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Least Traditional Sushi

BuildingMyBento Oct 28, 2012 12:41 PM

Hi Chownians,

The NYTimes Travel section for this weekend had an article about New Haven, Connecticut. I'd gladly go for the pizza on Wooster St., but this snippet caught me off-guard:


You can pass the rest of the morning wandering the Yale campus at its most peaceful, when the architecture (yale.edu/architectureofyale), from the 1752 Connecticut Hall to the turtle-shaped shell of the 1958 Eero Saarinen ice skating rink, takes center stage. Then, window-shop your way up boutique- and bookstore-lined Chapel Street to Miya’s Sushi (68 Howe Street; 203-777-9760; miyassushi.com), where the menu is part manifesto on sustainability, part multicultural poetry. Rolls include Charlie Chan’s Ching Chong Roll (whole wheat tempura broccoli, garlic and black beans; $6) and the Japafrican Queen (eggplant, goat cheese, apricots, avocado, pickled radish, chives and berbere spice mix, rolled in Ethiopian injera bread; $8). "

って何? I've always thought the lowest depths were occupied by the salmon-cream cheese "Philadelphia" roll and other randomness drowned by unagi "tare" and some spicy mayo. But injera as the starch? Apricots? Never mind the names of the items...

This isn't a thread to bash "untraditional" sushi- I'll try just about anything at least once, and it's not necessarily that the meals sound ghastly either - but I'm just curious what you've seen at the restaurants/supermarkets/train stations you hit up.

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  1. paulj RE: BuildingMyBento Oct 28, 2012 01:40 PM


    2 Replies
    1. re: paulj
      BuildingMyBento RE: paulj Oct 28, 2012 02:08 PM

      You concur that it's "out there" or have you already made a reservation? Either way, I'd try the stuff, regardless of where it comes from.

      1. re: paulj
        tcamp RE: paulj Nov 1, 2012 02:16 PM

        I like the Invasive Species menu. I've always thought that clever marketing of such creatures would be easiest way to get rid of them. It is working with snakehead fish in the Potomac river.

      2. s
        SoCalVal RE: BuildingMyBento Oct 28, 2012 02:37 PM

        My understanding is that sushi involves one key ingredient -- vinegared (modern) or fermented (historically) rice. If those rolls don't have rice, they actually aren't sushi. I love injera, but there's no way I'd consider this roll sushi.

        9 Replies
        1. re: SoCalVal
          paulj RE: SoCalVal Oct 28, 2012 03:34 PM

          would you be happier if it was called a 'wrap'?

          To focus on whether Bun Lai's creations qualify as 'sushi' is to miss the whole point of his cooking style and focus.

          1. re: paulj
            SoCalVal RE: paulj Oct 28, 2012 04:02 PM

            And I do believe you're missing that the only point *I* am addressing is the title of this thread, the title of which is "Least Traditional Sushi." You're pressing a point for an argument that doesn't even exist in my post, dude. Move on and present your argument with the OP, not me.

            1. re: SoCalVal
              DeppityDawg RE: SoCalVal Oct 28, 2012 07:55 PM

              The restaurant itself calls its rolls "sushi", and it's intentionally subversive. Their motto is "because man cannot live on rice alone". They know that you, and many others, say that sushi has to contain rice, but they've gotten over that. In this particular case, the kooky back story of this roll (which is a vegetarian version of their "Tyger, Tyger" roll) specifically motivates the use of teff instead of rice. It's explained at great length in their menu. Alongside other tidbits like "broccoli, beloved by Jews everywhere" and "You must be mostly African American to order this roll".

              1. re: DeppityDawg
                Chemicalkinetics RE: DeppityDawg Oct 28, 2012 09:32 PM

                <Alongside other tidbits like "broccoli, beloved by Jews everywhere" and "You must be mostly African American to order this roll".>

                Oh my god. I don't know if this is meant to be funny or meant to be offensive.

                1. re: DeppityDawg
                  Uncle Yabai RE: DeppityDawg Oct 29, 2012 08:44 PM

                  "Intentionally subversive". Wow, that's deep, man. When I go to a restaurant, I go there to eat, not to make a statement. And their stuff sounds pretty disgusting, actually.

                  1. re: Uncle Yabai
                    Tripeler RE: Uncle Yabai Oct 30, 2012 06:04 AM

                    This is a sentiment I can totally agree with, Uncle Yabai. Seems like there is just too much posing in the restaurant biz these days. Yeah, and this type of sushi seems even more disgusting than the typical Monster Truck Rolls found all over North America.

                2. re: SoCalVal
                  BuildingMyBento RE: SoCalVal Oct 28, 2012 08:00 PM

                  Precisely why I posted this thread. The New Haven restaurant claims those rolls would be sushi, but it's bastardized the food so much that, well, even injera has gotten in on the game.

                  One side of the purist argument maintains that the meaning of sushi has just been corrupted over time, possibly starting as "sour-tasting" (http://www.kikkoman.com/foodforum/the...). Injera would certainly fit the sour-tasting bill.
                  Another viewpoint leans more towards the vinegared rice aspect, but no matter which opinion you follow, I'll still eat it.

                  1. re: BuildingMyBento
                    cresyd RE: BuildingMyBento Oct 29, 2012 04:39 AM

                    The menu is pretty amusing if a bit too narrative for my taste, but reading it I was definitely interested in trying a number of the rolls. Be they sushi or not.

                    One of my favorite somewhat bastardized sushi rolls was an "Italian" roll that was raw salmon, basil, tomato and tempura bits. No where near to the extent of the Seven Spieces roll - but no matter how inauthentic, I really did just like that roll a whole lot.

                    1. re: cresyd
                      Nudibranch RE: cresyd Oct 29, 2012 07:31 PM

                      I too would love to try their food, and their sake drinks. They're having fun, and some of those creations sound delicious.

            2. Chemicalkinetics RE: BuildingMyBento Oct 28, 2012 09:31 PM

              I don't think I can top your list, but I think sushi pizza is pretty down in the "Least Traditional Sushi"



              1. r
                ricepad RE: BuildingMyBento Oct 29, 2012 11:42 AM

                Good lord...I'm trying my best not to get too offended by "Charlie Chan's Ching Chong Roll", but it's safe to say I'll never cross their threshold.

                10 Replies
                1. re: ricepad
                  paulj RE: ricepad Oct 29, 2012 11:48 AM

                  I wonder why its creator, Bun Lai, is not offended.
                  "He was born in Hong Kong, the son of Yoshiko Lai, a Japanese nutritionist and restaurateur, and Dr. Yin Lok Lai, a Chinese surgeon and Cambridge University educated professor. "

                  1. re: paulj
                    ricepad RE: paulj Oct 29, 2012 12:10 PM

                    Maybe, having grown up in a different time and place, he didn't have to walk to school with taunts of "Ching, chong, Chinaman!" ringing in his ears.

                    1. re: ricepad
                      Chemicalkinetics RE: ricepad Oct 29, 2012 01:13 PM

                      I actually had to listen to similar crap like that. Charlie Chan probably thinks that since he is a Chinese-American, he is free to say this. I understand that, and in truth there are some buffers for an Asian American to make an Asian joke. On the other hand, I think ethnic jokes at the very least should serve some purposes. In this case, there is none I can see.

                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                        lcool RE: Chemicalkinetics Oct 31, 2012 03:28 PM

                        I can't find any "context" either.

                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                          Bkeats RE: Chemicalkinetics Oct 31, 2012 03:55 PM

                          How is Charlie Chan as a fictional character free to say anything? The irony is that the actor who played the movie character wasn't chinese.

                          1. re: Bkeats
                            Chemicalkinetics RE: Bkeats Oct 31, 2012 04:19 PM

                            Thanks for the correction. I meant the creator/owner, who should be Bun Lai, not Charlie Chan.

                    2. re: ricepad
                      DeppityDawg RE: ricepad Oct 29, 2012 12:11 PM

                      All part of their shtick, I think. "We dare you to be offended, and then try to go beyond your initial reactions, rethink your assumptions and you might just 'get' our post-meta agit-food, etc. etc." The Yale undergrads eat it up, I'm sure.

                      But at least have a look at the photos on Foodspotting (although I gather that amateur photography in restaurants is also offensive to many here):

                      1. re: DeppityDawg
                        ricepad RE: DeppityDawg Oct 29, 2012 12:42 PM

                        While I tend to be a traditionalist when it comes to sushi, I'll admit that Bun Lai's creations look as tasty as they are creative. They are certainly more interesting results of 'fusion' (whatever THAT means) than the zillions of different iterations of Monster Truck Rolls. And I get that he's young, edgy, and hip (or whatever Gen Xers/Gen Nexters say these days). And I'll further declare that I'm all in on his environmental/sustainable approach. Having said that, tho, I just can't get past the "Ching Chong Roll". And it may be my loss, too.

                        1. re: ricepad
                          Chemicalkinetics RE: ricepad Oct 29, 2012 01:18 PM

                          What about other statements like "*You must be mostly African American to order this roll" or "This roll utilizes the Seven Species of the Hebrew Bible and broccoli, beloved by Jews everywhere"

                          I guess my West Coast sense of humor is just not getting these East Coast jokes -- assuming these are supposed to be jokes. It isn't so much I am offended that I don't see what is so funny here.

                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                            paulj RE: Chemicalkinetics Oct 29, 2012 01:48 PM

                            or '...Rabbi Jim Ponet and his incomparable wife, Elana, who are so wise they must really be Chinese.'

                    3. PotatoHouse RE: BuildingMyBento Oct 31, 2012 03:10 PM

                      Has anyone mentioned the Hawaiian delicacy of Spam Sushi?

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: PotatoHouse
                        Chemicalkinetics RE: PotatoHouse Oct 31, 2012 03:43 PM

                        Actually, I do like California roll. Not the poorly made ones from supermarkets, but a decent freshly made California roll taste good to me. Not my favor sushi, but I definitely like it. Maybe I like avocado. I am not too big of a fan for the Philly roll, but I can eat one.

                        Now, back to your favor Spam sushi....

                        I don't hate Spam. I ate Spam when I was a kid and still like one from time to time (once or twice a year?). However, the combination of Spam and sushi really disgust me. Spam is so processed and so overly salted and so .... and you put that as the main ingredient of sushi. Holy crap. The pictures themselves are repulsive


                        Hawaii can really keep this delicacy in its islands and never export these inventions.

                        1. re: PotatoHouse
                          Bkeats RE: PotatoHouse Oct 31, 2012 03:52 PM

                          Spam musubi? Have you tried it? Its great for breakfast. Don't dismiss it. The salty spam with the rice creates a great contrast.

                          1. re: Bkeats
                            paulj RE: Bkeats Oct 31, 2012 04:36 PM

                            If you have umeboshi (pickled plums) alone you would also describe them as overly salty, but in a rice ball ...

                          2. re: PotatoHouse
                            ricepad RE: PotatoHouse Nov 1, 2012 11:33 AM

                            Musubi is usually made with plain rice, not sushi rice (shari). And I love musubi...gonna have some for lunch today, in fact.

                            1. re: ricepad
                              paulj RE: ricepad Nov 1, 2012 11:54 AM

                              In same spirit as onigiri - plain rice with salty/sour accent.

                              1. re: paulj
                                ricepad RE: paulj Nov 1, 2012 11:56 AM

                                Um, yeah, I know.

                          3. deet13 RE: BuildingMyBento Oct 31, 2012 06:31 PM

                            There's the Cowfish restaurant in Charlotte, N.C. with their Burgushi rolls.

                            I haven't eaten there, but "The Nature Boy's WOOOOO–shi BuffalOOOOO–shi Roll" strikes me as being fairly nontraditional.

                            BTW, someone on Serious Eats did a review on the place recently...

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: deet13
                              vttp926 RE: deet13 Nov 1, 2012 06:52 PM

                              I have not had any of their Burgushi rolls but other menu items and they are usually pretty good with their food. No big complaints except the wait time can be crazy at night. Love their bento boxes since I can get both a burger and a sushi roll.

                            2. EWSflash RE: BuildingMyBento Nov 3, 2012 01:32 PM

                              I don't like cream cheese in sushi at all, but when a friend was entertaining some Japanese customers here in Tucson, they couldn't get enough of it.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: EWSflash
                                paulj RE: EWSflash Nov 3, 2012 03:11 PM

                                How about the Seattle roll with of smoked salmon, cucumber and cream cheese.?

                              2. r
                                redfish62 RE: BuildingMyBento Nov 3, 2012 02:15 PM

                                I like sushi that features pork products but I draw the line at pork sashimi

                                1. Rodzilla RE: BuildingMyBento Nov 3, 2012 03:53 PM

                                  Not actually sushi (no vinegared rice) but the similarities to nigiri are there - "Causa sushi" at Picca in LA - ingredients on top of a bed of causa - mashed yellow potato

                                  causa spicy tuna. spicy mayonnaise, puffed rice, tobiko, cucumber 6
                                  causa snow crab. cucumber, avocado, huancaina sauce 6
                                  causa albacore. garlic chip, ceviche sauce 5
                                  causa scallops. spicy mayonnaise, mentaiko, cucumber 7
                                  causa shrimp. pickled cucumbers, yuzu kosho guacamole 6
                                  causa chicken. celery, cilantro, huancaina sauce 5
                                  causa smoked salmon. hijiki, shallots, aji amarillo yogurt 5
                                  causa spicy yellowtail. spicy mayonnaise, puffed rice, green onions, wasabi tobiko 7
                                  causa unagi. yuzu kosho guacamole, cucumber, eel sauce 5

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Rodzilla
                                    paulj RE: Rodzilla Nov 3, 2012 04:42 PM

                                    Recipe for Peruvian Causa

                                    Are the traditions and expectations for Chirashizushi less rigid than other styles of sushi?

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