sushi stand but he is not the first one. likei said over 350 yrs ago the original modern style sushi[ which pretty close to what we eat here now] was founded by Mr kobei in Edo[ now in Tokyo. I said modern style sushi. Very origine of sushi was like you said using rice toferment the fish so that they can bring them to inland or mountain side for the good protain sauce for the people there. But then it wasn't called sushi. The old fashion style sushi had been there longer. It was originated in grater Osaka area. We still have those style now . It's called Hako sushi[ Boxed sushi or pressed style sushi] I guess people didn't waist the rice so ated before furmentation begins. You know pretty good about sushi but not enough. I welcome challange. Keep it coming let's have fun. By the way furmentation style you are talking about was originated in other country. Can you name that?

                1. re: bigtuna27

                  Yes, fish preservation came from China but it was practiced in many parts of South East Asia as well. It's interesting that you mention carrying fish inland. I just read an interesting article that said the difference between Kansai shoyu and Kanto shoyu is that Kansai shoyu is less strong because it was served with salt preserved fish in Kyoto (salt having been used to preserve it on the trip from ocean to the cty). And Kanto (Edo) shoyu was stronger because it was served directly with raw, fresh fish (more easily obtained from Edo Bay).

                  Anyhow, it's worth noting that Hanaya Yohei died in 1858, in the Edo (Tokugawa) Era, ten years before the Meiji Restoration, having lived most of his life more than 100 years before WWII. I've never heard of Mr. Kobei, but I have heard of an early sushi restaurant, in the Edo Jidai, called Kobei. Can you post his name in Japanese so I can research him? Most of my research thus far points to Hanaya as the inventor of nigirizushi.

                  ...Also, roadside sushi stands in Tokyo were banned after the war because of health/ sanitation concerns.

                  1. re: Silverjay

                    Ok. It's getting fun.1. Fish preservation became popular in sothern china but not originated. It was originated in North Vietnam. So as rice, soy sauce type sauce.We can buy Fish sauce in most of the market now. That is the original soy sauce type sauce. Chinese experiment with soy because it's basically furmented protein. Though miso was created by chinese in the prosess of making soy sauce.2. About soy sauce you are very wrong. Kansai soy sauce has less flavor but a lot more salt contents. Kanto soy sauce is stronger in flavor and color but not much salt contents compair to kansai soy sace. Reason; Kansai area was a lot more sophisticated than Kanto area then and long history of civilization [ about 2800 yrs] . Kanto area was barbalian land then. So the people in kansai area was classy enough to enjoy cooking and don't want over power thier food with storg sauce. This idea lead to need of less flavor but enough salt content soy sauce. It also helps the original color in appierance. I guess people in Kansai was Like peope in La or Ny and Kanto area people were like in very remote area so that they have to make it taste same with strong soy sauce or cover up strong fish flavor when you eat them raw specialy older one. ha ha By the way kansai style the original type. 3. Origin of sushi; I have to separate sushi to in few category. Hako sushi[ Pressed sushi popular in Kansai area] Nigiri sushi[ popular in everywhere else in the world[ like here] and Nare sushi[ fish preserv type very old style]. I'll talk about Nigiri sushi here ok? According to the book I have[ Sushi text book for pro] It was between 1818~1831 Mr Hanaya kobei made it succesful as sushi restaurantuor. He said in his biography ,there were few people before him but didn't make it big. I guess you read his name wrong. His restaurant was still there in Tokyo after Meiji era called RyogokuKoubei sushi. Are these helped you a bit? this was fun . keep it coming.

                    1. re: bigtuna27

                      Calm down, OK? There are many resources on this subject besides your sushi book- some of them perhaps more recent. Here is the article that I read regarding differences between Kansai and Kanto shoyu and how it relates to eating fish--> http://kiifc.kikkoman.co.jp/foodcultu... . Mr. Yanagihara, the lecturer, is very well-known and appears as an expert on Japanese cuisine in the media. He also has a traditional restaurant in Ginza. Also, from what I've read, much of the Chinese experimentation with soy sauce involved the use of fermented animal meat- besides soy.

                      Hanaya Yohei's name is usually transliterated in English as "~hei". Also, every time I've seen it rendered in Kana in Japanese, it also appears as "よへい". This includes the Japanese Wikipedia entry--> http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E8%8F%A... . But I'm not a native speaker, so that second kanji in his name may be read as "~bei" I suppose. Since Mr. Hanaya had become as much a businessman as a chef, we can assume that self-promotion and legacy most likely colored his reflections on his own personal impact on the cuisine, so I wouldn't put much faith in his biography.

                      Most serious study of the history of Japanese cuisine recognizes the concept of Tokyo (Edo) becoming a culinary capital during the Tokugawa Era and that the cuisine from this era is more or less the direct decendent of modern Japanese cooking. Kanto a barbarian area prior to Tokugawa? Sure. But at some time, everywhere and everyone was barbarian.

                      1. re: Silverjay

                        hi silverjay. You appier to be resucher of japanese cuisine. I'm very impressed. i do respect your knowledge very much but I started this to have fun helping regular sushi fins. I think we went too fur on technical issues. It was fun talking to you and you can educated me some. But i rather keep this in fun lebel. Over all I'm just a sushi man with more knowledge than average sushi man not a resercher.Sorry. Good luck on your reserch.

                      2. re: bigtuna27

                        "Nare sushi[ fish preserv type very old style]. "

                        Not trying to go off topic but just curious. Does FunazushI (carp) and even the stinky kusaya fall into this category?

                        1. re: K K

                          Fumasishi yes. Kusaya is dried fish and most of the american can't even get near them.

                          1. re: bigtuna27

                            A lot of Japanese can't even stand kusaya, as it smells like someone took a dump on a plate.

                            1. re: K K

                              True. But taste good though ,if you can handle smell. I can't handle Dorian from S Asia.

                              1. re: bigtuna27

                                Since the original discussion centered around history, here's one of the better links that describe sushi history and a little section on Hanaya Yohei



                                1. re: K K

                                  I've found that the English internet information on sushi can be pretty sketchy. But I've seen these pages before. I like the "Chronology, origin and genealogy" one though. One of the types listed under "izushi" is "kabura-zushi" which is regional specialty of the Kanazawa area. It's described as "Salted yellowtail (buri) fillets sandwiched between pickled turnip (kabu) slices, and pickled with a mixture of rice and rice malt." I'm actually going to be there in a few weeks and am looking forward to trying this interesting sounding delicacy.

                                  Photo: http://www.butta.co.jp/foods/p_kabura...

                                  1. re: Silverjay

                                    Those pages I think were written in Japanese by the Japanese webmaster first then had English pages made available.

                                    What you've listed is another fine shiny example where in a small country, there's so much amazing obscure local food probably within short distances (let alone prefectures or towns) that are so specialized and unique, they are obscure to the rest of the world, unless you are in the know, research about it, or have a local guide/help. And 5 to 10 minutes away from one location is another place that offers something unique and specialized. Taiwan is exactly like that too in terms of food culture.

                                    1. re: K K

                                      Yeah, and in Japan those things usually become the local tourist eki-bento.

                                      1. re: Silverjay

                                        hi. I'm so amsed that you guy's debotion for sushi. you guys probably know more than average Japanese even sushi chefs. Izushi is far from the sushi we eat now. Name came from usuing rice to farment or cure. It's more like pickled fish. The word sushi came from sour rice and turned it in vinegered rice later. you guys can teach at colledge I think. By the way you can make kobumaki with yellow tail. not very many chefs make them but s~~~o good.

                                      2. re: K K

                                        You sure do know a lot! =) That word for things (usually foods) that are known, specialized and unique to certain regions is meibutsu. Meibutsu always make excellent gifts.

                                        1. re: OCAnn

                                          In the history link, at the bottom for the most recent date, I like how starting year 2000, "big ass stupid name rolls" is categorized as Kawari-zushi that include California Rolls, etc..

                                          " With 'unusual' sushi-dane toppings, diversifying into worldwide."

                                          Although WIKI says California roll was invented circa 1960s in ahem, Los Angeles.


                                          I should be ashamed of myself, even looking into crap like this.

                                          1. re: K K

                                            I think the chart is more about roughly the era or century, not the precise year of origin.

                  2. 1. I read in some book umpteen years ago that it is not impolite at all to ask a question along the lines of "what is very fresh today?" I then read that this is considered an insult because a sushi chef should only serve what is very fresh. Which is it?

                    2. I normally ask the sushi chef to simply prepare two pieces of what he would consider the best nigiri of the day to start a meal. If either of them are noticeably not fresh. I pay up, and leave. Simple as that. There are sushi joints all over town. How would you judge a first time experience at a new sushi bar?

                    3. I've also read that most serious / traditional suhi eaters judge a sushi chef mostly by his/her tamago. True?

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: gordeaux

                      1.Why not .you are the one paying for. I don.t mind. But most of the chef will answer everything is fresh. Fish doesn.t last long time and you can not buy every fish everyday. Since It's a business they will serv within a few days though. If the sushi chef takes it insult, he is old fashion. You could ask what is good today to avoid the conflict.2. Your way is good but every place has few good fish at least. then you can't judge them. I would ask Mackerel first. if you don't like it ask any item look good in the sushi case. Freshness of fish is some how similar in most of the good sushi place. Here you have to judge their rice. How they cook,season and form the rice ball.3. True and very popular theory among the people pretend to be grumet sushi fin. Who cares you want to pay for $3~4 for couple piece of sugar and colestrol? ha ha

                    2. 1) Since you are considered a very rare breed of classically trained sushi chef (and I tip my hat off to you), how do you feel about this Los Angeles style of sushi standardization, as exactly what you say, warm rice, and omakase = set menu like in French restaurant where more or less everyone get the same thing? Also what are your thoughts on "sushi nazi" (ganko oyaji) type of people who treat some customers bad like Nozawa in Studio City, Sasabune, and many spinoffs like it. who claim to say "no stupid name rolls, but I will serve you a blue crab salad handroll at the end"? Is the customer always right, sometimes right?

                      2) Who was the first person to recommend eating nigiri to dip fish side down in soy sauce and eat the nigiri either fish side down or fish side to the side? And who was the first to double dip in the community soy sauce bowl and got his ass kicked? Haha.

                      3) What are your thoughts on sushi chefs like Ono Jiro at Sukibashi Jiro in Tokyo, who seems to have been doing "omakase" (his way) for quite some time? How about Masayoshi Takayama or his apprentice Hiro Urasawa? Or Katsu-san who isn't as famous apparently but has years and years of experience?

                      4) What are your thoughts on pre-saucing nigiri, so customers should not be using excessive soy sauce? Is this style traditional as some say? Some of these Los Angeles type places claim to season their own soy sauce, some might use more shoyu to make a thicker nikiri, others might use a bottled type of ponzu and drown their fish, and I've seen one sushi-ya in my area use a lighter konbu dashi that is just about right for shiromi and some hikarimono (mirin, sake, konbu, a little bit of shoyu).

                      5) What do you think is the ideal number of molding steps for nigiri? I've seen sushi chefs in America do 3, mostly 5, and to an extreme I've seen a chef turn, rotate, press in total upwards of 15 steps (yes an overkill, I wish I took a video) because he didn't start off his fish slicing correctly. What is the history behind proper nigiri molding technique and who came up with 3 step, 5 step, and even 1 handed molding?

                      6) Is it really true that you should not have anago and umeboshi in the same meal? David Lowry in his sushi book wrote this piece of folklore which never got answered.

                      7) What was the LA sushi scene like 30 years ago? What kind of neta was common and what was extremely hard to get (considering back then there were probably much fewer distribution methods to get fish from Japan)? What was easy to find and use as neta then, but now considered very hard to get or not popular anymore, and vice versa?

                      15 Replies
                      1. re: K K

                        Thank you for your hat off. But You do have alots of qs. Ok Let's start.
                        1.i don't like those style. Although thier sushi is very good. It is easier for them to deal with customer but make me feel they are looking down on customer. Over all it just the style they choose to be different. Those style existed in japan before and still is in some place but getting a lot less. I have a funny story about why mr nosawa choosed to do that but I'll skip. I don't want to be sued.2. I don't know who but commomn sence in Japan to avoid mess and enjoy the flavor. I certenly don't know the person who double dipped first. But I'm sure his ass was kicked hard. 3. All of them are grate chefs. Again they just choosed to do it for many reasons. Katsu san was grate pioneer in La. All the sushi related people and biz owe him big time for succes of sushi biz in La in some point 4. I like it. I do it some time when I found the customer I have may appriciate. But it's your money you can dip it in as much as you want. I have been making my own soy dipping sauce since around 1980 for customer's use. I believe I was the first one to do that in LA. About your local sushi-ya; Keep him He is realy into serve the best he can. I want to know the name . I want to go there. 5. My opinion is less time your finger touches better. No matter how clean thier fingers are, they still somebodyelse's finger. I do it in 3 steps. 6.That was common idea in Japan. But not anago. it is Unagi. Because Unagi is very rich and umeboshi is very assety they might cause stomack problem later. We call it Jigokuae[ Hell combo] 7. I had futomaki with carrot,ceroli scrambled egg and cucumber once. I spitted out. Giant clam was the neta changed a lot. It was one of the cheapest neta then and one of most expensive now. chinese and japanese ate them all ha ha. Oh by the way most of the chefs trained in Japan[ Ok 99% of them then] had an attitude similar to Mr Nosawa and others you mention It only because they simply can't speak english well so that didn't understand Americans. They are ok to serve only Japanese client to make living. I know in very famous place then , American customer with Japanese as his Vip biz client asked Calif roll and Chef threw tea mag at him and yeild him to get out. I wonder what happened about their biz relations afterwards. Did I do ok here? see ya

                        1. re: bigtuna27

                          Since you said "neta" instead of "tane", does that mean you're from Kansai?

                          1. re: bigtuna27

                            Thanks for enlightening the discussion for all of us! I love this thread.

                            Some more questions if I may:

                            a) In what way do you feel Katsu-san was a pioneer, at least for the Los Angeles sushi scene? Was he the first successful traditional nigiri sushi chef to be accepted by the masses? Just a disclaimer, I know nothing about Katsu-san other than the few reviews people on chowhound have written about him, which suggest that he has been around a long long time (perhaps the Ono Jiro of LA but different).

                            The place I go to that makes their own konbu dashi shoyu is Sakae Sushi in Burlingame, in Northern California. They have also done a great medai no konbu jime, but very rarely offer it. Relatively easy to do, but no idea why it is not done more.

                            b) New wave of sushi restaurants seem to enjoy using the blowtorch to ABURI literally anything. First with toro, then shiromi, then salmon and scallops. Then of course those big ass stupid name uramaki with spicy mayo on top of California. How do you feel about "aburi"? It works for me on shirako and uni, even though it is a bit strange to do so, can't say the same for others.

                            c) What are your thoughts on using aburi wagyu as sushi neta (or tane), seems to be the in-thing to do now (wagyu from Kagoshima for example or Miyazaki), or yuzu and sudachi (speaking of which when did yuzu and sudachi become condiments for sushi at least in Los Angeles?).

                            d) Your comments please on California rice vs Japanese type premium rice for sushimeshi/sumeshi. Advantages/disadvantages?

                            1. re: K K

                              Aburi (炙り) has been pretty common in Japan at least, for a while. Especially for maguro toro, salmon toro, and kinmedai. Also, you can sometimes get aburi pork oshi-zushi. (Goes nicely with beer!) And I see sudachi and yuzu in Japan often too with certain items.

                              1. re: Silverjay

                                You're right about "for a while", assuming that katsuo tattaki (the prep itself which is salt rub, then seared over an open flame) qualifies to be "aburi", which in a way it is. And one has to "aburi" the nori sheets loosely speaking to make them crispy. I guess there's that kind, vs the searing of spicy mayo and flying fish eggs over big ass stupid name rolls.

                                1. re: K K

                                  You hate half ass sushi don't you. You know a lot. I'm glad that over 30 yrs of sushi history here finally amrican gets this lebel. My kind a guy. I'm afraid I may make mistake when I serve you if it happend.

                                  1. re: bigtuna27

                                    I have to admit that I still don't know a lot but the subject matter fascinates me enough from 10 years ago to do my own research, ask questions, and of course whatever I can get my hands and eyes on, and of course as cgfan said below, the Japanese TV series from early/mid 90s, Shota No Sushi, that while had a lot of silly melodrama, the content was supremely educational. My dad once said that if you pick up a hobby or interest, go all the way and excel at it, then you will find more than just enjoyment, but a passion. For food it is always interesting to learn how it is made and the stories behind them.

                                    It is also fun to joke about monster size uramaki. Honestly I don't hate it, as sometimes I eat a few with non nigiri munching friends to social, but wouldn't go out of my way just to have one (unless the restaurant screws up nigiri, then I move to the next thing).

                                    You are too kind, O-Maguro-san, I'd still be learning much if I ate what you prepared me. And I love stories of all sorts. Hope you share with us your funny stories about ordering omakase, and maybe someday, your theories as to why Nozawa-san went the way of Darth Vader.

                              2. re: K K

                                Hi Kk a) Katsu san was very skilled chef but not only that he tried to made decore of his restaurant or small detail things even back ground music to suitable to american people when everybodyelse was doing cheesy cheap so called japanese decore. He hired american waitress etc. It was eye opening for the rest of us. Imagine the modern sushi bar we have now in 25 yrs ago? He made it succesful so that opened eye for us. I've making those infused soy sauce since1980. It taste good. Kobujime in anykind taste good but doesn't sell well because people are scared to try and think sushi must be fresh fish only.b)Aburi has been popular in Japan recently. New wave sushi chefs didn't create those on thier own. They just copied as usual as Japanese. They don't create things. But it catches tennsion from customer. It sells. I don't like those rolls but if customer wants, why not. It's a biz.c) Wagyu is very hard to get. Are you talking about american kobe? I like the taste. But it is heavy so that customer may skip couple orders later. Yuzu and sudachi was available since 30yrs ago. Only japanese veg suppliar could get them for you then, I myself was grawing yuzu tree before.d) Premium rice taste sweeter and less stinky flavor. But to use in sushi california medium or higher grade do the job fine. Unless you are told before you have bite ,you won't notice. And you probably paying more for that. You can use that as sales pitch for the restaurant in order to cater to the people like you. did I answer everything ? see ya

                                1. re: bigtuna27

                                  Sexcellent discussion. This is great stuff, thanks!

                                  So O-Maguro27-san:

                                  i) Have you tried mixing California rice with Japanese rice together for su-meshi? I remember seeing Masaharu Morimoto do that in Iron Chef TV episode Battle Sushi, it was about 50% mix. Can't remember offhand which one was shinmai and komai but the episodes are all on youtube.

                                  American style Kobe or Kobe style is common, but there are some places that can import Wagyu from Miyazaki and Kagoshima, very expensive of course. Then there are other ways to get the premium stuff that Masa/Urasawa serve that we plebs cannot get easy access to.

                                  ii) It sounds like Katsu-san paved the way for a lot of people to come in terms of re-inventing the sushi bar for Americansf from a high level. But I was curious whether he adopted any specific techniques in neta preparation, knife work, nigiri making or processes and methods that was also a first for Los Angeles sushi scene?

                                  iii) Why is kanpyo maki the only hosomaki that is served yotsu-giri (4 piece cut) typically? I've been to sushi bars where Japanese customers, if they order negi-toro hosomaki (for example) they get yotsu giri without asking the chef, but if a non Japanese customer orders it, they get 6 piece cut instead (unless for example I specify that to them).

                                  1. re: K K

                                    Good California and Good Japanese rice are the same.

                                    1. re: K K

                                      KK: You asked a question regarding the special case of the kampyo-maki as being cut into 4 pieces whereas other hoso-maki are cut into 6 pieces.

                                      I just posted my recent experiences trying out both in this thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4506...

                                      Unfortunately I'm practically the only one to be writing in this thread, but you may enjoy reading my other two experiences detailed in separate posts in the same thread.

                                      One is in regards to how the nigiri-technique used can drastically affect the flavor of the sushi (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4506...), and the other is about some of the silent and often unnoticed compensations and adjustments an experienced itamae-san does for his customer (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4506...).

                                      1. re: cgfan

                                        FYI: Seeing that the above referenced-thread could be of broader interest than just its regional classification under "California", I've since started a similar thread titled "Your "Shota moment" at a sushi bar?" under "General Chowhounding Topics" at: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/575822

                                        It's a discussion of the subtle but often unnoticed skills that a traditional itamae possesses that makes a real (vs. theoretical) impact to the taste of his sushi.

                                      2. re: K K

                                        Hi KK i) Morimoto is a grate chef but Ithink that was a stant to catch tennsion by director. It doesn't make sence. sounds like Sea salt and rock solt mixed together. Does it make difference in food? I hard some of tose beef were smuggled in some time. I did once long time ago.ii) Katsu san was well trained in Japan. But he also had balls to take chance in biz ,food etc. i hard some times he is so scary to his employees. iii) I don't know the specic answer. But kampyo maki usualy eaten at the end . So may be enjoy the sweetnes more? Hoso maki cut in 6 pc is some time too small for men I guess.I don't care eather way. I'll eat them anyway. Eating sushi is not about trendy style . As long as you don't make mess, you can order or eat any way you like. It's your money.

                                        1. re: bigtuna27

                                          cgfan I just saw your Kaito post (and I drool over your pics of your multiple visits there often), and it is enlightening that you have a great itamae at Kaito to show you the merits of good traditional skill and in a way to test you in a friendly way (because he knows you are a Shota eater or maybe like that detective in Kuitan TV series).

                                          As far as the kanpyo maki yotsu giri question, I've asked that of one of my local itamae (classically trained/apprenticed in Japan) and his apprentice, and both of them too could not come up with an answer. All I can say is that in agreement, it tastes better (more mouthful per bite). Men usually take bigger bites, so you get a better sense of balance of good shari, nori, and content. This I can relate to why in Shota No Sushi, the battle #3 (topic makimono) for who represents the new sushi master competition, that Shota won because he made yotsu giri (4 pc cut) with his makimono, which was interestingly some simmered Taiwanese style clam, while Saji-san (opponent) took some high end shimofuri wagyu and aburi'd the hell out of it, paired it with chopped garlic, and did a 6 pc cut.

                                          But still, standard-wise, kanpyo is typically 4 cut, not other makimono.

                                          So cgfan, next time you go to Kaito, ask for an UNCUT hosomaki of your favorite kind. Then eat it like you're holding a mini flashlight (or a McDonald's $1 breakfast burrito). You can vary the bite size, and it is challenging but heaps of fun to eat. My itamae once did a maguro natto uncut hosomaki as an item near the end of my meal (omakase). It was a little messy eating it, but enjoyed it.

                                          I can't remember which chef told me this, but there are people who eat uncut futomaki (and I see that Nijiya supermarket has this in their refrigerator deli's too). That must be like eating a burrito supreme but healthier.

                                          1. re: K K

                                            KK: thank you for referencing my earlier posts from a separate thread. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/450613 and for commenting on my photos taken at Kaito. For the others here is my ever-growing picture collection of Morita-san's exquisite sushi, so far all 818 of them! http://www.flickr.com/photos/akatayam... , and as a slideshow: http://www.flickr.com/photos/akatayam...

                                            Yes, after many years of dining in front of Morita-san's bar at Kaito, I have indeed learned much from him but still know so little. And the occasional "sushi tests" or revelations that he throws my way always keeps it interesting, which was the main subject of the referenced thread.

                                            Just for easy reference, here are just a few of the "aha" moments that I have experienced at his bar, and at the bar of another long-time itamae, Shibutani-san of Shibucho.

                                            * two nigiri of maguro taken from the same fillet and from consecutive cuts - which one tastes better, and why [different nigiri technique used between the two


                                            * at the very start of our meal, 4 nigiri were served to me ordered right to left [more mild to less mild] on a plate, while my dining companion had hers served left to right [she was left-handed, while I was right-handed, something the itamae could not know except to observe how she drank her tea, as this was her first visit to his sushi bar]

                                            * 2 freshly filleted anago with tare - what's the difference? - one used an off the shelf tare, the other the meticulously reduced traditionally prepared sauce which uses anago as part of the recipe

                                            * my most recent "sushi test" with the 4-cut vs. 6-cut kampyo-maki

                                            Re. the kampyo-maki test, to me the 4 piece roll had better balance, while with the 6 piece roll the kampyo overpowered the shari. Why would this be? My suspicion is that while the ratio of shari to kampyo is the same in each circumstance, certainly more of the kampyo is left "exposed" relative to the "protected strips of kampyo" inside the roll in the 6 piece roll, thus upsetting the balance.

                                            Milder ingredients such as the kyuuri in the kappa-maki does not have the same overpowering potential.

                              3. bigtuna-san, where in Japan are you from? Where did you train?

                                Also, which are your favourite sushi-yas both here and in Japan?

                                Doumo arigatou gozaimasu.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: OCAnn

                                  I'm from Kobe. Famous for Kobe beef and big earthquake. Iwas trained in my friends father's small sushi bar. Probably not exist anymore now. I haven't been back over 15yrs so I don't know which one is good now. Here, I like Takao in Brent wood Ca.,Kampuchi in Gardena Ca. But I go En sushi in Santa Monica ca and Azami on Melrose La ca a lot. Because my friends work there. Oh by the way thanks for backing me up on KTin NYC's coment. I'll keep going with my pidgin enblish. ha ha

                                2. Hey bigtuna

                                  Is it ok for me to show my sushi chef the Monterey Bay Aquarium List of fish to avoid. It is sufggested we avoid some fish due to unsustainable practices or heavy metal contamination found in certain species or origins. My wife says it would be very offensive.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: dijon

                                    Well. If you want to eat good sushi,you can do it after the dinner I guess. I don't think they'll take it too offensive. Some of them are curious about it too. If they have no choice for the biz wise,they'll use that fish anyway. I don't use chillian sea bass in my menu at all. You know the reason right? But if I were you, I'll keep it between friends. Just because good chef is hard to find now a days.

                                  2. Well hi there, Big Tuna. First things first. You URL to your website on your profile page is out of whack. Doesn't work. Wanna fix it?

                                    Now, for my serious question for a serious sushi chef...I'e never set foot in Japan, but I've been doing sushi for fifty plus years, at least. And I believe I was taught correctly from the beginning. I've been blessed by getting to be a regular of some very talented guys! The simple rule is and always has been TRUST the chef! He not only knows what every particular fish tastes like, he knows what THIS particular fish tastes like. He vinegaars his rice perfectly. Just the perfect amount of wasabi smeared on the rice before the fish goes on. He has the perfect mixture of sauce/glaze to paint across it before presenting it to you. And you eat it with your fingers in one bite.

                                    You know what really ticks me off? Gping to a sushi bar and a small dish of "dipping sauce" and a portion of wasabi is presented to me along with the presumably perfect sushi! So who's playing games here? If a sushi chef is REALLY good, why is this stuff put anywhere near a customer? But don't take away my pickled ginger just in case I want to change fishies!

                                    Okay, Obiwan Kahuna, gimme your best answer! '-)

                                    PS: Are you a Hollywood screenwriter working on a script?

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: Caroline1

                                      I'll take alook at it later. Now God bress you. You are one of the lucky ones. You got everything right. I totally agree with you if this is the perfect world. But we live in Los Angeles USA.. Land of everything goes. No body here want to be told how to do. Everybody create thier own way. It's the culture we have here. Long time ago in Japan at good places,sushi was served the way you described. I tried for the beggining of my time here but don't work. Majority of sushi customers don't care traditional way. Just the good food they like. Think about the changes we made for Pizza,Tacos etc. For the sushi chef and the restaurant, biz comes first. It's a part of service industry. I changed a lot too. I do something I am not proud of sometimes just to please customer. I had argued with customer, had kicked them out etc. Not only sushi but food in general changes along with the culture change. I know in fact in Korea or China, regular sushi is not so popular but california style roll is. They probably serve in different ways in any other countries too. Honestly I rather serve in the way you discribed but I can only do sometimes when I got customer like you. It's the fact of life.Too bad. No I'm not a screen writer. Do they make more money? ha ha Thank you.

                                      1. re: bigtuna27

                                        Nah. Most screenwriters don't make more money than a sushi chef. You probably have a couple of them working on your wait staff. '-)

                                    2. I'd heard that only a few companies control much of the import/catch of sashimi/sushi grade fish in the US market. Does anyone know whether this is true? Or is the market perhaps more regionally based?

                                      Separately, how much leeway might a local sushi-ya have in purchasing fish? How wide is the quality range of fish from local suppliers or importers? Are there things we might be interested in learning about the distribution process?

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: jcr1

                                        I don't know exactry but There are more than few lebel to go through to get to sushi bar.For instant TUNA-- The boat takes 1~2 days or more to get to the fishing area and it won't depart until tank is full. If they got full in one day they'll be back in port in few days If not they will stay up to week there. So freshest tuna you get will be at least 1 week old. When they got full tank , tuna in the bottom of the tank get presshered by others weight. it'll be damaged and they are pretty much soaked in thier own pee. in my knoeledge ther is at least # 1 grade, #1 1/2,# 2 and # 3. You have to pay to get good sushi. Ok? you don't want to get #3. Don't go cheap pkace.

                                      2. Hello Bigtuna! I have a couple of what you might call newbie sushi questions lol

                                        1. What is your opinion of sushi in landlocked areas that don't have such easy access to fresher fish? I have heard that fish that's served raw is generally frozen beforehand (you can correct me on that) so does it then make a difference if it's frozen for a few days longer in order to reach its destination? I live in Iowa, so this is relevant to my sushi experiences :)

                                        2. So, my first time eating sushi, one of the chefs handed myself and my friend a dish of octopus to try (I think he was impressed we ordered nigiri our first time out). It was very tasty but also very chewy. Was it overcooked or is it supposed to be rubbery? I loved the taste (he dressed it with teriyaki and sesame) but the chewiness put me off.

                                        3. Lastly...What would you recommend for someone who doesn't like fishy-tasting or strong-flavored fish? I liked the taste of salmon nigiri, but I don't believe it was very fresh. The texture was very soft, almost like mush.

                                        Thanks for being a good sport!

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: spellweaver16

                                          .1. Not all of them. Coast area gets most of them fresh. The comment on frozen fish was excuse but I'm sure geting fresh one is very hard in Iowa.2. ask chef cut it very thin and tenderize it. but we enjoy chowyness. 3.Salmon need some curing. salt it lightly and let it sit 1 hour then wash w/ light vineger water to get lid of smell etc. note. Fishiness and original fish flavor is different. Try go to reg market and get halibut wait few says and smell or taste. Then go to good sushi bar and order halibut. You can tell the difference . Then remember

                                        2. thanks for a deeply entertaining thread, bigtuna.

                                          any opinion on how to eat nigiri: rice side down, sidewise or fish side down?

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: cimui

                                            Hi big tuna here!! You are paying for it so it's up to you if you don't mind others thought. But rice side down make your plate messy--bad manner in Japan. Side wise is in between but you like soy sauce then it's a way to go. Most common and polite way is hold sushi side way and dip fish side only and eat it in 1 bite for men. Ladies and kids can ask chef to cut in half[ before dipping of cause]. One more thing. You don't have to use chopsticks at the counter if you are only eating sushi. Not at a table or when you are eating other dishes. That's why we offer hot towels to wipe your finger not your face ha ha

                                            1. re: bigtuna27

                                              hmm, would it make your plate messy if the rice is well pressed?

                                              i know yasuda san (naomichi yasuda), one of my favorite sushi chefs in the u.s., prefers that his guests eat nigiri rice side down. perhaps that is in part to highlight his excellent sushi, though. do you think it's an old school / new school divide?

                                              i don't ever dip in soy sauce because he always brushes it on prior to serving and more soy sauce would be overkill.

                                              i also never eat nigiri with chopsticks. for one thing, i'm too ungraceful with them. (my relatives all laugh at my usage. ;) i did wonder at a recent meal, though: what do you do when you have a few grains of rice stuck to your fingers after you've eaten the nigir? ok to lick it off your fingers or do you (politely) have to wipe it on the finger towel? the rice is really so good, it pains me to leave any of it behind! ;)

                                              1. re: cimui

                                                Don't dip your rice side in soy sauce then it's ok. Lick them Lick them. Be a funny guy and make others laugh. You'll make that sushi bar one fun place to be. Good for you.

                                                1. re: bigtuna27

                                                  alright, i'll fess up. i do lick. just wanted to figure out how many people i shock and appall when i do that. ;)

                                                  thanks, again.

                                          2. Okay, bt san, I have a question for you. I recently watched the rerun of Iron Chef "battle sushi" from a while back. Morimoto looked like a little kid, the show was that old! Asl you're well aware, his reputation is for innovation. But he blew my mind when he prepared his sushi rice. He just spread the vinegar mixture he had put together over the rice and stirred/tossed with a bamboo rice paddle.

                                            It's now several decades since I learned to make sushi at home, and I was taught to fan my rice while tossing it to cool in order to make it shiny. And to toast my nori. Are these techniques that are no longer in "fashion"? Oh! And the other thing I've seen on TV shows teaching how to make sushi is to put the wasabi on the FISH before setting the fish on the formed rice. I was taught to put the wasabi on the rice, then set the fish in place.

                                            Has the world changed THAT much? The wasabi is probably not all that important, but fanning the rice and toasting the nori make a big difference in my opinion What do you think? Thanks!

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: Caroline1

                                              Ok, You probably learned that from granma or old person. It shows that your way is for amature style. Fanning the rice in my opinion is not a good idea. Rice has to be right out of cooker[ Well I'll tell you how to cook later ,ok?] you have to set dressing and bowl ready to go by this time. And toss them soon as possible, as fast as possible to mix. While steam is coming out fom rice dressing can be soaked in. Very important . If you fan rice ,dressing can not be soaked in. Leaving sugar on the surface of rice. this makes it shiny but very hard to make sushi quickly in pro world. I don't like it at all. Wasabi should be on the fish unless you are making boat style for Uni, Ikura etc.Toasting nori is a good idea because when you make sushi at home ,even you bought the nori new it may be some how moist. At the busy restaurant no need. Toasting nori makes nori break crispy and flavor from it is fantastic. I suggest it when you make temaki[hand roll]. It'll enhance taste a lot better. How to cook best rice; 1. pick mid ~ high grade rice. Wash them 5~6 times so that the water get somehow clear. Let it sit in the water at least 1 hr
                                              Drain water for 15 min or so. Then add water just little bit less than same amount of rice. Cook 20 min or untill it's ready. After rice was cooked ,let it sit in cooker 15 min. Then toss. Helped you a bit?

                                              1. re: bigtuna27

                                                LOL! You're a fun and funny guy! I really like you! I'm 75 years old and learned to make sushi in my twenties, so that means I probably learned to make sushi from great great grandmothers! AND great great grandfathers!

                                                You know, the trouble with age is that our smell and taste memory is the sharpest and most accurate memory we have. Simply put, that means when we fall in love with something for how it tastes and smells, and then time steps in and the style of making it evolves into something that's really not the same dish, then we have lost the thing we fell in love with. It's just not there any more. You think I'm kidding? Ask me what Coca Cola used to taste like... OR fresh caught sashimi grade tuna! '-)

                                                I don't mind "new style" sushi. What I do mind greatly is that I cannot get the old style any more. Why can't I get both? It's all very frustrating!

                                                Oh...! Thank you for your rice recipe. It's basically the way I've been making it for years. Currently, I use Kagayaki Select rice. MUCH less rinsing required for clear water. BUT! In the last four months it has shot from $3.00 a kilo to $5.00 a kilo. At this rate, how long can it be before premium rice prices are right up there with premium tuna! Mind blowing.

                                                Thanks for your answer! If I still lived in L.A. (I was born there but wouldn't want to live there), I would come and have you make sushi your way for me! Meanwhile, every once in a while I will just have to make myself some "stay home sushi" with fanned rice just to make these ancient taste buds happy. '-)

                                                1. re: bigtuna27

                                                  well I am maybe 1/4 thru this post and i have learned more about sushi than in the past year thank you everybody for you info. i will finish this thread over the next couple of days
                                                  all of you rock
                                                  this also serves as a bookmark

                                                2. re: Caroline1

                                                  Caroline, I've seen sushi rice made the way you describe; and as bigtuna pointed out, that method was used by a couple of old Japanese women. I never would have guessed that this method was outdated; if anything, I took it as the "traditional" way.

                                                  I'm learning a lot on this thread.....

                                                3. Bigtuna-san, yoroshiku desu. Watashi mo nihon ni umaratan desu.

                                                  My question is about knives and freshness of sashimi. It has been said that without the sharpest and thinnest kataha knives, and without the training to use the knives properly, the damage to the fish can be significant. Cells are damaged to the point that oxidation starts immediately and occurs faster than when cut properly - this can be tasted and felt quite easily.

                                                  Do you think this is correct? Is it a significant factor - should amateurs abstain from cutting and serving sashimi (and sushi), leaving it to those that have the right equipment and experience? I understand that many will say that if you can't tell, who cares? But isn't it our responsibility, as customers that want to learn more about sushi, to try to understand these fine points?

                                                  Also, what do you feel about the serving of Ahi/yellowfin or Big-eye tuna instead of Blue-fin? As Blue-fin disappears, it is getting prohibitively expensive - but shouldn't ahi be sold as kihada and big-eye as mebachi, rather than calling it all maguro and not telling the customer?

                                                  And Happy Thanksgiving. My family celebrated many thanksgivings in our ancestral home in Yokosuka.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: applehome

                                                    Hi. Ist Q Scientifically correct. Dull knife leaves dull surface. There for oxidisation starts on bigger surface. In result it goes bad faster. Real time. doesn't really matter if you eat them right away. But let's say you keep left over longer, it'll show.Customer's knowledge leads you more understanding to the situation if chef did just ok job. But sometime ends up just too critical and make chef uncomfortable.Knowledge can only be showed when both sides are in good term.Otherwise it only bring bad memory. So it's up to you. I had both good and bad experience because customer knew little too much. Blue fin taste way better than others. I tried to sell both kinds at same time. 1.Slow down total tuna sales 2. Sometime people choose by price. So one of them got left over. It's biz and it's a chef's choice how to deal with.. I always tell my customer which kind I have for the day. When I have blue fin some thinks I'm trying to rip off. When I only have Y.fin while b.fin is in season, some look down on us and show off how well he or she knows about sushi. Not all the customer are as understanding as you guys. It's a fact. No I don't think we shoud call them in Japanese names. They have english name already and this is America. But should't be called all MAGURO eather. Chao

                                                    1. re: applehome

                                                      As I was taught, sliding a really sharp knife - as opposed to rocking it more like the French style (please forgive me for oversimplifying) is better at separating cells from each other as opposed to smashing through cell walls. I don't know if that's true, but the smoother surface reflects the proposed mechanism. Try it both ways with a carrot - the difference is obvious.

                                                    2. Hi bigtuna27:

                                                      1. Which is the preferred method to eat sushi: using chopstick or fingers?
                                                      2. Which sushi will you sample if you want to test the culinary skill of another sushi chef or your disciple?
                                                      3. What is the ideal time to age toro and hirame before you prepare them to your customers?
                                                      4. What is the difference between storing the raw fish/sashimi on the transparent glass fridge commonly used in sushi counters and ice boxes?
                                                      5. What is your favorite drink (water, green tea, sake, beer, sochu, wine or whatever) to accompany eating sushi?

                                                      Thanks for your explanation.

                                                      46 Replies
                                                      1. re: FourSeasons

                                                        Happy Thanks giving everyone. Before I answer, I have to tell you I always wear ties when I go to Thanks Giving dinner to honor. Because I make living with food. Ok that's said here is my answer. 1.Fingers when you eat at the counter and only eating sushi. That's why we offer hot towels to wipe your finger not for your face.2. I would try reg Mackerel, Shrimp. You can try tamago too but it's sweet and make you lose your appitite a bit. And if I do I'll be busted. 3. Toro; As I told in prier blog, tuna takes rather long time to get to the restaurant. So, use it soon as possible. Once you fillet, it only last few days. Hirame; Fish is soft when it's just caught. But it'll get firmer for next 24 hrs or so.Best time to use is with between 12hrs after it was caught to 36 hrs. No fish will be in the market with in 12 hrs .So touch the fish and if it's firm, it's fresh. We enjoy those firmness. If not cure them with light salt for 30min~1hr. You can cure further wrapping with vinegared kombu[ dry kelp]. This taste like totally different and out of the world. 4. Refrigerated sushi case is for convinent reason and health dept want us do that. Ice box will do the job fine specialy if you keep them as a whole fish. If you want to keep the fillet, put it on the ice. Sushi case dry up fillet but ice doesn't. 5. I personaly prefer green tea or sake. Beer make me full too soon.I don't like sochu or any othe strong drinks because it nums my taste buds. Wine; best ones are pinotgligio,sauvinionblanc or line wine. Avoid champaing or chardney. They tend to enhance fish's bad flavor. Over all when you got drunk ,every fish taste good Ha ha.

                                                        1. re: bigtuna27

                                                          Thanks for your reply.
                                                          Why would you pick Saba and Ebi for testing the culinary skill? And Tamago is not even fish; why do you select that as well?
                                                          A well known sushi chef in Tokyo told me that he aged toro for 14 days to enhance the flavor; does that make sense to you since you actually prefer to use it immediately? And I notice top notch sushi chefs in Tokyo prefer to use Ice Box, as I think they said natural ventilated air is preferred to refrigerated air? What is the rational behind that statement?

                                                          1. re: FourSeasons

                                                            Because those items require cooking skills. not sushi skills. You actually has to have good taste and intuition. I saw that TV show. Unless that tuna was caught off the coast of Japan[ Some time it happens at off Chiba prefecture. 1 hr from Tokyo] , I dought it's true. Toro has a lots of fat . There for even very fresh one you get here turns color and get stinky in 2~3 days in the freg. that's true. But Health dept regulation is different. H.D here doesn't understand knowledge we have or can't, won't.

                                                            1. re: bigtuna27

                                                              You misunderstood my question. I mean if you want to test the sushi skill of another sushi chef, which piece would you select? Like KK wrote below, which one would be the most difficult and challenging to prepare so that you know if he had done his work correctly.
                                                              I confirm the well known sushi chef in Tokyo said he age toro for 14 days, no translation error made during the conversation as I was very surprised and reconfirm it again with him. He thinks that it brings tha flavor to another level, which I agree that his toro was heavenly delicious.

                                                              1. re: FourSeasons

                                                                I'm going to offer opinions on the first two questions you asked.

                                                                Chopsticks or fingers? I suppose it depends on the construction of the nigiri, regardless of how expert the chef is. I've been to a place or two where it is supposedly "high end" but because of the "warm rice" and colder fish philosophy of the chef (ahem some Los Angeles style sushi), the way the nigiri was molded, and the fact that either there was too much pre-saucing of the nigiri (which lead to the sauce run down into the rice pad), or just due to circumstance (as great of a job the chef did), caused the entire construction of a nigiri to collapse when picked up with fingers. For some reason, when chopsticks are used, the nigiri does not break apart (mostly it is fish separation from the rice pad that breaks into pieces). The biggest offender was a giant raw prawn (ama ebi), with its rice pad broke into 2 to 3 pieces when picked up by fingers, at Sushi Zo in Los Angeles (which made it a challenge to eat without making a mess).

                                                                The other side of the coin, is to observe what other customers do at the sushi bar or what the chef recommends. For some reason Nick Toshes who wrote the "If You Knew Sushi" article in Vanity Fair last year, was told by the owner of Daiwa Sushi near Tsukiji Fish Market to use chopsticks, versus Masa Takayama in New York telling him to use his fingers (and Atsushi Koseki's book "Best Selection of Tokyo Fish Market" where he has a small writeup of Sushi Ryu also inside Fish Market where the chefes tell the European tourists "hand! hand!" and offer no chopsticks).

                                                                For sure no fingers with sashimi, I think most people know that. I suppose you can get away with eating the ginger next to the wasabi with your fingers.

                                                                Also I think what Bigtuna27 meant with his answer regarding "testing the chef's skils":

                                                                - marinating a mackeral or silvery fish is in a way "cooking" or prep skill. The degree of salt marination (or initial rub and vinegar wash, rinse, soak) is a carefully controlled receipe with varying results. Certain types of mackeral or silvery fish require very little marination time, whereas other species may need longer. In case anyone wonders, there are books and resources on the subject. Anyone can import a nice whole fish of Kyushu saba, but it takes a trained guy to bring the flavor out, and knowing how to prep that versus say, a mackeral from Norway. I used gizzard shad (kohada) as an example as I've had a varying number of them at different places, and more often than not, it has tasted not as good compared to the mackeral at the same restaurant. I believe this as a result, to be more difficult to prepare and get right (also the selection of a good batch or piece of fish, is also key, probably requires more scrutiny).

                                                                - there are many ways to make tamagoyaki, and I too am fascinated by the many different variations out there. Yes very simple ingredients, boiled down to eggs, mirin, sake (maybe), sugar, but some chefs add other things. The already mentioned "Shota No Sushi" TV episode from the 90s had one dedicated to the protagonist trying to learn to make tamagoyaki (in fact the restaurant where he was apprenticing) so not making it right meant dishonoring the name of the place. It is that episode that watchers learn that using some grated mountain yam (yamaimo) that helps provide the cohesiveness of the overall product (so if you take a thin piece and bend it, it won't snap as easy). Some use ground fresh shrimp to add some flavor. One of the best versions I had was supremely moist and juicy from a great konbu dashi addition.

                                                                Perhaps these two are not difficult for any master chef, but I think what BT27 is answering is "whether the chef knows these basics and does it well". So if someone fails at these two (easily most non Japanese run sushi bar places in the USA, because most of them outsource tamago to pre-made versions), it could be warning signs to the traditionalist eater. But I have been to places where the egg is OK, the mackeral is interesting but not mindblowing, yet other items were better. I guess there is no hard and fast golden rule that applies to sushi chefs, they are all different and specialize in their own thing which you will have to find out hopefully ahead of time to max out your enjoyment.

                                                                Finally cimui mentioned Naomichi Yasuda in New York. The restaurant's website briefly mentions storage and aging of fish (in general) that might give you some insight. http://www.sushiyasuda.com/restaurant...
                                                                On my to-try before I die list someday.... By the way I've read Yasuda-san is a specialist in tuna (at least 7 types of toro), 4 types of fresh eel, and a good portion of those are local sources (East Coast), maybe 40 types of fish and one meal you might not be able to finish trying them all. For sure I wouldn't bother testing his mackeral and egg skills, there's better things to be had.

                                                                1. re: K K

                                                                  Hi KK:

                                                                  1. Re Chopsticks vs fingers: I normally use chopsticks for sushi, but there is only one incident that the sushi chef in Tokyo (and this happened to be what I think is the best sushi house in the world) kept urging and insisting that I use my fingers. I just want to know what bigtuna think of this matter. He apparently agree on this issue.

                                                                  2. Re testing the chef's skill: I am asking bigtuna because of a 30 minutes TV show called "Japan Hour" that was shown in Singapore about 2-3 years ago. The show features the legendary sushi chef Jiro Ono, the founder of Sukiyabashi Jiro, the Michelin 3 stars sushi house in Tokyo. The first 15 minutes segment shows the preparation work in his restaurant; the second 15 minutes shows the reporter and Ono-san travelled to his ex-disciple's Sushi restaurant about 1 hour train ride from Tokyo. On the show, to test his disciple's skill, Ono requested two sushi from him as the standard for his sushi skill. Now, I just want to know from bigtuna if this is the standard benchmark for most sushi chefs. I will wait for bigtuna's answer before revealing the two sushi.

                                                                  3. Re Sushi Yasuda: I have tried Sushi Yasuda when I visited NYC this summer. To be honest, I find it gimmicky that he has to prepare 7 types of toro, 4 types of eel. I personally do not understand what the purpose is to have so many different kinds of toro and eel. Most top notch sushi chefs in Tokyo never do that; they will just pick the one or two that they think are the best quality. My own conclusion is that Sushi Culture still has a mystic barrier in US, and this is just Yasuda's way to educate his customers by showing different varieties to satisfy their intellectual curiosity.

                                                                  1. re: FourSeasons

                                                                    Blasphemy! Yasuda doesn't *have* to prepare 7 types of toro. He offers at least 4-7 types of toro per night. We're not talking Michael Mina's "X" 3 ways or Nozawa's "trust me" or Sasabune's "hot rice" gimmicky here. When you have big eye otoro next to blue fin otoro next to kama toro, you can actually taste the difference in flavor and texture between each type of toro. Not all toro is created equal. And it's not always the fattier the better. Sometimes I find that the grade between chu toro and otoro is tastier because it offers more flavor than "grade 5" otoro. These are things that you don't get to appreciate if your average itame only offers 1 or 2 types of toro.

                                                                    As for the eel, Yasuda is an eel specialist and again, having freshly grilled unagi kuro, freshly grilled anago, and sawani side by side lets you appreciate the difference in flavor, texture and oil content of each type of eel. Mori has only recently started serving freshly grilled anago but I have yet to find anyone in LA that offers as many types of freshly grilled eel as Yasuda or anyone that can match his freshly grilled unagi kuro for that matter.

                                                                    It's Yasuda's quality and selection that pretty much puts him head and shoulders above the competition. It's a luxury you won't find anywhere else, not even at Urasawa and it's all the more reason why I personally crown Naomichi Yasuda king of sushi.

                                                                    While I personally can't compare Yasuda to the top chefs in Tokyo, others, including Silverjay, tell me that Yasuda is tops even by Tokyo standards.

                                                                    1. re: Porthos

                                                                      Hi Porthos:

                                                                      Sorry to tell you what I wrote is not "Blasphemy".

                                                                      Don't misunderstand me; Yasuda-san is good, but to elevate him to "tops even by Tokyo standard" is perhaps too stretched. I am a regular visitor to Tokyo; I have been to many good sushi places and Yasuda would not be as good as the "best" in Tokyo. Yasuda is perhaps head and shoulder above the competition in US, but when you have the opportunity to go to Tokyo, please try Sawada, Mizutani, Saitou, Kanesaka, Jiro, then you will understand what I mean.

                                                                      Unfortunately, I don't really like the eel in Yasuda. He told me he bought the eel from Chinatown, the origin is from Florida, I recall, and he was quite proud of it. But I thought it was just average though I did not dare to tell him so since I will only offend him. If you have the opportunity, please try the anago sushi at Jiro or Mizutani, then you will feel like the anago melt in your mouth.

                                                                      As to toro, I agree that his preparation of toro is good. And I know all toros are not equal; and even the way the chef prepare is different. Like you read above, bigtuna would not dare to age toro but some chefs do so at controlled temperature with ventilated air, not referigerated air (according to bigtuna, this is not allowed in US). I think, in a way, Yasuda is trying to educate his American customers on the different flavor of different types of toro. Nothing wrong with that, but I just find it a marketing gimmick to promote on his website that he prepares 7 types, as though that means his provides "better" toro.

                                                                      Again, I enjoyed my sushi meal in Yasuda. I do not mind to visit there again on my next visit to NYC. I was impressed with his varieties, his amazing speed and I thought it was "value for money" based on his standard. But don't equal that to "tops in Japan".

                                                                      1. re: FourSeasons

                                                                        To clarify, I did not mean to imply that Yasuda would be top 5 in Tokyo but that Yasuda would be considered high quality even by Tokyo standards.

                                                                        As for eel, I would like to hear where you have had better eel in the US. If you know of any in the LA area, please let me know. When you say average, it is a bit of an exaggeration. Average means 50%. Meaning that 50% of sushi places do eel better than Yasuda and that's simply not correct. If you mean subpar compared to Jiro, arguably one of the best sushi restaurants in the world, then I could not argue with you.

                                                                        I remember that NYC post where you went to Yasuda and had the "misunderstanding" at Babbo. I think you may be reading too much into him advertising 7 types of toro and him insinuating that it is "better" toro. The former is a fact. The latter is your interpretation. And for the record, 99% of the time, he does serve better toro.

                                                                        You may call it gimmicky but it is no different than an itame who advertises that he mills his own rice, makes his own shoyu, and uses fresh wasabi. Gimmicky or attention to detail and quality? Is it a gimmick to say that 14 days is ideal for aging toro?

                                                                        People that want 7 types of toro and want to taste the difference between tuna from Spain and tuna from Boston know that Yasuda can provide that experience. I wish more sushi restaurants could offer the type of experience and education that Yasuda does.

                                                                        1. re: Porthos

                                                                          Hi Porthos:

                                                                          I don't live in US; maybe you need to ask bigtuna which place serves the best eel in US. But I standby the "average" statement; it was just one visit so hopefully it was just an isolated incident. But the eel was really average; my regular sushi restaurant in Singapore serves better than the one I had in Yasuda.

                                                                          While I said his toro is good, I really would not say "99% of the time he serve better". But if that is how you feel, that is good. I am happy for Yasuda.

                                                                          Maybe I don't understand the marketing culture of America; I don't know anywhere in the world where a sushi house has such a pretty website with so much promotion of "7 types of toro, 4 types of eel" or "mills his own rice, makes his own shoyu, and uses fresh wasabi". Most sushi places I go are very small and intimate with no website and no advertisement. So I find it gimmicky. If you don't agree, that's fine.

                                                                          Just for the record, the sushi chef I mentioned did not volunteer the information about the ageing; he did not even said 14 days is "ideal"; it is just the way he prepares it. Since bigtuna is kind enough to encourage us amatuers to ask questions, I just ask him if that is common. It is certainly not part of the promotion of that sushi chef, but it was just something I learned during the meal.

                                                                          I am impressed you still remember my trip to NYC. As to Babbo's, it is not my interpretation. Toronto CH Charles Yu felt the same way.

                                                                          1. re: FourSeasons

                                                                            My memory actually isn't that good, it was just a very memorable thread. You had many misunderstandings of "american restaurant culture and etiquette" at Babbo and Yasuda.

                                                                            1. re: Porthos

                                                                              Porthos, if you can ever pull yourself away from Yasuda's tracker beam, Masato, the chef at 15 East near Union Square, also offers a variety of non-"gimmicky" toro cuts.

                                                                            2. re: FourSeasons

                                                                              After some thoughts, I think I need to clarify my "average" statement on the above post. I am a bit picky when it comes to Sushi and I tend to go only to the top end sushi places. I don't go to conveyor belts type or an "average" sushi house; I don't even go to Tsukiji when I visit Tokyo. So from my perspective, the "average" is in comparison to to those top end places that I tried, not the average of the overall market.

                                                                              1. re: FourSeasons

                                                                                Clearly, you don't understand either American or Japanese culture. And I don't really think you understand sushi all that well either. Sushi Yasuda is one of only a handful of authentic sushi restaurants in New York City, so it's only natural to provide American diners with some explicit information and education on their website on what to expect. The shop is in mid-town Manhattan, blocks away from both Grand Central Station and the United Nations building. There are many patrons from around the world who dine at Sushi Yasuda who will be trying sushi for the first time. So what if they have a simple website elaborating on the cuisine a little bit? You don't do business in New York City without a website. Period. It doesn't matter how many stars you have. This is something that most foreign visitors appreciate, not stick their nose up at. Yasuda's restaurant is rather large and he manages to day after day serve high quality, authentic, culturally uncomprimising sushi with his own unique approach to shari and procurring local seafood (his two trademarks- neither of which were mentioned in your's and Mr. Yu's coverage earlier in the year). That he does this without being a 10 minute motorbike ride from Tsukiji market and without the discerning tastes of Ginza patrons is a testament to his commitment and talent. So I think it's pretty snotty to blast him for not being on the same level as Ono or Mizutani.

                                                                                Regarding the notion of detailing the focus on tuna and eel- in Japanese dining culture there is a term called "こだわり" (kodawari) which doesn't translate well into English, but refers to what a restaurant/chef takes special pride in obtaining, preparing, offering. It's the cultural norm for Japanese restaurants to detail their "kodawari" ingredients, dishes, approach, etc. Restaurant websites in Japan usally have a separate "kodawari" page. This includes all types of restaurants from ramen shops, to sushi, to kaiseki. There's plenty of great sushi restaurants that do this on websites in Japan. "Kodawari" concept is very Japanese, not something tourists usually pick up on. Tuna and eel are Yasuda's kodawari items. And there are MANY, MANY sushi places that have a special focus on tuna, including top end places. Offering multiple types of toro is de rigeur for kodawari maguro chefs. It's not a gimmick and it has nothing to do with the shop being inferior to other shops. This is real Japanese food culture, not just the old guys in Ginza who are visited by French publishers.

                                                                                1. re: Silverjay

                                                                                  Clearly, I am not a gaijin that try to pretend like I am an authority in Japanese cuisine and try to charm my way with American readers in an American website who are not familiar with Japanese cuisine and tried to act like an authoritative figure. I understand Yasuda is trying to educate his American clients; I was there in his restaurant and he tried hard to explain the clients on my left and right how to appreciate their sushi. I don't stick my nose up at Yasuda, please read carefully what I wrote. I, in fact, said he is good but when Porthos tried to elevate him, based on your comment (which I don't regard you as authority in sushi too), that it is "top by Japanese standard", that I disagree. You have the right to have that opinion; I have the right to have a different opinion. I accept diverse opinions, and do not try to impose my values on others, like the way you do often. Please read carefully again, I wrote to Porthos: "But if that is how you feel, that is good. I am happy for Yasuda". And I did not "blast Yasuda on the same level as Mizutani and Jiro" until Porthos himself challenged with the "top by Japan level" statement, and that I feel a need to clarify based on my experience. And I did not blast Yasuda, I just told Porthos if he had the chance to visit the top end sushi places that I recommend. Is that considered a blast?

                                                                                  Eel maybe considered Yasuda's kodawari item. But if I don't like his eel, am I supposed to write that it is great, that I love it. Couldn't you accept a different opinion than the consensus in Chowhound? Am I supposed to join in the crowd on herd instinct here to praise his eel. If that is how you feel, please don't read my post again.

                                                                                  And if you think that it is the business culture to have a beautiful website in America to attract business, that is fine. I don't have a problem too. That you can explain to me: I understand they have the right to survive as a business. But then you think I don't have a right to think it is "gimmicky"? Well, I don't visit restaurants based on the websites they produced. I don't visit a sushi place based on the claims by an sushi chef that he makes 7 or 8 types of toro. If you do, that is fine. But again, don't impose your value to everyone else. And if you think Mizutani as just some old guy in Ginza visited by French publisher, then don't visit there again. You can have you good time in some old neighborhood and pretend to be like a "Japanese expert".

                                                                                  1. re: FourSeasons

                                                                                    I agree, let's not fight. I must say though, that I find a website very useful. I like browsing what I want at home first, before trying many different restaurants, and sometimes you may find a surprise on the menu that draws you. And sometimes you can see the restaurant etc.

                                                                                    In fact, here's an anology; you wouldn't base an impression of a restaurant on the quality of the menu, but many good restaurants would have that attention to detail; websites are the same as the menu.

                                                                                    1. re: Soop

                                                                                      Hi Soop:

                                                                                      I agree not to fight. I believe we are here for fun, not to combat. I just don't like others to impose their values on me. I have no problem others have different views from me at all.

                                                                                      1. re: Soop

                                                                                        I have to chime in here; I disagree that websites are the same as the menu, particularly for Japanese restaurants & sushi-yas here. I know quite a few OC sushi-yas that either don't have or have a barebones website....

                                                                                      2. re: FourSeasons

                                                                                        This is a public forum that is a platform to exchange ideas. Whether or not I'm a gaijin or pretending to be anything is totally irrelevant. I think you've done an enormous discredit to your sincerity and credibility by making a personal attack on me.

                                                                                        No one reading this board needs to accept that simply because you have been to the top sushi restaurants in Japan, that this is some sort of trump card that can be thrown down to validate your opinions and it most certainly shouldn't have to serve as the last word in a discussion. Most posters here can accept that this is a free flowing discussion and do not need to resort to getting personal.

                                                                                        1. re: Silverjay

                                                                                          I think you should read your own post first to understand how rude you were by pretending you are the authoritative figure who can bully others according to your own world view. I only share my experience and view with Porthos, and we agreed to disagree with our differences, and certainly did not use it as a trump card to discredit him. And I certainly did not blast Yasuda himself. And as you said yourself this is a platform to exchange ideas, I have the right not to like the eel and the promotion method.

                                                                                          I suggest that you don't read and reply anymore on my post and I will do the same as well on your post. Like I wrote before, I don't like to combat in Chowhound. It is taking the fun out.

                                                                                          1. re: FourSeasons

                                                                                            By saying "you were by pretending you are the authoritative figure who can bully others" you demonstrate some type of bizarre proprietorship and uber-sensitivity to simpy being part of a public forum. My contention is that this is something personal as opposed to me being critical of your posted commentary.

                                                                                          2. re: Silverjay

                                                                                            I just read all of his posts - I didn't see a personal attack - could you perhaps be reading his posts in the wrong light? I've done this before and thought someone was attacking me. But for the record, I don't see it.
                                                                                            Lets all just take a deep breath and continue - I'm enjoying this thread, and learning a lot! (I'm stictly eating, I'm no pro!)

                                                                                            @ OCAnn, I apologise, I didn't make my point quite right. What I mean, is that good western restaurants that I've seen take a lot of care in selection of their cutlery and crockery, their artwork, their music, their menu (the actual item, not the selection) which all adds up. I would naturally expect them to extend this attention to detail to the website.

                                                                                            Saying that, the best Italian restaurant I know where I live has no website

                                                                                            1. re: Soop

                                                                                              Hi Soop:

                                                                                              You are kind enough to intervene. I don't know if your question address to Silverjay or me. But I am tired of exchanging on this issue anymore and like to put it to rest. So I won't discuss it anymore; I hope Silverjay does not too.

                                                                                              1. re: Soop

                                                                                                Ah yes, thank you for clarifying...you're right: the western restaurants put in a lot of labour of love into their restaurants and into their websites. And now that you've pointed it out (re Italian restaurant), many ethnic restaurants do not....

                                                                                                1. re: OCAnn

                                                                                                  Hi Minasan!! Let's take a deep breath . Everybody knows things through their own expierience. There are no who's right or wrong. Nobody has to know right knowledge. Since we all have a lots of knowledge in ouw own way. We try to have fun sharing those. Don't get personal. I know this may be giving you excitement but just for sushi. It's just a food. Some of you told me I didn't know.Some I may taught. Let's smile and have fun. We are some how off the course of this thread. I'm still here with my pidging english. ha ha. SMILE

                                                                                                    1. re: OCAnn

                                                                                                      I used my wife's name by accident. Ha ha

                                                                                            2. re: FourSeasons

                                                                                              To Fourseasons, again, I was not implying that Yasuda was top 5 in Tokyo. I was stating that Yasuda is high quality even when judging by japanese standards.

                                                                                              For the record, Silverjay is very knowledgable and his sushi experience is very extensive. He is fair and objective in his assessment. There are very, very few people I trust more in the matters of sushi.

                                                                                              As for "authority". This is Chowhound. No one is an authority on anything. There is only taste. We trust those posters who we share similar tastes and standards with. Having said that, I believe it is very insular to mock or criticize what we don't understand.

                                                                                              1. re: Porthos

                                                                                                One question to Four Seasons. I can understand you want to avoid Tsukiji altogether as the quality of sushi there is sub-par compared to the top places in Ginza and nearby. But other than that and perhaps touristy and overcrowding, what are your personal reasons for not doing so. Have you ever visted there (or maybe you have and you didn't like the environment)?

                                                                                                Tsukiji may be touristy, but there are off the beaten path places to eat affordable good non sushi food at hole in the wall style eateries.

                                                                                                If I had the pleasure of dining at the high end sushi restaurants, I'd be curious to at least witness what goes on at the source. There are books/reviews that mention that even Mizutani gets his tuna from a reknowned tuna wholesaler, also used by one or more maguro specialist sushi shops that would be deemed sub-par (although of course people like Mizutani and higher end places get dibs on the prime cuts first obviously).

                                                                                                1. re: K K

                                                                                                  Hi KK:

                                                                                                  No, you misunderstood me. I don't avoid Tsukiji for sub-par/touristy/overcrowding issues. I have been to Tsukiji once, only many years ago. But I do travel to Tokyo twice per year, each time about 5-6 days, which means I can try around 10 meals on each trip. So I am very selective about the restaurants I choose and planned way in advanced. Somehow, there is just no restaurant in that area that make to my list in the last few years; almost went to a wild fugu restaurant in Tsukiji on last trip but had to cancel the reservation due to other urgent matter.

                                                                                                  It is good that you do so much research and reading on this matter. For me, I am just a foodie, not a researcher. I just like to enjoy my meals and would not bother to check who his wholesaler is, so I am afraid I am not able to confirm to you.

                                                                                                2. re: Porthos

                                                                                                  Hi Porthos:

                                                                                                  I don't want to keep coming back to this "high quality by Japanese standard" issue with you. I think if you have a chance to go to Japan you will draw your own conclusion. Like what bigtuna write, "Everybody knows things through their own experience. There are no who's right or wrong." I think he said it best. I only share my own experience with you. (obviusly you don't accept it, which is fine with me) Your own experience will determine the truth for you.

                                                                                                  It is obvious you are a big fan of Silverjay's writing which is why you make that statement even though I think you have not been to Japan before. (since you never wrote your experience so that is the assumption) You are very loyal to your favorite restaurant and writer. Good for them.

                                                                                                  1. re: FourSeasons

                                                                                                    FS- I "keep coming back" to the statement because you twist my words to imply something I did not say.

                                                                                                    You are correct that I have never been to Japan. You don't have to assume, I stated as such in my first post to you. I don't pretend to be something that I am not.

                                                                                                    As for Silverjay. It's not his writing that I admire but his knowledge, taste, and lack of pretentiousness.

                                                                                                    This will be my last post on this topic. The proverbial horse is tartared.

                                                                                                    1. re: Porthos

                                                                                                      Hi big tuna here. let's calm down and try to have fun. There is no reason to carried away. Every body here is knowledgerble including you. why don't we just share that and have fun. No reason to be personal. I want to have fun and learn from you too.

                                                                                                      1. re: Porthos


                                                                                                        Re "keep coming back"- you came back three times. This is what you wrote; I did not twist any words at all:

                                                                                                        1. "Yausa is tops even by Tokyo standard."
                                                                                                        2. "Yasuda would be considered high quality even by Tokyo standard".
                                                                                                        3. " I was stating that Yasuda is high quality even when judging by Japanese standard."

                                                                                                        And you have not been to Japan so it is not through experience you made that statement. So rather than arguing non-stop, we should just close this matter.

                                                                                                        I agree this will be my last post to you too. Let's not post anymore on this topic.

                                                                                                        1. re: FourSeasons

                                                                                                          Okay, I'm not trying to stir things up, but I think there is an important point here. One can educate oneself, and educate oneself well, without actually visiting a place. If human beings could not do that, how could we know so much about space, the cosmos, other planets, the stars? There are a LOT of ways to learn about Tokyo and things in Japan without going there. '-)

                                                                                                          AFTERTHOUGHT: Remember that old saying about never discuss religion or politics if you want to stay friends? I think it needs to be modified: Never discuss religion, politics, or sushi if you want to remain friends!`

                                                                                                          1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                            You can certainly learn a lot about sushi without going to Tokyo, but how do you make a COMPARISON to what's in Tokyo if you haven't been?

                                                                                                            1. re: hong_kong_foodie

                                                                                                              If you have to ask a question like that, my guess is that you neither understand scholarship nor the internet. The information is readily available. How hard do you think it is finding out about sushi in Tokyo? You no longer have to even make phone calls. They put it on the web...!

                                                                                                              1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                Interesting. I thought one has to actually taste the food in order to comment on it. My bad.

                                                                                          3. re: Porthos

                                                                                            How can one say "Yasuda would be considered high quality even by Tokyo standards" when one hasn't even been to Tokyo?

                                                                                            1. re: hong_kong_foodie

                                                                                              He was referencing my experience as well as others like me who have spent time in Japan and have eaten at Sushi Yasuda. While I never used the words "tops in Japan", Yasuda compares favorably to upper end experiences in Japan. Maybe not top echelon, but certainly authentic and good. I have no idea how studying the stars and planets and sushi on the internet can help you draw this conclusion, but these days you can quite easily do a head-to-head of Yasuda vs. anyone in Tokyo since he has relocated there as of last year and opened his own place.

                                                                                        2. re: Porthos

                                                                                          You are one lucky guy to expirience that. good for you. I wish I had chance.

                                                                                    2. re: FourSeasons

                                                                                      I saw that TV show. iThink it's same idea as ageing beef. Protain breaks down and more amino assit comes out. But I never had chance to eat that nor guts to try it on my own toro. ha ha. Take me out to eat that one. I'll try to be nice. ha ha

                                                                              2. re: FourSeasons

                                                                                "2. Which sushi will you sample if you want to test the culinary skill of another sushi chef or your disciple?"

                                                                                OK sorry to go back to here. You referenced a Japanese TV episode where Ono Jiro was testing his former disciple/apprentice. Assuming you can read Chinese, there was another blog article linked from a Tokyo Sushi CH thread a year or more ago that I think was written very nicely:


                                                                                Basically the person being interviewed was a former disciple of Jiro's. He did great at raw fish, but when it came time to test his tamagoyaki skills, Jiro said it was a complete failure. The article says the disciple's tamagoyaki ended up like thick fried egg, whereas he was expecting a warm sponge cake like consistency. Jiro even said the color was all wrong, how can you serve this to a customer (and basically lamented over a badly done tamagoyaki), even though per the disciple the color of his prep was no different than that of famous Tsukiji tamagoyaki specialty shops (I think Shouro, website www.shouro.co.jp was one of them cited).

                                                                                The other taste test according to the disciple is gourd, or kanpyo. Also requiring some cooking skills.

                                                                                You know when you first asked this question, I was not sure of the basis. Come to think of it, the taste tester question will likely vary geographically and who is conducting the test and for what reason. Ono Jiro comes from an uber old school and perfectionist/artist style of sushi, so he has his reasons for picking those two items. Plus I am sure that when he first learned and apprenticed, he had to get those two things right, or else he would never move ahead.

                                                                                This is another reason why tamago and kanpyo (with emphasis on PYO when Kaga said it last at the end, as if he were spitting all over the ingredients) were two of several ingredients chosen for "Battle Sushi" on an old Iron Chef episode (along with maguro, anago, kohada). All about the old school classics.

                                                                                Unless you like egg/tamago and kanpyo and must have them with every sushi meal (which are most of the time at least in the USA, not commonly ordered and low end items, where the average sushi eater would rather order hamachi and toro), these are mostly not valid taste testers for most people, unless they are very picky and in the know.

                                                                                1. re: K K

                                                                                  Talking about picky. You guys {i mean KK ,Silver jey and others] are all quite picky I assume. No offence here. Don't come to my place. I'm very afraid. Ha ha

                                                                                  1. re: bigtuna27

                                                                                    Dont' worry, I can appreciate simple sushi even with cheaper ingredients, you sound like a guy who uses his heart to make sushi (is it called kokoro or something like that?) and that's all that matters. I will still want to eat at your restaurant! So dont' sweat it. Just don't slip me any gaijin uramakimono/funny inside out rolls or a piece of kusaya in my omakase and we'll still be friends, haha.

                                                                                    1. re: bigtuna27

                                                                                      I really like mackerel sushi, and certainly have much to learn, so I'm happy to hear that bigtuna27 sees this as a good measure of a sushi chef's skills.

                                                                                      Thank you for a great discussion thread bigtuna27!

                                                                                2. I'm so grateful and thankful to have master chef O-Maguro san answer all the good questions and keeping it fun.

                                                                                  1) I personally enjoy a great preparation of marinated tuna (maguro zuke) and one of my local itamae does a superb version with chu-toro that he rarely offers (mostly for himself). Some chefs are of the school that this is a waste of good tuna, others argue that it helps make it last a bit longer. What are your thoughts on zuke? What other fish/neta have you tried that is also great for zuke? I've only had bincho zuke (albacore) and ika (squid) in addition to hon-maguro. Without giving away your own secrets what makes a great maguro zuke (if you make one yourself).

                                                                                  2) For ikura, the standard in Japan and many authentic Japanese run sushi-ya in USA, is ikura no shoyu zuke (marinated in soy sauce, maybe mirin and sake). But in the USA, for most other places, it is shio ikura (salt cured). Was this always the case 30 years ago in Los Angeles as well? And was shio ikura more popular here because it lasts longer, and shoyu zuke is more perishable? Also what makes a good ikura no shoyu zuke receipe?

                                                                                  3) You answered question from Four Seasons that to test the chef, one item to try is shrimp. I agree with saba as one of the taste tests, but I would think a better hikarimono test is gizzard shad (kohada) if that is available. Are you talking about cooked ebi or amaebi (raw)? It's so rare to find places that boil or blanch their own ebi anymore as most mid end places just buy cooked shrimp in bulk. Higher end places might use ao ebi (blue prawn)and lightly poach it, then immerse in ice quickly to seal in the flavor, which perhaps comes close to the real kuruma ebi and can be very tasty.

                                                                                  4) In your classical training, what fish/neta is the most difficult and challenging to prepare? This is of course if you do not consider out of the box type special fish like hamo (which requires special hone giri knife skills to debone), or fugu. Do you think anago preparation (from live fresh eel) is one of the more difficult ones? Which fish/neta takes the most time to prepare?

                                                                                  5) For your regular customers that you serve omakase, other than sashimi, nigiri, and makimono, what kind of side dishes or appetizers have you offered to them in the past? I've had a variety from iwashi shioyaki (salt grilled sardine marinated in innards), ayu (river fish) shioyaki, perhaps a shimaaji, kanpachi, or salmon kama (grilled collar), okara (uohana), kinpira gobo (wild carrot & burdock), tsukemono, and even aji nanbanzuke as some that I remember from many different places.

                                                                                  10 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: K K

                                                                                    Just to provide my perspective on the salmon eggs... Ikura, the processed stuff, is inferior to sugiko or suzuko, IMHO. In the form of the sac, the flavors are natural and much more intense. I've had it right after cutting out of the salmon - my uncle the fishing boat captain told me to just let it sit in shoyu for a few hours to make sure that any parasites are killed off. Just eaten like that, with a bowl of hot rice, it is so much superior to anything served as ikura.

                                                                                    1. re: applehome

                                                                                      Mr OCAnn brought home salmon from his fishing trip to find eggs upon cutting it open. I soaked the eggs in soy sauce & sake for a couple hours before eating. The flavours of our eggs were less salty, more subtle and quite sublime.

                                                                                      Bigtuna-san please tell me what the proper preparation is for fresh salmon eggs for home cooks? And maybe two hours was not enough to cure? Maybe I now have parasites?

                                                                                      1. re: OCAnn

                                                                                        I never worked on fresh salmon egg like you guys said. But I did worked on unsolted suziko once. It came out pretty good. 1 part reg soy sauce, 1 part mirin and 1 1/2 part sake. soak in 1 hr or so. but I think I should cured with salt first. So that more fishiness could be lifted. No you don't have parasites. I don't know how long ago you ate that. but if it's more than 1yr ago, you should be dead by now.

                                                                                        1. re: OCAnn

                                                                                          There was one food travel show out of Hong Kong where the hosts went to Sendai Japan, and had their local Japanese salmon eggs that were first either steamed or gently boiled before marinating in soy sauce, sake etc. I don't recall seeing any salt rub. There was also a very thorough rinse of the egg sac/sujiko too.

                                                                                        2. re: applehome

                                                                                          I don't think soy sauce kill parasites. But I also don't think parasites stays in the egg. they stay in the meat. And any parasites in the fresh water fish[ include wild salmon etc] can not be detected by human eyes. and a lot more resal. But I'm sure it taste very good like you said.

                                                                                        3. re: K K

                                                                                          I'll answer your question later. But I have a question. Who are you? What do you do for lliving. I've read your blog few times. And I think you know way too much. Your question is different from others. Your question is very pricise and not like the question from amature who like sushi a lot. Seems like I'm talking to foood magazine editor or sort of.

                                                                                          1. re: K K

                                                                                            Hi KK:

                                                                                            On your ikura point, just to add another very common standard is to marinate with daishi broth (and soy/mirin) as well. I don't know if that is common in America as I don't live there.

                                                                                            1. re: FourSeasons

                                                                                              FourSeasons: where I live it is not common to find any ikura with soy sauce marination as the base (whether it has mirin, dashi, sake in addition or not). Even some half decent places just source shio ikura and call it a day, as they seem to think that is what is generally accepted. So most of the time you have these dried out saggy egg sacs. Even at Japanese supermarkets. So I guess I answered my own question, for home use if the whole sujiko is available at the supermarket, perhaps I should mess around and try that.

                                                                                              BT27: Look forward to your answers. To answer your question, I'm just an average guy (I'm of Chinese backround by the way) who loves Japanese food beyond teriyaki, tempura, ramen, I suppose only seriously been getting into eating sushi 11 years ago or so. I do not work in food industry at all, just ask a lot of questions and have had some great chefs teach me a thing or two, in addition to having a few like minded friends and learning their opinions (plus reading up on what's out there). In fact what I know pales in comparson to a lot of people out there.

                                                                                              1. re: FourSeasons

                                                                                                No !!! But you can add dashi kobu it self but not neccesaly

                                                                                              2. re: K K

                                                                                                Hi KK. 1)You've got all the answer there. Zuke is a very classic technic when no refrigeration was available long time ago. it makes fish laslonger but in side affect make it saltier. good side affect is salt in soy sauce take out excess water from fish so make it more flavorful. No I don't. Most of my customer is cocaision and they don't like saltiness.2) It's just the laziness and luck of knowledge of chefs. It's easier that way. I have been doing for 25 yrs since I got head sushi chef position. I think I write about recipie some where in this thread. Check it out.3) You can get fresh fish easy. But here you have to see vchef's cooking skill and taste. So you order cooked or worked on items. your favorite Ikura is one of them. I like taisho ebi better than kuruma ebi. When cooked it has more flavor. Unless you can get wild kuruna ebi It's useless. Color is better than taisho ebi though.Farm grown kuruma ebi was soaked in fresh water before shipped out so it shrinks when cooked and less flavor. In my opinion kuruma ebi taste best when it was grilled. Size has to be u-10 to enjoy. Unless restaurant is owned by other than Japanese chefs, they cook their own shrimp still.4) you got all the answer there.5) I've done everything you said. I some time expieriment in other cuisine. And some times was mistake. But here they are. Ceviche, Marinated black cod, Miso marinated lack of lamb, Kushi katsu.Tsukune. Kakuni, miso tataki, shiso age, japanese dumplings. wan mono etc. I need full page to write down ha ha.

                                                                                              3. What a fun thread, Bigtuna27!

                                                                                                1) I've had the freedom now as a home chef (I used to be a pro - trained with Hiroshi Hayashi in Boston) of mixing and matching different vinegars to match the ingredients. I know many chefs don't share their mixes, but is there any advice you care to share?

                                                                                                2) I found a wonderful mirin online from Mitoku that claims to be one of the few still using traditional methods. Do you have a favorite?

                                                                                                3) Concerning mixing rice types: The main brand of rice I use is Tamanishiki; itself a blend. I have gone as far as mixing about 1/4 basmati rice if I have a lot of salmon; I like the slight nuttiness.


                                                                                                7 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: Richard 16

                                                                                                  hi Richard. 1) me too. but home use you can expieriment as much as you want. One famous chef was using Balsamic vineger. But again he is not sushi chef. he is traditional japanese cuisine chef. 2) Best commercial brand made from real rice. It's biz . I got to think food cost first ha ha 3) I do not recomend. because rice is not a main item here. Fish is. Rice has to be good enough to support fish to make sushi taste good.I would say med~ good brand will do the job fine. Again you can do anything you want though.

                                                                                                  1. re: bigtuna27

                                                                                                    O-Maguro san, have you ever used kuro-su/black vinegar for making sumeshi or marinating fish? If so what's the best application? If not, why not (I understand it can be a bit overpowering, but I do like the flavor). I remember in that Shota No Sushi TV episode, there's a hikarimono battle, and the lead character marinated shinko (baby kohada) with some fruit based vinegar, and his opponent Saji, marinated Seki Saba with kuro-su and also used a bit in the sumeshi to make the flavors harmonize.

                                                                                                    1. re: K K

                                                                                                      You get too much information from TV show. remember those are the fictions and they do extream. Ok That's said. Kurozu is an aged rice vinegar. It is like balsamic vinegar in europe. It's milder and sweeter. I prifer using in salad or finisheing touch for other dishes.It's expensive. But if you can afford why not. I use red vineger for su-meshi now. Red vineger is in between in taste. Everything Tv show said may be true. But how many of us can tell the difference. You just have to believe what they say and pay the price. It's just not practical for the reg sushi bar to do. I prefer Seki saba in taste. Kohada and Aji are popular in Kanto area and Saba is popular in Kansai and west area. You know why?

                                                                                                      1. re: bigtuna27

                                                                                                        I too love Seki Saba, very expensive though for good reasons. Next is Japanese saba, world of difference from Norwegian kind.

                                                                                                        "Kohada and Aji are popular in Kanto area and Saba is popular in Kansai and west area. You know why?"

                                                                                                        That is great fact to know, and I do not know the answer. I'm going to guess it is because historically that has been where those fish come from, ie Kohada and aji are primarily found in Kanto area (East side) and saba from west/south side Kansai. Plus saba seems to be a fish that could be better preserved. Aji probably needs to be eaten fresh and right away for best flavor, otherwise it needs prep like nanbanzuke if not eaten right away. Which reminds me, I saw this Japan TV episode in Taiwan a year ago, there was a Japanese guy who specialise in FISH accupuncture. He placed a new needles in an aji to make it go to sleep, so it could be transported from the fish port to the mountain areas (so after 3 to 6 hours, it would wake up, no shock, still live and kicking for fresh preparation). It was amazing to see.

                                                                                                        1. re: K K

                                                                                                          Your guess is correct. You amaze me. Wow fish accupancture? t
                                                                                                          There is a difference in rice preperation too. can you guess? and give me the reason. I feel like teacher ha ha

                                                                                                          1. re: bigtuna27

                                                                                                            I actually very much enjoy a great saba battera, and it is not very easy to find a good version of this where I live. I've seen kodai and kani battera at those Mitsuwa Japanese food themed fairs, but they don't seem as interesting.

                                                                                                            A difference in rice preparation between Kanto and Kansai style sushi? I believe it. But the guess? I have no idea. I'm going to go for the wild card guess, and go out on a limb, and assume Kanto style sushi rice is maybe more vinegar flavored, and perhaps Kansai is a bit...I dunno, tad bit sweeter? I haven't had many battera preparations but there seems to be emphasis on sweet and sour tastes from the ones I've had, sweet for example using "shiva" (shaved" ebi, and sour like using ume paste or umeboshi type flavoring inside the battera as a small layer.

                                                                                                            1. re: K K

                                                                                                              Here is the answer. Kansai style; After tossed rice you have to let it sit for 15~20 min to bring temp down to body temp or room temp before you put it in the jar. Kanto style; you have to put rice in the jar soon as possible. thease difference came from the history of sushi. Kansai has longer history of making sushi but it's old style. Ex. Battera of any kind. Because it supposed be eaten after a while. Rice shouldn't be warm inorder to avoid possible trouble later. Kanto style is a new bee and like I said earlier it is a broken down virsion of traditional sashimi and rice meal. So rice has to be warm.I'm from Kansai area so even though I make new bee sushi, I use Kansai method .battera; Sweet and sour taste comes from pickled kelp on the battera. Shiba is the name of the shrimp used to make those pink stuff inside battera. It called denbu. Denbu was made from white meat fish, shrimp and sugar. We do have persimon leave wrapped sushi in Nara area. It's similar to battera but more like small onigiri size. Persimon leave works as an extra preservative.

                                                                                                2. This has been one of the most informative threads I've read. Here's a basic question that my friends (females) and I have about eating sushi, mostly the larger ones that are still supposed to be bite sized. While the size works well for men who are larger, it is hard to eat it in one bite. Biting in half is impossible, especially with something like gumkan-maki with quail egg but even basic maki rolls can be hard. Any solutions? Do sushi chefs ever consider making proportionally smaller bites? There are some sushi that I just don't order because I know I can't eat them. Thanks!

                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: chowser

                                                                                                    Hi. I'm sure you are different but most american believe in bigger the better. there for most of the case sushi chef has been making bigger sushi and rolls. Other reason; Good sushi chef are hard to find specialy w/o Japanese attitude, w/ good english skills and less expensive in labor. So mamnt hires the chefs trained here or they train quick those who wants job. In the end not only enough skills but also luck of knoeledge and pride. If you can't eat in one bite you can ask them smaller rice or for the femail and kids, ask to cut in half or smaller. in here , that's the only solution I know.

                                                                                                    1. re: bigtuna27

                                                                                                      Yes, that is one observation I have that the sushi cut in America tend to be bigger than anywhere else. And when I asked the sushi chef, they tend to reply that is the preference there. But for my taste bud, it is just too big.

                                                                                                  2. Tamagoyaki (grilled egg) nigiri, when ordered in the USA, is mostly a rectangular block with a piece of nori around the center. However in parts of Japan it is served molded and cut to look like the roof of a house, or a horse saddle (kurakake style I am told). What is the significance of this, and how did this kurakake formation originate? (cgfan might remember this in the tamagoyaki episode of Shota No Sushi where he serves it kurakake, sorry for the mention again). Some of the really top notch places in LA, NY, and Japan make the tamagoyaki look more like a wonderful sponge cake, curious what is needed to achieve that kind of consistency and taste?

                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. re: K K

                                                                                                      The regular tamagoyaki is the pesint style and easier to make. Kurakae or Yatsuhashi is more classic and noble way. Also need special oven and technic. They are mixed of egg,sugar,mirin and shrimp or white fish paste[ surimi]. Takes too much steps so not very many chefs want to make it. We don't sell much Tamago here anyway. But that's one thing to check chef's skill and pride. It is actually spondge cake with strong egg and fish flavor.

                                                                                                    2. What is the best nori to use for sushi or does it depend on the application?

                                                                                                      Also for US sushi restaurants is the best available kind of nori, Ariake nori from Saga prefecture, or Asakusa nori, or something else? I like those Asakusa norimaki rice cracker snacks from Nijiya, haha. Addictive like crack.

                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: K K

                                                                                                        For pro use. There are few grades. Each brand has different name for the grade. Very best one usually called platinum,ultra gold, premium gold etc. These kinds are very thin and fragil. Good for Temaki and have to eat it right away. For reg roll, 2nd best grade [which is gold ot matsu] will do the job better. For all those humangas Special roll, who cares use anything you want. How about copy paper ha ha. Asakusa nori[ Idon't know they are still making this using real Asakusa nori] has greener in color and beautiful shine. Flavor is more delicate. Ariake nori is almost black and little thicker. Flavor is different from Asakusa nori. Little stronger. But I don't know how many brand is still making w/ real nori harvested from their own sea. Now a days most of big brand is making in Guess where Thai land. Your favorite Asakusa norimaki rice cracker is deffenatly made in there or China. Therte are few Korean made but chewy.

                                                                                                        1. re: bigtuna27

                                                                                                          Excellent, great to know and big big thanks for continuing to share your knowledge. Nori always fascinates me, something I know little to nothing about. You're spot on about nori from China used in those rice crackers, after all companies have to make a big profit. Asakusa nori is indeed classically hand harvested and farmed. Copy paper, you are too funny, it must be the Kobe humor (I've a friend from Kobe who thinks like you).

                                                                                                          This discussion thread only proves that sushi is not just putting fish on top of rice. The topic is so broad and wide and deep.

                                                                                                      2. One more, and this one is about meal progression in omakase.

                                                                                                        A lot of good places I go to, if I request omakase (and this is not "set menu" style like in LA), I usually get some white fish/shiromi to start with, whether it be tai or hirame.

                                                                                                        However there are other top places that for some reason start with maguro akami and then chu toro or o-toro.

                                                                                                        What is the understanding or basis to start off with maguro or even toro for these places? Is it because the chef thinks they are catering to Americans who generally love akami or tuna type red meat, more than shiromi/white fish selection?

                                                                                                        Some say that having too many varieties in omakase is not good (even if single pieces/ikkan), that towards the end the stronger flavor fish might not taste as good (e.g. you have too many clams and silver fish early on for example). What's a good balance, or does it depend on the customer.

                                                                                                        11 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: K K

                                                                                                          Ok. I have to tell you industry seacret. Don't tell any one OK?. When you ask Omakase, it's not always best thing chef reccomend. Remember it's a bisiness. Like I told you before unless you are big time regular or good friend with chef, this rule applies. Shirom is kind a hard to sell item. So it's good excuse to get lid of them. Tuna and toro will probably easiest to impress customer. Nosawa starts with tuna roll to buy time I hard. My place is not a high end place. Just little better than avarage. I do have couple Omakase course. I start with miso and sea weed salad and goes to sashimi then sushi. ends with dessert. Very simple. More like pre fixed "you can get better deal with this combo" kind. Every place do it different way. There are always biz mind behind of Omakase. Even if you tell chef "Sky is the limit", same thing. you just get ripped off more. In my expierience best way to ask Omakase is like this. "I can only have $ 100 for two of us. Can you fix me up with little special thing included but sushi and couple sake only.. I can't eat this and that" Honest approach always works. I had young couple once long time ago. Before I start to serve ,young man said "We are student and only have $20 each for the sushi. We love sushi but only be able to eat once a month" I gave them $ 40 worth sushi each. They became regular every month for 2 yrs untill they moved away. 3yrs later they came back and told me" Sky is the limit".

                                                                                                          1. re: bigtuna27

                                                                                                            Bigtuna Sensei or Taisho, you are definitely my kind of guy and chef. A shame I live so much far north from you, I'd love to visit your restaurant and eat your sushi. It would be so fun and interesting.

                                                                                                            There is one Japanese mannerism that is a hot potato and pet peeve of many nihonjin, and that is a lot of Japanese customers prefer to have their miso shiru (miso soup) at the end of the meal (and if it is given to them any earlier, they get upset), but by default all non Japanese customers either get their miso soup with their set dinner at the same time, or before that.

                                                                                                            I ate at Sushi Sasabune in Oahu 6 years ago, and the waiter said no to a request to my wife who wanted miso soup early on, but was ok to have it at the end (which in a way signaled the end of the meal). The head itamae there was upset that he did not know we ordered soup for her, but I continued the omakase (or forced menu if you will) a little further.

                                                                                                            So when you serve omakase, at what point do you introduce the soup, or does it depend on whether your regular customer is Japanese (or eats like one) or not?

                                                                                                            Do you find that customers who have Japanese-like tastebuds tend to prefer shiromi, or is that not a general rule?

                                                                                                            And how do you feel about chefs who serve pre-sliced fish? Sign of amateur? Many restaurants where I live do this too, to ensure consistency, and also out of pure laziness.... (is it true that Nozawa-san and maybe one of the Sasabune guys serve pre-sliced fish?) Maybe we are getting into controversial topic here.

                                                                                                            1. re: K K

                                                                                                              Thank you. But lucky me I can avoid embarresment ha ha. Miso soup; For Japanese at the end of or middle sometime, For american at first. It's just the diffrence in food culture there. We have to plese customer. Most of [99%] is american so you figure out. i know sasabune. I bet head chef will serve soup first for your wife. The waiter made big mistake. They are there to please customer not to look down on them. well it's up to the customer. Some ask shiromi w/ solt and lemon. Some prefer no sauce. And some asks tuna butsu or tako butsu. Every customer who is into sushi tend to show off Japanese like style. Pre slicing is only to save labor. So that less chef can serve more sushi. Cheaper place tend to do that. Good sushi chef is expensive and have attitude. I had so many bad expierience hiring those. By the way my place is not grumet place. I just got the job 2 months ago. so far I made temporaly menu so that I can figure out what they want. I'm thinking about changing from next year. Do you ever hard about "sousaku"? it means original.I'm going to serve every fish w/sauce. like semi OMAKASE but you can indibidually order only sauce part is chef's choice. What do you think?

                                                                                                              1. re: bigtuna27

                                                                                                                I'm the last person you should be asking for advice, haha!

                                                                                                                There are only two sushi restaurants in my area that offer pre-saucing of nigiri (a la carte, or okonomi), but also do the exact same thing for omakase. One restaurant I have already mentioned that is a personal favorite of mine, because their special sauce (konbu dashi shoyu) is light but fantastic (and finger licking good, no offense to KFC) and is only applied to lighter flavored fish (hikarimono and shiromi) to enhance the goodness.

                                                                                                                The other place, well they drown the neta with not just sauce but over powering condiments (seriously good tairagai and hotate nigiri should not need any aburi blow torching, doused with a salty ponzu and yuzu tobiko, that is overkill). A big shame, they offer a lot of exotic fish not available elsewhere, but totally destroy their flavor with too much sauce and toppings, it is like pizzafication of nigiri (also they put a ton of chopped raw onions on top of fresh katuso not seared, then drown in ponzu).

                                                                                                                Also as you say, what is your target audience/customer. If most of them prefer the big fast food rolls and Nobu Matsuhisa type fusion and heavy flavored sauces, then maybe it will work out for you.

                                                                                                                Or you may want to do what Sasabune does...they have (A)merican omakase and (J)apanese omakase, but instead maybe it could be an idea for you to offer (A)merican saucing or (J)apanese saucing option (or maybe a (F)usion one). Maybe American or Fusion saucing, you could use srirracha on albacore (haha), or a few drops of Ngoc Mam (Vietnamese fish sauce) on something else maybe a cold juicy prawn (if you can find a use for ketchup and make it work you are a genius). Make a konbu dashi with varying thickness and tones for the Japanese saucing option, perhaps a su-miso or uni su-miso mix for lighter flavored fish and shellfish (e.g. scallops), and have some balsamic ready for another fusion application. Then again, even just a little bit of sauce, might just be too much.

                                                                                                                So forget most of what I said heh heh.

                                                                                                                1. re: K K

                                                                                                                  my recent cliation. Seard salmon topped w/pico de gallo and masturd soy dressing. It sound weard but taste fantastic

                                                                                                                  1. re: bigtuna27

                                                                                                                    Mustard soy sauce dressing, as in karashi? Other than buta no kakuni, hiyashi chuka soba, tonkatsu and the usual suspects, has karashi been used with sushi before?

                                                                                                                    Mastur'd....that sounds naughty if spelt that way!

                                                                                                                    1. re: K K

                                                                                                                      No. Those are simply chinese mustard. Mine was mustard,soy sauce and other ingridients. more like salad dressing.

                                                                                                                      1. re: K K

                                                                                                                        You got it wrong. Those are just diluted chinese mustard. Mine is mustard ,soy sauce and other ingridients. Like salad dressing.

                                                                                                                        1. re: K K

                                                                                                                          i've had a spicy mustard soy sauce droplet on top of ika... it was quite good.

                                                                                                                          there was a sushi shop i dropped into in osaka by chance and was amazed at the individual sauces concocted for the various types of fish he served. we did a cheap omakase there (though i really wish we offered more in retrospect) and there was only a small droplet at most on each piece of fish. items like unagi received the regular swish of sauce on top. reading this thread gives me the impression that it was edging towards fusion but the minute amount of sauce perhaps was to remain respectful to the ingredients.

                                                                                                                2. re: bigtuna27

                                                                                                                  Do sushiyas ever finish with either chahan or ramen? Chahan is my favorite after drinking beer and shochu all night, but that's at an Izakaya, not necessarily sushi. I think there have been nights spent eating sushi that I would have loved a small bowl of ramen noodles.

                                                                                                              2. What is the history and story behind Temari sushi?

                                                                                                                For those that don't know, Nijiya Supermarket now carries them in their pre-made deli foods section. It's a miniature golf ball sized sushi rice pad with a little bit of fish on top. A quick English net search shows that it originated in Kyoto and was originally made as little non edible toys for kids, but seems a bit wacky. Some izakayas are offering it too.

                                                                                                                Is the rice preparation different for this style?

                                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: K K

                                                                                                                  It's just one of saiku sushi. Noyhing special about. Usually use shrimp kohada etc.Most of the use is special occasion party plate or sushi skill contest. I think Nijiya did it because easier to teach amigos. Temari means ancient style balls for kid to play with. Chechk on under Temari sushi or saiku sushi.

                                                                                                                  1. re: bigtuna27

                                                                                                                    Saiku? Or do you mean saikyo, as in "west of capital"?

                                                                                                                    But you know what's funny, the nigiri combo at Nijiya, at least the one near my work, the nigiri in that box looks like giant big giant temari (but out of proportion). So yeah you're right, in essence you are paying for cuteness with temari sushi combo.

                                                                                                                2. Wow, this thread is huge O_O

                                                                                                                  Unfortunately, my favorite sushi bar closed, and the others aren't as good, so I rarely have it anymore T_T I'd always get 2 tuna nigiri (my favorite!) and then usually 2 of something else. Each one was two big mouthfuls.
                                                                                                                  One time, we tried their special mix, and I was suprised that I liked the smoked eel (I've had it since at other places, but not as good), although I'm not a fan of squid.
                                                                                                                  I don't like california rolls (futomaki?) and sashimi isn't really filling enough.

                                                                                                                  It was interesting what you say about dipping sushi etc; the flavour is so delicate that I never used any soy sauce with it, and the first person I ever saw dipping wasabi in the soy was my girlfriend - then she put ginger on. If I ever do that (unlikely) I always eat at least half of it ordinary.

                                                                                                                  *edit* check this out; the chef at my favorite sushi bar was the only one in the country licensed to serve blowfish O_O must have been pretty good.

                                                                                                                  1. Hmmm. All I can find out is that he is "Jean-Paul Oliver" and he trained under a Japanese Master at somewhere called Shangri-la hotel. the restaurant was Sukoshi in Bristol England.

                                                                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: Soop

                                                                                                                      the per son have Fugu license is the chef under Fugu chef. it's hard to learn and very risky. Here in LA. About 20 yrs ago. One guy had that license and working for sushi bar owned by Chinese guy. One day his regular brought in fresh fugu caught in local water and asked him to work on it since those regular were close friend of owner. He refused and explained why. but he was foeced to do. 2 of those regulars died 2 hrs later. The chef went jail. Restaurant was'ny accused any wrong doing. WHAT I WANT TO SAY HERE is. Even it's the same kind of fugu ,may be it's body structure is different. If you fillet those with same way we do in Japan, you may make mistakes. That's the reason this chef refused. Or may be it had poison in different part of his body. All of you groumet this is warning. Don't even try this to the restaurant you go. Just go to Fugu restaurant. Better safe than dead.

                                                                                                                      1. re: bigtuna27

                                                                                                                        Maybe you and others can properly clarify this for us.

                                                                                                                        All wild caught fugu from Japan (Shimonoseki) that are exported to the US goes through customs in NY (JFK?). There is a factory shall we say that cleans and guts out the entrails and insides before vaccum packing and is certified to be properly detoxified. This is a likely sign why some sushi restaurants in the US (according to list of US restaurants that can legally serve fugu) are cleared to serve fugu, all they have to do is defrost the flash-frozen fish and prep, another clue why for example, Shiki restaurant in Seattle requires an advanced 24 hour reservation for fugu teishoku, plus the whole fish needs to be consumed, so you can't just pay $16 to have fugu nigiri. But the whole myth of oh, I have tingling feeling in my lips sounds like BS, and that if you are feeling that after eating at that restaurant, you are gambling wiht your life (when in fact it is safe if the source of the fugu is where I described). When some US sushi chefs say they are certified and have fugu license, chances are they are working with factory processed vaccum packed cleaned fish, unless he is Masa Takayama having some special arrangment to legally and properly serve wild whole fugu (Urasawa did this before and got heavily fined according to some past reports).

                                                                                                                        But you're right, to really experience fugu, go to Japan, Shimonoseki, Nagoya etc to a proper and well known fugu specialty restaurant and eat the entire meal.

                                                                                                                        1. re: K K

                                                                                                                          Oh my God. You know everything. I don't know some restaurant have special agreement with FDA to import or prepare fresh whole Fugu, There may be. But it's not H.d 's issue here. FDA covers whole U.S.A. So far in my knowledge FDA prohibit to import it. Vaccume packed, pre cleaned fugu is the farm grown one. . Fugu doesn't produce poisn. They eat shell fish produce poisn like star fish and keep that in their brad . I hard it was self diffence purpose. There for farm grown one doesn't have poisn. And this kind is the only one permitted to import by FDA as fugu.There is another fish taste like or meat look lie fugu[ we call tyhis Horse face]. this is also permitted to import.Horse face is a lot cheaper by the way. Even though farm grown one,it's still hard to get. So that's the reason for 24hr reservation. 10 yrs ago my friend had fugu dinner with his 3 friend at famous restaurant then. which owned by my other friend. Cost them $ 1000 per person. He loved it. I laught. He got conned. If you can spend $ 1000 for dinner, you can go Japan eat real fugu dinner for $ 100~200 and spend couple days sight seeing for $ 1000. Because I know he didn't eat wild one. If fugu doesn't have poisn,it isn't worth eating. Scorpin has same texture and taste better. I would spend money on wild caught Japanese snapper.

                                                                                                                          1. re: bigtuna27

                                                                                                                            I actually saw a documentary or food show aired locally (from Hong Kong) where these pimp VIP chefs travel to exotic parts of the world just to secure high end ingredients for their restaurants, they made a trip to Kyushu and to Shimonseki and actually stayed at a ryokan and had fugu teishoku at a specialty restaurant. They even went fishing on the boats, spent 3 to 6 hours and only caught one or two fish.

                                                                                                                            They later showed the processing factory later where the cleaning and processing were done (every worker there is fugu certified) but I am not sure if that is the same factory used for US export. Just saying what I saw.

                                                                                                                            I thought most of the "deaths" from eating contaminated fugu was from fugu no kimo (the liver) where improper cutting could lead to the blood contaminating the raw liver, which some say is the best part. The safer alternative is to source kawahagi (filefish) where the raw liver is safe to eat as "gu" or topping.

                                                                                                                            I just want to know if I am wrong about the importation of pre-gutted and cleaned fugu going into the US at these authorized sushi restaurants.Masa is not listed as one of them. The local izakaya south of where I work supposedly offered it a year or two ago around this time of year and did say Shimonoseki, wild, and cleaned/gutted, the chef owner supposedly trained at Hinode classically in Ginza. At $150 ish a person maybe it is better to fly to Japan to have it. Shiki was quoting a similar price, but only included sashi (raw slices), nabe (hot pot), and a few pieces of the fried stuff.

                                                                                                                              1. re: K K

                                                                                                                                What ever you saw on TV probably for Japan. It may be true and safe. Kawahagi is what I called Horse face. I'm pretty sure FDA stil hasn't permitted yet. But my friend used to work for me is planning to import fugu from Japan. I guess it's prosessed. He said it may take 1 yr or so to get permit. $ 150 is alot cheaper than $ 1000 in LA. Don't you think? You can laugh too. ha ha

                                                                                                                      2. ive asked this before with no real definite answeer.....ive recently starteed eeating sushi and at my usual place i go i order a "sashii roll" with avocado, crab, spsicy tuna, yellowtail, and salmon all wrapped in cucumber(no rice and its a rather big roll, and i also order a vegetable roll whih is also a good size. when i order this they always give me 2 sets of chopsticks and this makes me wonder is this a lot for one person to eat (2 good size rolls) i know its a dub question but being a novice as i a im just wondering

                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: senorbob06969

                                                                                                                          I don't know why eather. May be one for right hand and other one is for left hand. ha ha.

                                                                                                                          1. re: senorbob06969

                                                                                                                            Is this carry-out or eating-in at the restaurant?

                                                                                                                          2. You can see a big range here - from crazy American maki (Sashii - I love that - maybe as in yasashii...) to nare sushi. It's a great thread - thanks for starting it and answering everybody.

                                                                                                                            What do you think of the whole idea of the sushi police and the Japanese Ministry for Agriculture trying to maintain standards around the world? I know that it fell by the wayside a couple of years ago, and that the JRO's position is virtually the opposite of the Ministries efforts. But do you think that some effort needs to be made, as the US is just filling up with non-Japanese, asian-run sushi in Chinese and other asian restaurants? I'm not as concerned with creativity as I am with quality. I mentioned before, serving ahi as a generic tuna - this is commonplace. Butsu-giri, pre-sliced pieces served on dry rice - this is commonplace. Those of us that know the difference don't go to these places, but Americans are being taught what sushi is by chinese restauraunt cooks that were frying egg foo young yesterday, or "have been trained by a Japanese chef" - I love that line - for how many years?

                                                                                                                            I'm not talking about the sushi bullies or sushi nazi's although, ultimately, that's where this sort of thing goes. But I'm just talking about the entry level. Is something necessary? Some sort of certification or license or proof of ability and quality?

                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                            1. re: applehome

                                                                                                                              This is America.land of everything goes. Policing is not nessesally I think. People get in to sushi by chance. Like you guys, those people happened to like it more and get curius, then they will end up this thread and may be learn one or two. It's frastrates you some time though. I agree. just don't go those places. Ha ha

                                                                                                                            2. Ok, I have a question; if my favorite sushi is tuna nigiri, then say seabass nigiri (I tend to like nigiri more) what other sushi might I like?

                                                                                                                              On a different note, I LOVE gyoza/dim sum too, in case that has any refelection.

                                                                                                                              Oh, and just say I was to make my own sushi at home, do you have a simple recipe? Or can this not be done?

                                                                                                                              54 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: Soop

                                                                                                                                Just as a matter of differentiating cuisine, dim sum isn't Japanese. Is this important? It is, as a cultural heritage, if nothing else. But it also reflects the palate and the food. Sushi is a highly specialized food that was developed and refined in Japan. I know that you were just providing points of reference, but you might as well have said I like Spaghetti Bolognese.

                                                                                                                                1. re: applehome

                                                                                                                                  I was thinking about the fact that they're the same size, based on the same principles of ying/yang (protein and carbohydrate) and they tend to be eaten with soy sauce/ginger etc. They just kind of group together in my mind. I have no idea if there is any sushi that would be at all similar to gyoza, but I'm fairly certain there aren't any that would resemble spagetti Bolognese. although I could be wrong! :D

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Soop

                                                                                                                                    Hi. This is the answer to your fiest Qs. You seems like food in small bite size. This may be because you are born to eat variety of food like Japanese .This could be a proof that you ment to be groumet. Ha ha If you like Tuna Sea bass you may like Japanese red snapper, Japanese scallops or Albacore. Buy the sushi book. You can do it at home ,if you don't mind practice a lot. good luck

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Soop

                                                                                                                                      Well then, you might enjoy inarizushi - sushi rice in a small "bag" of aburage - a fried skin of soy protein.

                                                                                                                                      For me, it is that "group together in my mind" that gaijin often express that is on the brink of being culturally insensitive, that bothers me so much. They think oriental is oriental, and it applies to people, food, philosophy... It is what is leading to Americanized sushi served in Chinese and Korean restaurants. Americans can't tell one Asian from another. I admire BT's ability to laugh at it, and ultimately, there is nothing else to do, as there's certainly no way to change it. If I lived in LA or NYC, it would be easier to ignore - just concentrate on the real stuff, as there's plenty of it around. But living in the burbs as I do, surrounded by such poor quality sushi made by generic asians, which is a direct result of the American marketplace demands that don't differentiate by quality, I have a hard time putting up with what I perceive as cultural insensitivity. There is so little authentic, good sushi around. And indeed, the same place that serves dim sum may be serving sushi.

                                                                                                                                      In truth, dim sum, at least in the form of shumai, is well estalished in Japanese cuisine. Yokohama, where I grew up, is the chinatown of the entire Tokyo bay megalopolis, it was the original foreigners quarter. The shumai at the Yokohama-eki (train station) is famous - and indeed delicious - not to be missed. I grew up thinking of it as a delicious food that my parents brought home once in a while - a real treat. I never knew it was Chinese, or dim sum, until I came here. So much for cultural sensitivity.

                                                                                                                                      But back to sushi - it's refinement is uniquely Japanese. It's not that noone else could possibly make good sushi, it's that noone else has it as such a strong cultural, traditional element - with centuries of understanding the techniques, the ingredients, the discipline and training required to make it right. Small round protein/carb could be a slider or cheese and crackers, so it's a pretty meaningless grouping - and yin/yang is Chinese philosophy - taoism. Concentrate on sushi. The vinegar and seasoning of the rice, it's texture and flavor are unique and kick off so many firing points into the brain. Everything else is an add-on - some mighty delicious add-ons, to be sure, but it starts with the su-shi.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: applehome

                                                                                                                                        Do you remenber " Kiyouken" The famous shoumai in Yokohama and all of Japan. All the foreign food imported to Japan as a part of culture people brought in, we tend to refine it into more delicate taste. Some time i compare chinese shumai and japanese one,I feel japanese are stingy on ingridients. but may be i'm wrong. Just may be. ha ha couple years ago friends of mine who is director, shoot the documentary film about dimsum. Finally she finished edditing and may come out as tv special or part of at least. Keep your finger crossed because I'm in it. You may start form my fan club ha ha. about our food culture; We are farmers so we don't go any where. We just stay in same area so that we could develope very sencitive refined taste bad. Also we have very different 4 seasons. It help us too. Europian is basically hunters. They have to keep moving chaising thier play. In order to have good food ,they developed sauces. So that they can carry along.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: bigtuna27

                                                                                                                                          Yeah, what you're saying is very true. French quisine traditionally places high importance on sauces, and allows a chef to demonstaate his ability. Traditionally, it's probably the nearest thing to the refinement of some type of Japanese cooking.

                                                                                                                                          OK, I have a question (and I hope I don't sound rude):
                                                                                                                                          if the guy that invented sushi was a drop out who only learned to prepare rice and fish, and then opened the sushi stand, surely all the refinement of sushi and tradition came from that point?
                                                                                                                                          So 50 years later, mr X develops a new technique, and this is more popular etc etc.
                                                                                                                                          At what point is tradition replaced by new techniques? Certainly it must have happened several times, and certainly there must be sub standard Sushi places in Japan?

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Soop

                                                                                                                                            Hi. I don't know exactry when it started. You can ask Silverjey or KK they know better than me. I think very original one started around 600 century. 1st Nare sushi, 2nd Hako sushi {Kansai style] then modern style [ which is the base of what we eat now] as a 3rd. With in modern style; They made it restaurant in late Edo era. Around WW 2 refregerator was invented so zuke style started to dissapier. Prior that they used only local fish in order to serve fresh fish. Then they start to eat more fish comes from distance like Tuna. After the WW2 they start to eat Toro because of commercal refregration system improved sagnificantly and foreigh food infulence [Fattier food]. 50 yrs ago in Boston where atlantic blue fin came in, they were giving toro part to pigs. Can you believe? So what I'm saying that sushi is also part of food culture we have now. It is keep changing. Ex. Big fat special roll. I saw it on Food show on travel channel few days ago. Tv chef was making rolls made with shreded porl,rice and tapioka paper. He called them Texas sushi. ha ha ha Who knows in 10~20 yrs later what will it become. For the last Q, check internet for " Sousaku sushi"

                                                                                                                                            1. re: bigtuna27

                                                                                                                                              B.Tuna, can you provide more detail on post WWII refrigeration stuff. This came up in another thread, but the author said it had to do with Japanese household freezers. Not sure why...In Japan, I got used to eating zuke lunch stuff on days when Tsukiji is closed. My impression is that zuke is made from leftovers. Also, can you give me the author, publisher of your sushi book in Japanese? I'm interested in other resources.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Silverjay

                                                                                                                                                Just to clarify- I meant made from leftovers these days, not traditionally.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Silverjay

                                                                                                                                                  Before Zuke was the way to preserve tuna[locally caught]. Not to season it.Zuke became seasoning technic lately because to provide some thing different. but most of the time to get lid of older tuna. because it help to hide old flavor and color. Enjoy day old tuna ha ha

                                                                                                                                              2. re: bigtuna27

                                                                                                                                                I'm terrible at history. Leave that to Silverjay.

                                                                                                                                                I'm sure there was a lot of innovation along the way since the food stall turned restaurant, and many spin-off's like it. Maybe not as well documented online, but I'm sure there are other resources out there.

                                                                                                                                                If anything there is a seeming revival of old style techniques amongst the chefs who wish to continue to pursue it (many of the high end places in the USA and Japan are already doing it). Some of the techniques has already been discussed across this whole thread.

                                                                                                                                                New-new techniques? More like new technology. Brace yourselves for this one, as there are Japanese made machines/robots that automate the entire sushi making process. Search around youtube and you will find sales demo videos. There's one subsidiary in Chicago that is used for North American sales. No idea how much it costs but I'm scared for the future of this cuisine.

                                                                                                                                                Machines dedicated to making sushi rice.
                                                                                                                                                Machines dedicated to making rolls of most sorts (you provide nori, rice ingredients.

                                                                                                                                                and the scariest of them all

                                                                                                                                                you provide sliced raw fish and rice. A machine compacts and makes cookie cutter style molded nigiri shari. You just put the fish on top (some machines might do it for you. And presto, a machine made nigiri. This is already in use across Japan at sushi boat/conveyor belt places (kaiten-zushi). One can only imagine when this is mass deployed worldwide when it becomes more affordable than hiring some random Chinese, Korean, Thai, or other non Japanese person to be a fast creative sushi maker.

                                                                                                                                                Also classically trained sushi chefs, mom and pop type sushi places (neighborhood joints), and those that get handed down either generation to generation, or from one grand master to another (starting off as dishwashers and cleaners) are quickly disappearing from what I'm told in Japan. Lots of chains popping up, or conglomerates owning big shares and being able to buy massive quantities of fresh fish in bulk and in volume. I don't know how true this is, but I would guess that a large volume buyer over time has a better line of credit overall than an average mom and pop shop independently owned place. I can only imagine how difficult it is for a new classically trained sushi chef person in his 30s or so trying to open up an independent shop, if such competition exists. He has to be more than REALLY good to survive.

                                                                                                                                                Big Tuna san is right. Post WW2 is when Japanese people started developing a taste and appreciation for fatty (toro that is) and some argue that the introduction and popularization of French cuisine into Japan is partly to blame for the increase in human toro consumption. I heard it used to be fed to cats, which is why akami/dorsal fin red meat tuna used to be way more expensive than belly.

                                                                                                                                                But yeah isn't it odd that back in the day, pigs and farm animals ate better than humans? Toro and even okara (the byproduct of making tofu, rich in nutritients) were animal stock/feed. But you ask most sushi chefs, most of them want to be reincarnated as Kobe beef, get massaged every day, listen to music, fed beer and good quality grains, no exercise. (most of that is a myth I hear but fun to use as sushi bar conversation).

                                                                                                                                                1. re: K K

                                                                                                                                                  you know a lot.KK. those machines are first introduced in USA in early 90's. as a matter of fact,I used it for a while. it wasn't FDA approved then. so whent HD came in we hid it with table cloth. Ha ha It cost as mech as mercedes E-class then. We had huge volume of sushi biz and not much space to spread help around. It was faster than help and didn't take break eather haha. Honestly chef like me is 3 times faster than sushi machine. A lot of low end place is widely useing it now. And machine was improved and got cheaperbut sushi bar is not eating sushi but enjoy conversation with chefs and other customers too. Average plus sushi bar still needs human touch. It's like regular bar. You can't talk to machine. Wait they may invent sushi robot which talks ha ha. About Toro. You are right. western food culture influenced some how. Like when we open the door and Meiji era started we started eat beef a lot. Not only Toro but here in USA ,we think purple potato is a groumet thing. Those are pig's food not long time a go. What will come next ?Story about Kobe beef is true. I'm from kobe so I know. BF tuna has been farm raised more than 10 years now. They catch young one and keep them in secluded bay or net out in the ocean. No excercize there. When will they start massage them?

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: bigtuna27

                                                                                                                                                    Why don't you just create a robot that massages the farm tuna?......

                                                                                                                                                    Question: Can you get buri in California? Like real buri, not farm raised hamachi, but wild caught adult yellowtail? Just curious. Also, what exactly do you consider "hamachi" to be? I've heard that there are differences between Kansai and Kanto regarding the names of different yellowtail ages (inada, warasa, etc.) and wild/farmed. Sorry, this is just my sakana-otaku interest. I ask the same question to all sushi chefs. The answer is sometimes different based on where the chef is from...

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Silverjay

                                                                                                                                                      No It's very hard. You got those name right.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Silverjay

                                                                                                                                                        Siilverjay, according to people I have spoken to, if you (as a restaurant owner) are willing to pay and have an account with the big wholesalers like IMP and True World (and other sources), and depending on what is in season and available for purchase, you could theoretically get high end and exotic fish of all sorts. The question is whether there is a market for it, and what profit you could make on top of the high cost to procure.

                                                                                                                                                        As far as buri, there's a variant called kanburi that I've seen a very small handful of restaurants get for sushi in Northern California, imported from Japan of course.

                                                                                                                                                        Last year when I was visiting Taiwan, on cable TV where they air Japan TV programs subtitled in Chinese, there was a in the studio cooking show, where they used kanburi but only for shabu shabu / nabemono. Swish Swish, dip in ponzu and it's a great way to enjoy it.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: K K

                                                                                                                                                          Yeah, kan buri is 寒ぶり in Japanese (although buri does have it's own kanji). It means, as you probably can read better than I can, winter buri. In Japanese, this refers to winter, wild caught adult yellow tail. The most prized of which is from the Sea of Japan- especially off the Noto Peninsula, where they fatten up nicely thanks to the wacky ocean currents. Let me tell you that kan buri makes some of the best sashimi you can eat. It can be marbled in fat and equally as melty. The sushi, although not my favorite, is comparable to maguro chu toro. But shabu shabu is also popular, although I've yet to try. I've seen buri here in New York at Kanoyama last winter. Since there is always confusion over the term "yellowtail" and since "hamachi" refers to both a particular age/sized yellowtail as well as a particular farm-raised variant (possibly two different types of fish actually), the whole yellowtail thing can become very confusing as to what you are actually getting in the U.S. I'm not ashamed to admit that part of the motivation behind my trip to Kanazawa in a few weeks is to partake in kan buri. Also, I eat teriyaki buri and buri daikon as pretty standard winter dishes.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Silverjay

                                                                                                                                                            Any wild Japanese hamachi or yellowtail/buri is really really really hard to come by for most US run Japanese restaurants. Most of the time your avg neighborhood sushi bar at least in Northern California will use the farmed variety and who knows where it is really from even though the packaging has Japanese characters on it.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Silverjay

                                                                                                                                                              Silverjay. hats off to you and your knowledge.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: bigtuna27

                                                                                                                                                                Big Tuna Sensei, are you against True World because of the Koryo connection? I can understand...

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: K K

                                                                                                                                                                  No. I don't care for their religion. Simply bad quality fish. I had to use them for 1 1/2 yr. I can't stand thier quality. sales person was very nice though. IMP ,La fish and Pacific california are the best we have here. For american fish co, Santa monica sea foos is best all around fish supplier. Funny story is all of them think I'm the A H. It's a benefit for my customer. ha ha

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: bigtuna27

                                                                                                                                                                    I am curious, though, about True World Foods - how big are they? They're owned by the Unification Church (Moonies) who were at one time major Sushi purveyors - they still own several places in the Boston area, including one near me in Chelmsford, MA. They still own fishing fleets in Gloucester and in Alaska. Do you see them as major players still in the US sushi market?

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: applehome

                                                                                                                                                                      i don't know how big they are. I just know by my expierience. sucks.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: applehome

                                                                                                                                                                        True World's website


                                                                                                                                                                        They run weekly ads in one of our local Japanese circulars (BaySpo) and make it sound like they have their own fish buyers at Tsukiji and can source fish from all 4 or so major fish markets in Japan.

                                                                                                                                                                        Big Tuna-san, have you tried sourcing kindai maguro, the sustainably farmed bluefin tuna from Kinki University, Japan, for use at sushi bars, and if you have tried it, what do you think? (I will tell you my opinion of it after your answer) There's a myth that yes only a few are produced each year and only big shot places like The French Laundry, Masa, major fancy hotels can get them, but apparently some channels have made it available to others.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: K K

                                                                                                                                                                          I didn't know until you told me.i serched and read about kindai maguro. It was farm grown from egg and fed very selected safe bait[ no macury], It's meat is almost toro and not much red meat. Seems like kobe beef in fish form. When first farm grow Bf came in the market, it was from Australia. And was based on Minami maguro. There for 3/4 of meat was toro. Very rich but didn't last long. 1~2 days the most. it dissapiered and Spanish one came in after few years. This one was closed to wild one as toro contents. But flavor was weaker than natural one. In winter time this one is comnnly used now. I still think N Atlantic natural one is the best in flavor. it is just my guess but farm grown one is luck of exersize so fattier but less flavor and weaker. Like one of those fat kids you see now adays ha ha

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: bigtuna27

                                                                                                                                                                            The one good thing about eating the fat kids is that they are easy to catch.

                                                                                                                                                            2. re: bigtuna27

                                                                                                                                                              Well knowledge is out there, you just have to go look for it. Youtube is fun if you search for words like sushi but you get even better results if you search using Japanese/kanji like 寿司 or the more classical 鮨 .
                                                                                                                                                              I believe if you search for sushi robot on youtube you will likely get one of those nigiri and sushi making machines.

                                                                                                                                                              I think you can only massage fish once they are dead. If you can massage them while alive and in the water, you are in the wrong line of work!

                                                                                                                                                              Big Tuna San, when did the first kaitensushi open in Los Angeles, and was it conveyor belt or a sushi "boat". I can't remember when was the first in Northern Calfiornia, but for San Francisco it was probably the Isobune chain in mid 80s or so.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: K K

                                                                                                                                                                it opened in SF first. Few people tried but failed. It was convairbelt type. May be still one exsist in Little Tokyo.

                                                                                                                                                      2. re: bigtuna27

                                                                                                                                                        "Europeans" were originally hunters and gatherers, which was a nomadic way of life. However, once they figured out how to domesticate animals, they became farmers. That happened a very very long time ago.

                                                                                                                                                        The primary difference in Japanese and European diets comes from the geophysical differences and proximity to the sea. How far is the farthest any Japanese village is from the sea? Not far by European standards! So the European diet was centered around meat, cheese, wheat, and vegetables. The Japanese diet is centered around rice, vegetables, and fish, with some beef and no traditional cheese.

                                                                                                                                                        But BOTH cultures developed and use a wide variety of sauces. Think of shoyu as the Japanese equivalent of ketchup. '-)

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                                                            We have world famous stinky "Natto" for the replacement of cheese. And your favorite tofu. But you got the point too.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: bigtuna27

                                                                                                                                                              No natto for me, please. But I do like tofu! Good stuff!

                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                                                              wait, wait... you're comparing shoyu to bechamel and bearnaise? My youngest brother's insistence on putting ketchup all over my mother's incredible gyoza every time we had it was a source of great angst in our family.

                                                                                                                                                              I think that there's more to it than just ingredients. What - the Mediterranean has no fish? How similar is Italian to Japanese? What's the difference there?

                                                                                                                                                              Japanese have developed a cultural introspection of what goes on the plate and into the mouth that is deeper than most cultures. There is a desire to get food "right" - not just in the sense of a particular recipe or method, but in a cultural sense. Perhaps this is a unique development from the years of isolation - something Europe never had.

                                                                                                                                                              These years of isolation were followed by the onslaught of foreign culture - where the application of the inward development of the values and techniques that were created to enhance them, to yoshoku (gaijin food) insured that the best fried battered food is Tempura, from Japan, and not something from Portugal, where it originated.

                                                                                                                                                              There are equivalents of 6 years of apprenticeship in a sushiya in the guilds of charcuteriers and bakers in Europe, so the value of quality and passing on tradition may in and of itself be equivalent. But where this was a factor of commerce in Europe, it was more about cultural values in Japan. That's not to say that sushi (and other great cuisine) wasn't mainly developed as the business class grew in stature - it was. But the cultural values were established before them.

                                                                                                                                                              To Soop's point, Sushi changes - of course - everything does. In that interview with Jiro that KK linked to in one of our threads, he talks about what changes are going to have to be made even now, as ingredients change in availability. Substitutions become set menus over time. And even form is changed within the bounds of tradition. But foreign countries present entirely new marketplace demands - and a delicious soft taco with carnitas is in danger of becoming hamburger in a crispy shell. Creative Itamae needing customers in LA may invent california rolls - but because this is satisfying American needs, and not Japanese cultural traditions, it's not necessarily going to be accepted as one of the traditional paths that a food might travel on.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: applehome

                                                                                                                                                                wait, wait... you're comparing shoyu to bechamel and bearnaise?

                                                                                                                                                                Nope. Ketchup! '-)

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: applehome

                                                                                                                                                                  Very good analization. Since you mention Tempura. I have a quiz. Where is that word came from?

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Humbucker

                                                                                                                                                                      Answer is; When Portguese stayed in Japan they were priest and they lived in the temple. They introduced us Flitter. So people liked that and copied the food priest had in temple. They started call it Templa. Get it? I assume it was vegetable.

                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: bigtuna27

                                                                                                                                                                      I just thought it was a Portuguese word - from a latin root. I remember reading the legend about Tokugawa Ieyasu dying from eating too much Tempura. I don't know if that's true. That's better than the legend of Miyamoto Musashi dying of eating fugu liver to challenge the gods, although he really died of cancer.

                                                                                                                                                              2. re: applehome

                                                                                                                                                                For make-at-home, I'm taken with the notion of temari sushi. Here's a webbpage with photos of some you can order "to go" when passing through Narita Airport in Tokyo:

                                                                                                                                                                You make them by placing your "topping" on a square of Saran wrap, then a dab of wasabi if you like, then add your sushi rice, gather up the plastic wrap and twist it to force everything into a tight little ball, unwrap and voila! You have a large sushi marble!

                                                                                                                                                                I have some canape cutters that are in flower, diamond, circle, square, all sorts of shapes. I;m thinking it would be fun to cut flower shapes, then maybe after it's out of the plastic, instead of wasabi under the "topping," maybe a "wasabi pea" type cracker as the center of the flower -- I have some that have a heavy bite to them! A new and interesting crunch. Who needs tempura in their sushi!

                                                                                                                                                                Part of the reason I like this idea so much is it provides portion control.. I'm thinking about the size of a largish but not huge gum ball. Don't want a golf ball size. That's too big for one bite.

                                                                                                                                                                It sounds like a lot more work than nigiri sushi, once you master forming the rice, but there's a ton of possibilities that nigiri just doesn't offer. How about Halloween temari? A circle of shoyu stained fish, a dot of nori in the middle on a ball of rice... Eyeballs! '-)

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                                                                  My mother would just put out thinly sliced pieces of sashimi, cucumbers, takuwan, maybe some form of surimi, and whatever else she had, with a huge stack of nori - cut larger than one might normally for the table - into quarters, and then a large wooden bowl of sushi rice with a shamoji. People would come by and "roll their own", along with selecting whatever other goodies she had prepared.

                                                                                                                                                                  But none of this ought to be put even in the same class as what you go to a sushiya for. While we are able to grill a nice porterhouse by just buying a USDA prime piece of beef, and having a real wood charcoal grill (or ok, a salamander) - something pretty close to the steak house - it just isn't the case that one buys a chunk of "sushi grade" fish and people ooh and aah about what you make at home. At least, none of the people that I go to sushiyas and izakayas with. My mother's knife skills notwithstanding, she could never approach the quality of a trained Itamae - and she knew it. She would only cut a few pieces of the sashimi at a time, and leave the main pieces wrapped in plastic until needed.

                                                                                                                                                                  Sushi can be done at home, and party sushi is fun. But it ain't anywhere near the real thing.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Silverjay

                                                                                                                                                                    Subarashiki Nichiyobi (One Wonderful Sunday). She plays the part (a small one) of Sono, Yamiya's mistress. It was made in 1947. She made a few others (none by Kurosawa) at Toho studios before quitting to marry my father.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: applehome

                                                                                                                                                                      Thanks for sharing that. One wonderful story for sure.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: applehome

                                                                                                                                                                        interesting...I've seen most of Kurosawa's movies, but not that one.

                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: applehome

                                                                                                                                                                    Ok Applehome, I'm starting to feel a little insulted now.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Soop

                                                                                                                                                                      a) You shouldn't be insulted because I used a piece of what you said to rant on cultural insensitivity - I wasn't calling you culturally insensitive.

                                                                                                                                                                      b) If you are culturally insensitive, you should be ashamed and chagrined, not insulted.

                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: applehome

                                                                                                                                                                      A side note about dim sum and Yokohama Chinatown, I had the pleasure to walk through there sometime in 1999. Generally quite expensive. You'd think that sushi is only eaten during special occassions, but Chinese food in Yokohama Chinatown isn't exactly cheap (but maybe more affordable).

                                                                                                                                                                      I have to say that Japanese style Chinese food is very different from Chinese food in California or even Hong Kong. It is probably closer to Northern Chinese style (well I loosely define as North of Hong Kong!) but at the same time there's something about it that's catered towards Japanese tastebuds.

                                                                                                                                                                      Yes they have what looks like Cantonese style shumai and maybe BBQ pork buns like in dim sum, but there are variations I can't quite put to words (not that I've eaten at Yokohama Chinatown, but at least observed the picture menus and plastic displays outside). I don't recall seeing a lot of Cantonese dim sum staples at the dim sum style places in Yokohama Chinatown.

                                                                                                                                                                      In addition to the red edged meat BBQ pork cha shu buns, there's a pork and cabbage or plain pork steamed bun (not BBQ'd) more known as butaman.
                                                                                                                                                                      And tons more variations. Heck even Sichuan style dan dan noodles has a Japanese version of it (tantanmen) and even a ramen preparation based on it.

                                                                                                                                                                      Japanese style shumai is making a comeback at a lot of izakayas in California and some sushi restaurants as appetizers, the more popular variation being crab shumai and the better ones of course hand made from scratch and not pre-frozen kind. Japanese gyoza are very common now too (Japanese take on Chinese pot stickers but thinner skin), and the multitude of variations are also seen at some sushi restaurants, one I used to go to made maguro gyoza with a spicy dipping sauce that was pretty good. But another hideous kaitensushi restaurant made a crazy roll with it....yes pot sticker roll. Starchy skin with sushi rice around it, and teriyaki sauce on top.....

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: K K

                                                                                                                                                                        I too had dim sum in Yokohama Chinatown and thought it wasn't as heavy handed as the dim sum here in CA. All this time, I never recognised that it was catered to the Japanese palate...I just thought it was a regional difference (yes, the Japanese palate IS a regional difference, but I thought it more in terms of how East Coast dim sum varies from West Coast dimsum)....

                                                                                                                                                                        Very good observation KK.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: K K

                                                                                                                                                                          Don't get me started on Yokohama Chinatown. Every meal there I've ever eaten has been fairly disappointing. Flushing, NY is much better for Chinese fare. The dim sum in Yokohama basically sucks, but I hear there are some decent places around in Tokyo. Expensive though. Cantonese is probably the most popular Chinese cuisine in Japan because it's probably closest to Japanese sensibilities, but Sichuan "style" is popular these days and there seem to be many Taiwanese places as well. Many do the same type of aggregation of regional styles that you see here in the U.S. This is the case unless things have changed dramatically...All things considered, Yokohama Chinatown is basically for tourists. Man, Kannai, the area just west of Chinatown, used to be a crazy place up until a few years ago....

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Silverjay

                                                                                                                                                                            Yep I would have to agree based on my observations and thus assumptions from them as well.

                                                                                                                                                                            One of the reasons how I was there, was I joined a group tour, ahem run by Chinese speakers who live in Japan. Basically got super sick of eating tourist Chinese in Japan most of the time.

                                                                                                                                                                            OCAnn, that's just how I see Japanese style Chinese food in Japan and this one place south of where I work that tries to do something similar. Only certain styles of Chinese food appeal to a segment of the population. I know of Japanese friends who don't like Cantonese food that much (except for dim sum) but go gaga when it comes to mapo tofu, dan dan mien, steamed pork buns/butaman etc.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: K K

                                                                                                                                                                              Hi KK:

                                                                                                                                                                              By analogy, my impression is that a certain big segment of American population would go gaga when it comes to kung pao chicken, sweet and sour pork, egg roll & chow mien.

                                                                                                                                                                              And on second note, I do notice you seem to go to Taiwan regularly. Based on my own experience 5 years ago, and that was pre-Chowhound era for me so I did not keep any details with me as my Taiwanese friends brought me around, I thought the Japanese scene there was pretty good with very high standard. I personally thought it was perhaps the best I had outside of Japan. What do you think? Perhaps in comparison to the Japanese scene in America that you are also very familiar with.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: FourSeasons

                                                                                                                                                                                Yep, the Japanese influence is wide and deep all over Taiwan. Instead of pushing it away, they've embraced it full force even after WWII and occupation. Not just food culture, but pop culture and many other aspects.

                                                                                                                                                                                Taipei has a few districts where long blocks are dedicated to Japanese businesses and customers, whether it be social clubs, restaurants, eat/drink places. That's where you go if you are Japanese expat living in Taiwan, traveling there from Japan, or working for a Japanese company, or if you want to eat like them. Izakaya, robatayaki, places that specialize in fresh grilled unagi over rice, yakiniku, yakiniku themed izakaya's, shabu shabu etc.

                                                                                                                                                                                There are also high end Japanese restaurants that cater to local tastebuds and those who appreciate that sort of thing. Mostly Japanese, slight hint of Taiwanese. I ate at a Japanese restaurant that the former President of Taiwan (who is in jail right now) once enjoyed a lot, very nice place but not a formal sushi restaurant, although the sashimi plate was sexcellent.

                                                                                                                                                                                Then there are restaurants that are mostly Taiwanese in nature but are heavily influenced by Japanese styles of cooking, prep, ingredients, etc. Lots of hot spring spas all over Taiwan (onsen) and they even have Taiwanese version of kaiseki, vegetarian kaiseki etc.

                                                                                                                                                                                Taiwanese night markets/street food, anywhere you go, you will easily find takoyaki, something called tung lor shau that is a grilled pancake batter stuffed with either taro, butter, or red bean (like a bigger dorayaki if you will), taiyaki, skewered seafood maybe seasoned with some nori powder, stalls that specialize in nigiri sushi and local fish for sashimi (ok maybe not a good example but the influence is there). It's all good.

                                                                                                                                                                                Like Japan, Taiwan has easy access to really great local seafood. With Japan being so close, it is also efficient to source Japanese fish and easily much cheaper than from the US. Some Japanese owned restaurants in Taipei only need to drive an hour north into the port of Keelung, which I suppose is their version of Tsukiji, but much smaller and less crazy, and can easily get great quality fish sashimi that's much cheaper than importing. Keelung/Taipei can easily offer local version of swordfish (kajiki) which is a popular item for sashimi as well as "fish floss" (dried shaved), a local version that appears to be their hamachi, salmon, octopus for tako, uni (I think), ama ebi, certain clams, and more. East coast of Taiwan, near central part, of Hualien, is a huge source for bonito (katuso) and they even have a museum there (must visit) where the founders learned the art of making katsuoboshi (bonito flakes), the gift shop alone is worth checking out. If you've ever had great Taiwanese oyster noodle, chances are the broth was seasoned with katsuoboshi.

                                                                                                                                                                                Yes I'd say very close to Japan in terms of style and taste, but different. There's cheap Japanese food, there's local takes on it, and there's high end stuff but as far as a place that is an authentic sushi-ya, I am currently not aware of one. For sure any form of Japanese food in Taiwan is easily better in quality and value than most establishments in the US (in general).

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: K K

                                                                                                                                                                                  Hi KK:

                                                                                                                                                                                  Thanks for your very well written review of the Japanese dining scene in Taiwan. I agree with your conclusion.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: FourSeasons

                                                                                                                                                                                    Hi. Big tuna here.This is not the reply fo you but somebody asked about the books I got information from earlier. Here they are; "Sushi gijyutsu kyoukasho " by Asahiya publishing Co. " Shouyu no hon" by Shibata publishing Co. I hope these helps. Anything else I know learned through expierience.

                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Silverjay

                                                                                                                                                                              Co-signed, I've never had a good meal in Chinatown in Yokohama.

                                                                                                                                                                              I think Philadelphia's china town, small it may be, has better options.

                                                                                                                                                                  3. O-Maguro Oyakata,

                                                                                                                                                                    In some of these "how to" professional sushi man books (in Japanese with sexy pictures of the ingredients, knives, fish/seafood etc), on the preparing tamagoyaki section, there is a section on using shiromi sakana surimi (white fish paste) with egg, looks ilke a scrambled egg kind of dish, and the dried up version looks like some sort of either powder or ground mix/flour. What is the purpose of this, and does it really work in using for tamagoyaki?

                                                                                                                                                                    What are the benefits/disadvantages of adding shiromi sakana surimi for tamagoyaki, vs ground up ebi, vs say, kobashi/clam.

                                                                                                                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: K K

                                                                                                                                                                      I'm not sure what you are talking about. but i guess you are talking about Oboro. ans scramble egg kind dish is the one finish cooking part. You ha ve to dry up little. It's a shiromi,ebi surimi and sugar . W use them in between rice and tomago to enhance taste. All those ingredients are depends of each chef's preferance. It's for rather classic technic. Major tamagoyaki is dashimaki now. It's easier to make and easier to add your own taste to it.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: bigtuna27

                                                                                                                                                                        OK thanks for your response. I looked up oboro, denbu and it all makes sense to me now. There are similar but different versions of these in Taiwan, used as flavor enhancements for any food (including bread with mayo) and even inside Taiwanese style sushi rolls (usually made with dried shaved pork, look like brown wool but tastes great. Sometimes made using salmon, tuna, or kajiki).

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: K K

                                                                                                                                                                          You like that pork? when I buy pork bun ,i make mistakes some time and end up that stuff in the bun. I can't stand it. It's too sweet. I don't care for denbu eather.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: bigtuna27

                                                                                                                                                                            Are we talking same thing? Some Taiwanese bakeries in LA have that (also supermarkets).

                                                                                                                                                                            It is an aquired taste, but the Taiwanese style shaved pork floss is mostly savory with hints of sweet. Kids love it. It's like Taiwanese version of peanut butter topping but is used more widespread.


                                                                                                                                                                            It is also a key ingredient for Taiwanese style futo uramaki (cucumber, tamago, rousong, sesame seeds/gomae, some green veg, kani kama or real crab meat etc) and temaki.

                                                                                                                                                                            Personally I prefer the fish version than the pork, if available. With such a large kajiki and salmon population around the waters of Taiwan, those are the popular alternatives.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: bigtuna27

                                                                                                                                                                              I hate cha siu buns too. I'd waited about 10 years to try one, and when I finally tried them they were too sweet. I'd like to try regular ones though.

                                                                                                                                                                      2. Hi bigtuna27:

                                                                                                                                                                        Just one question: not about sushi, but about fish. I notice when I see the image of kinki nitsuke on blogs posted by Americans, the photo usually shows headless kinki. I actually thought the fish head is the most delicious part of kinki. Can you just explain why the chefs in America cut off the heads of kinki when they present the meal? Is it just too ugly and disgusting to most Americans? And what do they do to the kinki's heads? Throw away?

                                                                                                                                                                        16 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: FourSeasons

                                                                                                                                                                          You are right. I useally take it home for my wife. She loves soup. You must be oriental. If you are coucasion,you would'nt ask this question.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: bigtuna27

                                                                                                                                                                            Haha.....your wife is very lucky; kinki is very expensive, she gets the most delicious part and you can still profit from it. BTW, do you gain access to the kinki from Japan or Alaska? And how much do you charge one in a restaurant in LA?

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: FourSeasons

                                                                                                                                                                              Yeah from Japan I think. $7 for sushi. $17 for Sashimi. I never had a lot of left over so haven't made nitsuke. Besides if i serve borney part, here comes law suit. ha ha

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: bigtuna27

                                                                                                                                                                                Never had kinki as sashimi or sushi before. Does it taste like kinmedai?

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: K K

                                                                                                                                                                                  Me either and I'm interested. But I had a very long sakana-otaku conversation with a chef in Tokyo this summer on these two fish (I actually ate 4 kinki in a week at his place- 2 nitsuke and 2 shioyaki!). He told me they're not related. Kinki. And he mentioned you can get kinki sashimi in Hokkaido when it is very fresh. If BT can add more information, that would be nice.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Silverjay

                                                                                                                                                                                    Kinki and Kinme are not related yes, but they are both deep sea fish and can be somewhat similar in taste to most folks.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: K K

                                                                                                                                                                                      Go to "Site Talk" and recommend they create a "Fish" board.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: K K

                                                                                                                                                                                        Had my first Kinki with head on a couple months ago here in San Diego, it was close to a Kinmedai, but the flesh is definitely more delicate:
                                                                                                                                                                                        Kinmedai one of my favorites, shioyaki style or nitsuke, I have had at least six heads this year!

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: K K

                                                                                                                                                                                      Ok I'm sorry. I've got mixed up those two fish. the price i told you for kinnme dai. I did try Kinki sushi but not that grate. If my memory is correct it tasted more like grouper as sushi or sashimi. You need ponzu sauce.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: bigtuna27

                                                                                                                                                                                        And here I thought Kinki sushi was just a variation on Nyotaimori...

                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: FourSeasons

                                                                                                                                                                                Yep like Big Tuna says, you've pretty much answered your own question. Isn't curry fish head claypot one of the famous dishes of Singaporean Chinese food (maybe not as famous as curry crab).

                                                                                                                                                                                In Northern California, the closest one might get to the fish head for most Japanese restaurants is by way of the collar, e.g. grilled hamachi or salmon kama. Some of the more authentic places will sometimes have the fish head as a special (e.g. tai head nitsuke). If the fish is relatively small, the restaurant may not may not include it entirely.
                                                                                                                                                                                But apparently some people who may cringe at eating the fish head, might have no problem if their cut of bluefin toro kama came from the "neck" portion or the cheeks (hypocritical? :-) ).

                                                                                                                                                                                You know you are seriously hardcore Asian if you also eat the eyeballs too.

                                                                                                                                                                                For a reference point, one fusion izakaya place I know of charged $17 to $20 for an order of kinki nitsuke (possibly by weight), not a big fish and I don't think it was whole, but just enough for 2 to sample. They also do a prep that is deep fried, then served with a thicker gravy with vegetables. No idea where they get it from.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: K K

                                                                                                                                                                                  It probably be whole fish. The gravy you are talking about may be annkake style. Dashi,soy sauce,mirinn sugar ,ginger and starches.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: K K

                                                                                                                                                                                    Wow, classic cultural shit guys. Perhaps it's a west coast thing. I order and eat whole fish dishes in NYC all the time at Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Mediterranean, American restaurants. They aren't unusual here or in many other places along the east coast. Actually, I was served kabuto nitsuke (which is just the head and nothing else) as an omakase item at Ushi Wakamaru in NYC last year. I don't think it boils down to just American or white people's sensibilities. I know plenty of Japanese (especially women) who get kind of freaked out by head on fishies....Now what's the deal with those "sticks" that you guys eat with????

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Silverjay

                                                                                                                                                                                      Not stereotyping here, just answering a theory man.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Are there Whole Foods supermarkets in NY Silverjay? For some reason they always chop and chuck away the wild salmon heads at the local Cali ones I frequent, and that makes me sad.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: K K

                                                                                                                                                                                        Oh, I'm certainly not implying that fish heads are at the top of American home chef's shopping list, nor that the meat is truly appreciated here. Merely that it's not necessarily a "cringe and awe" type of thing when served in a restaurant as a whole fish dish....I usually shop at ethnic markets and you see all kinds of wacky things.

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: K K

                                                                                                                                                                                      Hi KK:

                                                                                                                                                                                      Just to correct you: it is Chilli Crab, not curry crab. And curry fish head does not have to be in a claypot; and it is not a Singaporean Chinese food, more like a Singaporean Indian food.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Kinki nituske for just $17-20. That is very cheap but I don't understand how they can serve if it is not the whole. I guess it is cheap because the demand is not high there, or perhaps able to source locally from Alaska (though I did read that the kinki from Alaska is considered as second class as compared to the deep sea ones from Hokkaido). Maybe I should look for kinki more often when I visit LA.

                                                                                                                                                                                      And in my opinion, kinki is much more delicious than kinmedai.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Eyeball is not the good part, it is the area around the eyeball that is real delicious. For hardcore, only the bones are left at the end...

                                                                                                                                                                                  2. Bigtuna-san

                                                                                                                                                                                    I think most of us know what escolar is, and it is being passed around other types of sushi restaurants as either

                                                                                                                                                                                    -shiro maguro (instead of albacore)
                                                                                                                                                                                    - super white tuna
                                                                                                                                                                                    - "butterfish" (instead of medai)
                                                                                                                                                                                    - "Walu" (sometimes carelessly marketed as a safe and exotic fish from Hawaii)

                                                                                                                                                                                    and whatever other incorrect names (someone said a restaurant tried to pass escolar as "mutsu!").

                                                                                                                                                                                    Some of us know that it can cause anal leakage depending on the person who eats it, no matter if you serve it raw or seared or fully cooked.

                                                                                                                                                                                    What are your thoughts on using this fish for sushi and sashimi.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Also do you make your own osechi? It's about that time of year.

                                                                                                                                                                                    13 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: K K

                                                                                                                                                                                      hahahaha @ anal leakage. Sorry. I'm just glad I haven't eaten any. ha ha

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: OCAnn


                                                                                                                                                                                        Interesting, I didn't know before it was also known as "snake mackeral".

                                                                                                                                                                                        Look under "effects of consumption". I suppose if you want to make your own orange colored "mineral oil" what other better way. Which begs the question, which one does the job better, escolar or stale spicy tuna (or better yet, spicy escolar).

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: K K

                                                                                                                                                                                          LOL @ "which does the job better...."

                                                                                                                                                                                          Might be fun to bring some "tuna" salad to the next office potluck. hahahaha

                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: K K

                                                                                                                                                                                        It also called Ono from hawaii. Mutsu is actualy real name in Japan. I don't like this fish. But some american like it.Because it's oily. everything you said about the result afterwords are TRUE!!!. Osechi? NO WAY.I'm serving for americans 99% of the time. I'll eat standing rib roast.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: bigtuna27

                                                                                                                                                                                          Oh yes... ono. I think I heard that one before. More like HELL NO.

                                                                                                                                                                                          I thought mutsu was "bluefish" and not escolar. I've had mutsu twice at legitimate Japanese run sushirestaurants, and they look like and taste like most typical shiromi sakana, and not the pearl white/super white fish (so blinding and shiny it hurts my eyes) and the mutsu I had definitely kept my ass dry.

                                                                                                                                                                                          So I am inclined to believe those who try to offer escolar are inaccurately labeling the fish, maybe to downplay the anal leakage effects. I've seen someone say ebodai is butterfish, and another restaurant would say butterfish is medai.

                                                                                                                                                                                          I've seen a few chefs offer some osechi items halfway through an almost end of the year meal. So unforgettable :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: K K

                                                                                                                                                                                            Ono and escolar are different fish. ono, sometimes called wahoo (as in Wahoo's Fish Tacos), is in the same taxonomic family as tuna and mackerel. Escolar, as KK mentioned, is a snake mackerel, like the notorious oilfish. I believe escolar is referred to as walu in Hawaii.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Escolar can be consumed in moderate amounts without suffering any side effects; I've eaten as much as six large pieces of sashimi in a sitting and not had any gastrointestinal unpleasantness. I may get myself barred from the sushi connoisseurs club for admitting this, but I think it's a pretty tasty fish; it has a unique juiciness.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Humbucker

                                                                                                                                                                                              You are correct. The point I was trying to make was no sushi bar has right info. They believe what ever Fish Co says. And sometimes Fish Co doesn't even know fish right. I know wahoo. I had it in Hawaii. It's like Baracuda. Kamasu in Japanese. Thak you for info. All those years I thought Ono and Escolar are the same fish. I guess I too believed Fish Co. ha ha

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: bigtuna27

                                                                                                                                                                                                So who makes mistakes in fish naming more, IMP or True World? ....

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: K K

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I don't know.But i hard from both of them calling it white tuna. Which has nothing to do with tuna. Well ,i don't want carry anyway.

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: Humbucker

                                                                                                                                                                                                As Humbucker notes, in moderation escolar is fine - unless the diner already has digestive problems.

                                                                                                                                                                                                While a fatty fish, it's not the usual lipids - about 80% is an undigestable wax ester. It's not toxic in the usual sense we think of as a toxin; i.e., a nasty chemical. Unlike mercury there's no long term build-up (of which I am aware), but because it's undigestable instead it goes right through - which is the cause of the problems. Cooking down the fats is helpful, but obviously irrelevant raw.

                                                                                                                                                                                                The FDA recommends no more than six ounces a day, so with the usual neta averaging about an ounce few of us typically reach that level. Individual responses vary so some can eat more without apparent problem and some less.

                                                                                                                                                                                                US FDA/CFSAN - Bad Bug Book - Gempylotoxin

                                                                                                                                                                                                Keriorrhoea--the passage of oil per rectum--after ...[S Afr Med J. 1981] - PubMed Result

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Richard 16

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I guess that more or less ends the FAQ about escolar in the world of sushi.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    i.e. eat at your own risk and/or in moderation. Avoid entirely if you value the integrity of your o-ring.

                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: K K

                                                                                                                                                                                              I would stay away, very far away...
                                                                                                                                                                                              "escolar has been banned from consumption in Japan since 1977, as the Japanese government considers it toxic."


                                                                                                                                                                                            3. Hi bigtuna27:

                                                                                                                                                                                              Two questions today:

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. What is the difference in the texture and taste of the sashimi between farmed fugu and wild fugu? Is wild fugu available in US? (From my understanding, most of what is exported is just farmed fugu) If yes, how much do you charge for a wild fugu ryori kaiseki (from sashimi, skin, shirako, karaage, nabe, porridge etc etc)? Personally, I actually prefer the lesser known kawahagi to farmed fugu, but I have never really tried the sashimi of wild fugu, so seeking your opinion.

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. This is winter time now: do you prefer kue nabe, anko nabe or fugu nabe? What is your favorite nabe?

                                                                                                                                                                                              20 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: FourSeasons

                                                                                                                                                                                                1) No FDA prohibit to import wild one. You want to try real one? Call travel agency. It's the season now. Even if you had chance to eat wild one in US,texture will be same. Because it is prosessed already. But if you had it in Japan. Both of them taste better there. Differnce between wild and farm raised is POISN. Wild one ,you can feel it. 2) Anko then Kue. I'm not the big fun of fugu.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: bigtuna27

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. I don't understand what you mean by POISN for the taste difference between wild and farm fugu. What do you mean "you can feel it" on the taste context? Can you explain further? I have tried farmed fugu in Tokyo. But have never tried sashimi of wild fugu because the meal is so expensive, but did try the skin and cheek karaage style of wild fugu on some ryori meals.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. I agree with you on nabe too: I prefer anko, then kue, and last fugu. But price wise, it seem to be just the other way.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: FourSeasons

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Ok. I explained this way back but one more time for you. Fugu doesn't produce poison. They just eat the shell fish which produce poisn for self protection. Like star fish etc. They just keep those poisn in their brad for their self protection. There for farm raised fugu doesn't have poisn because they are fed man maid bait.1) How you feel it? When you eat wild fugu specialy sashimi, You may get tingling feeling on your tang or inside your mouth. If you eat cooked virsion like karaage or soup etc specialy when you had sake to go with,you'll feel warm or you can feel you brad flow faster. So that's the difference.[ Oh By the way you feel tingling sensation on your face or lips,you have 1 1/2 hr to live] And that's why fugu is winter food. Farm raised fugu is nothing compaired to wild one. You are paying for that thrill. No matter how cheap it is jankie doesn't do fake drugs right? ha ha. May be not a good example though. Get the air ticket now. Real one cost you around $ 150~200 per person in Japan. 2) I prefer angus beef humberger over kobe fillet mignon. ha ha.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: bigtuna27

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Thanks for the explanation. Upscale ones in Tokyo cost US$300-500 per person. I wish I can get air ticket now, but Yen is too strong at the moment. Can't afford anymore. 2. Haha..good point.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: FourSeasons

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I have a Question for all of you guys. No offence but which one of you are coucaision and which one of you are asian decent? I'm just curius since you guys know so much. I'm realy impressed here. My wife and i are debateing who's who? If you don't mind telling me. Thanks BT

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: bigtuna27

                                                                                                                                                                                                          No, no, no! Wrong question, BT san. The right question is, "Hey, how many of your guys ARE sushi chefs?" '-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Ha ha. I don't think any of you guys are. We are simply curius. I think all of you are asian decent. And there is no Japanese. But I seriously impressed about you guys knowledge. I didn't expect this much when I started this blog. Not bad as a first time blogger ha? I'm having fun. I thak all of you joining my blog. I wish I can open the sushi bar to satisfy all of you in the furure. It'll be challenge and fun.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: bigtuna27

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Why do you say nobody is Japanese?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: bigtuna27

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I'm hanbun. I was born in Camp Zama and grew up in Hodogaya near Yokohama and with my mother's family in Yokosuka. It was all tambo when I was a kid. Wonderful place - not like today, all concrete and small factories.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I'm the youngest one here:

                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: FourSeasons

                                                                                                                                                                                                  A few comments in response to the various recent posts:

                                                                                                                                                                                                  - from searching around the internet, the "best" place to have fugu in the USA is at Masa New York. The cost will probably be at the upper end of an upscale Tokyo place as Four Seasons quoted. The caveat is that based on 2005 reports, Masa's fugu offerings is more or less fugu served 3 way (which includes the liver), as part of his hybrid kaiseki and sashimi/nigiri omakase. Given his reputation, I don't think he would serve farmed fugu. But does prep the fish in front of you. Why he is able to serve fugu but not Urasawa, is still a little bit of a mystery (although with Urasawa, apparently customs found out about his secret shipment).

                                                                                                                                                                                                  - I'm sure good fugu set dinners (full) will be cheaper outside of Tokyo, so why not do that instead of eating at Masa NY (for those who may want to consider having fugu in the USA, do it in Japan instead). Try Kyushu, Shimonoseki where most of the quality wild fugu come from, and places like Nagoya.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  - go to google.com and search for fugu Masa. There is one good NY times article on fugu and two articles from nymag (good reading).

                                                                                                                                                                                                  - Anthony Bourdain ate at some well known Tokyo (?) fugu restaurant during his "Cook's Tour" . I can tell he prefers richer flavor fish (toro, uni), so I am not surprised he found fugu "bland" and his expected near death experience rather unexciting.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  - People who love to eat and are passionate about food, will find ways to learn about it in any means no matter their ethnic background. So the question is moot who is Caucasian or Asian or Japanese posting here unless they volunteer their answer (mine has already been revealed some 100+ posts up somewhere in the thread). In addition to actually going to restaurants and talking to chefs there are plenty of resources and media/mediums. Of course it helps if you already know the native language of an ethnic food of interest (inclusive of Japanese food and sushi).

                                                                                                                                                                                                  - There are people who are not also passionate about food but learn the history and origins and processes (including cooking). Personally I suck at cooking. I leave it to the professionals and the moms who know what they are doing at home.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  - If we ate at Big Tuna's sushi bar, I don't think we will leave once we go inside. Too much to talk about. Just don't get us too drunk.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: K K

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Hi KK:

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Just a comment on fugu and Masa:

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I seriously doubt if wild fugu liver is served in Masa; that is supposed to be the most poisonous part of fugu. The article seem to mention "fugu karaage", but most of the time, the part that is served karaage style is the fugu cheek. I seldom heard of liver being served karaage, and that includes anko or kawahagi. Maybe BT can confirm if I am right or wrong on this matter. There is this menu (already translated to English) by a well known fugu house Tsukiji Yamamoto at Tsukiji Japan and I don't see any liver too. Here is the website:

                                                                                                                                                                                                    As to Masa, its serving of fugu 3 ways cannot be compared to a high end fugu house in Japan. The fugu specialist would only served fugu, and a full course fugu is usually more expensive than other ryori. And based on my own experience, fugu is best served at one specialize in fugu rather than a generalist that served many other dishes. And while I have written above that I find Sushi Yasuda to be "value for money", I am certainly puzzled by the charges at Masa and Urasawa to be so expensive based on the review I read by bloggers as compared to the top end ryori kaiseki places in Tokyo (which charge about US$150-350 per head).

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Hi Bigtuna:

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I am not Caucasian; I don't live in America; one of few non-American members in Chowhound.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: K K

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Speaking of fugu, I'm kind of looking forward to trying pickled fugu ovary in Kanazawa in a couple of weeks. It's a local delicacy. In Japanese it's called 河豚の卵巣の糠漬け. Info in English available here- http://shofu.pref.ishikawa.jp/shofu/d... .

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Silverjay

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Kanazawa ha? Try konowata, konoko. They are very famous for it. I wish I coud go with you ha ha. Good warm rice made with barning wood and qwail egg york and konowata. Best way to finish meal at Izakaya. Not mention their local fishes and sea food. U~~mmmm. You are lucky.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: bigtuna27

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I am out in Buenos Aires at the moment and they love to use warm rice out here with there sushi. I would compare the sushi out here to a sort of McDonalds Sushi,its good in a sort of sweet junk food style but it is not sushi as we know it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: laurafoodfan

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Can you describe more. I'm curius. I can't believe they eat sushi over there.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: bigtuna27

                                                                                                                                                                                                              i only know what i've read -- but i've read from MULTIPLE sources sushi is very very common in south america -- even available as a street food in certain cities

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: ssainani

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Do you think it because Japanese decent overthere? I know a lot of Japanese went there after WW2 as an immigrant. Silverjay what your take on this matter?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: bigtuna27

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I know of Peru and Brazil as destination countries for Japanese emigrants, not Argentina. And I thought I heard that they went there for plantation farming, not for urban lifestyle. But I"m not sure.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I do know that Nobu Matsuhisa spent time in Peru and I believe, Argentina, working at sushi places prior to going to the U.S. Anyway, it doesn't surprise me that sushi would be popular anywhere now. But most of it is not good. I support the Japanese government "sushi police" initiative to protect authentic culture.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: bigtuna27

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I would ask for Kobe recommendations, but I've been there a few times. First time to Kanazawa- http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/567652

                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. First, let me start by saying how kind and gracious I think you are opening yourself up to the world of Hounds and their sushi questions. Here’s mine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      As much as anything else, I love certain sushi for it’s mouthfeel. It’s what takes it from just delicious to sexy too. Whether it’s melting Uni in your mouth, or tobiko tickling your tongue, or teeth sinking gently through tender otoro it’s all very sensuous. What do you find has the best mouthfeel and why?

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Googs

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Everybody has their own likings I guess. Mine is thick cut of tender blue fin tuma ten meat. Flavorfull soft barddy meat accompany with right amount of rice made by expierienced chef. Always make me happy. And I don't have to go anywhere. Ha ha. 1 piece will do the job.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. BigTuna-San, please, if you will, enlighten us with the story and origin behind your knives. What types you use, what your favorite brand is, how you came to acquire them, etc.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Well. I have "Sakai takayuki seijikou shaku" as a good knife. Other one is no name stainless steel shyaku. Seijikou is about 15 yrs old. and other one is 10yrs old. I tried New wave stainless steel too. But I didn't like it. Seijikou steal is made from iron sand collected from the dune at Tottori prefecture and very hard. Hakujikou is softer. I like Masamoto from Tokyo too. Masamoto has little modern than Sakai. Both Sakai and Masamoto are hand made. There are varius good knife makers in Japan. They make modern style to very classic style. I used be in to knife and had more than several but now I don't realy care for that much. Easy to use one is the best. It's all how you look at knife. Stainless one doesn't get rusty and easy to clean but lose edge easily. Good one's edge last longer but pain in you ass to keep it clean and shiny.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: bigtuna27

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Yes, it breaks my heart to see a stained blade.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Ah, Sakai, very nice!

                                                                                                                                                                                                            My father and Uncle are sushi chefs and both use Masamoto around the bar. My girlfriend is also a chef and keeps Masamoto, Misono, and Togiharu in stock. I think my favorite for value is Misono personally but I don't need anything fancy. However, I recently inherited a knife from my father and was wondering if you had any ideas as to its origin or who it may have been forged by.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            It's a 10.5 inch Yanagi. I've included a picture of the Kanji engraved in the blade below. Please, if it's not too much trouble let me know what you think!

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              it reads " Sakai ichimonnji Mitsuhide" or may be "Kikuhide" you can look up on internet. I don't know the value though.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. No questions here, although I have spent the better part of the past 3 hours reading responses on this post and now know more than I ever thought necessary regarding sushi (fan for 22 years). Sushi bots? I'm sure you're like Jacques Pepin (with perfectly cutting a chicken) and do make it faster, and better.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          The best sushi I've had was at a ryokan, 21 years ago (freshness being the ultimate factor for me). I still want to take my husband to Japan so he can experience both the food of the country as well as the craziness that is Tokyo.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Great blog--thank you!

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Caralien

                                                                                                                                                                                                            It took 3 hrs ha? Thank you. Happy Holidays. May the Sushi God bless you. Ha ha.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. Okay, I wasn't the only one to spend my Sunday afternoon educating myself on the details of sushi! I have learned so much :) Thank you. Here is my question. As a vegetarian, I sometimes find myself out with a group who decides on sushi for dinner. Is it rude to ask for something other than a cucumber roll if nothing else is on the menu? I don't mind them, but sometimes enjoy a sushi chef's innovations. What is the appropriate behavior? Thank you!

                                                                                                                                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: enbell

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I'm no longer vegetarian, thanks to (or blaming) a year in Spain. That said, there are plenty of non-fish sushi rolls. Carrot-shitake-cucmber rolls remain a great roll. I would reckon that a decent sushi chef would create something for you. Pickled plum, not my favourite, I would often discover in the middle of my triangular nori-covered thing in Tokyo (apologies if I'm being rude, we just referred to them as such)

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Caralien

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Que parte de espana?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I agree that there are many wonderful veggie combinations. There are a few places in my are known for their fresh, simple fish, and have no real deviations from the norm. It is these sushi chefs who intimidate me, and I have yet to muster the courage to ask for something not on the menu.


                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: enbell

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Since sushi is based on the rice, not the fish, pretty much anything is fair game. Most places have several vegetarian types, including simple cucumber but also burdock, natto, pickles (i.e., taukuan), carrot, umeboshi plums (as with Caralien), scallion, combinations,etc.,etc. If you eat eggs, there's another option. Baked winter squash or shitaki are two I've made at home. If either is on the menu in another item, ask! (Except the shitaki may have dashi; ask.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Miso soup may seem like an option but is made with a dashi - a stock which includes fish flakes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Edit: the eggs may be made with a dashi...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Simply tell the chef and let them go at it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              3. What do you think of Nobu? Are they over-priced? also how do you feel about grocery store chains selling sushi pre packaged? thankyou

                                                                                                                                                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: stricken

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Hi. First thing first. Vege-rolls: Just ask. If chef is nice guy,he will have fun creating something for you. If he is not nice and give you hard time ,don't go there any more. Nobu LA; I hard a rumor that they are having hard time. Market sushi is not the best sushi but they are usually safe. Most of them are changed often. Check the date or time they were made and trust your instinct. Happy Holidays

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: bigtuna27

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Gosh, thank you for your willingness to share your knowledge, and for your patience with what must seem like (at least when it comes to mine) such silly questions! Happy olidays to you as well :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: enbell

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Greetings bigtuna and thanks for sharing so much information.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      On the subject of omakase. I am in love with a very excellent sushi restaurant here in New York. Whenever I go I sit in front of the chef who owns the place, and let him make whatever he wants for me. I am not a regular, unless you consider once a year regular. I wish I could afford to go more often.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I like the element of surprise, and everything he gives me is always incredible.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      He is a sushi purist and very traditional. Would he respect me more as a "non regular" if i just ordered from the sushi list, as you mentioned omakase is only for regulars in Japan.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: gastrognome

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Hi. NY has more traditional style sushi bar than LA. You want him to respect you? Respect him first with being polite, honest, appreciate and at last tip good ha ha. I guess you all done that so if you become friend with him,he will treat you better of course. Big smile after you ate his creation helps a lot. I just want to say" Happy Holidays you all. And hope everybodys are doing OK in this tough time. Thank you all for making my blog this big in short time. God bress you all"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. Big Tuna San, since you've been in LA for so long, you must know who Toshi Sugiura is. Have you been to his former restaurant, Hama. Do you consider him a pioneer for what he has done to open up sushi to the western world (via his academy), or is he somewhat of a traitor for sharing the secrets of what is supposed to be a carefully guarded tradition? For people who are really really interested in enrolling in the program, do you think it is worth the $5000+ tuition where they learn to make big ass stupid name rolls, saba shio, tamagoyaki and even more classic dark arts? Are there alternatives?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  And is it really true that the California roll was originally invented for Japanese people because toro was very difficult to find and a substitute was needed?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  3 Replies