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Toronto Star Exposes Sushi Scam

jayt90 May 9, 2009 06:16 AM

The Star has tested (by DNA bank comparison) 12 sushi restaurants in Toronto, to see whether they are accurate in menu description and presentation of Japanese Sea Bream, Red Snapper, or Tilapia. Here is a link to the article: http://www.thestar.com/living/article...

I understand red Sea Bream is farmed in Japan, for sushi, and possibly to better standards than farmed and frozen tilapia, which can come from 'anywhere'. .

Genuine Red Snapper is usually wild, but there is some farming of Snapper, and I believe I have seen them in tanks at T&T.

The gist of the article is"You get what you pay for", and "caveat emptor".

  1. K K May 15, 2009 02:48 PM

    Other than actually having nigiri sushi or sashimi in Taiwan, Hong Kong (no idea about China), I've never ever ever had good quality tai served at Korean and Chinese run Japanese restaurants. The "tai" they have at these Asian buffets (also run by the same groups of folks) with the all you can eat sashimi or sushi, the tai is always izumidai / tilapia.

    In Japan I am sure they use lower quality tai to pass off as madai, the "tai" family of fishes is so broad and huge anyway that most people couldn't tell the difference. If someone put a piece of farmed Japanese tai next to say, an ishidai or chihdai, I wouldn't be able to tell the difference (as I'm sure even poor substitutes will surpass American frozen tilapia).

    If I were to ever do sushi in Toronto though, it would be mostly focusing on local seafood. Curious what fresh Candian uni tastes like (the frozen kind I had one time tasted oddly muscular for gonads).

    1. h
      huaqiao May 11, 2009 04:05 PM

      A local news station here in LA did something like this a couple years ago. They went to a bunch of seafood restaurants to see if people serving Red Snapper were actually serving Red Snapper. I think the vast majority weren't. I distinctly remember that Gladstone's(derided often on Chowhound, but they do crazy business with tourists) had mislabeled fish.

      Ah! Found the link:
      http://cbs2.com/goldstein/David.Golds...

      1. E Eto May 11, 2009 02:12 PM

        Kind of old news, but yeah, this kind of thing has been going on for a long time. Looks like that article piggy-backed on this NY Times article from last year.
        http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/22/sci...

        1. a
          AngelSanctuary May 9, 2009 11:52 PM

          What's next, the sky is blue? Oh well, I never order sashimi at these places anyways...

          Shouldn't they show you pictures of what the fish is supposed to look like? Like the inside not the fish outside...

          6 Replies
          1. re: AngelSanctuary
            j
            juno May 10, 2009 07:26 AM

            I knew there was a reason I gave up eating sushi in Toronto years ago. It's a wild west crapshoot out there. You never know what's being put in front of you. Every fish seems to have three or four different names (some of those names being little more than marketing sobriquets), and I'm not prepared to do deep research, copyright study and due diligence every time I sit down in a sushi joint. It sometimes seems half the restos in Toronto are sushi places, and now I know why: sushi fraud is richly rewarding. We're engulfed by things like pollock, which can be fashioned to taste like just about any fish in the world, and other fishy fakes. For my fish hit in this town, I'll stick with the cooked variety. I'd rather play the sushi game in Vancouver, where at least some basic rules are tacitly acknowledged.

            1. re: juno
              Charles Yu May 10, 2009 07:34 AM

              Hi Juno! NYC is closer and sushi quality nowadays is better and more variety! Sushi Yasuda is a fine example!

              1. re: Charles Yu
                s
                Sui_Mai May 10, 2009 07:45 AM

                Yes. True dat. As much as I go on about Vancouver myself, I forget that NYC does totally have it going on in the sushi department and should be a model to us here in TO. (I guess I forget about the NY sushi factor since there are so many wicked options there - some even involving fish!)

              2. re: juno
                skylineR33 May 10, 2009 07:37 AM

                Jus a piece of information. Faked crab stick is invented by Japanese in Japan.

                1. re: skylineR33
                  e
                  eatereater123 May 11, 2009 02:03 PM

                  sadly, nyc also has challenges in correctly identifying sushi fish:

                  there's a link at the top of this discussion that I pasted here to save you the scrolling effort:

                  http://www.cnn.com/2008/TECH/science/...

                  NYC has great sushi, but I think it's also caveat emptor.
                  That said - sushi yasuda, genki and sushi seki are all pretty good and reasonable (okay, maybe only seki can be considered reasonable).

                  1. re: eatereater123
                    MMRuth May 11, 2009 02:06 PM

                    I'm actually not sure seki can be considered reasonable - I think, for the quality of the fish, Yasuda is actually more reasonable. Is Genki in NY - I've not heard of it (which doesn't mean much - but I'm always on the lookout for sushi places I've not tried.)

            2. skylineR33 May 9, 2009 08:15 PM

              There are many different kinds of Sea Bream and Snapper, they are two different family of fish . The one we are talking here are:

              - Red/Crimson Snapper (Lutjanus Erythropterus)
              - Red Sea Bream (Pagrus Major), Madai

              No matter which kind you are getting on your sushi in all these sushi place mentioned in Toronto, these are farmed fish. If it is wild, it won't be that price.

              The Japango mentioned in the Toronto Star article is not the popular one on Elizabeth Street, it is another one on Queen East.

              I think it is naive to think people does not know the "crab" used inside california roll is faked crab stick. Talk about faked crab stick, there are two kinds, one is the original one which is formed by thin fake crab stripe and the other one which is in fold form. The latter is usually referred to as faked "faked crab stick".

              35 Replies
              1. re: skylineR33
                Charles Yu May 9, 2009 09:26 PM

                Whether its farmed or wild, the taste of the 'salt water' bream or snapper is much tastier and sweeter than the fresh water Tilapia, which tends to have a 'mud' odour and taste. This 'mud' sensation is indigenous to almost all fresh water river/lake fish. Thats why in Japan, good sushi restaurants do not serve fresh water fish except may be fresh water eels.

                I was once served both wild sea bream from the east coast ( off Boston ) as well as from Japan by Toshi san of Cafe Michi in the same meal. Though both are seabreams, however, the Japanese varietal actually tasted better. Both the taste and the texture.

                1. re: skylineR33
                  s
                  Snarf May 9, 2009 09:45 PM

                  You've missed the point again.

                  The point is labelling. Crab stick, which is clearly acknowledged by all, including the packagers, to be Pollack, is an obvious sign of a sushi joint which steps over the line in terms of labelling. The representations are extant and ongoing.

                  That's much different from critics who weren't invited trying to dissect a dinner they didn't get to attend.

                  1. re: Snarf
                    skylineR33 May 9, 2009 09:57 PM

                    My point is anyone who have california roll should know it is not real crab, that's it. Umm...I thought people who like to suspend disbelief and don't care much about what's they have been served do not care about wrong labelling.

                    1. re: skylineR33
                      s
                      Snarf May 9, 2009 10:05 PM

                      Real sushi is delineated by those who don't use fake crab sticks as a partial indicator.

                      In response to your secondary comment, you are out of context mentioning it here. That thread is closed.

                      1. re: Snarf
                        skylineR33 May 9, 2009 10:20 PM

                        I think a lots of people don't consider california roll as real sushi anyway.

                        1. re: skylineR33
                          s
                          Snarf May 9, 2009 10:26 PM

                          You are right. Wouldn't the world be a better place if Califorinia rolls were real? Would love to see a good soft-shelled maki.

                          1. re: Snarf
                            k
                            katana750 May 9, 2009 10:54 PM

                            If California rolls were made with real crab and tobiko( instead of masago) you'd only be able to get it at top restaurants. As for soft-shelled crab maki, it is useally called Spider Roll

                            1. re: katana750
                              t
                              tjr May 9, 2009 11:02 PM

                              There are at least a few places in the city that do a california roll with real crab, but that's just it: you can't go to low-end places for a cheap sushi lunch and expect to get things that are expensive.

                              If I went to a place with a $6.99 sushi lunch special, I wouldn't expect much. That's like going to The Keg and expecting prime steaks dry aged for 60 days.

                              There are plenty of places using real soft-shelled crab though (not fresh, but likely frozen).

                          2. re: skylineR33
                            t
                            tjr May 9, 2009 10:33 PM

                            Pretty much! I don't know why Snarf is bringing this up, as it has no relevance to the issue being discussed. He refused to answer the question before, so... I'm not expecting a response.

                            I, personally, am highly affected by food mislabeling. I am highly allergic to peanuts/nuts. I can name one highly regarded company that mislabels their projects: Fred's Bread. I had heard only good things, and upon reading the label, I bought their product. I was a bit wary, so I called, and, whoops, label was wrong, all of their products might contain peanuts/nuts. I could have died if I ate their bread.

                            Sure, mislabeling tilapia as snapper might not kill someone, but it's a slippery slope. Accept one substitution, accept all others (which is basically what you're attempting to do). Some people care. I don't care if you don't, Snarf, but I do. I care if the product claimed is the product delivered. It's a big deal to me, as it should be for everyone.

                            Crab stick is fake crab. It is visually and texturally different from crab, and it tastes completely different. If you can find me a person who believes fake crab is real crab, I will accept your point. If I saw a california roll being described as having crab, not surimi, and was delivered surimi, I would send it back and say, "Uh, this is surimi." If Torontonians in general don't, fine, that's up to them. I have higher standards.

                            1. re: tjr
                              skylineR33 May 9, 2009 11:00 PM

                              Yeah tjr, not sure why crab stick is brought up in here ... and I think "Real Sushi" have just been brought up here too, with more than one implementation ...

                          3. re: Snarf
                            aser May 9, 2009 11:55 PM

                            "That's much different from critics who weren't invited trying to dissect a dinner they didn't get to attend."

                            I don't get how you can call skyline out for bringing "it" up when you brought it up too?

                            To get back on track, chefs do this because that is what the market demands. Torontonians vote w/ their wallet and they at large prefer AYCE sushi. Restaurants in turn provide the product correspondent to the desired price point.

                            I doubt Toronto will change its sushi consumption habits anytime soon. Sushi on Bloor will probably once again win Now's annual reader poll.

                            1. re: aser
                              s
                              Snarf May 10, 2009 09:46 AM

                              This thread is about deceptive practices in sushi. Most of the places that servce California rolls list crab as an ingredient when it's identifiably not. The article in question did an analysis. That same level of analysis is not available in the referenced thread, which is why it was shut down. The speculation of non-attendees isn't useful to the world.

                              1. re: Snarf
                                Charles Yu May 10, 2009 10:04 AM

                                If my memory serves me right, I recall in an interview with Tojo San of Vancouver ( the 'original' creator of the California roll ), the highlight of the roll was the use of avacado and the purpose was to try to please the western palette. In fact, to facilitate easier rolling using the bamboo mat, imitation crab - surimi was actually used for the prototype and NOT real crab.

                                1. re: Charles Yu
                                  s
                                  Snarf May 10, 2009 10:11 AM

                                  Are you suggesting that Tojo labelled his roll as including fresh crab, or is this an aside?

                                  1. re: Charles Yu
                                    t
                                    tjr May 10, 2009 10:15 AM

                                    Yes, it was originally made with surimi, and with avocado (to substitute for the texture of toro).

                                    Here are a few more links:

                                    http://www.thesushibar.com/ssushi_chipcolumn.shtml#California%20Roll
                                    http://www.foodtimeline.org/foodasian.html
                                    http://events.nytimes.com/2007/06/10/books/review/McInerney-t.html
                                    http://www.signonsandiego.com/uniontr...

                                    1. re: Charles Yu
                                      c
                                      condiment May 12, 2009 01:57 AM

                                      In what universe did Tojo invent the California roll? It was common in Los Angeles years before he even moved to Canada from Japan.

                                      1. re: condiment
                                        Charles Yu May 12, 2009 06:02 AM

                                        It was mentioned in a program on 'FOOD TV' a few years back! Don't see why they would lie on TV?!

                                        1. re: Charles Yu
                                          s
                                          Snarf May 12, 2009 08:52 AM

                                          The links posted by others reference a chef in Los Angeles as being the person who created the California roll. The claims are based on the memory of someone who worked for the long-closed restaurant, and the timeline is identified as the "early 70's". I've heard a few repetitions of the Tojo attribution (was it on Bourdain?), and then there's this article which is posted on Tojo's website.

                                          http://www.tojos.com/mastertojo.pdf

                                          Tojo's timeline puts him starting out in Vancouver in 1971. .I wonder if the other sources looked outside of California to see when it began to be served?

                                          1. re: Snarf
                                            Charles Yu May 12, 2009 04:59 PM

                                            Thanks for the article! Very informative!

                                    2. re: Snarf
                                      t
                                      tjr May 10, 2009 10:12 AM

                                      I personally feel that restaurants shouldn't use the word "crab" to describe surimi. This is deceptive, BUT, and this is a big but: there are very few people who can't tell the difference between real crab and fake crab.

                                      There are not a lot of people (apparently, according to the restaurants) who are able to tell the difference between tilapia and snapper (and I'm assuming even less who would be able to tell the difference between bream and snapper).

                                      If your california roll came out with fake crab, you could easily say, "Oh, this isn't real crab, I don't want it." If your tai turned out to be tilapia, most people wouldn't be able to tell the difference and would eat it anyways.

                                      Like I said, I'm all for proper labeling in all aspects of food, whether it be on a store shelf or in a restaurant. I want to get what I paid for, and what was described to me, unless, say, the restaurant runs out of something and asks if it's okay to substitute something else.

                                      1. re: tjr
                                        skylineR33 May 10, 2009 12:50 PM

                                        Snarf,

                                        Exactly as tjr pointed out, if the california roll is listed with the using of real crab but crab stick is used, any person can tell the differences and just return it. No restaurant should do that. I rarely eat California roll, but I know most restaurant do not even listed out the ingradient of their california roll in the menu. However if you ask, most restaurants will tell you it is just "crab stick" with the $5 they are charging on the roll. Charles is right, the highlight of California roll is to please western palette with the use of avacado and crab stick. I think it is common knowledge restaurants use crab stick in california roll if it is not specifically list with the using of real crab. Crab stick is a Japanese ingradient which is invented by Japanese anyway.

                                        But if regular lower grade wagyu is served as Kobe beef or Tilapia is served as Seabream, I bet it has more to do with the honesty of the restaurants or maybe they are just lack of knowledge or they think people just "don't care" ?!, which is the case of CB, Barberian and the sushi restaurant we are talking about here, that's why people questioned !! Most of the people do not have enough knowledge of wagyu or seabream and we are counting on restaurant to tell us the information and differences especially when we are paying a premium for it. I think this is the purpose of this thread.

                                        1. re: skylineR33
                                          jayt90 May 10, 2009 07:44 PM

                                          As OP for this thread, I agree, the purpose here is to get some truth and accuracy from the menus and the servers.
                                          I have no idea what the undefined 'CB' might be, or why the thread has gone so far off topic.

                                          1. re: jayt90
                                            Charles Yu May 10, 2009 08:04 PM

                                            CB stands for the 'underground' eating group called Charlie's Burger.

                                      2. re: Snarf
                                        skylineR33 May 10, 2009 01:18 PM

                                        Again Snarf, I am not sure what kind of analysis you want to see in the referenced thread. A FACT has already been given in the referenced thread that the restaurant cannot read wagyu certificate and wrong information is given to public. I think it is just normal for any people to raise the question about the authenticity of Kobe Beef when it is being served in Toronto again. If some people don't care about it, does not mean others also like to suspend their disbelief.

                                        1. re: skylineR33
                                          s
                                          Snarf May 10, 2009 05:24 PM

                                          Actually, it was the use of avocado instead of tuna, and the inversion of the seaweed that led to the development ot the California Roll. The genesis is in dispute, though goes back to the early 1970's. It would be nice of Tojo were the progenitor, as his cuisine, especially his marinated tuna dish is fantastic, but that's subject to dispute.

                                          Regarding your comment that CB people don't care, maybe you should just drop that topic. It's time to move on.

                                          1. re: Snarf
                                            t
                                            tjr May 10, 2009 06:24 PM

                                            It was avocado substituted for the texture and mouth feel of toro (fatty tuna belly) which created the california roll -- wrapping the nori once more with rice, as well as using surimi were both additions to appeal to American patrons. Avocado, plentiful at the location of invention, was being used to replace something far more expensive, and also less common.

                                            Please check the links I posted earlier in the thread.

                                            I think it's a bit funny that these misrepresented products hit at the same time, but it's also a good thing. Hopefully it will allow us to be more skeptical of "too good to be true" offers and make us think more about what we're eating (which is a good thing, in my mind).

                                            1. re: tjr
                                              Charles Yu May 10, 2009 06:54 PM

                                              Guess this is going to be a 'neverending' topic! Why? Because I just came across another write up about some western restaurants in Hong Kong and China using ' Mainland China raised and produced duck foie gras' and trying to pass them as Artisan French!!

                                            2. re: Snarf
                                              skylineR33 May 10, 2009 07:40 PM

                                              Snarf, looks like you really know the development of California roll. There is a purpose why the seaweed is inverted in California roll. Can you tell us why ?

                                              1. re: skylineR33
                                                s
                                                Snarf May 11, 2009 04:22 AM

                                                Is this a personal jab?

                                                Inversion isn't unique to the California roll. Are you suggesting that it is?

                                                1. re: Snarf
                                                  s
                                                  Sui_Mai May 11, 2009 06:56 AM

                                                  Plenty of rolls are inverted. just look on those old school Sapporo picture cards they sometimes have kicking around.

                                                  In Vancouver, growing up you could order any roll "inside-out". I often did because it guarantees a freshly made roll if you're at one of the cheaper places, and often those places had rubbery, not crispy nori - which is not exactly ideal on the outside.

                                                  1. re: Snarf
                                                    skylineR33 May 11, 2009 07:42 AM

                                                    The inversion of the seaweed in California roll makes it has direct contact with the avocado to neutralize the fruity odor (which smell kind of fishy) of the avocado to a lower degree with the ocean smell of the seaweed

                                                    1. re: skylineR33
                                                      s
                                                      Snarf May 11, 2009 08:14 AM

                                                      Various articles attribute the inversion to the perception that North Americans wouldn't like the crunch first from the nori.

                                                      1. re: Snarf
                                                        t
                                                        tjr May 11, 2009 08:18 AM

                                                        Or alternatively, the explanation given by the inventor is that Americans wouldn't like seeing the "black" nori on the outside of their food. There's a lot of mythology surrounding this, so it isn't really a big deal.

                                                        (Given that Americans love deep fried food, I can't imagine that crunchy on the inside and soft on the outside makes much sense).

                                                        1. re: tjr
                                                          s
                                                          Snarf May 11, 2009 09:02 AM

                                                          I wonder if we'll now divert down the path of arguing over who the inventor was. We already have someone suggesting here that it was Tojo in Vancouver, though there are other claims if you google it.

                                                          1. re: Snarf
                                                            t
                                                            tjr May 11, 2009 09:06 AM

                                                            I posted several links above on the subject, so that we wouldn't have to go into this. I was just clarifying what you had just said, in the effort to not misrepresent the historical details.

                                2. s
                                  Snarf May 9, 2009 06:42 PM

                                  And no mention of the shaped Pollack fake crab rolls that have been the warning sign of bad sushi for so many years? Places that serve this as either crab rolls or in California rolls can generally be benchmarked on a credibility meter.

                                  6 Replies
                                  1. re: Snarf
                                    t
                                    tjr May 9, 2009 06:44 PM

                                    Again, absurd. If you know it's not crab, send it back. Most people can tell the difference, but they just don't care.

                                    This is substituting one thing which is clearly not the same, but that most people can't tell the difference, for another. Entirely different things. This is bait-and-switch; "crab and krab" is not because it is both easily identifiable and well-known. That doesn't make it right, but that's not the scope of the project.

                                    So I guess you don't object to serving tilapia as snapper, unless all other mislabeled products are exposed?

                                    1. re: tjr
                                      Charles Yu May 9, 2009 07:50 PM

                                      Comments were also solicited from the restaurants tested. The two that really bugs me the most were:

                                      - Sushi 2 Go - 'Chef doesn't know the difference between Tilapia and red snapper'!! Wow! a sushi chef actually says that!!! Its like a sommelier telling you he doesn't know the difference between Riesling and Chardonnay!

                                      - Nara Sushi - 'White fish is similar. Frozen Tilapia is cheaper and easier to get'. Imagine a sushi chef like Tokyo's Jiro heard this. Most probably he'll have a heart attack! If a sushi chef claims that a white fish like Hamachi or Gampachi is similar to Tai, I think he should be fired!!

                                      1. re: Charles Yu
                                        t
                                        theel May 9, 2009 08:06 PM

                                        Just goes to show that just because it says sushi over the door doesn't mean the chef knows more than you do about the fish. I think there's enough knowledge on this board of CHers alone to top the majority of 'sushi' chefs in toronto. Anyone can open a restaurant. It's up to us consumers and foodies to do our homework and train our palettes.

                                        1. re: Charles Yu
                                          k
                                          katana750 May 9, 2009 08:15 PM

                                          To Charles, I just read the Star article. Japango mentioned in it was Queen St. Japango that you all seem to like is on Elizabeth. The two restaurants are not the same. Yuzu and Elizabeth Japango are both run by Bruce. Just for your info

                                          1. re: katana750
                                            Charles Yu May 9, 2009 09:12 PM

                                            Thanks! Didn't realize there are two Japango in town! Now I feel better since I always like 'Elizabeth' Japango. Not only the sushi but their awesome Yakitori!

                                            1. re: katana750
                                              t
                                              theel May 10, 2009 02:51 PM

                                              I didn't read it carefully enough. I thought when they mentioned yuzu and japango in the same article they were talking about bruce's restaurants. i've driven by the japango in the beaches but never been there.

                                      2. t
                                        tjr May 9, 2009 03:21 PM

                                        This has been pretty common knowledge for a while, but it is only the surface of a huge problem with the poor, inaccurate, or purposefully misrepresented labeling of food. It's disgusting, and if you were to look at most of these restaurants and see how many corners they're cutting, it's terrible.

                                        Tilapia isn't tai, but it is what you'll be getting in lieu of tai in most sushi restaurants where the price is cheap. These places will also peddle you escolar as whatever other variety of fish, surimi as crab, etc. etc. etc. If they're willing to do that, what else are they probably doing?

                                        Certain types of fish are easy to substitute here, because the average Torontonian going to these sorts of places doesn't know. Just because they think they're getting snapper and it may taste fine does not mean it is right to serve them a misrepresented food item. If I buy something, I want to get the product I paid for, not an imitation (a pale, pale imitation).

                                        It's not just cheap sushi restaurants that do this either. Some of the more "mid-range" ones do, look at Yuzu and Japango on the list. I'm sure there are others at even higher price points that probably do. It's not just sushi restaurants that are doing this either; if you were pissed about paying $2 for two pieces of snapper and getting tilapia, imagine how pissed you'd be if you paid $150 for a Kobe beef ribeye at Barberian's and found out it was actually Kagoshima beef (or somewhere else).

                                        It's pretty depressing.

                                        25 Replies
                                        1. re: tjr
                                          jayt90 May 9, 2009 03:34 PM

                                          Yuzu is one of only two in the survey not disguising tilapia. Marche is the other one. Both serve sea bream from Japan but describe it as snapper, not a problem for me.

                                          I wish the Star had tried a few others, like Zen, Aoyama, Kaji, Hiro, but that might have skewed the results the other way.

                                          1. re: jayt90
                                            t
                                            tjr May 9, 2009 06:31 PM

                                            Sorry, yes, Yuzu was not using tilapia, but they described red sea bream as "red snapper." A bit better, but still a mislabeling. If he called bream bream, I wouldn't care.

                                            Marché, on the other hand, lists bream as bream on the menu.

                                            1. re: jayt90
                                              Googs May 10, 2009 04:52 AM

                                              No, Marche is not clean. Patrons were verbally informed it was Japanese snapper. A clever way to pull off this ruse without leaving a paper trail. Please.

                                              Marche masks their fish with citrus. There is also the unsubstantiated claim that chef worked under Morimoto. I'll say it again. Please.

                                              1. re: Googs
                                                pinstripeprincess May 11, 2009 06:34 AM

                                                ha! i'm glad to see i'm not the only one who finds layers and layers of citrus on my sushi a bit disturbing. i didn't order large format ceviche!

                                                1. re: pinstripeprincess
                                                  s
                                                  szw May 11, 2009 07:47 AM

                                                  Yeah I think in the future I will request no citrus, I always forget though.

                                                  1. re: szw
                                                    c
                                                    condiment May 12, 2009 01:54 AM

                                                    Yuzu is a classic and appropriate condiment for many kinds of sushi. Citrus is not the enemy here.

                                                    1. re: condiment
                                                      pinstripeprincess May 12, 2009 06:41 AM

                                                      i suspect that based on your other postings you have never been to the sushi marche in question.... i suggest you consider checking out photos on flickr as i'm sure you'll see what we're talking about.

                                                      he uses no minor amount of citrus and it certainly isn't an accent. slices of citrus cover nearly every single piece of fish on his platters. serve as dividers rather than the sad pieces of plastic lawn or fresh pieces of shiso sometimes. any fish i have had from him becomes half opaque from the amount of citrus placed upon it. the last time i went there we sat with our to go platter on the hood of our car and threw away no less than 13 slices of lemon/lime/etc.

                                                      if we're talking yuzu and sauces like ponzu that use yuzu... and a delicate and deliberate hand going about it. i'd be game. but this is definitely not it.

                                                      1. re: pinstripeprincess
                                                        e
                                                        embee May 12, 2009 07:59 AM

                                                        I haven't been there in several months, but I never encountered this. He sometimes threw in a citrus plate, but my fish has never been drowned in citrus. When did this practice begin?

                                                        I've never seen yuzu there either.

                                                        1. re: embee
                                                          pinstripeprincess May 12, 2009 08:09 AM

                                                          all of the very few times i've been there.... which would range from nearly two years ago to probably 6 months ago.

                                                          i want to say it was in the name of decoration (including all those flowers he likes to put in as well) but it tinged everything with lemon and lime... losing all the delicate flavours of the fish. a shame.

                                                          1. re: pinstripeprincess
                                                            Wahooty May 12, 2009 07:30 PM

                                                            Hmm... this strikes me as very odd, as it hasn't been my experience at all - I can't say I've ever gotten a dinner there that required a life preserver. I even started to doubt my own memory, so I picked up dinner tonight in the interest of being quantitative. Two small slices of lemon in my platter, and they weren't in contact with my fish at all. The usual tiny sliver of lime on top of my salmon nigiri, but I actually do like it there. I've definitely never gotten as much as you seem to...no ceviche where sashimi should be.

                                                            At any rate, I don't think he has any sinister motive for doing it - I think he's doing it because his customers tell him they like it. If you don't want citrus, I'm sure if you specified that when you ordered they wouldn't include it. My fish has never been masked, drowned, or cooked when I got it, and I haven't had any complaints whatsoever about the quality. For takeout sushi, it has always impressed me.

                                                            1. re: Wahooty
                                                              Charles Yu May 12, 2009 08:37 PM

                                                              Depending on the type of fish or seafood, sushi masters such as Yasuda of NYC or Jiro of Tokyo do occassionally put a drop or two of freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice onto the fish/seafood before serving the nigiri. Sometimes a couple grains of sea salt instead of citrus juice is sprinkled on. However, never did I experience sushi in tokyo or else where whence a whole slice of citrus is placed on top of the fish! IMO, its presence will 'kill' the natural taste of the fish.

                                                              1. re: Charles Yu
                                                                Wahooty May 13, 2009 05:29 AM

                                                                Charles, I have never experienced this at Marche, either. This is why I'm confused - it seems to happen to some people, and not others, and I can't fathom why he would do it. I agree that thirteen slices, and placed on top of the fish, is serious overkill. I don't blame Googs and pinstripe for not wanting to go back, I'm just curious as to why we have had such drastically different experiences.

                                                                1. re: Wahooty
                                                                  pinstripeprincess May 13, 2009 06:54 AM

                                                                  maybe i look like i'm on the brink of having scurvy!

                                                                  1. re: pinstripeprincess
                                                                    Wahooty May 13, 2009 06:59 AM

                                                                    Ah...see, that must be the difference. I phone in my orders, so they can't see my eyepatch and pegleg. And the parrot knows to keep his mouth shut when I'm on the phone.

                                                                    1. re: pinstripeprincess
                                                                      t
                                                                      tjr May 13, 2009 07:38 PM

                                                                      Perhaps he should just include a gimlet on the side instead!

                                                                      1. re: tjr
                                                                        Googs May 14, 2009 07:22 AM

                                                                        I wouldn't be suspicious of Marche's citrus practice if I could think of one other reputable sushi place that did it too.

                                                        2. re: condiment
                                                          t
                                                          tjr May 12, 2009 07:30 AM

                                                          It's never yuzu. Lemon and lime is applied liberally, with a heavy hand, even to fish which should have never touched citrus. As one poster above said, at times it's almost like sushi ceviche.

                                                          Perhaps if you visited the restaurant you'd understand.

                                                          1. re: condiment
                                                            s
                                                            Sui_Mai May 12, 2009 08:09 AM

                                                            Is that the same as ponzu? BTW does anyone know a good place for ponzu tuna?

                                                            1. re: Sui_Mai
                                                              e
                                                              embee May 12, 2009 09:53 AM

                                                              Ponzu is a citrus flavoured soy type of sauce. It may or may not contain yuzu juice. There are many brands, widely available in the GTA. You can even make something approximately like ponzu at home.

                                                              Yuzu is a specific fruit. I've never seen fresh yuzu here, though it might exist. It's availed bottled/canned, but not often. Sanko sometimes has it.

                                                      2. re: Googs
                                                        s
                                                        szw May 11, 2009 07:46 AM

                                                        I posted this in the other thread (that will probably be deleted) before I saw this one. I've had it a few times at Marche and its always been described to me as Sea Bream, its listed on the menu as sea bream and also as Madai. I highly doubt this is a "ruse" but a hasty response to a question, maybe the customer (reporter) was asking for more description about what sea bream was. I can't say that for certain but the few times I've been there they've told me they served me sea bream.

                                                        As for the Marimoto claim, I never questioned it but wouldn't just working in the kitchen at one of the restaurants be considered "workign under Morimoto"? Considering they probably have a lot of kitchen staff, it doesn't seem hard to believe however it does seem overhyped as a point of importance. But hey, your resume should be pushed a little right?

                                                        1. re: szw
                                                          aser May 11, 2009 12:50 PM

                                                          That's the name of the game in the cook's world, you collect names under your resume. This could mean working there for a year or doing a stage for a month.

                                                          When you read a chef's bio and it says worked at "The Fat Duck" or whatever, 9 out of 10 times this means they worked for free as a stage for a month.

                                                          As for fish quality, I don't think a small piece of citrus can hide rank fish, it's just his style. I'm not a big fan either but that's his choice as an itame.

                                                        2. re: Googs
                                                          t
                                                          tjr May 11, 2009 08:09 AM

                                                          I don't think they were being intentionally misleading, after all, the menu says sea bream. I never understood all the citrus there either; the fish isn't nearly as bad as at some of the crappier restaurants around town, but the citrus makes me feel like it might be.

                                                      3. re: tjr
                                                        t
                                                        theel May 9, 2009 08:03 PM

                                                        I believe the article actually says that yuzu/japango states japanese snapper on their menu and according the the study, the owner Bruce Bu identifies 'understands' sea bream as japanese snapper. Sea bream is actually a better quality fish. He should just call it sea bream and educate his customers about the fish. I don't think he's ripping anyone off, maybe 'misnaming' the fish because he believes us North Americans would want red snapper over sea bream (which most of us are not familiar with). I don't even know why John Lee's restaurant is mentioned. He clearly calls is sea bream and isn't even close to misleading anyone ... he just needs to train his wait staff a little better. Again, I believe its because of our obsession that red snapper is a superior fish.

                                                        1. re: theel
                                                          Googs May 10, 2009 10:31 AM

                                                          I believe there's a reason the ChefDB link to Sushi Marche is now dead. It belongs on the list.

                                                          1. re: theel
                                                            pinstripeprincess May 11, 2009 06:36 AM

                                                            i think there needs to be a clarification.... there is yuzu/japango (on elizabeth) and then there is the japango out in the beaches that seems to have no connection to bruce bu other than similar signage. it is the japango out in the beaches that was tested and came up with poor results in the snapper challenge.

                                                        2. aser May 9, 2009 12:54 PM

                                                          This is common in pretty much every city, anywhere. It's just the global dynamics of the fishing trade, where branding and marketing supercedes the truth. The fishing industry is much like the wild wild west.......take what you can before it runs out.

                                                          Red snapper is rarely red snapper, you can blame a lot of fishmongers for that. Some restaurants are probably getting duped by wholesalers w/o even knowing it. Rockfish is probably the most used substitute since it does look quite alike, when selling whole fish.

                                                          Also, True World Foods as listed in the article is one of the biggest seafood distros in N. America for sushi restaurants. It is headed by Rev. Sun Myung Moon, of the Moonies cult. Bet you didn't know you were supporting a cult when you've been eating sushi all these years. It is quite an interesting story.

                                                          http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/sp...

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: aser
                                                            jayt90 May 9, 2009 01:15 PM

                                                            OMG!

                                                            1. re: aser
                                                              t
                                                              tjr May 9, 2009 03:13 PM

                                                              Yeah, I thought most of this stuff was common knowledge. I guess it really isn't!

                                                            2. f
                                                              ferret May 9, 2009 08:16 AM

                                                              More like "Toronto Star Copies Teen Girls' Science Fair Project"

                                                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/551239

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: ferret
                                                                billieboy May 9, 2009 08:30 AM

                                                                And another one in Chicago...Toronto Star has never been noted for originality.

                                                                http://www.suntimes.com/news/metro/37...

                                                              2. skylineR33 May 9, 2009 08:09 AM

                                                                Not surprising, in fact I think most people don't even care in Toronto about wrong labelling on food. You should see the CB thread.

                                                                3 Replies
                                                                1. re: skylineR33
                                                                  t
                                                                  tjr May 9, 2009 03:15 PM

                                                                  What, you aren't willing to suspend disbelief while you munch down on tilapia and dream it's tai, or devour escolar called white tuna or something equally ridiculous? Haha.

                                                                  1. re: tjr
                                                                    aser May 9, 2009 04:37 PM

                                                                    Perhaps we'll see "white angus beef" one day, hah!

                                                                    1. re: aser
                                                                      t
                                                                      tjr May 9, 2009 06:45 PM

                                                                      Beef, the other, other, other white meat.

                                                                2. Kagemusha May 9, 2009 06:48 AM

                                                                  I'd also add to your gist list "Wise up, chump." GTA fish counter patrons have long been rooked in the old "red snapper" scam, where other species are routinely passed off as the real deal. In past years, it was possible see a half dozen species sold as "red snapper" around DT TO when the genuine article was nowhere to be seen. The sushi scam is just more of the same. AYCE sushi joints really are a mug's game.

                                                                  1. s
                                                                    Sui_Mai May 9, 2009 06:42 AM

                                                                    Interesting and not surprising - Toronto is not a sushi town.

                                                                    I don't understand how you could enjoy tilapia sushi - is it better raw perhaps? - it tastes like nothing and it's texture is meh.

                                                                    BTW red snapper is on the bad list due to overfishing. If that kinda stuff's important to y'all check this out: http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr...

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Sui_Mai
                                                                      jayt90 May 9, 2009 08:15 AM

                                                                      Thanks for the link. I wonder if the sushi restaurants in the survey serving tilapia care enough to get sushi grade fish, or U.S, farm raised tilapia..

                                                                      1. re: jayt90
                                                                        s
                                                                        Sui_Mai May 9, 2009 08:28 AM

                                                                        This situation is so depressing considering how beloved sushi is by most people and that they (most people I know) are willing to spend more money than usual for it. In Vancouver it is so different (obviously): people demand quality and sustainability.

                                                                        Oceanwise, a conservation program started by the Vancouver Aquarium is fast becoming the standard for all restaurants that serve fish in the city. Nice.

                                                                        I rarely eat fish here, so few fishmongers that care and in the grocery store they're rarely able to answer your questions.

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