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Finally booked Urasawa but now hesitant

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Brewer56 Mar 17, 2011 09:36 AM

Hello Chowhounds,

I would really be appreciative of anyone who is willing to offer his/her opinion on my current predicament. Allow me to preface by saying that I am fully aware that aforementioned predicament means absolutely nothing in light of the current events in Japan.

My significant other and I had finally made reservations at Urasawa for next week. When he called and inquired about the issue, the hostess assured him that what is happening is not affecting the restaurant. As much as I would like and really want to believe this, I am a bit apprehensive. Would anyone be willing to offer his or her take on the situation? Thank you in advance.

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Urasawa Restaurant
218 N Rodeo Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

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  1. The Chowhound Team Mar 18, 2011 09:37 AM

    Folks, it seems like what can be said about this issue has been said, and there isn't any clear agreement nor will there be. Since it's devolving into speculation, we're going to lock the thread.

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    1. s
      sushigirlie Mar 17, 2011 09:26 PM

      I'm still concerned about Y2K. And the gulf oil spill. I'm not saying the radiation concern is media-driven sensationalism. I'm just saying...

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      1. re: sushigirlie
        westsidegal Mar 18, 2011 08:10 AM

        when one has taken Medical Physics from John Gofman (rip), as i have, one's view about radiation and it's safety are changed forever.

        partial bio of Gofman:
        Dr. Gofman was a Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley (Ph.D. in nuclear-physical chemistry and an M.D.) who was the first Director of the Biomedical Research Division of the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory from 1963-65 and one of nine Associate Directors at the Lab from 1963-1969. He was involved in the Manhattan Project and is a co-discoverer of Uranium-232, Plutonium-232, Uranium-233, and Plutonium-233, and of slow and fast neutron fissionability of Uranium-233. He also was a co-inventor of the urnayl acetate and columbium oxide processes for plutonium separation. He has taught in the radioisotope and radiobiology fields from the 1950s at least up into the 1980s, and has done research in radiochemistry, macromoloecules, lipoprotiens, coronary heart disease, arterioscleroisis, trace element determination, x-ray spectroscopy, chromosomes and cancer and radioation hazards

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      2. ipsedixit Mar 17, 2011 09:23 PM

        I trust that you were born sometime before 1986?

        If so, then you, like all of us pre-1986 chowhounds, carry a part of Chernobyl in our systems. And yet, surprisingly, a great great majority seem to do just fine as it relates to radiation diseases and induced cancers.

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          foodiemahoodie Mar 17, 2011 05:25 PM

          Bring a Geiger counter.

          Listen, the ports in this country have devices that looks for the most minute amounts of radiation - because they're looking for nukes, suitcase nukes, material to make nukes. And it's easy to check. So, unless the fish is caught very fresh and immediately transfered into a chilled lead-lined case - and then imported? You have nothing to work about.

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          1. re: foodiemahoodie
            J.L. Mar 17, 2011 08:37 PM

            Have a friend who works at the port in San Pedro...

            Turns out less than 10% of all crates are inspected randomly... Just too many crates coming through.

            But in light of what going on in Japan, I suspect they'll ramp up radioactivity inspections for crates originating from Japan in the next 1-2 weeks (if any actually get sent out from Japan, since the Sendai port was devastated)...

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            1. re: J.L.
              Servorg Mar 17, 2011 09:16 PM

              Fish for sushi places such as Urasawa are all coming in at LAX by overnight air shipment...

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              1. re: Servorg
                J.L. Mar 17, 2011 10:46 PM

                Actually the G6 pilots who ferry in the Sony execs back & forth across the Pacific to/from Santa Monica Airport usually have an empty cargo hold. Sometimes, seafood from Tsukiji Fish Market finds its way into the U.S. through that route.

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          2. Ciao Bob Mar 17, 2011 03:32 PM

            Chill out folks, we've all been exposed to more radiation in the time it takes to read this thread just by living on the planet than we will get from any fish. Worry more about the Mercury if you are so inclined. And let's support Japanese restaurants now more than ever, whether it's Urasawa or your neighborhood standby.

            -----
            Urasawa Restaurant
            218 N Rodeo Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

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            1. re: Ciao Bob
              Servorg Mar 17, 2011 03:35 PM

              Now there's a post I can agree with...finally.

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            2. a
              andytseng Mar 17, 2011 03:25 PM

              I feel like Hiro-san would do everything in his power to make sure that people won't get sick from his food. Not that I know him personally or anything... just seems like that kind of a guy.

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                AdamD Mar 17, 2011 02:58 PM

                Most of the fish and shellfish that is exported to the US is caught very very far offshore or in the warm waters of southern Japan. Some if it is not even from Japan, but rather is exported through Japan. Any freshwater fish, inland species or produce that would be caught in the region affected by radiation is unlikely to be exported at this time. The supply chain from that region is non existent at the moment.

                I would say you have nothing to worry about. But if you have concerns call them and express that fact. I am sure they would be happy to address your concerns.

                Finally, the radiation issue is not going to go away for a long time even if the reactors are brought under control. So the question of whether a restaurant is sourcing produce, fresh water fish or ocean fish caught within 50 miles of the plant will be an issue for a long time. If anything it might even be safer now.

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                1. re: AdamD
                  Servorg Mar 17, 2011 03:03 PM

                  "But if you have concerns call them and express that fact. I am sure they would be happy to address your concerns."

                  I'm more than a little incredulous that Urasawa, or any other restaurant for that matter, could tell you where an individual fish was taken. Or if there will be any long term health dangers to anyone consuming a small portion of a fish that may, or may not, have been exposed to some unknown amount of radiation.

                  -----
                  Urasawa Restaurant
                  218 N Rodeo Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

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                  1. re: Servorg
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                    AdamD Mar 17, 2011 03:21 PM

                    When it comes to the Japanese, you would be surprised. Yes, there is a margin of risk, but this is one culture that takes its food very seriously. Especially at the five star level.

                    And there is a huge difference between the attention paid to the ingredients at a place like Urasawa than your average $20-40 sushi deluxe sushi bar.

                    I have no doubt that places like Masa, Yasuda, or Kuruma (I am in NYC) the proprietors know where 95% of their fish comes from, specifically. The same could be said for LeBernadin.

                    Its not as crazy as you think.

                    And there are guidelines regarding radiation. Had an x-ray lately?

                    -----
                    Urasawa Restaurant
                    218 N Rodeo Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

                    Masa Restaurant
                    2063 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91107

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                    1. re: AdamD
                      Servorg Mar 17, 2011 03:28 PM

                      Urasawa could no more accurately reassure you about the long term health consequences of your last x-ray than they could about your last helping of blue fin tuna...and to think they could tell you "where" in the Pacific Ocean your fish was caught is beyond the realm of logic and drifting into something a Ouija Board would be needed for.

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                      1. re: Servorg
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                        AdamD Mar 17, 2011 03:42 PM

                        Again you would be surprised.
                        Well you are right to a point. GPS coordinates? No.
                        But can they tell you whether it was caught in the northern atlantic, the pacific off hawaii or in the northern Japanese oceans?

                        At some places, yes. Very high end, but yes.

                        And I am not saying that you should consult the restaurant for a discussion of the health consequences. I am saying you should consult the restaurant regarding their sourcing choices to the extent you are concerned they are sourcing from the regions of Japan affected by the radiation.

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                        1. re: AdamD
                          Servorg Mar 17, 2011 03:46 PM

                          Do you have any idea how far long range tuna fleets travel in their hunt? How would they know where over a thousand miles (or more) of open ocean they took one individual fish? The fish are not "bar coded" as they go into the hold of the boat.

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                          1. re: Servorg
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                            AdamD Mar 17, 2011 04:01 PM

                            I do. True, the fish are not bar coded (but actually it wouldn't surprise me if they were) but they only fish one part of the ocean at a time.

                            If you have ever been to Tsukiji, the buyers of the fish know what part of the world the best tunas come from. The top sushi places in the US buy direct from the buyers in Japan and the brokers on the US coasts. A simple phone call tells them "I have a nice bluefin from Hawaii" or "i have a nice blue fin from boston" or "I have a nice bluefin from Hokkaido." Truthfully the bluefin stocks are so limited that its really not that complicated to identify, GENERALLY, where a fish came from.

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                            1. re: AdamD
                              Servorg Mar 17, 2011 04:10 PM

                              "Truthfully the bluefin stocks are so limited that its really not that complicated to identify, GENERALLY, where a fish came from."

                              Limited fish mean the boats travel further and further chasing them. I have a good friend who flew a helicopter for commercial tuna fleets, spotting schools of tuna. They chased them up and down the coast of South America. He has some film of landing on a 10X10 platform in rough seas. Now that looked pretty hairy.

                              But my point is, the fishing boat captain could only say that he caught the fish someplace in a huge area of the Pacific or Atlantic Ocean. So when you say ask the restaurant "Where did this fish come from?", and now they are buying tuna meat from one fish being told by a wholesaler who is telling them what he might have heard from someone at the market who got some general information from someone on the boat (or more likely, in the fleet of boats). That type of "information" is going to be less than useless if you are really trying to ascertain if your fish might have strayed too close to some source of leaking radiation from a Japanese Nuclear reactor.

                              Flipping a coin or using a Magic 8 Ball or the Ouija board would be just as good a way to "determine" your potential risk as asking the restaurant.

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                  ns1 Mar 17, 2011 02:37 PM

                  you get iodine from eating salt water fish. So just request a lot of salt water fish.

                  (I seriously think everyone is overreating here)

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                  1. re: ns1
                    westsidegal Mar 17, 2011 08:27 PM

                    the vast majority of the types of fish served in sushi bars are saltwater fish

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                  2. n
                    Nicole Mar 17, 2011 02:19 PM

                    It's probably fine, but if I was spending $500 on a meal and it was only something I could do a couple of times ever, I would wait for a time when I felt great about it and not go when I was feeling iffy or hesitant. I would just enjoy it much more that way, with a totally unburdened mind and heart. Not the most logical or scientific response, but it's how I would feel nonetheless.

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                    1. re: Nicole
                      m
                      maudies5 Mar 17, 2011 02:34 PM

                      I completely agree with Nicole. Given the expense of dining at Urusawa, I think that it is prudent to wait for a time when you have no anxiety at all about these issues.

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                    2. westsidegal Mar 17, 2011 01:23 PM

                      i have a reservation tonight at sushi-zo.
                      i share your concerns exactly.
                      i'm very ambivalent about getting sushi made with japanese, possibly contaminated, fish when i could go to Mariscos Chente in Inglewood and get Mexican fish. . . . . .

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                      1. re: westsidegal
                        j
                        JudiAU Mar 17, 2011 01:52 PM

                        What do you order and why do you think it is Mexican fish? I would assume that just like most inexpensive places they are using fish farmed in Asia.

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                        1. re: JudiAU
                          Ciao Bob Mar 17, 2011 03:26 PM

                          Unless things have changed their Pescado Zarandeado comes from Mexican waters.

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                          1. re: JudiAU
                            westsidegal Mar 17, 2011 08:53 PM

                            i wouldn't be surprised if the tilapia was farmed, but would be VERY surprised if any of the other fish came from anyplace other than mexico.

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                            1. re: JudiAU
                              Dommy Mar 18, 2011 09:06 AM

                              MC sources & imports their own fish and shrimp from Mexico. I've seen the delivery (basically from relatives) come into the shops...

                              --Dommy!

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                          2. t
                            tastycakes Mar 17, 2011 11:46 AM

                            i found this article to be reassuring.

                            http://edition.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/asi...

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                            1. re: tastycakes
                              westsidegal Mar 17, 2011 01:27 PM

                              i found that article to be not reassuring since i only ingest japanese fish, not their produce.
                              fish, being higher on the food chain, would be expected to have higher concentrations of any contaminant.

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                              1. re: westsidegal
                                b
                                burntwater Mar 17, 2011 01:47 PM

                                I would think the fish would have to be caught from the affected Northern waters post Tsunami. Even if the fishing grounds have had enough time to recover sadly there isn't a single boat left up there to harvest them, no fish market left to process the fish and no way to transport the fish.

                                Your concern about airborne radiation would be more likely but so far as of this morning that is not out of control yet (cross our fingers).

                                But it is your call and the only way to be 100% sure is to eat Pescado.

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                                1. re: burntwater
                                  westsidegal Mar 17, 2011 08:24 PM

                                  i went to sushi-zo tonight.
                                  had a MAGNIFICENT meal in every respect.

                                  will probably have the pescado on saturday night.

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                            2. j
                              JudiAU Mar 17, 2011 11:27 AM

                              I think it is a reasonable concern but I think you should go now. I don't think the markets are effected yet. but may be in the future.

                              I've eaten on Sawtelle every day this week as a gluttonous show of support. The situation is terrible. Other than supporting Japanese-owned business and donating to the Red Cross, I am not sure we can do anything else right now.

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                              1. re: JudiAU
                                J.L. Mar 17, 2011 05:18 PM

                                Please note that many Japanese restaurants are owned by non-Japanese who hire Japanese staff.

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                              2. m
                                maudies5 Mar 17, 2011 11:15 AM

                                I share your concerns.
                                Here are comments made today by Sasabune owner/chef.
                                http://losangeles.grubstreet.com/2011...

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                                Sasabune
                                12400 Wilshire Blvd Ste 150, Los Angeles, CA 90025

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                                1. J.L. Mar 17, 2011 10:28 AM

                                  The ingredients are actually garnered from all over the world. I'd still go in a heartbeat. No hesitation whatsoever.

                                  Go. Eat. Enjoy.

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                                  1. re: J.L.
                                    b
                                    Brewer56 Mar 17, 2011 10:33 AM

                                    Thank you, J.L. I was under the impression that everything came directly from Japan.

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                                    1. re: Brewer56
                                      c
                                      cfylong Mar 17, 2011 11:17 AM

                                      I think you can safely assume that there is no fishing in the contaminated area of Japan. How much all of japan's waters is radiactively affected cannot be determined right now. If you are worried and are in no hurry to sample Urasawa's delights, you can always make a reservation later.

                                      -----
                                      Urasawa Restaurant
                                      218 N Rodeo Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

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                                      1. re: cfylong
                                        y
                                        Yaxpac Mar 17, 2011 11:24 AM

                                        It is not just the waters where they fish...the fish is then brought upon land. that would be my main concern.

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                                  2. r
                                    radman123 Mar 17, 2011 10:21 AM

                                    forget the radiation -- the real issue is the price and overall meal -- sorry chowhounders the place is overrated.

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                                    1. wienermobile Mar 17, 2011 09:56 AM

                                      Go and enjoy.

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                                      1. CarrieWas218 Mar 17, 2011 09:50 AM

                                        What issue? The tragedy in Japan?

                                        I can think of nothing better than supporting Japanese-owned businesses here in the states as these people undoubtedly have family back home they are trying to help. Giving them your business could only be beneficial.

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                                        1. re: CarrieWas218
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                                          Brewer56 Mar 17, 2011 10:31 AM

                                          I couldn't agree with you more and I have been trying to reconcile this with my concerns (is it currently unsafe to eat at a restaurant that gets its fish and ingredients directly from Japan?) over the fish which is why I wanted to get the astute opinions of the CH board.

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                                        2. t
                                          TailbackU Mar 17, 2011 09:43 AM

                                          I don't understand your question. maybe you left out some details?

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                                          1. re: TailbackU
                                            b
                                            Brewer56 Mar 17, 2011 09:49 AM

                                            My apologies for the confusion. From what I understand, the ocean is or will be affected by the radiation so I'm wondering if we should keep the reservation or cancel.

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                                            1. re: Brewer56
                                              SilverlakeGirl Mar 17, 2011 03:37 PM

                                              My understanding was that varieties of fish would not be available for shipment to the US [or anywhere] due to the situation. Not that it would be contaminated. I would be concerned that I would be missing out for that reason.

                                              I'm sure all fish is inspected anyway.

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                                              1. re: SilverlakeGirl
                                                Servorg Mar 17, 2011 03:40 PM

                                                If the USDA inspects more than 1% of the fish I would be surprised.

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                                                1. re: SilverlakeGirl
                                                  westsidegal Mar 17, 2011 08:22 PM

                                                  inspected for radiation? i doubt it.

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