Sushi standards and the American way
Here in NYC it is pretty hard to find mid range authentic Sushi places. Fancy roll places abound. I know in Southern California it is a lot easier. Is this article correct that traditional sushi is endangered in America, at least below the very high price points?
I learned to eat classic Edo nigiri back in 1981. In Ebisu Tokyo. The stuff going by on a conveyor belt was superior to most places here in central Florida. I am blessed that two of the places in town offer a wide selection of nigiri, but at a price point that I am amazed they are still in business.
Would it surprise you that their profit margin is so much greater with the rolls? And rolls are so much friendlier with chop sticks.
Want to get the chefs attention? Ask him, and around here, they are all hims, to put the correct amount of wasabi for each piece. Oh, and ask for the egg to start. I was told that it could be an indicator of the chef's expertise. It is so rare to see it offered, I rarely ask anymore.
"And rolls are so much friendlier with chop sticks."
That's because nigiri sushi is finger food. Didn't the natives in Tokyo use their fingers? I have never been to Japan, but I learned this from Japanese businessmen.
"...the correct amount of wasabi for each piece."
I used to go to a sushi bar in Minneapolis which wouldn't serve wasabi on the side with nigiri sushi, because the proper amount is inside each piece. Wasabi is served with sashimi.
I don't know about California, but I have the feeling in various other parts of the US it is possibly true.
Additionally, it's not only that good nigiri is threatened, but IMO many folks don't even think of nigirizushi when they think of "sushi" - apropos to your comment about fancy roll places being plentiful in NYC. What they think of, order, ooh-and-ahh over and consume are largely makimono/rolls, especially the more bastardized and flamboyant ones. Seeing people eat sashimi is even rarer. So - if folks continue to seek out bastardized rolls by preference, nigirizushi in the US would just die away... (Maybe because of miseducation about sushi? Because of lack of opportunity to eat good sushi? Ah, a bit of a Catch-22 there...) Then there are all those "sushi counters" in supermarkets, both Western-type and ethnic/East Asian - where you can pick up packages (and chilled) cartons/boxes of "sushi" made in a cursory manner by bored employees, and which probably sat in that chiller for a while before you picked it up, unless you stood there while those bored employees were making it and picked it up right there and then. :-(
Only in the top - and expensive - places would the full range of good and fresh options be available...
I don't think it's endangered — I see the proliferation of popular sushi places as helpful in keeping the masses out of the places I like. A good sushi bar has always been a rare thing, in my opinion, and I've been seeking them out since the 1980s, when they were starting to catch on in the US.