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Sushi Cape Cod

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The dreary days of March will end. The daffodils, crocuses, and amaryllis will be the first of many flowers to shout “hello”. The “welcome sign” will be hung at restaurants for the seasonal residents and tourists. Better, fresher fish will soon find its way to the sushi restaurants of Cape Cod. Each year, it seems to me, the fish and sushi improves over prior years. As a consequence I’ve learned choosing what’s best can be subjective; that is, often about my personal needs on any given night out. I thought the fish was terrific last year at many of the Cape’s sushi bars.

As summer approaches, it could be useful if sushi aficionados plus those that find sushi to be a healthy food choice commented on what's available by comparing one eatery to another. How do the various places patronized seem similar or different from one another? There was a time when we'd drive to Tatsukichi, Quincy Market, Boston for good sushi. Back then there was no sushi on Cape Cod.

I‘m on the upper Cape, familiar with Asia, Misaki and Inaho. If I were to compare the three, emphasizing that driving time was important, I would select Asia. All three establishments are good but with Asia much closer, that would be my choice. If a relaxed atmosphere were the issue, Misaki would be my choice. If ambience reflecting Japan where the issue Inaho would be my choice. Today I can list eighteen sushi establishments on Cape Cod, excluding the Islands. Six of the eighteen I have not visited. Perhaps there are more and they should be included.

Here’s my list, with help from Google, starting at the Bourne Bridge:

Way Ho - Buzzards Bay
Peking Palace – Falmouth
Homeport Sushi — Falmouth
Asia – Mashpee Commons
Jimmy’s Sushi at the Picnic Box, Mashpee Rotary
Misaki – Hyannis
Mities Sushi House — Hyannis
Sarku Japan — Cape Cod Mall, Hyannis
Yings – Hyannis & Thai Sushi Café by Ying— Provincetown
Inaho - Yarmouth Port
Scargo Cafe Monday Night (off n' on) – Dennis
Kolbi House – Brewster & Hyannis
Bangkok - Orleans
Mac's Shack – Wellfleet
Cape Sushi at Clem & Ursie’s — Provincetown
Patio Grill — Provincetown

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  1. Scargo has sushi? Jillian have you heard of or been to Kolbi House? There is a sushi place in Foster Sq. with a different name (in Brewster)..I had the take out menu but just tossed it.

    5 Replies
    1. re: phelana

      Ah, sigh, now the errors appear magically. Should of had it reviewed. Ok, two errors in the Kobi House line: (1.) misspelled Kobi by adding an L in the middle. The name is Kobi House which itself is a curiosity because they have hibachi tables and it suggests beef which in turn suggests Kobe, Japan but, it's their name and it's gotta be right - Kobi. Also, they are the owners of Noble House, West Harwich. I should have specified that and I got the name of the town wrong - not Brewster. Oh boy.

      1. re: phelana

        Sushi place in Foster Sq. is Oki...strictly take out and not worth it!

        1. re: jillian

          Google offers this: OKI Japanese Express was opened in the summer of 2009 by Chang Ting Zou. Lovers of proper nouns might enjoy reading this, otherwise I expect it’s of little value. But, Jillians information does bring the list back to 18 and that’s a strong statement about sushi on Cape Cod.

          1. re: jillian

            Some yelpers are fans. A recent post expressed preference for Oki sushi in Brewster over Inaho. I wish they had elaborated. Oki Sushi link: http://okisushibrewster.com/

            1. re: Afar

              Just went to Oki this past weekend. It's strictly takeout. Its best dish is average, its average disk is mediocre. Scratches a local Japanese itch, little more.

        2. I did not mention the Brazilian Grill, Hyannis because they do not serve sushi or sashimi. However, they do have some of the best maki rolls anywhere; and, that's because of the long honed skills of the makimaker. The streaming photo at the top of the home page on their web site has two good photos of their excellent maki. The rice is a correct brand, proportions of rice and ingredients are perfect, a high quality nori is used, the texture and flavors are expertly presented.

          1. Correction #2, Sarku Japan in the Mall at Hyannis should be removed from the list as their sushi service has been discontinued. One or two simple maki rolls are all they presently offer.

            1. For those that have lived in Japan, as well as those who make sushi a regular part of their diet, here is an interesting, if not strange, article on American style and Japanese style sushi. The story makes clear that there are distinctive differences between sushi served in the United States and sushi served in Japan. And, it seems some folks can get pretty heated up about the matter. Often in Japan, a chef cannot achieve status or acclaim because of the nearly fanatical dedication to detail. The smallest errors are noted. This zealous dedication to tradition results in a narrow definition of “good sushi”. By contrast, sushi chefs in the U.S. have meandered into new territory and redefined the boundaries of “good sushi”. Still, I found this story humorous and surprising. It's an unexpected account of sushi served in Okinawa, Japan to Americans; and, there are some Japanese that are angry about it – the sushi that is. Go figure, here's the link: http://tinyurl.com/yav8rqe

              1. chowmouse: I read your post and thought "YUP"! I asked friends in Japan for a comment on US style sushi. They used to live in Cambridge.

                "Last weekend, we went to a Sushi resutaurant nearby my house and found “California Roll”! We are so excited and tried. But that was totally different thing. We hear the US style sushi is getting popular. Especially at Rolling sushi restaurants (cheeper than not rolling), we see new sushi with mayonnaise taste, but at authentic restaurants, traditional sushi is still much more popular. The chef are conservative and going to keep traditional style and taste, although we do not mind."

                "We miss the taste of Cape pretty much!!"

                Thanks for joining the discussion. As you know, the Japanese government has planned for years to establish a program whereby a "special team" will visit restaurants presenting themselves as Japanese and, if found authentic, will provide a "seal of approval". I've read the project has begun but will take many years to complete. In my opinion, I doubt the success or viability or such an effort. It seems too complicated an issue to take on.

                5 Replies
                1. re: Afar

                  Yes I've heard about that program, too. But I heard about it a couple of years ago, and I haven't heard anything else about it since. I completely agree with you that something like that isn't going to be viable. And if I hear that a Japanese restaurant is good, I'll rely on Chowhound or Yelp's up-to-date reviews to verify it.

                  1. re: chowmouse

                    On NPR, story on sushi in Santa Monica, CA at a place, I 'm told, serves only "high end stuff". Wonder what the repercussions will be if any, link: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/st...

                      1. re: Afar

                        Whale meat, the final chapter: A Lesson In How To Instantly Shutter A Successful Small Business, see link: http://tinyurl.com/yjnlg4n

                        1. re: Afar

                          Link to an interesting article from boston.com on sustainable sushi: http://tinyurl.com/y9mzbxo

                2. Enjoyed Asia tonight. Started with a monk fish liver pate accompanied with a slice of maguro (tuna) and avocado on a bed of shredded diakon (radish) in a ponzu sauce flavored with yuzu (citron). Hot Spring Rolls all vegetables. Spicy tuna maki. Satsumaimo (Japanese sweet potato) Idaho maki. Shrimp and avocado Boston maki. Finished with a lychee fruit jello topped with black soy bean and mochi topped with a roasted walnut all in a raspberry chocolate sauce. Although Asia is owned by the same folks at Peking Palace in Falmouth, this location at Mashpee Commons continues to distinguish itself and operate independent of Peking Palace influence. Chef Wong, the head sushi chef, comes from Taiwan with 21 years of experience working for a Japanese sushi chef. And, Chef Wong learned a fair amount of the Japanese language for those so inclined to speak it instead of Chinese or English. What a great country the USA is!

                  -----
                  Peking Palace
                  452 Main St, Falmouth, MA 02540

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: Afar

                    Have to hand it to you Afar. You're doing your very best of single-handedly keeping this thread alive.

                    I'll have to give Asia a try. I will post a report here when I do. Thanks for posting.

                    1. re: CapeCodGuy

                      Welcome CCG. Ramblings from the heart indeed. The food of Japan is what I know best; and, we now have many restaurants serving this food. As you point out, the postings to this board are likely to be a meandering conversation with myself. As long as the rules permit it, I'll wonder off to as many of the sushi bars as possible this year and let myself know what I learned and log in what I ate. Thanks for joining in and I look forward to your opinions on Asia and Chef Wong. Did you make it to dim sum?

                      1. re: Afar

                        Keep posting Afar!

                        Sadly, no dim sum yet. I'm waiting to round up enough of a party to make it worth the trip.

                        1. re: CapeCodGuy

                          You were smart to hold off on the China Pearl trip to Quincy. A group of ten fills one large table and assures a sampling of just about everything served for dim sum. The feast diminishes as the number of folks at the table shrinks. I'd suggest a minimum of four when you do go. --- The list I compiled of places serving sushi does not include the easy access sushi snack found at most grocery stores and pantries. Some of these locations have staffed sushi preparers; and, what they offer can be fresh and pretty good given the price and the fact that it's carry out food. Some outlets, like Ring Brothers across from Patriot Square, Dennis, carry sushi made fresh daily by a Japanese fellow that's been part of the sushi scene on Nantucket and the Cape for many years. It's all quite a shock to my wife and I as I once told her the one type of Japanese food Americans would never eat was sushi. One can't always be right. Today we are all smiles over the bountifulness of sushi options throughout the Cape. The popularity of sushi is all quite remarkable to us given our background of craving it when it was nowhere to be had this side of the Canal.

                          -----
                          China Pearl Restaurant
                          288 Mishawum Rd, Woburn, MA 01801

                    2. re: Afar

                      Keeping up the feeding frenzy at Asia, tonight we left stuffed. Chef Wong started us off with maguro (tuna) wrapped around hotatagai (scallop) with short, thin, sliced kappa (cucumber), sitting on a thin slice of fresh orange with the rhine cut off, all atop a bed of shredded daikon (white radish) and lightly applied house spicy mayo. The next dish was Korean Kalbi (also called Galbi) which is short rib of beef marinated in a soy sauce with garlic and sugar, accompanied with a potato cut in half and assortment of grilled vegetables. The rib is thin cut allowing the marinade to thoroughly soak into the meat - delicious with a bowl of white rice. Finally we had the popular Spider Maki (Roll), a large soft shelled crab, deep fried, wrapped in sushi rice, nori (seaweed), kappa and diced negi (long sweet onion). A blackberry/raspberry sherbet drizzled with raspberry sauce capped a terrific meal.

                      1. re: Afar

                        We are heading up to the Cape soon for Thanksgiving and we are really looking forward to what has become a traditional trek over to Asia for a pre-Thanksgiving Asian gorge fest. The staff is always so gracious and friendly and the food is outstanding. I think it is one of the few restaurants I've been to that has successfully pulled off cross-cultural "Asian" cuisine. The sushi is fresh and delicious and the Thai and Chinese stir fries are flavorful without being cloying. The hardest part is always keeping the number of dishes we order down to a reasonable number. Can't wait!

                        1. re: TeamD

                          Finally a minute available to report back on our family confab on Cape Cod in Mashpee over the Thanksgiving holiday. Ten family members from three states got together for a feast at Asia and they did not disappoint. Half the food was sushi and the other half off the menu. We love those big round tables because they seated our entire group so conversation was simple for everyone. The bonus of those big tables is the swivel center so all the food can be easily shared while hot. It was a terrific meal, lots of fun and getting to be an annual family tradition.

                    3. Jimmy's Sushi at The Picnic Box, Mashpee Rotary is going strong. We stopped in for our first visit and had a sit-down meal. It's run by Junichi (Jimmy) Sawayanagi with an assist from his lovely young daughter. Both speak Japanese for those so inclined. Junichi has been a long time fixture in the sushi trade on Cape Cod over the past two decades. He sells through many markets and convenience stores around the mid-Cape. He occasionally sets up on Monday nights at Scargo Cafe. Now it would seem he has a full time venture going in Mashpee. He's open every day but Wednesday from 5 to 9 P.M. Throughout the summer he will open every day. It's BYOB, serving maki sushi with premium rolls in the US style; that is, big with generous servings of fresh ingredients. He has gyoza, shumai, spring roll, and edemame beans. Entries listed: tempura, soba with buckwheat noodles and donburi. Be advised payment is cash only. It looks to me like it will be a hot spot for carry-out business this summer. For me our visit revived memories of quaint tiny food shops, stalls really, in the Shibuya district of Tokyo, long ago changed into the tall building format - sigh.

                      -----
                      Scargo Cafe
                      799 Main St, Dennis, MA 02638

                      Picnic Box
                      Mashpee Rotary Cir, Mashpee, MA 02649

                      1. Sushi — Food for the eye, the body & the soul is the quintessential book on the science of sushi, how it contributes to wellness, and why people have such passion for sushi. This 330 page, 10” x 8.5” glossy production I received as a gift. It arrived by mail from Borders and the packing slip listed the cost at $21.00. Yeow, what a buy! The book is a magnificent production from every view point. The people behind the book are Ole & Jonas Mouritsen, father & son, Tove Nyberg & Mariela Johansen. Having roots in Denmark, Ole is a professor of biophysics, Jonas is the graphic designer, Tove the bioanalyst and watercolor artist and Mariela handled translation and adaptation to English. There are over 400 illustrations with most of them in color. The book is a jewel for sushi lovers everywhere. It was published in 2009 by Springer Science + Business Media Inc. ISBN: 978-1-4419-0617-5. Web site: www.sushibook.net. At the web site, I had to smile over the testimonial from Ken Oringer of Clio Restaurant, Boston, one of my favorite sushi spots when I am off Cape Cod.

                        Still, for all the eye-popping presentation and first class printing, the heart of the book is in the text. Informative sidebars in smaller type height add detail and history when relevant. It reminded me of reading the latest anthology of Sherlock Holmes. The regular text is in easy to read Times Roman using 14 and 16 point type. The writing is richly presented; by that I mean, it’s sophisticated but unpretentious. Descriptions can be quite technical yet keep an average reader like me enthralled. Subjects are broken into neat categories; and, as much as I feel I know about sushi, the narrative never fails to keep me engrossed. There is an impressive intellect reflected in the paragraphs that are not stylized but more a logical discussion of all that’s important about understanding and eating sushi. I felt a selfless sharing by the author of a lifetime of learned and observed knowledge and he had invited ME to share it all with him. Ah, my gosh, what a suburb and faithful Danish treat. And, yes, the images are as good as the text.

                        I can’t leave you hanging. Indeed it would be unkind not to post a sample of the writing from the beginning of the book. Page 2, “Sushi and Zen: Sushi is a food that nourishes the body, enriches the brain, and is a delight for the eye. Sushi is a healthy food, in which the quality of the raw ingredients, the taste, the chemical composition, the physical texture, and the aesthetic presentation are inseparable entitles. Sushi is a food where the pleasure taken in its preparation and the artistry of the presentation are just as important to the whole experience as the meal itself. Sushi encompasses passion, science, and wellness. Sushi is Zen. …sushi has literally become a consuming passion.” Ole G. Mouritsen Oh joy!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Afar

                          Three of us spent a beautiful day birding, beginning at Foot Hill and finishing up in Provincetown. After a long day, a stop in Wellfleet for sushi at Mac's Shack was in order. They opened two weeks ago and their season was yet to begin. Koichi-san, the head chef, treated us to a fun and memorable experience. The fish case was lightly stocked and he and his assistant Jun had time to chat. It was great fun. I got the feeling, in summer, when the fresh local fish was available, there would be a long wait for a seat at the sushi bar (only six stools). This visit reminded me of one of the essential reasons for wanting to belly up to a sushi bar The camaraderie and conversation with the chef can make the meal a gold star experience. The pleasant atmosphere created by the chef is as critical as the food in a great sushi restaurant. A perfect finish to a perfect day on Cape Cod.

                        2. Their back, swimming in our local waters, and landing on a bento box in front of me at the sushi bar at Misaki, 379 West Main Street, Hyannis. The first local fish of the season fell into the opposable space between Chef Hamada and I, a distance no more then the length of the bento box. This meal of five Saba (Mackerel) delicacies reminded me of the uniqueness of a kaiseki dinner in Tokyo - ok a mini-kaiseki. The meal: (1.) Miso-ni, boiled mackerel in a broth of miso, sake, mirin, bonito fish stock, sugar and ginger. It's was a full cut of the fish and the only item served with bones. The meat fell easily from the bones and the flavor is beyond my word range. (2.) Tempura panko fried mackerel drizzled with a bit of worchestershire sauce. The lightly breaded fish was delicious. (3.) Grilled mackerel, slightly salted, and quick cooked leaving the texture of the meat unaffected by the cooking. (4.) Three saba sushi. (5.) Boiled Mackerel roe and sperm using egg to create this delicacy. Served in a minimalist sauce of soy, mirin, ginger and sugar.

                          Misaki is opening the season with a multi-course grand slam. The skill of the presentation reflected the most traditional approach to Japanese dining. As the sushi counter filled up that night, one after another asked: "What's he got." Soon everyone at the sushi bar was feasting on a Saba Bento Box.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: Afar

                            I was visiting Cape Cod from Los Angeles last month, and had the chance to eat at Miisaki. Coming from a place where there are so many great sushi spots that I can't pick a favorite, it was a pleasant surprise. I grew up spending summers on The Cape in the early 80's, and, to my recollection, back then sushi was nowhere to be found on the island. The selection was impressive, and everything we ordered was fresh and delicious. The yellowtail collar was scrumptious, and the sake selection was great. I have to say also that I've had some great meals at Inaho on past trips, but Misaki filled my belly and satisfied my sushi fix this time around. I've been to Asia as well, but wouldn't put it in the same category as these two great spots. That saba sounds pretty awesome, Afar. Definitely another great reason to return to The Cape soon.

                            1. re: lachound

                              A fellow CH recommends Mac's Seafood in Wellfleet. Any reviews?

                              1. re: mrwynter

                                Three of us went to Mac’s Shack a week ago. They had a terrific year last summer. Their sushi bar will be set up soon with four chefs. They were serving Escolar, a fish said to possibly replace Tuna some day – I don’t think so. Chef Koichi served it with all the appropriate warnings that too much could trigger a regrettable condition where a lot of time would be spent in a closed, locked room with no windows. Here’s a link to Escolar; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Escolar The meat is white and not unlike Albacore. Unfortunately Escolar is getting popular on the West Coast. One of the essentials of a good sushi bar is the warmth of the greeting when first arriving at the restaurant. All the establishments on the Cape fail in this pleasant Japanese tradition except Mac’s Shack. Hearing a loud “irrasshai! Irasshaimase!” is a comforting signal that this sushi bar has it right. Later in the season, when Mac’s Shack is well stocked with local inventory, it’s gonna be a feast best enjoyed early in the evening. I know by 6:30 p.m. it will be a two or more hour wait. Don’t miss it. See my May 13 comment above.

                                  1. re: mrwynter

                                    Yes, I had the misfortune of overeating escolar once about 10 years ago. Only time I'll ever make that mistake. It is readily available out here in Socal. While it is quite tasty...well, let's just say it can give you a "run" for your money.

                          2. The U.S. Dept. of Commerce has issued stiff restrictions on Atlantic Bluefin Tuna effective June 12. Last year the feast was unusually delicious at Misaki and Mac's Shack, among others that served local tuna sashimi and sushi, on the Cape. A close friend and fisherman told me the new quota rules make it not worth loading up the expensive equipment, or putting in all the time and cost to fish Tuna. The ruling permits catch n' release which I suggested to my friend was a bit ridiculous with this size catch because the truma and injury would destroy the fish anyway. He agreed. I'm attaching the NOAA PDF announcing the regulation (hope it's readable): nope, seems it won't load. Perhaps it can be Googled and found on the NMFS web site. Surely we need to keep these great fish in our ocean and plentiful. It will be interesting how it will play out.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Afar

                              Clem and Ursies is, alas, no more.

                              1. re: magiesmom

                                Thanks magiesmom for the update. Also, I'm told that the Chinese restaurant, Dragon Lite, at the north end of Main Street, Hyannis has sushi service. Their web site home page does say: "SUSHI, come check out our new sushi bar". I haven't yet but it was described to me as a "minimal effort with few offerings". The "menu" page view offers a sushi page view which shows only maki rolls and lists 19 varieties. I'd guess the Red Sox Roll is currently popular. The Torch Maki is the most curious. Clearly, American style sushi is on a roll - of course the pun is intended.

                                -----
                                Dragon Lite Restaurant
                                620 Main St, Hyannis, MA 02601

                            2. Sushi Cape Cod can't get better than the meal we had tonight at Misaki in Hyannis. The bar is staffed by two pro's: Chef Hamada & Chef Yuki; and wow, did they turn it on. But we started with the kitchen crew, getting a Soft Shell Crab makimono (rolled sushi). The batter used to deep fry the crab was perfect: light, thin, and a little crispy. No one Japanese staffs this kitchen. They are a bunch of young chefs, to include the owners (Sean & Karen), who have trained and learned on the job, and are delivering a remarkable culinary performance. A year and a half ago I thought the challenge to meet the exacting standards of Japanese cuisine would be an impossible task. It's been fun and satisfying to witness their success. The sushi chef prepared melt-in-the-mouth O-Turo (fatty part of the tuna) and Maguro from Bluefin Tuna caught in local waters. Yuki-san had first day fresh and moist sweet egg. The flavor just popped. The Aoyagi (Surf or Round Clam), also fresh from local waters, was served as tongue, not the side muscles, and fixed Nigiri style or regular sushi. It was sweet and tender, a real treat. Chef Hamada suggested I try the Albacore. I told him I felt Albacore lacked flavor but he insisted. I was surprised when he seared it with a hand torch, covered with a mustard-like sauce, and again seared before topping with diced negi (sweet onion or long onion). This was not the usual poor substitute for Tuna. It was spectacular! What a meal.

                              1. Tonight the Chatham Bars Inn will open Maguro, a sushi restaurant where the Chef's Table had been. Their press release states the head sushi chef is Jeffrey Moon, born in Korea, raised in NYC, and a graduate of the French Culinary Institute in NY. He has worked at five different restaurants in NYC over the years. What's most confusing to me about the information released is the tiny amount of seats available, just twenty. It seems quite impossible to operate a profitable venture with a miniscule 20 diners, however number of turns they win. (Could the one place I read this have posted a typo?) If so, I'd expect the techniques for rapid turnover to be in high gear. This could lead to their finding it a necessity to dispense with some of the essential traditions that make sushi a "special" dinning experience. Some thoughts that come to mind are using an uncomfortable chair, going easy on the Japanese style of welcoming a guest, keeping the sushi servers tightlipped and prompt removal of serving dishes. This will be a launch with watching. Maguro in Chatham makes me recall So Sue Me, a short-lived venture in Chatham that was across the street from the Impudent Oyster. I think the space is still empty. So Sue Me had employed an excellent Japanese chef and had all the basics right. Chatham & Orleans diners did not support it. What difference will a few years make?

                                -----
                                Impudent Oyster
                                15 Chatham Bars Ave, Chatham, MA 02633

                                Chatham Bars Inn
                                297 Shore Road, Chatham, MA 02633

                                1. Today, a front page NYT article "Endangered-Species Status Is Sought for Bluefin Tuna: — "Fearing that the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico will deal a severe blow to the bluefin tuna, an environmental group is demanding that the government declare the fish an endangered species, setting off extensive new protections under federal law." http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/24/us/...

                                  1. There has been a rash of articles on the overfishing of Bluefin Tuna over the last year. Today, the New Your Times Sunday magazine published this excerpt from a book, to be released next month, by Paul Greenberg, titled, "Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food". Link to article: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/27/mag...

                                    1. On the periphery of the discussion of sushi as healthy food is the issue of toxic mercury in ocean fish, particularly Tuna. Today's NYT carries this blog along with a few comments at the end. The story begins with this loaded lead sentence: "It has long been known that mercury levels in seafood can prove poisonous to humans." Link: http://tinyurl.com/2b3bpss

                                      1. Maguro, the new sushi restaurant at Chatham Bars Inn, located off the main dining room, would score five stars if.... Chef Jeffery Moon gets all the essentials perfect: rice, nori, freshness, ingredients, relationship of fish to rice, presentation and service. Maguro is a tiny room capable of seating twenty. There are four or five cooked offerings we did not try: black cod in miso, scallops, tempura, are some. We ate hand rolls, maki style rolls and sushi. The menu is too limited to want to return often or want to establish oneself as a "regular". Not having a bar eliminates that wonderful and pleasurable experience of chatting with the chef and watching the preparation; which is, an important aspect of the sushi experience for a purist. But, this two-employee operation — an excellent chef and his capable, efficient server — is not to be missed. And, of course, the setting on the oceanfront in Chatham, with these days of long daylight, could not be more charming.

                                        Two large-screen TV’s are set at an angle above the food preparation area, just below the ceiling, with video feeds to the food prep area. The screen to the right is a fixed view of the variety of ingredients kept in metal bins used to add color, texture and/or flavor. One quick glance at that screen and you’re done. The screen to the left shows the chef plating the food. Sometimes great ideas don’t work. This is such a time. The picture is grainy and there is an unbridgeable disconnect between a customer seated at a table and the chef at work. The TV’s are an obvious acknowledgement on the part of the chef that a problem exists where sushi is served but no bar is present and consequently no personal contact. The atmosphere of the small room would be cozier and warmer without the TV screens. The inherent isolation of the customer from the chef would best be handled unplugged. I felt the font size on the menu was too small. One does not need to shout but 10 pt. or 12 pt. type would work much better for the older clientele they are likely to win. If you want to be aware that Maguro is offering only a single piece of sushi, be sure to bring your reading glasses.

                                        We dined on a Wednesday night that ended their first week of business. Opening day was June 23, 2010. Maguro was half full with ten diners, never more, sometimes less. The food at Maguro is expensive for Cape Cod sushi. Again, one order is one piece, not the traditional two pieces. But, the sushi is served using the traditional method, a small, thin wafer of fish on a small mound of rice for $5. Those who favor American style sushi or long, thick cut fish and a big rice ball might be disappointed. Maguro or Hamachi hand-rolls are a generous size at $9. And, they do serve a lobster roll. A hungry stomach, with a mind that knows it, could easily consume a hundred dollars worth of sushi. And the chef’s skill does indeed encourage a lot of eating. He uses a crisp, dark, high quality seaweed (nori), premium rice perfectly cooked and flavored, and really fresh fish. The sushi is very good. There is but one mini-sized sushi case to keep cold the few varieties of fish offered.

                                        The server, who I hope is a permanent employee, was terrific. She displayed an unusual degree of professionalism while offering a friendly demeanor in spite of Maguro being opened only a week. Neither person is Japanese yet both perform to the exacting standards of a fine Japanese sushi restaurant. I have no doubt that this duo will fully satisfy those purists who most enjoy Japanese techniques when it comes to their sushi and sashimi. They are both “pros” and it shows.

                                        The small room is newly decorated and lovely. It’s designed with a contemporary flair, using muted or earth tones, without a strong Japanese influence. However, the confined space and closeness of the tables makes confidential or personal conversation out of the question. I can’t imagine what the eating experience would be like if one had the misfortune to be in the room with others who were laughing it up and over-the-top loud. That would be awful because the room is simply too little for boisterous or rambunctious behavior. Thank goodness music is not piped in. Chairs are comfortable but without arms. Cotton tablecloths and napkins add ambience. The soy saucer is a hoot. Here the diner preferring American style sushi is in for trouble. Not always, but usually, the American style choice is to use soy like a dipping sauce. The 1” x 3” white soy china won’t satisfy. Actually, at the base of the soy well it’s only a half-inch wide. It’s perfect for the Japanese style diner but others will be frustrated over the small size of the container. The tiny table necessitates the tiny vessel. The restaurant retained the itemized receipt, provided on presentation of the bill. That detailed receipt did not accompany the credit card receipt. I dislike that practice. I usually like to examine the itemized costs at my leisure. We were two men eating but only one bill was presented. I believe it should be obvious, unless stated at the time of ordering that one check would be preferred, that each person would be paying for their own meal. Accordingly, I’d like to say: Please render separate bills, which is a simple and instant process with today’s technology. The food ordered was presented on a single plate, which I also felt was wrong. Each person should be served his or her own plate. The reason for this community plating approach is most likely because the tables are so small that room does not exist for multiple plates.

                                        I assume Maguro will be open year round. My guess is it will need patrons from the surrounding communities to be successful. Given the high cost and adherence to traditional Japanese techniques, I doubt Maguro will have wide spread appeal. Pity because Chef Moon is clearly on his way to joining the select group of experts that serve first-rate sushi on Cape Cod. I also wonder how Chef Moon will adjust to his radical change of venue. The action in New York City is so different from life on Cape Cod.

                                        The Chatham Bars Inn occupies 25 prime ocean front acres and has a world-famous reputation as a vacation destination sight of the first order. The Inn was established in 1914. I hope restaurant Maguro, Chef Moon and his server, become an integral part of the Inn’s future. I felt their effort to establish Maguro was worth such lengthy comments.

                                        A final remark about the name Maguro, which means “tuna”: I think it’s a bad choice for a few reasons. Chief among them is the hot debate raging the past two years over the importance of tuna getting added to the endangered species list and placed under strict catch regulations. I’ve read that in California, there is presently a widespread following of sushi loving diners who refuse to eat tuna because of their scarce numbers in the oceans. There are links to this subject in postings above. The scarcity of tuna is a subject that is not going away anytime soon. And, although a short word, Marguro is commonly miss-pronounced. When asking at the front door to the Inn, I had to give up saying the name and ask for the sushi bar to get directed to Chef Moon and his good food.

                                        -----
                                        Chatham Bars Inn
                                        297 Shore Road, Chatham, MA 02633

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: Afar

                                          Update on Maguro at Chatham Bars Inn: Their web site clears up one issue, Maguro is only open seasonally. Although it's stated "walk-ins welcome" this has changed to reservations only. Maguro is only open for dinner with a late start, 6:15 p.m. When I called to make inquiries about "walk-ins" on the web site I was told that Maguro suddenly became booked to capacity every night and reservations had become a necessity to keep things organized. Chef Jeffery Moon deserves the success, he does a terrific job. Link to Maguro web site and menu: http://www.chathambarsinn.com/dining

                                          -----
                                          Chatham Bars Inn
                                          297 Shore Road, Chatham, MA 02633

                                          1. re: Afar

                                            great reviews..you should have a blog...seriously...

                                        2. The current issue of Scientific American, July 13, 2010, has an article by Doug Struck that takes its focus from the Cape Cod ever-restricting, heavily regulated fishing dilemma. The piece begins: "Curbs on fishing may not be enough to help fish populations deal with the changes wrought by global warming." A quote from the article: "It is tough, fishermen say, to sort out whether fish populations are hit harder by human fishing, the sharks' appetite, climate change or some other environmental shift." Sushi lovers everywhere will eventually be effected by events in the oceans. Link: http://tinyurl.com/2acb5bf

                                          1. Bluefin tuna is on the menu at the Office of Sustainable Fisheries, U.S. Department of Commerce, as of Sunday, July 18. The "swim for your life" order is a further tightening of the screws on the availability of locally caught tuna at Cape Cod sushi restaurants.

                                            Atlantic Highly Migratory Species News
                                            NMFS closes the northern area Angling category fishery for large medium and giant ("trophy") bluefin tuna (BFT) for the remainder of 2010. Fishing for, retaining, possessing, or landing large medium and giant BFT north of 39°18' N. lat. is prohibited effective at 11:59 p.m., July 18, 2010. This notice is available at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms/brea...

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Afar

                                              Have to admit I was surprised Afar that you did not follow through on the coverage of the international meetings on quotas for tuna fishing held in Paris recently. Here is a link to the story that completes the coverage of this important subject. It's important information for sushi lovers on Cape Cod and everywhere else: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTR...

                                            2. The Americanization of sushi will not be slowed down. Here are seven photographs of sushi inspired rolls beginning with the cheeseburger maki roll. Link: http://tinyurl.com/35vg5pd

                                              1. The NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams ran a feature tonight on the severity of the effects of the BP oil spill in the Gulf on Bluefin Tuna. The Gulf is where the tuna finish a 5,000 mile ocean journey to spawn. The piece reported the Bluefin can live to be over 30 years old and grow to over one thousand pounds. Mentioned on the broadcast: "Beyond comprehension that oil spill affects bluefin. Massachusetts fisherman Greg Sears talks about how the Gulf oil spill may affect his business from thousands of miles away." The NBC link below has a history of warnings in the news about bluefin. NBC covers the European ban imposed in June 2010, the activities of Greenpeace, and a story on a call from Japanese scientists for a ban on bluefin fishing. As much as the tuna is an integral and essential ingredient for sushi, I've come to believe the culinary evolution of sushi, what I refer to as the Americanization of sushi, will cause this fun style of eating to evolve and thrive should tuna become scarce, too expensive, or impossible to get. Still, for sushi lovers, the fate of the tuna is a big deal. Link to NBC tuna site: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/33954540

                                                1. Saki, a sushi restaurant in Provincetown that opened in the summer of 2009 in a 150 year old building, was originally a church. I don't know much about Saki and have not been to eat. I plan to remedy that when the summer season has ended. I try to avoid downtown Ptown at all cost in the summer. Saki is open through January and reopens in April. Saki is located at 258 Commercial Street. The web site is nicely done with good pic's that suggest the sushi is not the traditional Japanese approach to negiri-zushi. The rolled vinegared rice is oversized and the wafer of fish shown is extra thick. Also, the photograph of the sushi chef has me guessing he is Korean rather than Japanese. As sushi evolves and changes, these are issues purists are finding to be of declining importance. The focus has to remain on the skill of the preparation of the rice and the freshness of the ingredients. Link: http://www.sakiptown.com/

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: Afar

                                                    Saki? What does it mean, I wondered. The name has stuck in my mind since my earlier post on Saki. Saki seemed not a name a Japanese would pick for a restaurant. I only knew the word as a woman's name. I went to freedictionary.com and got this information: depending on the kanji character used (there are two that make the identical sound of saki) the name means "blossom" or "hope". Kanji are the Chinese characters used in today's Japanese writing along with a blend of two other indigenous Japanese character systems. It's a curious possibility that Saki could simply be a misspelling of sake, the drink made from fermented rice. I always felt this had happened with the restaurant in Hyannis named Kobi. This is a place with hibachi tables where teppanyaki beef is central to the description of the restaurant. Accordingly, it would seem to be a misspelling and should be Kobe, the name of the city in Japan famous for its marbled beef. My guess is: as Kobi should be Kobe so should Saki be Sake.

                                                    1. re: Afar

                                                      Saki in Provincetown is good (some things are good, others are only ok), but it's not open through January as your post suggests. Also, in your post above about sushi in Provincetown, you mention Patio Grille, which is really just called the Patio, and they do not serve sushi. They have a tuna tartare, but not sushi. Also, Clem and Ursie's which you also mention, DID have great sushi, but they closed two years ago and the restaurant now in that space, Townsend's, doesn't serve sushi. We have a second home in Ptown and go year-round so have a better handle on what's going on there than what's on google. I'm a little surprised to see you 'review' or post about restaurants--and perhaps even entire towns??--that you haven't been to.

                                                    2. Friends recently visited Alaska and their fishing expedition won them 250 pounds of salmon to ship back to Cape Cod and store in their freezer. Lots of good eating ahead. They sent me an email asking a great question: "The salmon we get at sushi taste different then what we came home with (from Alaska) when eaten raw, I suspect most sushi is atlantic salmon? What a difference!"

                                                      Sorry for the long answer but I just finished reading about this subject. The fat content in Pacific Salmon = 7% while the Atlantic Salmon fits a more oily range as the diet is more varied so it can be as high as 15%. Superunsaturated fats in Sockeye salmon = 1.3% while Atlantic salmon = 0.18%. As you know fatty & oily fish make the best sushi/sashimi so one wants the underbelly of the middle of the fish where more fatty tissue exists. Gravity plays a roll here as these muscles keep the fish from sinking to the bottom of the ocean. In any case, that's the most desirable section of meat because of how the muscles develop.

                                                      If the salmon is severely stressed when caught and left in the boat not iced and/or if rigor-mortis has set in for a period of time the fat content of the meat will be adversely affected. Once the salmon no longer has oxygen going to the fatty muscles the flavor and texture of the meat begins to change rapidly. Freezing the fish immediately will greatly slow the breakdown of the tissue and preserve the flavor of the meat. The salinity of the water causes a taste difference between Atlantic, Pacific, and Farm salmon. Pacific waters can have a salt content as high as 3%.

                                                      Salmon fillets are red from the accumulation of astaxathin in the muscles. The pigment comes from the tiny crustaceans which are the mainstay of their diet. Without ataxanthin a salmon fillet would be white, because it consists primarily of fast muscles. Some fish are slow swimmers, like a shark, and the fat content in their muscles is totally different from salmon or tuna.

                                                      Salmon have a protein, myoglobin, which transports oxygen within the muscle tissue. It caused the red color. Each myoglobin molecule can bind with one oxygen molecule, and when it does, it turns bright red. Anyway, the point is that the incredible variety of conditions help us understand why one week a feast of sushi can seem sooooo good, sooooo special; but, the next week, eating the same fish but different catch, it's just not the same. I've learned when a fish is perfect I should feast on it alone and forego other fish at that meal. We are what we eat.

                                                      FDA rules require all commercial fisherman to flash-freeze their catch. Catching with nets puts the least trauma on the fish and when the fresh-catch is instantly frozen at —10°F, rigor-mortis is stopped, bad bacteria and any parasites are killed, and the fish, having suffered minimal stress, will have the best possible taste. Industrial flash freezing can reach a cold —40*F. The catch is packed in dry ice for shipment to wholesale markets. Good handling during shipping is key. Frozen vacuum sealed packaging can split or break open easily so a shipper that practices "handle with care" is essential. Packaging has to remain air-tight to maintain freshness. Preserving the fish in this way keeps the fatty tissue at its most flavorful. The fish must remain frozen until it is thawed for consumption.

                                                      The fussy Japanese take flash-freezing to all new lows where fish for sushi is in the net. Around 1990 Japanese fisherman, out for long excursions, developed colder freezing techniques at —70F. I lifted the following two paragraphs from www.continentalcarbonic.com:

                                                      To get the "freshest" sushi, fresh-caught fish are flash frozen to very cold temperatures using dry ice. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration requires that fish to be eaten raw be frozen first, to kill parasites. Only tuna is exempt, but seafood experts believe flash freezing tuna to 70 degrees below zero immediately upon catching it, preserves the flavor best. In fact, leading sushi chefs prefer fish frozen and kept at 70 below, rather than the commercial 10 below standard. They believe the fresh flavor is preserved better at 70 below.

                                                      The super-cold freezing method was developed about 15 years ago by Japanese fishermen, who wanted to preserve their catch on long fishing trips. It takes about a day and a half to completely freeze a 500-pound tuna using dry ice and liquid nitrogen. The frozen fish then can be kept for as long as two years. It is then sawed into pieces that are thawed in warm water just before serving. Bon appetit!

                                                      Most of the information in this post came from the excellent book, Sushi by Ole Mouritsen and I have posted a review of the book in an earlier post above.

                                                      1. American style sushi is on a turnpike and headed at breakneck speed to a sushi bar near you. Guy Fieri, the Food Channel phenom, “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” & NBC’s “Minute To Win It” owns two American sushi style restaurants in California called Tex Wasabi. He was featured in The New York Times on August 11, 2010 from which I lifted this quote: “…a signature dish at Tex Wasabi’s is found in the “gringo sushi” portion of the menu: the Jackass Roll, filled with pulled pork, avocado and French fries. “A lot of people who like sushi don’t really like raw fish or seaweed,” he said. “So I make what they do like.” Link to article: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/11/din... The Tex Wasabi seb site menu page offers: Gyoza with apricot sesame dipping sauce; flame broiled Albacore in spicy bbq sauce; Sunomono topped with kanikama (make-believe crab); and, maki with names like Tootsie Roll, Wok-N-Woll, Carburetor, and Dark Side of the Moon. Oh boy. Tex Wasabi link: http://www.texwasabis.com/food/food.html

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: Afar

                                                          Just wanted to mention that this is a terrific thread Afar. Thanks for all of your valuable and interesting posts.

                                                        2. Thank you CapeCodGuy. This August 13, 2010 New York Times article hits on many aspects of sushi and the chef in Japan; such as, the long suffering economy, the increasingly large population of younger Japanese without professional prospects, the exit of the Japanese chef from the sushi trade overseas (think USA) through the 1980's and 90's, the grueling training to become a sushi chef in the traditional school, and the new instant learning approach preferred by the young. I expect those coming to the U.S. will bang against the same wall that hit them in 1980; which was, non-Japanese with an "I can do this, it's simple" entrepreneurial drive working for half the wages. Also, immigration is a real issue as it's a new day in America. Link: http://tinyurl.com/39muvn4

                                                          1. Some observations and benchmarks I use when ordering nigiri zushi (Note: when two words are used to narrow the style of sushi, the word “zushi” is used). A sushi bar can be like a Red Sox game in 2010; that is, one never knows! Accordingly, my comments here are meant as generalities best ended with the word “but”. My three primary concerns when entering a sushi restaurant are: is it clean, how good are the communication (people) skills of the chef, and a scan of the fish case.

                                                            Fresh ingredients have a brightness and sparkle. Dullness or dark colors cause me to question freshness where fish is concerned. Fresh fish always has a shine or glisten from the moisture and oil seeping from the fillet. The color should be even and without blotchy areas. Dry looking fish will likely lack flavor, indeed be tasteless.

                                                            I am especially careful about the Tuna I select. The integrity of amino acid in fish is what provides that lip-smacking experience. Tuna has lots of iron and its amino acids break down slowly so it has a longer shelf life than most fish. Every hour Tuna has been out of the water and not frozen makes the luster, taste, and texture degrade. When Tuna loses its sheen it’s a red flag it’s been around too long. The result is a dry, rubbery chew without flavor.

                                                            I learn from the color of ginger (shoga or the colloquial gari, anything pickled is tsukemono). If it’s red or pink colored I feel certain the restaurant inventory purchasing policy is to buy as cheaply as possible. White or ivory colored, thin sliced, and juicy, not dry, means it is the best quality ginger, a happy sign.

                                                            Once seated at the bar I look at the tub of rice, to see that on the work counter in front of the tub is a small stainless steel container or ceramic bowl, usually a rice bowl, of water. The water is important. A professional chef will have a little rice vinegar added in and it will be used to wet the fingers before picking up the rice. This will insure easy maneuverability of the rice to shape and size it properly and prevent the rice from sticking to the hand. It will also help keep the wafer of fish moist. If too much water gets on the hand, watch for the chef to clap the hands together, to achieve the desired wetness. Clapping will usually occur when a pro-chef zips into warp-speed because orders are getting backed up. When water is not used I am positive the chef has had no in depth or technical training. I would also assume the wrong kind of rice is being used so I would avoid eating sushi and ask for the cooked food menu.

                                                            A sushi display case with pre-cut slices of fish is a signal to me that freshness and the skill level of the chef should be top concerns. The exposure to air, even when wrapped in cellophane, rapidly dries out fish. A first-rate chef will always cut fresh from the fillet and only pre-cut if overwhelmed by business and consequently certain to use the slices immediately. A chef that’s a purist would never pre-cut and would insist that prepared sushi be served immediately by the wait-staff to any diner seated at a table.

                                                            BUT, a notable exception and great example of the need for the word “but” is what many sushi bar chefs now call White Tuna or Escolar (Albacor was always called White Tuna in the old days). This disastrous addition to the nigiri zushi ensemble began in California due to the growing movement to not eat endangered Tuna and because it’s cheap. If the chef does not pre-cut, to more rapidly drain Escolar of its oil, the diner who indulges could be in for a long and painful night in a room with no windows. In any case, over eating Escolar, raw or cooked, can and frequently does cause severe diarrhea. Escolar has no redeeming value because it’s flat tasting with an uninspiring texture. BUT, if “they” could make Kanikama (phony Crab made from mashed Pollock) popular “they” can sell anything. Kanikama has become so accepted that it is now offered at some sushi restaurants in Japan – all heads bow and mutter the words “sorrow and grief”. Gempylotoxin is the reason for the heavy saturation of oil in the tissue of Escolar. Gempylotoxin will also cause the fish to spoil quickly. Therefore, pre-slicing the fish creates its own can of worms (pun intended). The FDA issued an advisory to wholesalers not to import Escolar but reversed its position in the mid 1990's. (Note 2001 date here: I read this at UC Seafood Network and have not yet sorted out the confusion or inconsistencies regarding FDA advisories: “FDA advises against importation of escolar (i.e. Lepidocybium flavobrunneum, Ruvettus pretiosus) (FDA, 2001).” Escolar has had a decade to settle into California sushi restaurants. With Tuna still plentiful, the rest of the country has been slow to offer Escolar. The low cost of Escolar will no doubt shove caution aside. My main point is, be sure to know when you're eating it. I have read reviews of folks that swear Escolar is delicious. Escolar is being served at some Cape Cod sushi restaurants this year. References on gemplotoxin in Escolar: (1.) FDA: http://tinyurl.com/2aeb2b8 (2.) Health Canada: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/securit/... (3.) A great read from the University of California, Seafood Network: http://seafood.ucdavis.edu/haccp/comp...

                                                            A popular sushi bar will always have the best quality fish. Turnover creates volume which is the first rule for favorable treatment from the supplier in most any business. Popularity is the first indicator of high quality, impeccable skills and consequently higher cost. If the sushi bar is busy all the time I get comfortable really fast.

                                                            There is a Japanese standard for the size of the wafer of fish. This is losing context quickly as American style sushi begins to dominate at the majority of sushi bars where bigger is better has become rule one. The traditional size slice is approximately 3 to 4 inches long, a quarter inch thick, and an inch and a half wide. The slice will vary in size depending on the type and size of fish fillet and how the blocks are cut. A slice that’s short in length will usually be thicker.

                                                            If the chef is not cutting the slice with a single motion of the knife blade something is amiss. Most often, repeat saw-like motions are a signal that the chef is not of sufficient skill.

                                                            A block cut of fish in the sushi case will lose freshness with every touch of a warm hand, removal from the case for cutting; and, even its location when returned to the refrigerated case can speed the breakdown of tissue. A block placed in the middle of stacked blocks will suffer from not getting cooled properly from the icing pipes running along the perimeter of the case. Accordingly, a skilled chef will never stack the blocks. Finding blocks stacked two, three or four high at a busy bar on a weekend might be ok as it can indicate the chef’s certainty of selling all inventory quickly. It’s unusual, however, as the fish blocks are kept fresher in a colder refrigeration unit under the sushi counter. I’m most comfortable when I see only one block on display affording all surfaces of the fillet contact with the chilled air. But, it’s important to recognize the differences between the three grades of Tuna, regular Salmon and Salmon belly, and Hirame and Engawa, the chewy fatty muscle of the dorsal fin of the Flounder. These fish will account for multiple blocks of the same fish type in the case. Engawa is not cut in block form but in long narrow strips of muscle and will lie next to Hirame. Fast selling Tuna is often cut in large blocks to better preserve freshness. The chef will reduce this to two or three smaller blocks once the sushi bar fills with hungry customers.

                                                            A top quality sushi chef will never use cellophane wrap on 100% of inventory. Fast moving items like Tuna, Hamachi, Hirame, and Salmon should be unwrapped and used quickly. However, the use of cellophane is here to stay. Not all inventory turns over at the same speed and the cellophane wrap will preserve freshness up to a point. So, seeing slower moving fare in cellophane wrap is to be expected. The thing to look for is a new cellophane wrap used after the item has been removed from the case for slicing and serving. Seeing high turnover blocks of fish, not in a cellophane wrap, is a good sign. Local health inspectors are inserting themselves into this controversial area of sushi service as they receive FDA and State advisories on the handling of sushi with a goal to reduce food borne illness – think gloves and cellophane.

                                                            I look for key indicators to help assess the likely quality of the fish when first looking around the restaurant. Before I order I like to assure myself that the restaurant is clean and the smallest details about sanitation are attended to. When I open the outer door I want to feel a clean door handle, one recently wiped with a clean cloth (it’s the underside of the door handle I’m curious about). I want to see all the windows, rest rooms, and glass on the sushi case spotless. The space should be free of heat generating sunshine. (Note a perfect location for a sushi bar would be a windowless space.) Dust should be at a minimal. It is customary for Japanese to construct their space using all blond or light colored wood throughout. Light color woods will highlight any stains or dirt so the diner can easily inspect the area by quickly looking around. The cleaning staff of the restaurant is also assisted by the use of light color woods. Carpeted floors are generally not found in a traditional Japanese sushi restaurant for sanitation reasons.

                                                            I am leery of the heavy use of sauces. Even on chewy Tako (Octopus) and Unagi (Ell) I like minimal sauce. Sushi ingredients tend to be mild tasting and delicate. Traditional Japanese nigiri zushi uses sauce sparingly or not at all. If I witness a sushi chef squirting and slathering sauce on their creations I know, before the evening is finished, I will find a dozen other practices that tell me the chef has not trained in the traditional Japanese techniques.

                                                            The use of fermented soy sauce just prior to eating should be limited to a scant amount so as not to diminish the flavor of the ingredients. The strong salt taste of soy will stimulate the taste buds and a small drop on the backside of the fish is preferable to a soaking for me. I find a smidgen will adequately tickle my taste buds and bring out the flavor of the fish. I therefore use a tiny amount of soy and never dip the rice. The attraction to soy sauce is the high sodium content. Even the green cap low sodium soy has too much salt to be a healthy choice when used unsparingly. But, recall those proteins in the form of amino acids, yes, it’s the soy that acts like a taser on the amino acids causing a sensation of taste to explode when fish is fresh. My conclusion is: soy, shoga (ginger), and wasabi fit the description of all good things - best in moderation.

                                                            To view excellent photographs of how a variety of sushi should look in the traditional Japanese presentation go to this link and note how the fish overlaps the rice ball on both ends and the sides, suggesting the ball of rice is small in relation to the wafer of fish: http://web-japan.org/nipponia/nipponi...

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. Thank you wohord. Here is today's NYT article on a possible breakthrough on breeding Bluefin in Europe. I find it interesting that the writer deliberately keeps the location in Europe and the "scientists" a secret: http://tinyurl.com/39gao8x

                                                              1. Why aren’t women sushi chefs on the job in Japan? The “only a man need apply” policy no doubt began with the sharp division of labor and the defined roll of women going back to the early 17th century when sushi, in it’s current iteration, made its beginning. At this time, sushi was served as convenience food from street stalls in Edo (Tokyo). Sushi began nearly two thousand years ago as a means of preserving fish. Following the earthquake of 1923 sushi rapidly increased in popularity and spread throughout Japan. It was believed that women were unsuitable for the job due to the use of scented soaps, use of perfume on skin and clothing, the application of makeup, and the loss of dexterity due to long fingernails.
                                                                In my “benchmarks” post above, I was remiss in not mentioning a key signal that tells me a sushi chef is qualified. You will never find a trained sushi chef wearing a ring. Bacteria will grow beneath a ring and could conceivably be a health hazard. Accordingly, I never fail to look over at a chef’s fingers to check that there are no rings. Our local health inspectors have no clue.

                                                                1. September 14, 2010 NOAA, National marine Fisheries Service continue review to either list Bluefin Tuna as threatened or endangered, link: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/f...

                                                                  Massachusetts politicians oppose further limits on local fishermen, link: http://tinyurl.com/2vm573o.

                                                                  CCT, 9/20/10 story, link: http://www.capecodonline.com/apps/pbc...

                                                                  1. Here are end of season Chowhound posts on Cape Cod sushi I have read. Posted by mrwynter: “Mac’s Seafood BTW has amazing sushi.” (I believe it’s Mac’s Shack not Mac’s Seafood on the pier, same business - same ownership – both great). Posted by phelana: “I was in town for a meeting so pulled in to W. Main Cumbie's for gas (2.92 for 89) and decided to head in next door to Misaki. Sushi chef Erik was on staff and made me a Rising Sun Roll and a lobster hand roll. Both were very good. A grad of Cape Cod Tech and CT. Culinary School he is well skilled and most polite. Misaki is still a darn good spot. I head back with Jillian for lunch Friday.” Posted by CapeCodGoodGuy: “Nice reminder for a worthy spot!..... DW had the day today off so I took her for her favorite saba noodles and I had the always terrific Chef's special bento...spicy tuna, octopus salad and fried quail eggs were the stand outs on the always varied and generous box.” I added to the comments saying Misaki offered the best value for a most delicious lunch with their bento box option – what a deal. And I’ll add that Asia in Mashpee Commons has been interesting to watch as Chef Wong serves up more sushi then the kitchen serves Chinese, Korean or Thai dishes. Tonight at Asia I had a terrific salad of whole baby octopus with shredded daikon, cucumber and ginger drizzled with a spicy sauce, spicy Korean calamari and spareribs on the bone - all a drift away form sushi but so good. Junichi Sawayanagi continues to show up at the Picnic Box on the Mashpee Rotary. He opens later now, not 5 p.m. but 6 to 6:30 and seems to close on Wednesday and Sunday nights (actually I can’t figure it out). My biggest surprise this season was not reading and hearing more opinions about Maguro at Chatham Bars Inn or Saki of Provincetown.

                                                                    -----
                                                                    Picnic Box
                                                                    Mashpee Rotary Cir, Mashpee, MA 02649

                                                                    Chatham Bars Inn
                                                                    297 Shore Road, Chatham, MA 02633

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: Afar

                                                                      as for not hearing more about saki-- i spend summers in ptown, and i can guarantee it's absolutely top-notch. wonderful, fresh food, and incredible ambiance and setting. fantastic bar as well -- it's definitely become one of the really high-end places in ptown, sometimes hard to get reservations on a friday or saturday during high season. downside is that it IS expensive (around $150 for three people last time i went), but in my view completely worth it.

                                                                    2. Does anyone possibly know the best place (if any) to buy sashimi-grade fish near Provincetown/Truro for home use? I have heard there is a very fresh fish market in Ptown, but does anyone know whether they have sushi-safe stuff? (Or, anywhere near Truro or Wellfleet would be really helpful as well). Thanks!!

                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                      1. re: yasin

                                                                        yasin, it's great to read this about Saki. Do you know if the restaurant will remain open past Columbus Day and if so when it will close for the winter? Mac's Seafood on the pier in Turo & in Eastham might be the place to inquire about purchasing sushi grade fish for home use. Here's the link: http://www.macsseafood.com/

                                                                        1. re: Afar

                                                                          hi afar! i believe saki stays open through late november (possibly through december), an opens again around the beginning of april. hope you get to make it over there sometime! ill definitely call up mac's and make an enquiry.. thanks for your advice!

                                                                        2. re: yasin

                                                                          Townsend's on Conwell has good fish, but the only place I have seen sushi grade tuna is at Cape Tip Seafood on Rt. 6 in Truro, before you get to Ptown. And, they don't have it every time--I've stopped there on my way to town many times and I've only seen it once.

                                                                        3. Another fish story, this time the Sanma or Pacific Saury, sometimes called Silver Sword Fish. In the news from Japan this week are reports of warm waters and few to no Sanma. Links: http://tinyurl.com/3xmba6t
                                                                          and http://tinyurl.com/3yog4mb

                                                                          1. Leaving from Provincetown for Tuna a la George's Bank: "The value depends on “so many variables,” Mary Beth de Poutiloff said. “They look at the shape of the fish. They look at the color, the fat content, the consistency. They ball [the flesh] up and see how mushy it is.” Link to Ptown Banner: http://tinyurl.com/295jwnf

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: Afar

                                                                              Really Afar, you need to come to Provincetown and not just read about it from --ahem-- afar. That article was about fisherman going out to fish for tuna; but, that doesn't mean that it's being sold from the dock as soon as they get back.

                                                                            2. Sushi making its way around the world after eight weeks of training: http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bi...
                                                                              The Tokyo Sushi Academy: http://www.sushitokyo.jp/

                                                                              1. There’s a food event going on at Asia in Mashpee Commons. I predict this relatively small restaurant will one day have lines of shivering hungry folks huddled outside waiting for a table to open. Yes, the food is that good. We had old friends visiting from Maryland, they have a home in Chatham, and rather then meet half way, they wanted to take our advice and come all the way to Mashpee for a feast at Asia. When Asia first opened a couple of years ago, we had had the whole deep fried Bass. We did it again last night and it was sumptuous. This big fish was how we finished the meal. We started with Salmon Belly inside a roll of thinly sliced cucumber. Next delectable sushi, the wafers of Hamachi and Maguro were delicate and fresh, indeed we began talking about making it an all sushi evening. The sushi presentation by Chef Wong was topped off with an Idaho Roll, which is Japanese sweet potato in a maki roll. Our guests had never had it before and they were so pleased by the flavor and texture. With the fish we had Chinese fried crispy noodles with a variety of meats and vegetables. It was a five gold star meal and our friends were delighted that made the drive from Chatham to dine at Asia. They will return. I think it’s safe to say Asia is the best Chinese restaurant on Cape Cod.

                                                                                For travelers going off Cape Cod or returning to the Cape, a new sushi restaurant has opened in Wareham called Zen or Zen Asian Grill. Zen is at Wareham Crossing, 2421 Cranberry Highway, located between Claire’s and Friendly’s Express along the stretch of stores known as Cranberry Lane. The four-table hibachi style also has a small sushi bar. Zen is owned by Kevin Shi and the manager is Sam Chang. Here is a link with seven pictures of Zen: http://tinyurl.com/2faqflx

                                                                                7 Replies
                                                                                1. re: Afar

                                                                                  Whole fish sounds terrific Afar. How is it served? Is it fully deboned? Also, I don't see it on the menu so I'm assuming it's a special?

                                                                                  http://www.mashpeeasia.com/menus.html

                                                                                  I've got to make a trip to Asia based on your reports. Thanks for this terrific thread.

                                                                                  1. re: CapeCodGuy

                                                                                    ccg, you could put Dick Tracy and Sherlock Holmes to shame with your ability to delve into detail. Yes, we requested the whole fish because I recalled, hmm must be two years ago now, that Jason the same waiter we had last night, had recommended it to us. The fish was served whole, not quartered nor loosened from the bone, in a delicious thick orange flavored sweet sauce, sprinkled with long onion (negi). There was not a speck of meat on that carcass when we turned in the bones, so good. I mention Jason because I think a mark of any good small business is the ability to motivate and satisfy employees so they stay. At Asia the same group is with the restaurant that did the start-up. This signals good management. Indeed the owners are hands on, always attentive, unfailingly friendly, and clearly doing a terrific job. On the sushi side at Asia, Chef Wong is the head chef with 21 years experience in Taiwan working for a Japanese sushi chef. Chef Wong learned the classical technique for preparing sushi; therefore, smaller wafers of fish over smaller balls of rice. Chef Wong gets it perfect. Sushi is really meant to be tender morsels that are easy to consume in one bite. Chef Wong is a traditionalist and it's a joy to eat his sushi.

                                                                                    1. re: Afar

                                                                                      Another interesting observation I have on Asia at Mashpee Commons concerns the bar. I grew up around the Irish Pub concept of a bar. It was a place where folks could meet and chat, most often argue or debate politics, and eat or not eat. The bar was usually U in shape. So it is at the Asia sushi bar, a U shape and quite long. I notice the sushi eaters mostly crowd around the sushi end of the bar and the Irish-like at the opposite end, where sushi is also served. Two sensible sized TV’s are set to local news or sports, there is none of the head-ringing, mind-numbing programming on Fox or MSNBC, the text scrolls and the sound is kept down. So, it’s a hybrid bar in the sense that it’s not purely characteristic of a sushi bar nor is it purely an old style Irish Pub bar. The result is a wonderful atmosphere of camaraderie, eclectic range of drinks, friendly bartender and miracle-maker sushi chef wielding a deadly weapon. It’s today’s all-American scene and just makes everyone on a stool want to smile.

                                                                                      1. re: Afar

                                                                                        So, just so I have this straight in my minds eye, you sat AT the bar whilst you disected a whole bass for you and three other dining partners?

                                                                                        You are better person than I.

                                                                                        1. re: CapeCodGuy

                                                                                          We were table-bound when eviscerating that fish efficiently accomplished with chopsticks. Because you have not been to Asia, and are planning to go, I wanted to round out the description of the restaurant for you. If you want whole deep fried fish it might be prudent to call and inquire first, because as you noted, it's not listed on the menu. But, ya, good question as strange events do occur at bars some times.

                                                                                  2. re: Afar

                                                                                    Any thoughts about Zen Asian Grill now? Have you been...or to Turk's Seafood in Mattapoisett? I'm seeking sushi in southeastern Mass.

                                                                                    1. re: kayrff

                                                                                      Unfortunately, the originator of this thread and my good friend John (Afar) no longer posts here, so he won't be responding to your query. I haven't heard from him in some time, but I hope he's well.

                                                                                      I'll have to try Turks sometime as I'm always looking for new spots for sushi. Most, if not all of Afar's recs sill hold true today.

                                                                                  3. Small fish catch a break, swim free. A NYT article identifies "other predators" as tuna from this University of Chicago Journals piece in the The American Naturalist: "As sharks and other predators disappear from the ocean due to fishing, the small fish—who would otherwise be their prey—are getting bolder." It's the second story: Fishing Indirectly Structures Macroalgal Assemblages by Altering Hervivore Behavior. Link: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/acti...&
                                                                                    NYT link:
                                                                                    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/26/sci...

                                                                                    1. Maguro at Chatham Bars Inn shut down for the season Labor Day weekend. On July 17, 2010 Billy Costa of NECN's TV Diner reviewed Maguro and declared it "one of the official hot spots of 2010". Link to video: http://tinyurl.com/35mhwd2 The recognition should have had an asterisk to clarify that the sushi room would only be open another six weeks. Presumably, Chef Moon is back in New York City and planning a triumphant return to Cape Cod in the summer of 2011. The Chatham Bars Inn web site makes no reference to Maguro whatsoever. I would expect, at a minimum, a chest thumping comment about the successful 2010 season and some indication of the Inn’s future plans for Maguro. Alas, nothing. But, I could be wrong because the text is presented in tiny type height, perhaps 6 point, and screened to a light gray. It’s very hard to read so I was quick to exit the site. It’s an odd design choice for a place that caters to an older clientele.

                                                                                      -----
                                                                                      Chatham Bars Inn
                                                                                      297 Shore Road, Chatham, MA 02633

                                                                                      1. An international confab on how to protect the Atlantic Bluefin Tuna will be held in Paris later this month. For an in depth presentation by The International Consortium Of Investigative Journalists on what might really be happening to the Tuna see this link: http://www.publicintegrity.org/invest... Titled "Looting the Seas", the seven month investigation, highlights the black market, the fishermen, the traders, and of course, the money . I was struck by this quote from a biologist at the University of British Columbia: "This generates so much money that it's like drugs." The BBC has also just released a production on this subject on their World News website. Links to all the issues re Tuna trade can be found at this link to Huffington Post, scroll half way down the page to the photo of the Tuna head and headline "Bluefin Black Market Exposed": http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ Fascinating reading.

                                                                                        7 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: Afar

                                                                                          Afar, I appreciate everything you have posted so far. In your view, what do you consider to be the most consistently good sushi place on the Cape? My mother is in Chatham and for her, it is Inaho or nothing. I like Inaho enough, but am always searching for something even better. In my view, Inaho is above average for Mass. sushi, and excellent for certain types of fish (salmon, for example). But it falls short on others, particularly yellowtail. My preferences are sashimi or nigiri sushi. I only eat a few hand rolls, and generally don't order the fancy, dressed up rolls.

                                                                                          1. re: yossarian23

                                                                                            yossarian23 you ask a great question. Hmmm, consistently the best: It’s a tie. I suspect your Mom is a sushi purist and you as well. All I can say about her choice is: Yes, I understand. Yuji Watanabe at Inaho is a fellow purist. Chef Yuji is a stickler for the rules and serves up great sushi in the traditional style. Cape Cod got lucky when, over twenty years ago, he and his wife decided to leave Providence and set up a sushi service off a side ally of Main Street, Hyannis. My wife and I camped on a chair at that counter every week and followed thru when they moved to Route 6A, Yarmouth Port, in spite of the long drive. We were often there twice a week and occasionally three times a week. We felt he was that good. The success of Inaho spawned an explosion of sushi options on Cape Cod. Others could enter the market and succeed if they offered niche advantages. The wonderful story of sushi on Cape Cod today is that many established themselves based on merit and today options are available. As you know doubt know, small business is tough stuff. I spent my life in the game. Few get it all perfect. For us, Inaho failed in not executing the traditional warmth and greeting that is part of the sushi eating experience in Japan. That camaraderie between guest and chef and guest with other guests is important to us; and, the communication skills of the sushi staff and owners are essential to the proper presentation of sushi. This expression of friendship between guest and chef is equal in importance to quality and freshness of food, cleanliness, ambience, and service. This is a difficult issue to discuss and a few words here are nowhere near adequate to having a fully vented discussion of the issue; but, I bet we have been dinner guests together at the counter of Inaho in the past. Thank you for posting and I’d welcome your own observations.

                                                                                            1. re: Afar

                                                                                              I understand your point about warmth, or lack of it. I was recently at a traditional sushi place in NYC that has no decor, but is quite pricey, and we did get the traditional greeting upon entering and a nice salutation when we left. And this was with 2 kids in tow, neither of whom ordered the omakase (which we were required to do). Heck, even Nozawa (the "Sushi Nazi") seems to have more warmth than Chef Yuji. That being said, the wait staff at Inaho has always been very nice. I don't go much, but my mother and her SO do, at least once a week during the summer. They aren't sushi bar types, so they tend to get a booth. What frustrates me most about Inaho is that he occasionally decides to discontinue items, like a salmon skin handroll. That is a relatively traditional roll. Plus, there is only occasionally special fish. I love albacore. And I think I've had it there before, but it is tough to come by. That is true for most of the East Coast. But I always hold out hope that there will be some albacore. And for some reason I don't remember being wowed by the fluke, which could be a local fish, at least during the summer.

                                                                                              1. re: yossarian23

                                                                                                As we go forward, this becomes highly subjective and that's ok, just so long as any reader realizes I'm commenting on personal experiences that would not be common to all. Your Mom's conclusions are unassailable. Chef Yuji set the standard on Cape Cod and we sushi lovers have all benefitted from his quest for perfection. I know small business. I started two and retired 34 years later to Cape Cod. Yuji and his wife had the daunting task of building a business from scratch. He dug in his feet and shouldered way too much of the effort over the years, in my opinion. He and his wife had two boys to raise and get through college (one is in and one to go). Everything he does is part of a careful strategy on how to make "overworking" work. Accordingly, he would do away with the salmon skin roll to quicken his pace and to lower the risk of getting burned fingers. In season, he has always had fresh fluke or flounder and angawa, the delicious chewy muscle of the underbelly of the fish. It's a seasonal event. The same is true of albacore or white tuna (a nomenclature now applied to escolar). It too is seasonal, cannot be bought at the fish market fresh, as Chef Yuji likes to do, and is something he gets from a distributor when enough select tuna is not available. On the lack of warmth and not executing the proper greeting you so aptly describe, again overwork causes Chef Yuji to focus too intently on "the job" and it interferes with his responsibility to insure the comfort of his dinner guests. But, the mortal sin committed by Inaho toward treatment of guests is from his wife, who is not Japanese, and does not fully comprehend the importance and full meaning of the phrase irasshaimase.

                                                                                                1. re: Afar

                                                                                                  yossarian23, I'm going to guess in NYC, no decor, great food/sushi in the traditional style, you took the family to Aburiya Kinnosuke, 213 E. 45th Street.

                                                                                                  1. re: Afar

                                                                                                    No, actually it was Sasabune on the Upper East Side. I cannot recommend it enough. As for your point about the restaurant's "hostess", I think you got it right. Now that I think about it, at the other sushi places that have a hostess, including Nozawa, she is always smiling and always pleasant, even if she is explaining the rules of the restaurant ("We don't have doggie bags for sushi.").

                                                                                                    Funny enough, I just found this clip on the Huffington Post. It shows Nozawa in his quest for perfection. In my view, he is the standard against which to measure all other sushi chefs, at least in this country.

                                                                                                    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joy-yoo...

                                                                                                    And I appreciate your points about starting a business and the long hours and work Chef Yuji had to put in. He is not a machine. Overall, I really can't complain.

                                                                                                    1. re: yossarian23

                                                                                                      You have provided an opportunity to discuss on this thread a restaurant of uncommon accomplishment and achievement in the sushi genre on Cape Cod. I have long admired Chef Yuji for his precise attention to detail and insistence on presenting both sushi and cooked food to the exacting standards of the Japanese. He has tweaked many items over the years to attract clientele; but, Chef Yuji has fundamentally stuck with his traditions. Bravo! Still, the requirement to welcome and thank dinners and converse with dinners, as time and the pressure of business permit, is so ingrained in the classical method of running a restaurant in Japan, that to fail miserably at this pleasant function, means total failure by his own Japanese standards, if used as a measurement of performance. Chef Yuji's willingness to skirt tradition first became evident when he abandoned the use of oshibori (the hand towel). Over the years he did many things to cater to the American sensibility of dinning on sushi, even if with great skill.
                                                                                                      Bare in mind, I am not a sushi chef, not Japanese, but simply a critic high up in the viewing stands far from the playing field. However, I think I’ve spent enough time in Japan and at the sushi bar in many of the world’s cities to take a short at discussing what I love. Also, I have remained immersed in Japanese culture my entire adult life. Additionally, I feel I have the experience of bootstrapping a lifetime of small business development. That said, I found your link to Sushi Nozawa conveyed exactly what I feel the content of this thread is all about: Under what circumstances dose one find the best sushi on Cape Cod. Chef Nozawa Kazunori, as profiled in the article you reference, if the perfect example of what I’m trying to convey about the rules and nuance of great sushi presented in the Japanese style. I found it a wonderful chronicle of a chef stubbornly refusing to deviate from what he knows to be authentic sushi. I’m sure, the groundwork has been laid and one day Cape Cod will have such a chef. All who seek classically prepared sushi should view your link to Sushi Nozawa.

                                                                                        2. Afar, you are truly the Master Chowhound Reporter, they should put you on the payroll as the Cape Cod Phantom Diner

                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                          1. re: johnny46

                                                                                            Thanks johnny46, I can use all the help I can get. Today's fish story: Can We Keep Eating Tuna? Here you go yossarian23, (bet you've already seen it) it's all about Albacore with photo's, link: http://tinyurl.com/36x7f3b

                                                                                          2. The issue of catch size of Atlantic Bluefin Tuna will impact all Cape Cod sushi restaurants eventually. The ten-day meet-up of the ICCA has begun in Paris and the first day brings the anticipated clash between fishermen and activists. However, the real issue is the cheating and illegal fishing for the "great ones". Links: http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,...
                                                                                            and
                                                                                            http://tinyurl.com/38hsk2f
                                                                                            and
                                                                                            http://tinyurl.com/39gk9fl

                                                                                            1. Sightings: Chef Toshi briefly at Inaho in September followed by briefly at Misaki in Hyannis in October. Fans of Toshi-san will recall his years at Misaki under the old ownership. When Misaki went up for sale Chef Toshi left to join the startup Papermoon at Mashpee Commons. That restaurant was short lived and is now Asia. Chef Toshi left Cape Cod for Los Angeles. Word is Chef Toshi has once again left Cape Cod for LA.
                                                                                              Hot Food: Asia at Mashpee Commons is getting set for cold winter nights. The delightful Japanese noodle meal, nabeyake udon is on the menu. We had it tonight. The bold wheat-flour noodle is served in a mildly flavored broth with shrimp, vegetables and nori with a generous side of tempura shrimp, sweet potato, pepper and onion. For us, there is no better meal to warm up from the inside out then nabeyake udon. Our starter came from the sushi counter. A pate or finely diced tuna mixed with avocado and long onion (negi) sitting in a wasabi-mayo sauce.

                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: Afar

                                                                                                Afar, Embargo in Hyannis has added a few sushi offerings to their already eclectic menu. It's a small assortment with 6-8 hand rolls and 3 sashimi dishes but it looked pretty tasty for what I saw coming out of the kitchen.

                                                                                                1. re: CapeCodGuy

                                                                                                  It is an eclectic menu at Embargo and the assortment you describe is a substantial offering of Japanese food for this particular restaurant. I wonder if it signals the addition of an Asian chef in the kitchen? Edit: ccg, you may remember Chef Toshi from the long time previous owner of Misaki, well rumor has it, after a quick sniff at the Cape recently, he returned to LA. Could he be at Embargo, you think?

                                                                                                  At the other end of the spectrum there is change as well. For a simple carry-home meal we have occasionally purchased supermarket sushi. Trader Joe's and Stop & Shop are not good. Ring Bros. is ok but we're not often in that neighborhood. Roche Bros is nearby and has been acceptable, even as numerous iterations of chefs have attended that counter. We were pleased to see yet another new chef staffing the counter and inari zushi was back on display (the prior chef had killed off that item). However, the inari was a lesson in the essential importance of the brand, age/freshness, origin, and cooking expertise of the chef when preparing rice. With a sigh, we had to toss it in the garbage. Yes, it was that uneatable. We are fortunate to have Chef Wong at Asia just across the street.

                                                                                                  1. re: Afar

                                                                                                    Afar, I seriously doubt it is chef Toshi in the kitchen .Although what I saw looked tasty, it didn't appear to have been made by someone with the level of skilled hand as Toshi-san.

                                                                                              2. When my kid is back from college she asks to go to Inaho. We went at 5 last night after work. We get the same thing and it's fresh and the quality is good. We try to avoid the sushi bar because despite the fact I have been going there over 25 years the reception is still chilly from the owners (I tip well and am very polite and honor every reservation). The waitstaff including Rebecca are amazing and a reason we go back. We are in and out and it's always a 70-80 bill (we are light eaters). What can I say..oh, the temperature is always a tad cool for my taste as well.

                                                                                                -----
                                                                                                Inaho-Japanese Restaurant
                                                                                                157 Route 6A, Yarmouth Port, MA 02675

                                                                                                9 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: phelana

                                                                                                  Kiddo knows great sushi. No doubt she was taught by a pro. Last Tuesday night, at the sushi bar at Misaki, we enjoyed the company of yet another lovely couple that said they had patronized Inaho since they first opened in Hyannis. It was the same old story: tired of the "chilly" reception from the owners, as you so aptly put it. My wife and I recall frequently driving home after a fine feast at Inaho chanting "we go for the food". And, yes, Inaho has always had an outstanding waitstaff, most stay for years, a successful restaurant tends to enjoy that benefit as you know.

                                                                                                  1. re: Afar

                                                                                                    phelana, I meant to respond to your final sentence about "the temperature is always a tad cool for my taste as well". My thoughts here are a carry-over from my "benchmarks" post of August 25. A sushi bar should always feel cool as opposed to hot. The inventory is constantly removed from the fish case to the cutting and prep counter and hot air in the room would degrade the fish. Look for a skilled chef to always wet the knife blade before cutting a maki roll. The water will allow a clean cut through the rice. Should a sushi chef need to cough, a classically trained chef will do a deep knee bend and do so out of sight of the customer and away from any food. Such a chef is also trained in how to conduct conversation with the customer. Social interaction by the customer is a big part of the enjoyment of the dining experience when at the counter both with the chef and other diners.

                                                                                                    1. re: Afar

                                                                                                      Afar, there is an interesting thread (to me that is) in the General Chowhounding Topics board titled: Sushi: Fingers or Chopsticks? I am curious of your thoughts?

                                                                                                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5015...

                                                                                                      1. re: CapeCodGuy

                                                                                                        ccg, thanks for the link. Basically, most everyone posting is correct, in my opinion. However, the poster uchinanchu, Mar 24, 08 nails the issue with the reference to cotton oshibori. The hand towel is more then a pleasant custom. When eating sushi one should tap their fingers on the damp cotton towel to moisten the finger tips. This prevents the sushi rice from sticking to the fingers. Accordingly, sushi is a finger food. When sushi became popular across the U.S. I was living in Chicago. The wait-staff would become irritated with me because I'd hold on to the oshibori. Instantly, after using the towel, someone on the floor-staff would be coming around to collect it and I would explain that I needed to keep it. Five minutes later someone else would try to sneak their hand in and snatch my oshibori. Funny memories. Now, throughout most of the U.S., the towel has become an early casualty to cost-cutting. Sigh. When I was in Japan, the sushi diner would have the oshibori collected toward the end of the meal. A fresh one would be provided when the check was rendered. When dining on other food, the oshibori would be collected immediately after sitting and using the towel. Fingers are also used when eating handrolls. Chopsticks are used for maki rolls and sashimi. It was a hoot reading through this thread. Loved it. As usual, you were right, the thread is indeed interesting.

                                                                                                        Note ccg, that I often refer to sushi as a "style" as in traditional Japanese and American. American sushi evolved as Japanese left the sushi restaurant scene in the boom decade of the 80's. Japanese lost interest with the service industry in general and other Asian ethnicities, not only filled the void, but saw an opportunity to ride a crest. Sushi now took on its own "new" style. And, that's why I say all the posters are correct. It no longer matters if the rigid rules that govern Japanese behavior are meaningful. But, to stay local, why is it, in your opinion, that sushi became such a popular food choice of the residents and visitors of Cape Cod?

                                                                                                        1. re: Afar

                                                                                                          Afar, I would guess it's popular locally as we are so close to the source for fresh quality seafood. Also, I think that many people were ready for a cuisine that feels like "clean eating" as it were. Speaking for myself, it's a terrific alternative to fried fish or broiled in butter dishes. Lastly, the entire ritual is enjoyable, from sitting at the counter, to ordering by the piece, to receiveing a beautifully presented meal. Plus, it just tastes so damn good! That's my best guess.

                                                                                                          1. re: CapeCodGuy

                                                                                                            Ya, ccg, and I'd love to hear from others why they think people of Cape Cod enjoy sushi. My first take would amplify your "clean eating" idea. The long campaign against cholesterol and for food labeling has people thinking the healthy way.

                                                                                                            1. re: Afar

                                                                                                              Although, to be totally honest Afar, I've had two people tell me that if I knew the chemistry involved, I'd never eat another piece of uncooked seafood again. One was a bartender who also tended the raw bar at the old restaurant with the tugboat at the Borne Rotary, Grandma's Pie Shop?. ( She also happened to be a marine biologist at her day job). The other was president of one of the largest consumer food companies in the world. Of course, I've ignored both of them!

                                                                                                              1. re: CapeCodGuy

                                                                                                                Wisdom most often means following your own instincts. I would refer you to the book, Sushi, Food For The Eye... by a Danish fellow, see my post of May 11. I'm quite certain you would bury yourself in the pages until you reached the back cover. With the Border discount coupons offered online, you can get this amazing and excellent book for $22. The content, in part, does a good job addressing your thought. I became a sushi eater in Japan, in the mid 1960's, and I can assure you the Japanese would snicker at the bartender and corporate president as they breathed their way to setting new records for longevity and stable health while on the journey. Thank you, I enjoy the conversation.

                                                                                                                1. re: Afar

                                                                                                                  The Soybean And The Sea

                                                                                                                  The love affair Americans have with Japanese food is a strange affair indeed. When I returned from Japan in 1966 I told people Americans might eat some foods like teriyaki, tempura or even noodles but never would they eat sushi. I was on the record. I wonder today why I was so certain, why I was wrong, and if the foods of Japan are just a passing fad? Six of us, my wife and I plus four friends were eating at Misaki in Hyannis recently. It was a Tuesday night and the restaurant was mobbed with diners of all ages. Yes, a full restaurant on a miserable day after a major snow storm one day before the start of winter on Cape Cod. I wanted answers to my questions and a most interesting discussion ensued. Two of us had sushi, one had tempura, one had yaki soba (buckwheat), one had nabeyaki udon (flour) and one had teriyaki shrimp. What an eclectic mix of entrees. How did we come to so broadly embrace Japanese food?

                                                                                                                  The history behind why I was certain: Following WWII discrimination against the Japanese intensified. The prudent choice was to return to living within the urban enclaves on the West Coast. In the 1950’s there were signals I missed that would punctuate the changes to come. There were events that would acclimate people to the food of Japan. I’ve read that around the godforsaken areas where the camps were during the war, locals began eating foods the imprisoned would prepare. Surrounding communities later supported Japanese restaurants. In the west coast urban areas during the 1950’s visitors to San Francisco and Seattle would seek out Japanese restaurants. The U.S. government began a campaign to educate people about healthy eating. Doctors partnered with the government making fat-free and nutritious food a goal to healthy living. The foods from Japan fit their concept: good food = good health. The arrival of television offered an immediate and dramatic way to spread the message. But, I failed to weigh these important events.

                                                                                                                  In Japan, in the mid 1960’s, I witnessed that the vast majority of Americans disliked the food; in fact, many were afraid to eat the food. Most people would not go into the local communities and mingle with the Japanese. When I returned to Boston I found no restaurants except for a couple in the more cosmopolitan city of Cambridge. When I tried these restaurants they were terrible. I watched stupefied as American dinners ladled spoonful after spoonful of sugar into a cup of green tea. A year later I left for Chicago. Soon Japanese restaurants began opening, and quickly, one after another. I was elated but wondered how they would survive. The fact that they had sushi bars and were crowded was confusing to me but I was happy. No doubt I was unaware that attitudes toward the Japanese were no longer hardened and unbending.

                                                                                                                  Why I was wrong? Perhaps I knew too much about the food. I could not imagine Americans enjoying the smelly pickled products like takuwan, pickled radish or dried packaged products from the sea like kazunoko, sun dried pickled in salt herring roe, or most especially nori (seaweed) and dried ika (squid). Cooked meats were not all that different from our own renditions. Noodles and rice would be boring. Anything soybean based would be tasteless and no good. Surely no one would ever eat natto, boiled mashed soybean. Sushi and sashimi in the stomachs of Americans was laughable. Eating fish bait is how most people referred to it at first. I figured these restaurants could only prosper in upper class neighborhoods or in yuppie neighborhoods around universities, with regular clientele, and never expand and grow. Americans would never embrace the language. There would be no patience with all the new words to learn. We have a nihilistic and insular concept of the spoken word or so it seemed to me at the time. Sushi is finger-food, not exactly our idea of a Sunday dinner. Raw and yuck were synonymous. And, the piece de resistance or to place a crown on this scenario, there was the hilarious idea that the diner would be handed two sticks to eat with instead of a knife and fork. By 1990 the foods of Japan were all the rage. Americans could not get enough of this most unlikely ethnic cuisine.

                                                                                                                  Are the foods of Japan a passing fad? Nothing is forever except apple pie and ice cream. That said we’re long past the fad stage in years of sushi enjoyment. This improbable culinary journey seems as permanent as the pizza, hamburger, and the grilled cheese sandwich. Perhaps the foods of Japan began as a fad in California — birthplace of all fads. The baby-boomer generation had the advantage of being well educated. Tolerance and a commitment to fairness for all was the hallmark of the WWII generation. Both generations tried to put prejudices aside to their everlasting credit. The boomers embraced the world. During the fad phase, it became fashionable to eat sushi. Once popular, sushi became recognized as healthy food. Short grain rice and okazu (the many seasoned side dishes), the ceremonial food mochi (pounded rice cakes), grilled eel, and fish eggs all became part of the American diet. As a young man of Irish decent with a Japanese wife I could not have been more perplexed. I expect young children on Cape Cod today think words like tofu, miso (soybean paste), soba, maki and udon (noodles made from flour) are English words.

                                                                                                                  The Shinto religion and later the Buddhist religion, in their early incantation, discouraged the slaughter of animals and use of meat for food. Dairy products were also not used in food. Accordingly, a heavy emphasis on the gifts of the sea and earth became the basis for the Japanese diet. Food preservation techniques were developed and refined to ensure supplies throughout the year. This was how sushi began; that is, fish preserved in fermented rice. When the long influence of China was joined by European cooking techniques, a strong emphasis on artistic presentation took hold. Today, around the world, haute cuisine restaurants are following this practice of presenting food as edible art.

                                                                                                                  I will complete this journey into Japanese food with a stop at Asia in Mashpee Commons. You will note that I have come to refer to sushi as a style, as in traditional Japanese or American. Asia has a master chef that splits the two genres. Chef Wong is from Taiwan and he worked for a Japanese chef for more then two decades. He brought to Asia a refined technique for the classical way of preparing Japanese sushi, yet he incorporates his own individual style to present sushi as edible art. His expansion of the traditional is an ingenious rendition of the American style. This careful blend of style is what makes sushi at Asia unique. You can read descriptions of meals I have had at Asia in posts above. How fitting that this journey began a Misaki in Hyannis where the chefs in the kitchen are a group of young Americans, and will end at Asia in Mashpee where the talented chef is Chinese. I love it.

                                                                                                                  ccg: Your post was the reason I delved more into this fascinating subject. I've found my dogma is punctured by experience and I learn by observation. I started this thread at the beginning of the year thinking deviation from the techniques perfected by the Japanese in the preparation of sushi was a bad thing. I finish the year much more sanguine about the issue. I now feel a rudy optimism about those chefs not Japanese that adhere to quality and the fundamental objectives, as you explain in your pithy outline, of the dining experience at a Cape Cod sushi bar.