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Sushi without additives?

Is there any sushi place that doesn't put all sorts of chemicals in their sushi? I am looking for something where the ingredients are basically seaweed, rice, fish, and whatever vegetables without all sorts of binding agents and thickeners and sweeteners (etc) tacked on. If you've ever read the ingredients on grocery store sushi, that's what I'm trying to avoid; the ingredients list is as long as your hand.

I'm particularly looking for restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley, but I'm open to other locations. Thanks!

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  1. Do you count things like rice vinegar, salt, and sugar, some of which are typically used to bind and flavor sushi rice? When you write "all sorts of chemicals" I get the feeling that you're talking preservatives beyond those, but most sushi bars use some of those in their sushi rice.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Robert Thornton

      Just don't order any spicy rolls.. the binding agent there is the dynamite sauce, which is basically japanese mayo and hot sauce mixed together.

      1. re: grant.cook

        Thanks for the tip! I am sensitive to most bottled mayos and I would assume most restaurants don't make their own. (I have to make my own mayo at home.) Very helpful!

      2. re: Robert Thornton

        Goof question, sorry I wasn't clearer! Vinegar (if it's just vinegar without even more stuff added -- it's crazy to me that I need to read vinegar bottles) and salt are fine, and so is sugar as long as it's regular table sugar and nothing even more processed or synthetic. White table sugar is more processed than I like but if there's not enough to make the sushi taste sweet it's not going to mess me up too badly. Basically, if it could have been bought from a store to make sushi in 1900, I'm probably fine with it. Sorry that's such an arbitrary date, but I'm sensitive to a lot of additives and I think that conveys the spirit of what I'm looking for. It's hard to describe without muddying it even more. For example, I could say "no man-made chemicals" but vinegar is man-made by some definitions, and even the 1900 date probably excludes some stuff that I can tolerate (I don't know when white sugar became a thing), but in general I'm looking to avoid anything that would typically be labeled an "additive" and most people would consider a recent addition to food supply that most home cooks do not use.

      3. Grocery store sushi has preservatives because it needs to be made to sit on the shelves for a few days. Restaurant sushi doesn't have preservatives.

        10 Replies
        1. re: boogiebaby

          restaurant sushi is not SUPPOSED to have preservatives.

            1. re: RicRios

              So the next time I see one of the sushi chefs crouched down near the exhaust pipe of his running automobile I'll just figure he's brightening up my fish for me... ;-D>

              1. re: Servorg

                The article says clearly ( assuming you read it ):
                "Tuna purveyors must therefore hustle to rush their tuna from the boat to the sushi bar while it is still in the red oxymyoglobin stage. "
                Emphasis on the purveyor, not the sushi chef.

                1. re: RicRios

                  I just figure the sushi chef's may just be attempting to give the fish a "tune up" right before presenting it to me...

              2. re: RicRios

                CO used to treat raw fish is not going to poison you. It may, however, make you think the fish is fresher than it actually is.

                The way to get the freshest fish is to go to the best sushi bars, in my opinion.

                1. re: RicRios

                  RicRios:
                  fascinating article.
                  my cynical suspicion is that, in many sushi bars, (and in other restaurants too) the CO is not all that is used.
                  too many times i've been served fish that APPEARED ok but TASTED not ok.

                  1. re: RicRios

                    Oh, that's interesting! Thanks for linking this!

                    I'm not sure if I'm sensitive to that or maybe sensitive to something else in fish that isn't as fresh. I will keep it in mind if anyone suggests a place they know doesn't use additives if I still have reactions.

                    There is a farmer's market vendor that sells sushi-grade fish I have been thinking of getting some fish from to make my own sushi and see if I have any reactions. I suppose he could be treating the fish with CO also but I'm curious enough to give it a shot... Or maybe I could avoid tuna in particular.

                  2. re: westsidegal

                    Yeah, exactly. I thought it shouldn't but I have had bad reactions to a few sushi places where the basic ingredients should not have caused a reaction in me. I get a stuffy nose and bloating. :( So at least the restaurants I've been to seem to have additives.

                  3. re: boogiebaby

                    This hasn't been my experienxe, unfortunately. I don't have reactions to seaweed, rice, fish, or avocado, cucumber, etc, but I have gotten a stuffy nose and bloating and general fatigue when ordering sushi from restaurants that used those base ingredients. That's the reaction I typically have to additives. It makes perfect sense that restaurants wouldn't need to use additives, but apparently some of them do. The ones I have been to weren't super cheap but they didn't seem to take much pride in themselves either (you know, like the same way a Chili's doesn't have that atmosphere of caring deeply about food) so I figured it's better for me to ask than keep wasting money on food that makes me feel like I have a cold for a day. :)