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Sustainable Sushi?

Does anyone know where (restaurant or market) with this kind of fish menu? Or uses replacements.

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  1. immediately go to phillip at

    Sushi Central
    3500 Overland Ave #100, Los Angeles, California 90034
    (310) 202-6866

    2 Replies
    1. re: westsidegal

      no I don't go there. Anyway there is a place called "tataki" in san francisco I saw in a video.

      1. re: csh123

        Tataki in SF is a joke to those with true Edo style inclinations (and traditional shokunin), and I'm not talking about those who only like and care only for Bluefin tuna.

        I'm sure one of the founders, Casson Trenor means well. He's a Greenpeace Activist and wrote a book on sustainable sushi (in one of the youtube video documentaries whose name I forgot but lasts 1-2 hrs long, he comes across as rather arrogant to the reporter interviewing him), and he's also partnering and relying on Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch guide and using that mostly for determining what type of fish to serve at Tataki. As Eater15 pointed out below, there are some fallacies to the studies, as well as a lack of understanding of some of the fishing practices of other countries. Similarly to how people interpret and respond to Fukushima radiation (currently) in the Pacific Ocean....people in Hong Kong and Taiwan for example are still eating raw fish on a daily basis with no end in sight, almost oblivious to any western media hysteria, whether the fish is sourced from Seto Inland Sea to the west, Kyushu/Southern Japan, or even a lot closer...Hokkaido.

        The chefs at Tataki aren't properly trained to draw flavors out of the fish, nor are good quality fish used. It's certainly a guilt free restaurant in that sense. While I applaud them not using farmed Norwegian salmon or unagi packets from China, their orange fish substitute for salmon isn't good at all, and the sushi rice is inadequately seasoned, plus hardly much in the way of good hikarimono. I mean c'mon....Monterey Bay sardines are good...Pacific NW/Oregon sardines can be awesome too if the JP variety cannot be found. The problem is that it takes a super skilled shokunin to draw out great hikarimono like kohada (80% skill, 20% product) but any self labeled "sushi chef" can take a run of the mill non sustainable fatty farmed fish and serve it (80% product, 20% skill).

        The worst part? Tataki Canyon SF has a tonkotsu ramen. It's edible...until you realize the noodles they use are exactly the Korean instant noodles brand Nongshim...of the Shin Ramyun variety (but not the broth flavoring packet). $10+ down the drain. Imagine the ruckus this would cause amongst LA ramen fans. Sustainable? Sheesh.

        For something that's not so "pretentious" in nature, Akiko's in SF knows how to approach sustainability, at least they go so far as working with vendors, including local ones that do practice some level of sustainable sourcing (like ABS Seafood in SF) despite having a few non sustainable items in stock for the obligatory spicy tuna roll crowd, and they pick and choose varieties for the exotic omakase carefully enough (e.g. line caught alfosino/kinmedai, and many other wild varieties of seasonal delights that are more environmental friendly).

        It's definitely a matter of educating yourself, doing more research, and identifying what the restaurants offer, and asking/finding out what their sources are (and what processes/methods their sources use). Surely LA has wholesalers dealing with certain vendors that do sourcing with vendors practicing sustainable fishing of some sort, and there are restaurants working with them on some level?

    2. order sustainably yourself. don't count on the restaurant.

      if you're getting iwashi, saba, aji, shima aji (often farmed), sanma, etc. and other types of hikari mono, you'll be (mostly) doing the oceans a favor.

      even a place like Matsuhisa will offer plenty on the somewhat "sustainable" fish menu.

      12 Replies
      1. re: TonyC

        There's a great app that a marine biologist friend recommended. It's called "Seafood Watch," from the Monterey Bay aquarium and provides up to date info on what fish, from where, should or should not be on your guilt-free dining list, not just at a sushi bar but at the market. http://goo.gl/1uxIEr

        1. re: jesstifer

          Hey FYI these lists are unbelievably unreliable.

          The research on fisheries, especially in the Pacific, is shockingly inadequate. There are fish listed as do not eat that, at least under certain conditions, would be a great choice for an eco-conscious diner. Much more rarely, there are fish they say are OK that really aren't.

          Good choices would be exactly what TonyC said and albacore, bonito, spanish mackerel, yellowtail, halibut, squid, octopus, urchin, pacific yellowfin tuna, local bluefin tuna (doubt you'll find it) and generally pretty much anything but bluefin and shrimp. All good choices.

          The key is to avoid fish caught by trawling and netting, and to a slightly lesser extent, longlines. Now, a lot of the albacore, BFT and YFT you'll see were caught this way, but YFT longlined from the Pacific for example isn't bad, whereas from other parts of the world is bad. It really has to do with how the fishing industry works in the area where these fish are caught. Pacific stocks of YFT are healthy, ditto for albacore. Albacore is pretty much impossible to net, so it's a better choice than any other tuna. This is part of why those lists are unreliable; they don't take this stuff into account and therefore they overgeneralize.

          1. re: Eater15

            Not being argumentative, but can you give an example or two of specific items on seafoodwatch.org's list you take issue with?

            http://www.seafoodwatch.org/cr/cr_sea...

            1. re: jesstifer

              Sure, I just spent about 3 minutes looking at it and I already see that the grouper and croaker categories don't even list pacific species. So there's an example of how you can order a plate of "grouper" and be totally mislead, either into thinking its OK when it's not or vice-versa.

              Here's another off the top of my head example, a very common fish from baja down to central america is listed as vulnerable by the IUCN, and I suspect even the uninitiated can easily spot the BS in this: http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/14...

              I actually know people involved in this study and firsthand, they basically said they sent some students down to baja where they did like, 15 scuba dives total and determined that there's only one main spawning aggregation for the whole species (lol) and the biomass has reduced by 50% over the last 10 years (based on studying this one site.

              )

              Overall, it's pretty shady.

              1. re: Eater15

                Fair enough, and thanks for the link. I'm neither a biologist nor a sustainable crusader, but I'm keen to learn. I would be a little sad, though, if my sushi options were limited to the various mackerel type fish, squid, and octopus. (I'm purposely using English, for the sake of those as unlettered in Japanese as I am.)

                Although a life of Spanish Mackerel and, say, kumamotos would not suck.

                I found this blog post incredibly informative.

                http://markbittman.com/want-sustainab...

                1. re: jesstifer

                  jesstifer,
                  i don't think you'd feel that sad. i haven't touched a piece of bluefin in ages. see photo from Matsuhisa for reference. instead of going for the creamy mouthfeel of fatty tuna, one'd "settle" for flavor and funk. also, the lower overall bill would mean you'd be able to eat sushi more often.

                  http://books.google.com/books/about/S...
                  this book on sustainable sushi, preview available on google, is also useful since it has both english/japanese phonetic (and photos!). I find it better than the seafoodwatch, which is just too damned preachy and provide too many unkowns (per Eater15) above.

                  another example of disingenuous sustainable fish eating: Ora king salmon has being pumped out to all these LA restaurants since '12. these year-round salmon are farmed in NZ, then flown in. i mean, really, why not just wait for salmon season in the NW?

                   
                  1. re: TonyC

                    but bluefin toro is soooooooooo delicious.

                    1. re: TonyC

                      why wait for salmon season when it's (apparently!) salmon season all year long in NZ? lol

                      1. re: ns1

                        what about copper river salmon ??????

                        i think that's seasonal or some shit like dat.

                        1. re: kevin

                          copper river is in the N(orth)W(est). New Zealand is.. not.

                          Ora is being marketed as one of the most "sustainable" salmon in the world right now, even hosting a dinner at Nobu Malibu. It's also being marketed as sustainable sashimi and you can buy filets locally: http://www.catalinaop.com/Fresh_Ora_K...

                          In addition to skipping toro *ahem, kevin*, I try not to consume flippantly marketed fishes (swai, escolar being called "white tuna", etc.).

                          i will eat the hell out of that lamb shank though. i mean, they're really way cuter than fishes, but.. yumm-o.

                          1. re: TonyC

                            oh, yes, the old swai being passed off as whitefish.

                            i don't think there's anything sustainable about nobu.

                            i hope my avocado smoothies and cafe sua dua are sustainable too, i really don't think i can give those up.

                            1. re: TonyC

                              garage restaurant sounds dope.

          2. There are sushi places that serve "farm raised" fish as a source for sushi.

            But my sushi expert friend (a sushi chef who is very well regarded in this forum) looks down on that and much prefers the wild stuff.

            1 Reply
            1. re: foodiemahoodie

              Pretty sure a great majority of the traditional shokunin out there will echo that sentiment.

            2. The original comment has been removed
              1. We split a really interesting discussion of the market forces driving overfishing over to the General Topics board. Check it out here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/968620