Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Los Angeles Area >
Apr 17, 2012 11:20 AM

Mislabeled Sushi reported by the LA Times- should not surprise anyone......

The LA Times reports that 87% of samples from 21 restaurants were mis-labeled species of fish:

Good case study of knowing your purveyor and itamae since many sushi bars (especially lower priced sushi restaurants) have thrown away integrity for the almighty dollar. I hope the LA Times comes out with the list of these so called "sushi bars".

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. The total of 55% of the survey were incorrectly labeled.
    No, that should surely not surprise anyone.
    But since the Times did not do the survey, getting the list of those places, restaurants and markets, is going to probably be impossible, or nearly so.
    But as you say, knowing your purveyor/retailer is very important.
    Be very aware of any AYCE places, as just a starter.

    1. Some of that stuff seems like general knowledge.. Is anyone really surprised that 'white tuna' is Escolar? I've never even seen real gulf of mexico red snapper offered from local fish purveyors and I've never had a sushi chef say that their snapper is from the gulf. I suspect most Tai out here is farmed IQF medai from Asia.

      4 Replies
      1. re: AAQjr

        I wonder how much "wild caught" fish is actually farmed. That's even harder to test for.

        1. re: AAQjr

          That's the thing, you're not going to be fooled by tuna that isn't tuna, salmon that isn't salmon or yellowtail that isn't yellowtail. Those fish have distinctive looks and tastes.

          It's the more obscure fish and the less distinctive lean white fishes that might not be right.

          Escolar is NEVER sold as such and it pisses me off for obvious reasons, even though my body can tolerate the fish without problems. I feel bad for people who aren't so lucky. But there's NO SUCH THING as a "white tuna" so no matter what that's gonna be a misnomer (nobody on earth calls albacore white tuna. It's sold as white MEAT tuna in cans, but you'll never see albacore being sold as white tuna).

          GOM red snapper isn't the only fish that can be called tai, we have true red snapper on the pacific coast and there are various species of red snapper throughout the world too but most of the "red snapper" found in fish markets is local rock cod or something else totally different. That's the thing, this isn't unique to sushi bars. Half the fish in your local market are misnamed. It's just a thing that people do with fish because fish really needs to be sold to people in a way other meats don't.

          When I go to a sushi restaurant and order "white fish" I accept that I have no idea what the hell I'm getting (which is why I probably won't get that.)

          If you really have concern over whether you're getting the fish you expect stick to the classics and they can't ever fool you. If you order obscure white fish or "hawaiian emperor mackerel" or some other wacky sounding thing, I wish you good luck.

          1. re: BrewNChow

            I just finished Googling "Hawaiian Emperor Mackeral" and wasted 2 minutes of my life looking for a fish that exist only on Yelp reviews. But, anyways, I agree with your advice. Your "Hawaiian Emperor Mackerel" illustrates a disgusting practice by restaurants to dupe customers by inventing ambiguous names. From my experience, the following words spoken by your server should raise red flags: "super-white tuna", "Kobe-style", and "Rocky Mountain oysters".

            1. re: BrewNChow

              Hear hear. Hell, remember the huge "Chilean sea bass" craze of a decade ago?

              That Patagonian Toothfish ain't no relation to any sea bass I ever heard of....

          2. NYTimes did a similar piece back in 2008. At that time, only 25% of the samples were mislabeled. Of course it's hard to tell if it's a NYC vs LA thing or a time thing.