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Feb 4, 2011 04:03 AM

Sustainably caught fish/shellfish

Hi all!

I'm visiting Tokyo next week and was wondering if anyone knows which sustainable species fish or shellfish are caught/harvested/gathered around Japan?

I appreciate its going to be difficult without being able to read Kanji or speak Japanese, but it would be nice to go with an idea and try to recognise which species of fish and shellfish to eat when I can recognise pictures or see them going past on the sushi belt.

Thanks for any suggestions!


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  1. I don't know nothin' about no sustainable whatevers, but what is true is that higher-end sushi places tend to source locally caught fish and shellfish, which tends to be small-scale non-industrial operations. The best places pride themselves in selling only fish and shellfish caught off Japanese waters by specialists, and the chef will be able to give you the provenance of pretty much everything he uses. Dai San Harumi even prints this information on their daily menu sheet.

    It is unlikely any "sushi belt" restaurant will adhere to this level of quality and care. Their low prices come from the industrial nature of their supply chain, which could include all kinds of "you don't want to know how this sausage is made" possibilities. Maybe even fish caught in nasty ways by people who couldn't care less about sustainability.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Uncle Yabai

      Does seem ironic to be taking an environmental stand sitting at a conveyor belt restaurant that interacts with customers by simply counting up the number of plates consumed and barking that out to a cashier. Whatever fish has been caught is already prepared and circling around and around. Someone's gonna eat it. Or they're going to chuck it.

      I've seen some sort of "eco friendly" something or other signs in supermarket seafood sections, but have never heard of sustainability brought up in terms of restaurant dining in Japan. I suppose that really should kick in at some point though.

      1. re: Silverjay

        Sushi belt restaurants could still be an option considering the variety of choice and ease of ordering. Sustainable fish (apart from organically farmed) also tend to be cheaper due to their relative abundance so there's no reason why cheaper restaurants wouldn't offer these.

        In England, a restaurant wouldn't necessarily advertise any form of sustainability but if i saw Dab, Flounder or Mackerel for example on a menu I'd know to go for these. Just curious if there are similar recommendations of fish or shellfish available in Japan.

        1. re: rororob

          I think the organic, local and sustainable craze in the rest of the world is not as big here because mostly everything in japan is fresh and local and sustainable. I'm not saying all but a lot of places pride themselves in their local food and how it's shipped fesh daily from some local shores or farms of japan. I recommend isogai. Hope I'm spelling it right. We went there in Fukuoka which is known for their seafood and they opened up a branch in the brick building in marunouchi. It's good fresh seafood that is delivered fresh everyday from Fukuoka. I mean that is still traveling some ways but at least it like a couple of hours away.