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What is REAL sushi?

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I live in the GTA and have been to numerous all you can eat sushi restaurants.
I've been to Sushi on 7, Yang's, Syogun, and all those generic AYCE places.
I've tried sushi made by an authentic Japanese restaurant from Konichiwa on Baldwin.
They taste no different.
How would authentic sushi taste like?
Would real authentic sushi "blow me out of my mind because it is so delicious"?
Are there any restaurants in Toronto that serve "authentic sushi"?

  1. athentic is not a synonym for unique, tasty, different, or better.

    "real" sushi is a rice preparation.

    1. I can't speak to Toronto, but let me address this with an eye towards differentiation and an understanding of what makes great sushi great.

      The rice is all-important. Can you tell the difference between a top-grade koshihikari and the run of the mill cal-rose? Just eatin them plain, side by side, will give you an idea of what real rice flavor is all about. The texture of the short grain koshihikari is very different from the medium grade calrose - the better sushi is made with the short grain rice.

      Can you tell when you're eating a piece of yellowfin tuna vs. bigeye or honmaguro? This is a sure sign of quality. Places that serve yellowfin as maguro are places that will serve salmon - neither are very authentic or real.

      Do the Itamaes boast of their specials for the day - are they interesting ingredients, like maybe abalone or geoduck? Do you sit at the bar and talk to the Itamaes - find out where they've worked, talk to them about where and how they source their fish - talk to them about baisubol - anything interesting? This is the fun of sushi, not filling out the little form and sitting at a table, waiting for service.

      There's a lot more to this - I think you've taken a great step by asking the questions - most people who "love sushi" simply don't bother to ask so they get fed junk, and they never know it!

      5 Replies
      1. re: applehome

        I am glad to have this discussion started too, and will welcome any information. I don't believe I've ever had sublime sushi, but love it just the same. I need some inspiration please!

        1. re: coll

          Just to highlight and reiterate - I agree with AlanBarnes (except for the futomaki, of which I've had incredible "stained glass" type large ones with many more than 4 ingredients) - but I do feel that the best way to get into sushi is to sit and talk to the Itamae as he prepares and serves you. They love to talk about their work and its such a good way to learn. If you're at a place that doesn't let you talk or where they do not want to talk, you need to move on - find places with friendly and well trained Itamaes that are proud of their work and training.

          As we've discussed a million times before, I disagree with Caroline that you need to make your own sushi to appreciate it. Having the experience of making the rice properly isn't a bad thing - and it does give you a certain perspective. But the type of intense training it takes to select the right fish and wield the right tools to cut it properly isn't something that most people come across at home. Making makizushi from simple ingredients (like tsukemono - pickles) and butsugiri (sloppily cut fish) is fine - this is along the lines that Sam Fujisaka and I used to discuss - but that's quite a different kettle of fish from the experience of going to a sushi-ya.

          I say stick to having great conversations with Itamaes as the most interesting and assured path towards having more intense sushi experiences.

          1. re: applehome

            Thanks, that's something I never would have thought of myself!

            1. re: applehome

              Would you at least agree that arming yourself with knowledge gained from well respected authors on the subject before throwing yourself into the arms of any old "itamae" who comes down the pike is a reasonable course of action? The problem today is that sushi has been so popularized that there is a small select group of good sushi bars out there among a vast sea of mediocre to bad ones. How does one arm himself against "itamaes" who serve you certain nigiri from a ready-made tray in a refrigerator? NO! I'm not kidding. Been there and left ASAP without making a scene Modern sushi has much in common with popcorn. It's for the masses. Without educating yourself AND your palate, you risk paying for a whole lot of lessons from hacks. I truly believe there is much to be said for starting with the basics -- well prepared rice, reasonable but flavorful toppings, some real wasabe and maybe a few brands of top shoyu, as well as some top grade nori you toast yourself and teaching yourself and our palate how to discriminate. If nothing else (and there is much to be learned this way), it will help you appreciate an itamae's work, as well as arm yourself with the ability to discern good from not so good. I fully believe in arming myself with as much well researched knowledge as possible before sitting at the knee of a "guru" of unclear credentials. And it is not necessary to only have sushi made with ridiculously expensive fish hovering on the edge of becoming endangered. A diet composed only of super premium ingredients reduces them to mundane because you have nothing to make them shine. Others may not agree with me, but this approach always serves me well. On the other hand, if the OP has the means to begin his quest to appreciate and discern "real" sushi at the knee of Masaharu Morimoto, go for it, Dude! If you're looking for a guest to take along with you, I'm available! '-)

              1. re: Caroline1

                "Would you at least agree that arming yourself with knowledge gained from well respected authors on the subject before throwing yourself into the arms of any old "itamae" who comes down the pike is a reasonable course of action?"

                Yes, I would. But the difference between reading Tsuji for details on recipes and methods as vs. reading the Zen of Fish by Corson is huge. For the uninitiated, I'd recommend the Zen of Fish approach - to get the overlay of the Sushi "industry" including its cultural and historical impact - not to say that there isn't plenty of personal impact told in the stories. The personal understanding of flavor, texture, the basic differentiation between what is good and bad, traditional and Americanized (!!!) - that understanding develops over time and experience.

                One doesn't have to go to a Morimoto to have a great sushi experience - it's the real joy of discovery of a wonderful chef that isn't a Morimoto (in terms of fame and standing) that personally keeps me in the hunt.

        2. I'm not going to make this a long involved reply, but for openers "all you can eat" and "sushi" do not belong in the same sentence. Sushi should be eaten within minutes of preparation, especially if it involves nori. The best way to learn about sushi is to teach yourself to make it well, make sure the books you use are knowledgeable and authentic, and don't get hung up on all of the hype and "in" bull. You're on the right track when you question things. Good luck!

          1 Reply
          1. re: Caroline1

            Though that freshness bit applies mainly to Nigirizushi. The oldest form used fish fermented in rice.

            Chirashizushi is a form that can be prepared and eaten in large quantities.

            Is Kaiten-zushi un-real because there is no face-to-face dealing with the chef?

            The OP asks: Would real authentic sushi "blow me out of my mind because it is so delicious"?

            I suspect not, unless the OP has the refined taste of an Iron Chef (Japan) judge! :) Seasoning of high quality sushi might actually be more subtle, focusing on things like the freshness of the fish, perfection in the cutting, presentation, balance of textures, adherence to tradition, and symbolism.

          2. It's all "real" sushi; the question is whether it's any good. And except for the plastic models, it's all "authentic"; the question is whether it's traditional Edomae (Tokyo-style), which is regarded by many as the epitome of the sushi chef's art.

            IMO, rolls that have more than about four ingredients aren't good sushi. Ditto with nigiri that are formed by a machine. Or anything covered with mayonnaise, Sriracha sauce, or combinations thereof. I'm willing to concede that that's a matter of opinion, but it's indisputable that none of those things is traditional, either.

            Good traditional sushi won't blow your mind unless you're paying attention. It's simple and subtle. And although I know nothing about the restaurant you mention, if you think it tastes the same as what you've gotten from an AYCE joint, there's a decent chance you aren't attuned to those subtleties.

            If you want to learn more about good sushi, you need to find a local place with a traditionally-trained itamae and spend some time there. Sit at the counter, ask stupid questions, allow the chef to choose dishes for you, buy the guy a drink, discuss what you like about the food he serves you, keep an open mind, and pay attention. Do this a few times a month for several months. You'll start to get it.

            Then again, there's no reason you (or anybody else) should become a sushi aficionado. It takes quite a bit of time and money, and inevitably leads to disappointment once you can tell the difference between the good stuff and the dreck that is so much more common. So ask yourself whether this is a hobby / interest / obsession you want to pursue. If so, there's surely a way to do so in your city. If not, please feel free to just make fun of the sushi geeks out there. We all tend to be too full of ourselves anyway.

            ETA: for an introduction to the ideas underlying traditional sushi, pick up a copy of "The Zen of Fish" by Trevor Corson. It's an easy and entertaining read, and costs less than a few sets of nigiri at a typical sushi-ya.

            1. Hi cupnoodle. I'm from Toronto too and I know those restos that you mentioned.

              Real sushi is all about quality of ingredients...the rice, the way it's cooked and seasoned, the freshness of the fish, the right amount of wasabi to put, the density of packing the rice, and many other subtleties that are lost in AYCE places. Konnichiwa is ok but not really run by a Japanese Itamae.

              The Japanese sushi chefs in the GTA have an association...JRAC...and I think they have a website. The restos on there are a good place to start. My personal favorite is Zen. I've tried most of them but keep on coming back to this one.

              When you make the jump from AYCE to well-prepared sushi, you will never be able to go back. But the costs sky rocket as well. For instance, AYCE at Sushi on 7 is $20 but a basic plate of nigiri sushi at Zen will set you back by $30 and their omakase plate, which usually has the best fish/seafood for the day will cost you $50. An that's not including apps and drinks and dessert.

              My suggestion is go to one of the restos on JRAC and sit at the counter. Come with an open mind (and wallet!). Talk to the chefs, they will be more than happy to answer your questions. If you go to Zen, ask Jackie...he's the right hand man and is very friendly and approachable.

              Enjoy!!!

              1 Reply
              1. re: ctl98

                Sounds like the real question is: how is expensive sushi different from the affordable?

              2. I would say that the two main differences between low end and really good sushi is the quality of the fish, and the skill of its preparation. That's also one of the reasons really good sushi can be so hideously expensive - they're getting fresh fish shipped in by air on a daily basis.

                I think that part of the appreciation of the really good stuff is developing a good palate. When I first discovered sushi, I wouldn't have been able to notice the difference between well prepared rice, and rice that was a bit too mushy, or be able to appreciate still crispy nori. It's a bit like developing a wine or cheese palate.

                On a different front, most of the rolls you get in North America (dynamite roll, spider roll, rainbow roll) are very definitely American style sushi, not Japanese style.

                I will, however, definitively and emphatically aver that processed cheese slices have no place in sushi in any way, shape or form. Oddly enough, my Japanese husband wasn't nearly as upset about that as I was.

                9 Replies
                1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                  Those American-style rolls with all the stuff, sauces, etc. in them?
                  I call them Monster Truck Rolls.
                  They are largely disgusting, but the stuff with processed cheese slices sounds particularly awful.

                  1. re: Tripeler

                    There's a place near me (in NJ) that recently opened up.. I grabbed a menu but have not tried it, yet. Not sure if I will. One of their makis is a "hot dog roll". :::shudder:::

                    Although, my daughter might eat that. :)

                    1. re: MarlboroMan

                      Totally inauthentic, but I used to love the surf and turf roll with lobster and filet mignon at a local place and missed it plenty when the chef went back to San Francisco. Most everything else he did was authentic. Hot dog is a funny one though, points for creativity anyway.

                      1. re: coll

                        is it inauthentic if they make such rolls in japan?

                        1. re: thew

                          I'd better let someone else answer that!

                          1. re: thew

                            Yes.

                            The fact that Americanized sushi has gotten back to Japan (since the 1970's, I'm afraid) or that recent developments within Japan (kaiten-sushi, as a whole) are popular amongst the young and "modern" doesn't mean that there still isn't a distinguishing style (or set of styles) or level of quality even within Japan that sets apart traditional sushi from these new ones. As we've gone over a million times, the use of the word "authentic" or in this case, "real", is subject to interpretation. But the understanding of the differences and the fact that they exist in Japan as well as here - that's factual.

                            1. re: applehome

                              you're conflating 2 different issues when you lump style and level of quality together.

                              traditional is not synonymous with authentic. i will agree that is isn;t traditional. i'm not sure i agree it isn't authentic. it is clearly real

                            2. re: thew

                              The first book on sushi I bought was very Japanese, and one of the things they showed how to make at the end of the book was indeed hot dog sushi.
                              Weird, and maybe even a hissing and a byword to us who are trying to be so classically Japanese, but something to push the envelope with in Japan.

                      2. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                        Yes I agree....it takes quite some time to really develop a taste beyond one's initial comfort or familiarity zone, especially if the base is on the lower quality spectrum.

                      3. Folks I think it is worth noting the initial geographic location of the OP, the afforementioned places he tried, perhaps the local culture and target customer demographic to get an understanding of where he is coming from.

                        I haven't been up to Toronto area as well as Richmond Hill/Markham for almost 7 years. But I do recall back then at least for the latter parts, there is a huge Cantonese speaking population, mostly Hong Kong immigrants. Many of the Japanese restaurants in those areas are also run by...no surprises, Hong Kongers, including some of the seemingly more upscale looking ones.
                        I've been told by family who live up there that if you want the real deal Japanese (run by Japanese), you have to pay $$$, but they do not mention where they are located.

                        Whether or not the restaurants hire someone with true Japanese restaurant or Japanese style experience is another question. This also means that these places do a mish mash of things and perhaps don't really specialize in one particular item. The fact that there's a Japanese restaurant named "Yang's" (which is a non Cantonese Chinese last name, Mandarin pronounciation, would be "Yeung" in Cantonese) is a telling sign. AYCE places are 99% likely Hong Kong/Chinese run, if not Mainland, so it adds further to the background.

                        While there are plenty of wealthy spender Lexus and Mercedes driving golfer types up in that area who have no problem eating shark's fin over rice every night with a side of abalone and a bottle of XO, there is also a large segment of the population who like and recognize a good bargain, which definitely comes at the obvious compromise of quality. This is part of the culture (look at the cha chaan teng's / hong kong style cafes where you can get Cantonese, Western, pseudo fusion, for good value food) where variety is the spice of life. Henceforth it is advantageous for the average Japanese food restaurant up there to offer all sorts under one roof (be it American style inside out rolls, tempura, teriyaki, grilled fish, bento, salmon sushi and sashimi - a very popular item amongst Hong Konger expats that seems to be ubiquitous in their world for J-food for some odd reason, even in Hong Kong for run of the mill). These are the same type of folks who probably could care less about a sushi bar with a pristine lineup of supple delicate variety of imported Japanese white fleshed fish, and would be happy to double fist plates just to get AYCE steamed lobster, crab legs, CO2 gassed red kryptonite tuna and black bean oysters at the AYCE.

                        Cupnoodle mentioned Konichiwa in Baldwin Village (I assume that's the restaurant)...looking at their website, this place is indeed Japanese run, but it is also one of those "everything under one roof" place....curry rice, tempura, sushi etc etc. I see the Toronto star even gave it awards, but how authentic they are overall, I have no idea. I'm not clear if there are very high end nigiri sushi only establishments in TO or GTA, but I would guess that if there are, you will have to plunk down US$80 to $120 for one of those "let the chef surprise me" specials (search the Toronto board, look for posts by those usual suspects like Charles Yu, Skyline etc....all Hong Kongers but they really know their food, I think they mentioned a few months back a stellar omakase sushi at the bar somewhere....Hiro?)

                        I'm also guessing these places like Sushi on 7, Yangs, Shogun, Kon Ni Chi Wa, get their raw fish supplies from the same place/wholesaler, same quality, perhaps charge slightly different prices, which may explain partly why they taste the same.

                        There is and should be a difference in at least the raw fish quality (not talking about salmon here) at a high end place, assuming they go through a different channel to get their fish, versus the Chinese, Japanese supermarket, AYCE, or Chinese run Japanese place.

                        Lastly, if you go to one of those high end authentic places (should you find one) and have no problems spending a little more, pay attention to

                        - the variety of fish offered and where the fish are from (a restaurant should not rely entirely on 100% imported fish, higher costs....does TO/GTA have good local fish equivalent the chef can use, and does he maximize that resource)
                        - note down any fish you've never seen before, ask where it is from
                        - note if the sushi counter (the chef's workspace) is cleaner or more organized, assuming if the chef is highly trained. More importantly, are the chef's tools (knives etc) well taken care of

                        You should try fish that is not the common stuff at those AYCE/Chinese run places. Skip ordering unagi, salmon, cooked shrimp etc and break away from the "cheap good value plentiful variety" mentality of the average Hong Konger consumer.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: K K

                          A quick search of the Ontario board indicates that Seichi Kashiwabara at Zen Japanese Restaurant is a highly-regarded Japanese-trained chef who focuses on traditional preparations. And it looks like prices there are very manageable, too. In the absence of better recommendations from locals, going in there at a less-busy time might be a good place to start.

                          1. re: alanbarnes

                            Great research...it sounds like Zen is a solid bet for the OP to at least give counter seating during a weeknight to try. Here's another thread debating Toronto's best sushi (geared towards nigiri sushi)

                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/594278

                            1. re: alanbarnes

                              This is exactly the resto I was recommending for the OP to get a great traditional, authentic and wonderful sushi experience. No frills or fireworks, just excellent ingredients, skill, and technique.

                          2. Despite the technicalities involved with sushi, a sushi meal generally consists of nigiri (individual pieces), maki (rolls), temaki (hand rolls) and gunkanmaki (nori cups for salmon roe and sea urchin). Even if its bad it is still real. There is "fast" and "b-grade" sushi all over the place, including Japan.

                            The variation in quality and indeed, price, generally depends upon the quality of the ingredients and the skill of the chef in preparing the food. It is really that simple. But there are so many ways to cut corners and cost. That is why you see such variation in quality.

                            To me the best sushi experience is sitting in front of a master chef and having nigiri omakase.
                            Top grade fish properly aged (if necessary), stored and cut as single bite
                            Top grade rice properly cooked, seasoned and formed proportionately to the fish (or vice versa)
                            Proper amount of wasbai.
                            Formed, brushed with soy and eaten right away.
                            Should the chef apply the soy? I think yes. The great chefs have their soy sauce custom made and I trust the chef to apply the proper amount.

                            Its funny because when I first starting eating sushi, both here and in Japan more than 20 years ago, I never saw a chef apply soy, sea salt, squeezes of lemon etc. I am not sure, but I think that the evolution of this practice is a result of more and more Westerners eating sushi. The chef must cringe when that $10 piece of otoro, or any other piece he has carefully prepared, gets dunked in soy, on the wrong side no less, and then falls apart.

                            When it comes to rolls, yes the ingredients or neta must be good, but the real key is the nori. There is a HUGE difference between eating a yellow tail scallion roll that has crisp nori and one that has been sitting around long enough so that the nori is rubbery.

                            I generally enjoy the full spectrum of sushi. For nigiri, I buck up and spend the necessary cash to have a proper omakase, or I make it at home-which takes practice, but is surprisingly easy and satisfying if you have a good Japanese market nearby and have some knife skills.

                            But when I dont want to bust the budget or am doing take out, what I generally do is order a vegetarian/eel maki combo and get there early so that I pick it up as soon as its ready. Unagi is one of the ingredients that is somewhat consistent and you dont have to worry about eating a bad piece. And yes I occasionally fall prey to the spider roll. Heck, when done right its damn good! Not Japanese, but damn good.

                            At the high end, I tend to group sushi places into two groups: traditional and nouveau.
                            Traditional being those places that cringes when you order a spicy tuna roll or white tuna (google images-sushi yasuda), and nouveau being that place that adds unusual garnishes to the neta (google images-sushi of gari).

                            But I also realize that you can have decent sushi at a reasonable price. Just don't hold it up to the standards of the truly great chefs and don't get adventurous with a discount place. Stick to the classics. I would not order saba, uni, or any of the clam sushi at a discount place.
                            Ramble over.

                            The chinese/korean/japanese issue, unfortunately, there is a huge difference in quality. I generally wont order anything fancy from a place that serves won ton soup.

                            34 Replies
                            1. re: AdamD

                              "Its funny because when I first starting eating sushi, both here and in Japan more than 20 years ago, I never saw a chef apply soy, sea salt, squeezes of lemon etc. I am not sure, but I think that the evolution of this practice is a result of more and more Westerners eating sushi. The chef must cringe when that $10 piece of otoro, or any other piece he has carefully prepared, gets dunked in soy, on the wrong side no less, and then falls apart."

                              I`ve lived in and been traveling to/around Japan the last 20 years and have never seen anything that would lead me to believe that Westerners are affecting sushi practice in Japan- ...ok, except that in depachika you can now find counters that will have some kind of funky maki for sale. And there`s one joint, near some embassies, called Rainbow Sushi...Pre-seasoned sushi has been around as long as it`s been a dish. There is no Americanized sushi movement in Japan. I remember reading an article in Northwest Airlines magazine many years ago that was touting the influence of Americanized sushi and impending change in the cuisine. It never happened. Krispy Kreme has had a bigger influence.

                              Had lunch yesterday at a very good sushi-ya in the Yanaka part of Tokyo, which is one of the oldest areas, by extension a part of shitamachi, not far from Ueno, and pretty much where nigiri-sushi was invented and made popular. About halfway through my meal a guy came in with his wife and a couple of friends. They were enjoying an end of the year celebration. The guy said he was a chef at a sushi restaurant in Ginza but had come back after working as a chef in Los Angeles for a few years. He was kind of young and 生意気 which kind of means "brazen" in English. After a few drinks he overheard me order "kan" buri and he just started going off about how delicious it looked (it was!) and about how in the U.S. they usually just serve hamachi- which is kind of an oily smelly, farmed pretty lousy sushi fish that's usually offered in cooked dishes at izakaya here in Japan. I nodded in agreement and, perhaps sensing a captive audience, he went on a rant along the standard complaints about sushi in the U.S.- eating etiquette, crazy rolls, preferences for salmon, tuna, and hamachi, etc. The other patrons and the itamae were pretty entertained and kind of riveted to what the guy was saying. Most of this was clearly new to them. It was all pretty standard stuff that we sushi purists on CH will go off on, but this guy was pretty passionate. After a while though, it became a little too Homer Simpson-esque "He`s right, white people- we`re so lame" type of experience. Still, sitting there, I just started to feel that Japanese food, while popular in the North America, is often not particularly "real" in the sense that it is the same food that is prepared and eaten in Japan. Most of it is more like "inspired" by Japanese cuisine. But it`s usually compromised in a way that totally negates some the elements at the very heart of what is considered Japanese. And it seems enough people have embraced this distorted version of the cuisine that it has taken hold. There are people who fancy themselves gourmands that consider something like spicy tuna rolls to be an authentic dish and hold them up to a level of connoisseurship and scrutiny as if they are protecting authenticity. Even references in this thread to Morimoto are incongruous with real sushi. He's not really considered a "sushi" chef here in Japan and his fame is derived from the fact that he is Western influenced and considered a fusion chef.

                              1. re: Silverjay

                                I intended my reference to "studying" sushi at the knee of Morimoto as something of a joke, but obviously no one got it. A joke in the sense that sushi in the United States is all flash. Morimoto has flash, but unlike Americanized sushi, he has so very much more. When Bourdain did his program on Tokyo, and did quite a bit with Morimoto, for sushi, Morimoto took him to a master. But I daresay Morimoto is a master of VERY traditional sushi, when it is appropriate. One could do worse than study with him, and he was an Iron Chef in the original Japanese program before becoming one of Iron Chef America's original crown jewels. He knows his history and all of its subtleties in both concept and practice. One could do worse. He's one of those guys who absolutely DOES know the rules before he breaks them. There are no Kraft American cheese slices wrapped in soggy nori with krab and Uncle Ben's converted rice coming out of his kitchen! '-)

                                1. re: Caroline1

                                  C'mon, your mention of Uncle Ben's Perverted Rice strikes me as half-hyperbole and half-bad joke. Even the most misguided sushi chefs know enough not to do that.

                                  One problem I have with a lot of American attitudes toward sushi chefs is the exoticizing of them and their craft. The borrowing of words from the martial arts is one example of this, and calling a chef a "master" is just one example of this overboard need to exoticize.

                                  Silverjay's long and very well reasoned post sums up exactly how I take sushi and the way Americanizations have been performed on it.

                                  1. re: Tripeler

                                    Part of the Morimoto worship and myth in the US can be blamed on poorly dubbed Food Network episodes of Ryōri no Tetsujin / original Japanese TV series Iron Chef, particularly where he creams a traditionally trained sushi chef in an episode "Battle: Sushi" using old school type Edomae sushi ingredients in one hour, even charming a bunch of critics, including that supposedly blunt Asako Kishi (I laugh at how wikipedia calls her the East German judge) who was probably the forerunner of Simon Cowell. To her credit, she has written 2 books in 2007 in wagashi (like reviews of old school shops in Kyoto worth checking out) that I regret not picking up that seems very well written and researched...but as far as judging food, she has her opinion and whether she saw it fit (amongst others) to say blowtorch searched hamachi with sauce and slice of jalapeno on top is tastier than a pristine piece of buri as is...just her own.

                                    Or how in that TV drama series "Shota No Sushi" from the 1990s, where an old guy tasted basically one sample or piece each from two contestants to determine a winner...one piece was subtler (cooked shrimp or a white fish) and the other was anago with brushed sauce (the guy whose sushi where the anago came from won). The reason was really kokoro, but those who do not understand the culture or underlying meaning probably misinterpreted that anago sushi won and has more stronger flavor.

                                    I'm not sure how the original Iron Chef was perceived in Japan, but to me it was a very entertaining show, not to be taken too seriously. It was as if the whole thing was rigged. It seems to be the opposite once the show hit Food Network for the US audience, where fans seemed to take the show a whole lot more seriously, much like how Eddie Murphy derided fans of Rocky (Stallone) who felt like they could kick anyone's butt.

                                    And now Morimoto is held to an even higher standard and worship by foodie fanboys and the like, especially now with having so many celeb guest appearances, being a chef on Iron Chef America, his Morimoto chain of restaurants.

                                    Seems like a "master" sushi chef in the US is very very different than a "master" sushi chef in Japan, an all together different accolade and award (e.g. perhaps someone who once served royalty or an emperor's chef at one point or something is my guess, perhaps someone can clarify this).

                                    This old school vs new school food and cooking of thought, and calling the new school the real deal or cutting edge seems to be prevalent in a lot of countries, not just sushi, not just in Japan.

                                    1. re: Tripeler

                                      "...calling a chef a "master" is just one example..."

                                      Masta is used in all kinds of situations where the context is to an owner or a manager or a leader. It's used in the same way as sacho - boss. It's certainly not unique to sushi chefs.

                                      As I said before (and ABarnes), read the book The Zen of Sushi. One of the areas it really delves into is the Americanization of sushi - it gives a perspective of how sushi chefs deal with the whole genre - what they have had to do to adjust. Blaming the chefs is meaningless - they're just providing what sells, as they must. It's American tastes that are in question and at fault - which is largely why there is no issue in Japan, their tastes, for the most part, remain intact!

                                      1. re: applehome

                                        "It's American tastes that are in question and at fault - which is largely why there is no issue in Japan, their tastes, for the most part, remain intact!"
                                        _____
                                        Several times you've mentioned Americanized sushi like it's one of those VERY BAD THINGS, a very wrong or bastardized version of Japanese sushi. In truth it's more of a mixed bag.

                                        Example: salmon is common in Americanized sushi but not Japanese. This is as it should be - salmon is plentiful and often of high quality in the US, particularly the West Coast. It simply makes more sense to adapt to using salmon than holding out for lesser quality or less available fish. This is how many of the best American cooking traditions have come about - adapting foreign cuisines for the best local ingredients (and local tastes).

                                        Not that I begrudge anyone seeking out sushi as it's made traditionally in Japan (which part?). But much of this thread has taken it as a given that Americanized sushi is an inherent evil, a problem. It's more complicated than that.

                                        1. re: cowboyardee

                                          Salmon is much more prevalent in Japan than the U.S.. It`s found naturally there, is a part of the traditional cuisine, and is one of the staple fish. The issue with Americanized sushi is the fact that salmon is disproportionally represented- not because there is plentiful salmon in the U.S.- but because it is easy for Americans to accept and because it is oily. The chef in the Yanaka restaurant commented that tuna, salmon, and hamachi- the three oiliest fish, are the most popular and often eaten together in quantity in the same meal- i.e. eschewing the balance of a sushi meal....Perhaps it`s your opinion that the best American cooking traditions have come about from adapting foreign cuisines, but I think America is particularly poor at this type of adaptation. Much of Chowhound seems to revolve around overcoming poorly assimilated, often oversweet, oily, and fried crap- in pursuit of food better represented from the original cuisine.

                                          1. re: Silverjay

                                            "Perhaps it`s your opinion that the best American cooking traditions have come about from adapting foreign cuisines, but I think America is particularly poor at this type of adaptation."
                                            ______
                                            Let me rephrase. The best AND the worst American cooking traditions come from this type of adaptation. Namely, almost all of them.

                                            You dislke Cajun? How bout Southern (in its many varieties)? New York deli? I could go on.

                                            Thanks for the info about salmon in Japan though. I haven't been to Japan (maybe someday) and my readings did not make it seem prevalent.

                                            1. re: Silverjay

                                              I doubt that USA is any worse than most other countries when it comes to changing borrowed cuisine. I've heard that Indians like to borrow the form (e.g. pizza) but want to retain Indian spicing. The favorite 'Indian' food in German is Curry Wurst - sausage with a curry powder flavored ketchup. The classic French idea of a curry sauce is a bit of powder added to a cream sauce. Complaints about poor Mexican food in Europe are common, as a questions on how to find basic Mexican ingredients.

                                              How is sushi 'adapted' in other countries?

                                              A thread about Asian foods in Europe
                                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/623759
                                              Spain
                                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/701449
                                              France
                                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/717587
                                              I have a strong suspicion that in any country, the only way to have authentic foreign cooking is to find a neighborhood with a large number of immigrants from that other region. Otherwise there will always be a substantial number of adaptations, both in ingredients, and in tastes.

                                              1. re: paulj

                                                If you want to check out the follies of adaptation in countries besides the U.S., you need not stray too far. Check out Japanese pizza! I have had my share of truly bad sushi in the U.S., too often made with the wrong kind of rice and black bubble gum nori, but when it comes to bastardization, I do believe Japanese pizza takes the cake. And the Grand Prize as well. Mayonnaise and Tater Tot pizza anyone? Check these babies out:

                                                http://www.chachich.com/mdchachi/jpiz...
                                                http://tinyurl.com/yqyc4r

                                                1. re: Caroline1

                                                  I had to check your links to make sure you weren't talking about Okonomiyaki, which is sometimes described as a Japanese pizza, though it's really more of a savory pancake (cabbage filled, with Kewpie mayo artwork).

                                                  1. re: paulj

                                                    I think I would be more prone to describe okonomiyaki as Japanese style egg fu yong with mayonnaise and barbecue sauce. You know, it occurs to me that up until the end of WWII, Japan was a country with a well disciplined cultural norm. Seems to me that since the war ended and the emperor became mere human, they're pedaling hell bent for all of the wild excess they skipped for centuries.

                                                    1. re: Caroline1

                                                      An the Spanish think of it as a la tortilla japonesa

                                                      1. re: Caroline1

                                                        The concept of 文明開化 and the headlong pursuit of all things different and non-traditional were aspects of the Meiji and Taisho Eras, which started about 70 years before the war, and went as far as greatly affecting even cuisine. This has nothing to do with WWII or the emperor.

                                                        All cultures will adopt foreign foods and embrace adapted hybrid versions of dishes etc. The difference is that no one in Japan will hold up those wacky pizzas as anything close to authentic Italian or Italian-American cuisine. They are recognized at face value for being Japanese fusion items. This is completely different than American pseudo-connoisseurship like you can encounter in the U.S., when people who simply don`t recognize that what they are eating is unlike anything that is eaten in Japan. They think it`s real sushi. That`s why we get these type of threads. Anyway, you can find many wood-burning oven pizza places around Japan with very standard Neapolitan offerings. And Tokyo is recognized as a fine place to eat authentic Italian and French cuisines. There`s a strong part of Japanese culture that derives pleasure from taking in things that are at their most pure and this extends to precise replication of many things foreign, including cuisine. The notion that, all things being equal, every country is no worse than any other at adopting foreign cuisines is a joke. Some do things different, maybe better than others. The game is always the same, but not everyone is playing on the same level.

                                                        As usual, these Japan related threads break down to those who have spent significant time in Japan and those who have waxed information from Google queries, pop culture, and other diffused methods.

                                                        1. re: Silverjay

                                                          ..."...which is what the Bizarro Silverjay would say. There is, of course, plenty of room and respect for the full spectrum of experience out there......Gotta watch out on these New Year's Japan threads. Sitting in a room full Japanese foodie and Japanese history buffs while I post this stuff....There`s certainly no monopoly on the love for good sushi- regardless of how many times your passport has been stamped. Ake-ome!

                                                          1. re: Silverjay

                                                            The concept of 文明開化 and the headlong pursuit of all things different and non-traditional were aspects of the Meiji and Taisho Eras, which started about 70 years before the war, and went as far as greatly affecting even cuisine. This has nothing to do with WWII or the emperor.
                                                            ... ... ... ...
                                                            As usual, these Japan related threads break down to those who have spent significant time in Japan and those who have waxed information from Google queries, pop culture, and other diffused methods. .............Silverjay
                                                            =================================

                                                            Silverjay, my first response to you was deleted, possibly for lack of tact, so I'll try again. I've omitted your central paragraph in the above cut-and-paste. The two points I would like to address are contained in the paragraphs above.

                                                            First, the Meiji (and Taisho, if you wish) periods. I would like to point out that just because you live in Japan does not mean that you can "visit" the Tokagawa period OR the Meiji period or any other era of Japanese history any easier than anyone who lives in any other part of the world. Granted, you can visit the palace and stroll the tulip gardens with much greater ease than I can, but that is not true of that era of time. That can ONLY be done with scholarship, and that does not require Japanese reidency.

                                                            As for the headlong rush into change during the Meiji period, that was a headlong pursuit of poltical change, as well as changes to the power structure and Japan's place as a world power. It was not pursuit of change for change's sake, it was a pursuit of stronger national identity and a more modern power/political structure within the country. The dietary ("diet," not "diet," pun intended) changes that came with it were often the result of diplomatic exposure to foreign foods. One general's wife (I think she was a general's wife, but I've lost my notes years ago) served a roast beef dinner to guests. A roast beef dinner was about as contrary to Japanese culinary practice as a snowball in a desert. Other interesting things came about during this period, running right up to the bombing of Pearl Harbor. For example, romantic kissing was unknown in Japan until the introduction of Hollywood movies. Needless to say, it caught on.

                                                            The changes and pursuit of all things different in Japan since the end of WWII go far beyond anything that came about in the Meiji era. Far! Inarguably, televesion and the instant global exchange of information are certainly heavy contributors to those changes. And there were wild excesses during the bubble economy that remain unprecedented to this day. Icebergs were towed from Arctic waters (by tug boats) to Japan, and melted so the water could be sold as million year old water for a ridiculous price per glass in water bars. Two generation mortgages were introduced to help amortize payments on Tokyo houses, putting people's children in debt before they finished school. Shoe box hotels for commuters. Ridiculous prices for imported foods based on their rarity and the hell with whether they tasted good. And then there are Japanese game shows, in which the "fun" is making someone "lose face." Absolutely NOTHING "Meiji" about that! YouTube has shown me thousands of Japanese people crammed into a shopping center to watch chanoyu "performed' on a platform. I have been a guest at one true classical chanoyu in my life time, with four or five people present, including the host. It was a long time ago. To me, the shopping center shows are a travesty. And then there is the already explored Japanese pizza, among other Japanese gastonomic extravaganzas I have little personal interest in tasting. Now, I stand by my observation that "Seems to me that since the war ended and the emperor became mere human, they're pedaling hell bent for all of the wild excess they skipped for centuries."

                                                            My second point is in response to your (not the first time I've read it from you) elitist viewpoint that anyone who hasn't physicallay been to Japan is, by definition, short on knowledge and incapable of more than a shallow understanding of Japan. If your belief was extended to other areas, then none but a very select few astronauts could know anything about the moon, astronomers could not possibly know about stars, much less galaxies or the universe, and there is no possibility for a really good cook to read a recipe and taste it in his or her mind. None of this is true. Think about it

                                                            Caroline

                                                            Mods, I hope you will allow this response to stand. It really does relate to food, and cultural literacy about food. Those things are important. Thanks! :-)

                                                            1. re: Caroline1

                                                              Caroline, unfortunately for you, I have pretty close to a lifetime of scholarship on Japan and a graduate degree from a Japanese national university to cap it off. I`m still very much a student, but it is difficult to pass off bogus knowledge on the subject in front of me. Not sure why you continually disregard any sense of humility on these Japan related subjects with me. Nothing in your post really makes much sense, but I can provide some information and sources on Japanese cuisine that if not you, others may find interesting.

                                                              First, on Japanese history: The "bakumatsu", Meiji Restoration, and Meiji Era are the seminal, most significant times in Japanese history and basically made and defined modern Japan. This is the universally accepted fact among Japanese and Western scholars. If you want to correspond with me offline on some sources on the subject, I would be happy to provide them to you. But as a significant percentage of academic study on Japanese history focuses on this era, you should have no problem finding them on your own. I'm entertained by your concept of WWII being such a turning point, but you`ll have to provide some sources for that. No one doubts the impact of the war and post-war era, but a lot of scholarship points to similarities in this era to the late Meiji and Taisho sensibilities and many academic accept the idea that Japan was picking up where it left off before the military regime took over....Your take on Japanese game shows, bubble era excesses, and other cultural elements, again, unfortunately reveals your lack of academic reading, and even more acutely, your lack of in-country experience. And I`m sorry to tell you this, but Japanese popular culture, going back hundreds of years, has been characterized by public humiliation, scandal, debauchery, and many things that would today be YouTube worthy. This is well covered in cultural academic studies. Again, I can provide you with sources if you email me.

                                                              On Japanese cuisine: HUGE changes occurred during the Meiji Era that both dramatically changed and also defined modern Japanese cuisine. Not sure where you are getting the notion that this era was limited to diplomatic and political effects only. Please look up and research these characters- 文明開化. This means "bunmei kaika" and refers to a revolution in culture and civilization. Among changes in cuisine during this era- the ban on consuming meat was lifted, dairies were established, the military was provisioned with curry rice, and the term "Washoku" was coined in an effort to provide identity with the influx of Chinese (中華) and Western (洋食) cuisines. Post WWII was interesting because there were rice shortages and severe nutritional deficiency. The U.S. occupational authority had to import (actually they sold to Japan not gave) mass quantities of wheat as a replacement grain for rice. Ramen noodles, gyoza, and bread, which had all been introduced in Meiji Era, became extremely prevalent items. Both milk and bread were also introduced into school lunches. I could go on and on, but a great, recently published, book that I learned a lot of this in is "Modern Japanese Cuisine: Food, Power and National Identity by Katarzyna J. Cwiertka. I`ve had a chance to check out some of her sources in the bibliography as well and they are further enlightening.

                                                              Off the subject of food, another book you might want to consider reading is "Embracing Defeat" by John Dower. This is an amazing book on the U.S. occupation and post-war rebuilding of Japan. I believe it won a Pulitzer. You seem to be rather focused on this time period. Perhaps because your life experience stretches back to those events.

                                                              I see your point about feeling I'm elitist, but I have a narrow but deep field of expertise that I weigh in on and I simply will not tolerate misinformation. It's impossible to fake it, as you try to do, in front of me. I can certainly appreciate and respect someone like KK, who doesn't have years of experience in Japan, but is well-read and an interesting cultural observer with lots of Japanese cuisine knowledge and experience.

                                                              SJ
                                                              Tokyo

                                                              1. re: Silverjay

                                                                Let me start by saying that I strongly disagree that your lifetime of scholarship is my misfortune. My only regret is that you cannot respond by telling me how and where you think my thinking is flawed, but instead rattle off books you think I should read and talk about your credentials from an institute of higher learning you are unwilling to name. I am not in a discussion with those authors, but had you set out some of your own ideas, that would have been more appropriate.

                                                                My point is (and was) that there is a strong probability (with sustaining evidence) that the impact of losing WWII was such a blow to national and personal images of Japan's place in the world, as well as in the general scheme of things, that it may well have been so traumatic that it has forced a headlong search for a better way for Japanese society to view itself than as a loser. I think that is implied in the unprecedented excess that Japanese society has embraced since the end of the war. World War II was the first foreign (or any other) war Japan lost. The difference between a war with outside forces and an interior war between political factions is that in the insider war, no matter who wins or loses, "Japan" is the winner. I cannot entertain the idea that the collective thinkers in Japan who chose the course of action that led to the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor entered into that strategy with any thought of possibly losing the war in the end. I believe that action was taken because the consensus was that it would give Japan an edge and ensure victory. By the end of World War II, Japan was fighting with extreme desperation. The total shock and devestation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki brutally underscored Japan's loss. As a result that loss cast doubt on every facet of Japanese belief and sense of identity. Was Japan invincible? Did Japan's leaders know what they were doing? Then, to cap off all of the many doubts that were hanging over daily life, it was declared that the emperor is not a god. And you compare this turmoil to the Meiji period supplanting the Tokagawa shogunate? I don't think so!

                                                                I see that desperation reflected in many of the food fads of Japan. The most remarkable is Japan's love affair with cheese. When I first began exploring foods of the world, the one thing that grabbed my attention was the fact that cheese had not been developed in Japan or China. Why? It didn't seem logical. Both countries had cows and goats. Why no cheese? Then in a cultural anthropology class, I learned that most Asians (with notable exceptions) are lactose intolerant, Japan falling into the majority that is. Yet despite the physical discomfort that cheese presents to the majority of Japanese, cheese is a national best seller. I view this as a national determination to "be like everybody else," and damn the cost. Whoever owns distribution rights for Lactaid in Japan is a fortunate soul! This is but one area where I see a form of hysteria in the popular pursuits of Japan. Could I possibly be wrong? Maybe. But until I come upon something that makes more sense, I'm sticking with this viewpoint. You are welcome to yours.

                                                                1. re: Caroline1

                                                                  "the one thing that grabbed my attention was the fact that cheese had not been developed in Japan or China"

                                                                  The Mongolians have been eating their version of cheese for who knows how long.

                                                                  http://www.legendtour.ru/eng/mongolia...

                                                                  This threw me off too initially. If you caught Andrew Zimmern's Bizzare Foods episode of Mongolia, he vists a nomadic sheepherding tribe and a local market where he samples a variation on local hard cheese. Probably not something I'd be interested in myself. There are also variations of yogurts/sour milk.

                                                                  The Yuan dynasty according to one Chinese website, was about the time when dairy products made their way into China via nomadic sheepherding tribes, but not popularized or made widespread until the Qing Dynasty. Supposedly one of the greatest four legendary novels 紅樓夢 (loosely translated as The Red Mansion of Dreams), published in the Qing Dynasty era circa 1784, has a mention of one of the characters leaving the love of his life a piece of cheese to eat somewhere. His mom saw this and ended up eating it. The girl, in an attempt to make the guy feel better, made up some excuse that it is ok she didn't eat it because it would make her stomach upset. Now maybe that's the earliest case of "lactose intolerance" being used as an excuse... if only there's recorded history of the Chinese version of "not tonight dear, I have a headache....".

                                                                  1. re: K K

                                                                    Cute story! When I was a kid, I used to insist "the dog ate it!" to try to weasel out of confessing. Vairations on a theme!

                                                                    Yes, Mongolia is one of the exceptions to the lactose intolerance, though I don't know if I would want to try Mongolian dairy. One of their famous versions of "tea" is made with tea leaves and yak butter. Not exactly the way I dream of starting my day! On the other hand, as the old saying goes, don't knock it until you've tried it. Maybe some day, when I'm desperately bored, I'll try a small pot of tea leaves and ghee.... Maybe.... '-)

                                                      2. re: Caroline1

                                                        Indian style sushi - a cucumber and carrot roll with chili powder, cumin powder, ginger.
                                                        http://vasudhsblog.blogspot.com/2008/...

                                                        and the Times of India on the growing popularity of suchi
                                                        http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/li...

                                                        1. re: Caroline1

                                                          I would love to try some of these pizzas, I will keep that in mind if I have a chance to go to Japan or Korea or anywhere in Asia again. I can't tell if they are good or bad until I personally try them. I had tried the seafood pizza in Hong Kong, and it was pretty good.
                                                          I like both traditional sushi and fusion sushi as long as they are prepared right, fresh ingredients, well balanced seasoning and the right amount of rice and fish or whatever in it

                                                  2. re: applehome

                                                    I was talking about the use of the word "master" in English.
                                                    In Japanese, *masutaa" has a different connotation. Interestingly, the German word "meister" is now commonly used in Japanese to mean "top-line expertise".

                                                    1. re: applehome

                                                      Drove by Hodogaya on the highway today and was thinking of you buddy. Hope all is well!

                                                      1. re: Silverjay

                                                        Hey - thanks for thinking of me - and I hope you had a happy new year. Ozouni and lots of omochi for us.

                                                      2. re: applehome

                                                        But isn't it an over-generalization to say that Japanese tastes "remain intact"? One of the early chapters in "The Zen of Fish" discusses apprentices (not chefs) serving inferior robot-made nigiri to undiscerning crowds at a Hollywood party. Meanwhile, in Japan, a chain that has no chefs and specializes in serving robot-made nigiri to undiscerning crowds is thriving. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/31/bus... How is one different than the other?

                                                    2. re: Caroline1

                                                      I will never forget that the first show of Iron Chef America had fireworks and Bobby Flay stood on the chopping broad. I love the original Iron Chef much more.

                                                      1. re: ToxicJungle

                                                        The chopping board incident(s) was on IC, not ICA.

                                                        1. re: paulj

                                                          oh, thanks, I was wondering about that

                                                          1. re: ToxicJungle

                                                            That IC New York episode is on today during Cooking Channel's IC marathon.

                                                        2. re: ToxicJungle

                                                          I remember watching that when it aired in Japan the first time. I had never heard of Bobby Flay. That was a good episode.

                                                      2. re: Silverjay

                                                        "I`ve lived in and been traveling to/around Japan the last 20 years and have never seen anything that would lead me to believe that Westerners are affecting sushi practice in Japan- ...ok, except that in depachika you can now find counters that will have some kind of funky maki for sale. And there`s one joint, near some embassies, called Rainbow Sushi...Pre-seasoned sushi has been around as long as it`s been a dish. There is no Americanized sushi movement in Japan. I remember reading an article in Northwest Airlines magazine many years ago that was touting the influence of Americanized sushi and impending change in the cuisine. It never happened. Krispy Kreme has had a bigger influence."

                                                        Traditional places still serve it traditionally as far as my experience goes. But I know that some chefs, such as hiro nakahara, the original sushi chef at bond st. is back in Japan and serving his style sushi-which is not traditional at all. I know that the Japanese have tremendous pride in their food traditions, but is it really true that nobu/gari/bond st. "nouveau" or "american" influenced sushi style has no presence in Japan?

                                                        I would never think for a second that the "roll" trend here in America would be very popular in Japan.
                                                        .
                                                        As far as Morimoto goes, he may be famous for his work as a "fusion" chef, but underneath that is a real Japanese master chef. Speaking of the Bourdain episode, I was impressed by his monkfish meal he served to Bourdain. Also, the man seems to know everything about preparing every type of Japanese food.

                                                        Akimashita Omedeto!

                                                        1. re: AdamD

                                                          Exactly!

                                                          As for Tripeler's disbelief regarding Uncle Ben's and some American versions of sushi, don't bet too much on that one. I moved to the Dallas area five years ago, and in that time I have had sushi made with looooooong grain rice, as well as with undercooked brown rice. I have learned to distrust "sushi" wrapped in nori. "Real sushi," to borrow a phrase from the OP, is as much about the rice as anything else, and if the rice is not right, the resultant sushi can only be wrong.

                                                          1. re: AdamD

                                                            There are always Japanese returning from overseas and opening restaurants in Azabu or Hiroo, etc. Their influence on broader Japanese culture- especially national foodstuffs like sushi- is minimal and slow to take affect. Most sushi shops serve no element of what we would call fusion or Western influenced sushi....No one doubts Morimoto`s washoku chops. He's not famous as a sushi chef though.

                                                            よろぴく!

                                                      3. I've be to Japan, and I do remember the difference of the texture and taste of the fish and rice, there is no comparison because they catch the fish from the ocean that morning and serve it that day, the sweetness and freshness are unbeatable. The soil, water and weather there is different, so the rice is different. I think you will have a better chance to have similar "authentic sushi" on the east or west coast, somewhere closer to the sea.
                                                        To me, sushi is all about quality not quantity.

                                                        6 Replies
                                                        1. re: ToxicJungle

                                                          Well that is an interesting point. Perhaps a greater percentage of the fish served in Japan has not been frozen prior to being served. But a lot of the tuna served is definitely flash frozen on the fishing vessels. Imported fish is definitely frozen prior to being served both here and in Japan

                                                          They do catch a lot of bluefin tuna in the Atlantic (Boston Tuna for example) that is served in U.S. sushi bars within a day or two. Not sure if it is flash frozen or not. Same with shellfish. I would bet that some of the wild salmon served in the U.S. has never been frozen. I think Japan is actually the largest consumer of U.S. farm raised geoduck. And a lot of the good restaurants use the same Japanese ingredients that the chefs in Japan use.
                                                          Im not sure if the FDA requires that the fish be frozen prior to being served as sushi in the U.S.

                                                          It makes some sense, as sushi was being made in pre-refrigeration times. So you could argue that "authentic" sushi includes fish that has never been frozen. Although, that would make it almost impossible to find any authentic sushi today. And imagine what they would charge!!

                                                          1. re: AdamD

                                                            That's why my favorite sushi is found in Montauk, even if it is usually tuna based. It is right off the boats, and I very much doubt frozen, law or not. Tuna doesn't have the worms like swordfish so no worries for me. That and the flounder out there, nobody else can compare, the texture is melt in your mouth. I wish everyone in the world could taste fresh ocean fish at least once in their life.

                                                            1. re: coll

                                                              Ahh Montauk. Used to hold a special place in my heart until Hamptons sprawl finally reached the town.

                                                              You are probably right. The charters that sell their catch probably don't freeze em, but the commercial boats might.

                                                              I think the FDA recommends that it be frozen, but does not actually require it.

                                                              Really no substitute for freshly caught fish/shellfish-and I am certain that a lot of the tuna and fluke, and possibly the striped bass, caught in Montauk ends up in the sushi bars of Manhattan. Ive had Yellowfin and Yellowtail here in the states on the boat right after it was caught. OUTSTANDING.

                                                              1. re: AdamD

                                                                Well because of this thread, I changed my New Years takeout order, from Greek to the new sushi place in Riverhead that I had heard was a step up from most. The fish was fattier, the wasabi tastier, the rice not as gelatinous and the nori was a beautiful texture. It was so pleasant to eat. I may never get to try the best of the best, but now that I had an idea what to look for, I really appreciated the meal.....so much so that I just finished off the rest of the platter for breakfast! So thanks everyone, for taking the time to post.

                                                                1. re: coll

                                                                  Excellent - hope your new year goes as adventurously and as well. But keep in mind that things like fattiness are indeed pieces of Americanization. It's a place to start, but as your palate for sushi develops, you get away from the simpleness of fat and into more complex areas of flavor and texture. Don't be afraid to let the Itamae be your guide. Take-out is as traditional in Japan as here, but going to the sushi bar, sitting down in front of the Itamae and talking to him as the evening goes - that's the real adventure of Sushi.

                                                                  1. re: applehome

                                                                    Thanks for the advice, this was a last change of plans, hence the take out: but I am looking forward to actually dining in house. Another sushi place just opened nearby too, I have heard good reports although they seem to be hibachi oriented but they are also on my to do list. Because of you, I will make sure to eat at the bar.

                                                        2. Folks, this thread is becoming needlessly angry and increasingly off-topic. We're going to lock it now.