|Anyone who knows me knows that I LOVE sushi! In fact, I'm an admitted addict. I began eating sushi when I first lived in Japan back in
1984, and I haven't stopped since. Sushi has become hugely popular in the States over the past 10 or 20 years. You can find sushi
restaurants in most any major U.S. city, and almost everyone has at least tried some version of sushi. That being said, it's important to
understand that what most non-Japanese consider sushi plainly isn't. The large majority of Americans go to a sushi restaurant and
order rolls. Rolls are almost strictly an American invention (an often tasty one) and wouldn't particularly be considered "sushi" by a
Japanese; at least not up until a mere few years ago. There are three rolls which are considered traditional in Japan: tekkamaki,
kappamaki, and futomaki. However, you would be hard pressed to find an American ordering these. So, although I agree that there are
many wonderfully delicious rolls out there, I'd advise that one make the important distinction between American-style rolls and "sushi."
"Sushi" is generally limited to either nigiri (slabs of fish upon small cakes of rice), sashimi (sliced raw fish, no rice), or Chirashi (bowl of
rice with various raw fish atop). Some of my favorite fish include Aji, Tai, Toro, Kampachi, Uni, and Saba. Though I also enjoy Anago,
Unagi, Tako, and Ankimo. Chances are that if you're at a quality restaurant and appreciate fresh fish, you can order almost anything
and find it to your liking. Choosing a quality restaurant is THE most important aspect of indulging one's craving for sushi. Sushi is unlike
any other type of food, not only because it is generally served raw, but also because of it's delicate nature and it's often difficult
accessiblity (most sushi quality fish must be flown in from distant locations). I would strongly advise all those interested in eating sushi
to take the time and effort to do some research on one's sushi bar of choice before spending time or money there.
There are a few specific things you'll want to look for in a good sushi bar. First of all, it's nice if you know someone personally that really
knows their sushi who can steer you in the right direction. If not, it's generally a good idea to choose a restaurant that is owned and
operated by Japanese. Secondly, there are many sushi bars that are run by Koreans and Chinese who often try to exploit the ignorance
of Americans by attempting to pass themselves off as Japanese. Avoid these at all costs! This is in no way a racist comment. I love
Korean food too, and seek out Korean run places when I want Korean food. But again, sushi is unique, and the Japanese have an inate
sense of respect and understanding of what it's all about. This is not to say that there aren't bad/mediocre Japanese run joints - there
are! However, your chances of getting a quality product are much higher if the fish is purchased and prepared by a Japanese chef.
You would also be well advised to eat sushi at a place which regularly has seasonal fish and specials which often include the more
exotic/expensive types of fish. Even if you plan to stick to the more common or inexpensive choices, having the "specialty fish" on the
menu is often an indicator that ALL the selections are of quality. Personally, I also like to see a nice selection of quality sake as well
(not only the cheap Gekkeikan or Shochikubai; beware these). This indicates a proprietor who has considerations beyond the bottom
I suppose it goes without saying, but the general cleanliness and quality of service should also never be ignored. In adddition, if you're
at the restaurant to eat sushi, always sit at the sushi bar instead of a table. The food, service, and authenticity of atmosphere is
Feel free to email questions or comments about your sushi experiences to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
|Guidelines for eating sushi:
For some, especially beginners, the idea of entering a sushi restaurant, bellying up to the bar, ordering and
eating sushi can be an intimidating prospect. It doesn't have to be, and it's unfortunate that this seems to be one
of the reasons some people never expose themselves to the joys of this wonderful cuisine. Here is some
advice/guidelines that might help those who are intimidated. These suggestions will also undoubtedly help those
who already enjoy sushi to have an even better and more "authentic" experience.
-When entering an authentic sushi restaurant (or when approaching the bar) the chef(s) will often (and should)
call out "irashaimase!" This is simply a traditional welcome, inviting you to enter or feel free to take a seat.
-If you have a smaller group (4 people or less) and plan on eating mainly sushi you should sit at the sushi bar. If
you have a bigger group or plan to mostly order non-sushi items you should not sit at the sushi bar.
-A common faux pas amongst non-Japanese sushi consumers is over-pouring/over-dunking the shoyu (soy
sauce). Pour the shoyu into the provided dish so that the amount is equal to the diameter of a half-dollar. You can
always re-pour when that has been exhausted! When dipping sushi pieces into the shoyu it should only be lightly
and quickly dipped. DO NOT DUNK OR SOAK THE SUSHI! This defeats the whole point of eating the delicate
and subtle tasting fish. Also try and dab the fish side into the shoyu and NOT the rice (this often results in
soaking the nigiri).
-Do not add wasabi to the shoyu! This is only done when eating sashimi, not nigiri. If you desire a bit more
wasabi on your nigiri sushi, simply place the extra wasabi atop the fish itself. Another tip is to ask your chef for
"hon wasabi" or "real wasabi." Most restaurants will automatically serve only a cheaper paste/powder version.
Ordering "hon" wasabi will not only likely get you a higher quality wasabi with your meal, but will signal the chef
that you know what you're doing, and you're less likely to be served cheaper/smaller cuts of fish.
-Sushi is traditionally eaten with one's hands. When you are first seated you should receive a moist hand-towel
from your waiter/waitress. Use this towel to wipe your hands and face. This towel is not to be used as a napkin
during the meal. If you prefer eating your sushi with chopsticks feel free, but note that most sushi connoisseurs
use their hands.
-Order sushi directly with the chef when at the sushi bar. If they want you to order through the waitress or fill out a
paper form this is a sign you are not in a very quality or authentic restaurant. Find another.
-If you are the type of sushi customer that enjoys most all traditional offerings, it is highly advised that you order
"omakase" (chef's choice). This will guarantee you the best meal available due to the fact that the chef knows day
to day what fish are most fresh and in which order they are best enjoyed. I do not suggest you order omakase if
you are picky about what you want or are in a restaurant that is less than great.
-Do not drink soft drinks alongside sushi. Your best accompaniment is beer or sake. If you don't drink alcohol then
I would suggest you opt for green tea, iced tea, or water. Sweet drinks will detract from the full flavor of the sushi.
-Sushi often has a somewhat traditional order in which it is consumed. Some types of fish are generally served
early on, while others are served near the end of the meal. Don't feel obligated to know this order other than to
know that ordering "tamago" scrambled egg nigiri is traditionally a sign that you are at the end of your meal. This
may prompt the chef to begin preparing your bill.
-At the end of a meal it is traditional to take several minutes sipping green tea. When you have finished your
meal, order this tradtional serving of green tea by asking for "agari," which is a specific way of ordering this
particular tea. At other times green tea is refered to as "ocha."
-Some people are often confused by the fact that some sushi bars have a tip jar placed atop the sushi case. After
almost 25 years of eating sushi I too cannot figure out why. Ignore this jar. Put your tip on the bill or with your
server as you would at any other restaurant.
|"How to Sushi"
(Silly Parody on how to eat sushi. Yes, it's PARODY folks, not to be taken seriously!)
2233s. Highland Drive
|This is a little sushi bar located in the Sugarhouse district of Salt Lake.
While once a top end sushi spot I frequented regularly, Tsunami has over
time entered the realm of mediocrity. This is really unfortunate as I at one
time recommended the place enthusiastically. The main reason for
Tsunami's decline is the fact that Kris and Scott now oversee three
Tsunami locations. This has caused them to pay less and less attention
to their original location. It is also worth noting that their most talented
chefs have all left and you will rarely see either Kris or Scott working
behind the bar anymore as they have been forced into prioritizing the
management side or their business. I wish them continued success but
can no longer recommend Tsunami with the enthusiasm I once did.
67 N 100 S
|I've been eating sushi here on and off for over 25 years, and I've seen the place go through all sorts of
changes. It's seen both highs and lows. In 2009 it even changed it's name for the first time since it's inception
in the mid '70s from "Mikado" to "Naked Fish." Although this sushi bar, one of the first in the entire nation,
was at it's peak around 2004-2005, it suffered badly from the departure of it's greatest asset, Executive Sushi
Chef T.J. Hojo. It was unworthy of my patronage for many years, and was a victim of some very bad
management which eventually resulted in the bankruptcy of it's parent company. However, in mid-2010 a
small miracle happened when once again, after spending time in both Japan and San Diego, T.J. Hojo
returned as head sushi chef. Almost immediately after his return The Naked Fish rocketed to the top of my
list, even surpassing Takashi in my mind. I highly suggest taking advantage of the amazing OMAKASE option
prepared by T.J. himself at the sushi bar! The OMAKASE also will include cooked options prepared in the
kitchen by renowned Chef Toshio Sekigawa. Tell them Brad sent you!
18 W Market Street
|Takashi Gibo has been known for years in this town as the reliable sushi chef at long-time sushi staple Shogun Sushi.
He has now opened his own place just 1/2 block away from Shogun and has taken most of Shogun's business with it.
Early on Takashi struggled to hit it's stride. The sushi was often good, but rarely great, while prices remained high. There
has been massive turnover in staff and experienced chefs have generally been replaced by novice sushi "rollers." Well,
I'm happy to report that most of these hindrances seem to be behind them, and now I can easily say that Takashi is
arguably one of the best sushi restaurants in the country (particularly if Takashi himself is preparing your sushi!). While
the service is still sometimes hit and miss, and personalities behind the bar often are dreary, the sushi is now at a very
high level of quality and selection. Takashi's has always been a nice spot for taking a date or business clients, and it's
now also fortunately become a great spot for me to pop into on the fly in order to satisfy my regular sushi cravings.
|In New York
|The explosion of sushi bars in Manhattan over the past 10 or 15 years is truly overwhelming. But once
you've eaten sushi at Yasuda, you'll never have to look for any other sushi place in New York again. This is a
first rate sushi bar, and stands as a model of what a great sushi bar should be. Sit in front of Yasuda-san and
let him decide what you eat (Omakase). With an interior design dominated by clean lines, wood, glass, and
stainless steel, the atmosphere is classy yet comfortable. And with a menu that includes three types of
Ankimo and a great list of high-end sake, you are bound to have a uniquely satifying dining experience.
WARNING: Consider taking out a second mortgage before coming here. Sushi like this ain't cheap!
204 E 43rd St.
(Btwn 2nd and 3rd Ave)
|In San Diego
532 Fourth Ave
|This is a very conveniently located sushi spot in the heart of San Diego's Gaslamp District. There is
nothing flashy or unique about it, but if you're in need of a good dose of straight forward, traditional sushi
dishes, this is your place. There are a selection of "combo" plates that make for a good way to sample a
variety of fish, and allows for the chefs to select that which is particularly fresh and seasonal. I also love
the fact that the sake is served in a traditional wooden "masu". My sake of choice here is the Otokoyama.
|This may be my favorite sushi bar outside of Japan. Though Yoshii has moved from it's original Darling Harbour location to
this new spot in The Rocks, no doubt the quality of fish and presentation is as good as ever. Ryuichi Yoshii is a master chef
with a passion for making his sushi unique and beautiful. He is also the author of The Essential Kitchen series Sushi book.
While the service can be questionable at times (not untypical in Australia), the experience you'll have sitting at the bar in front
of Yoshii-san will no doubt give you a new and satisfying perspective on what sushi is all about. Again I suggest ordering
Omakase (chef's choice).
Clock Tower Square
Argyle and Harrington
|Until discovering Yoshii, this quaint and convenient place served as my regular spot. Nothing fancy, but very
good food, skilled chefs, friendly staff, and reasonable prices make for a fun and satisfying sushi
experience. Even after making Yoshii my "home base," I couldn't keep away from Shiki for any length of
time. Ask for the torch-seared Toro. Wow!
|Thank the good Lord for Sushi Train! This is a sushi spot unlike any noted here. It is in fact a Kaitenzushi
(sushi restaurant where the sushi turns on a large circular belt). Kaitenzushi is generally of lower quality and
therefore cheaper. This place actually reminds me of many Kaitenzushi places in Japan, in that the quality is
still high, while atmosphere remains casual and prices reasonable. This is the type of place that can easily
get you addicted to sushi because it's affordable enough to go back again and again and again...
4 W. Roy Street
Seattle, WA 98119
|The place is low key, with a real "neighborhood" feel to it. Chef Ken Yamamoto is a
unique and genuine personality, and his fish is excellent. He even has a tank of Ame Ebi
(sweet shrimp) on display from which he snags the little guys just seconds before they're
sitting on your plate as a piece of nigiri. The sake selections are also solid. Again, your
best menu option is the "omakase" chef's choice. You won't be disappointed. Also, if you
want to ensure a reservation with the best seats at the bar tip Richard, the concierge at
the W Hotel five bucks and let him do it; he's a personal friend of Chef Yamamoto.
|In Los Angeles
11288 Ventura Blvd.
|This is one of the most well known and highly regarded sushi bars in the L.A. area. Sushi Nozawa, located on Ventura Blvd. in Studio
City is known as home of Chef Nozawa, "the sushi Nazi," who runs an incredibly tight ship. If you don't know sushi protocol or aren't
open to eating most any type of fish you best not go to Sushi Nozawa. Legend has it that anyone who orders California Rolls or puts
ginger in their wasabi will be immediately kicked out.Sushi Nozawa is a very nondescript little shop located within an equally
nondescript little strip mall. Judging be the looks of the place there is absolutely nothing that might distinguish it from any number of
forgettable sushi places in any number of cities. The menu here is limited and you basically eat what Chef Nozawa decides to serve
you. Do not ask for seconds! The fish is certainly good, not great, and the presentation simple yet unique. The sushi rice is served
very warm, something not normally "kosher," but this is one of the unique takes Chef Nozawa has on his sushi. All in all the sushi here
is satisfying but hardly worthy of the extreme hype it often enjoys. It also is slightly more expensive than it probably should be.
926 NW 10th Ave
Portland, OR 97209
Phone: (503) 619-0580
|Hiroshi is a simple but beautiful restaurant containing a long sushi bar at
the front and a floor of tables off to the side. The design is very
"Contemporary Japansese" in that it is big, open, and sleek, yet
incorporates distinctly Japanese elements such as the liberal use of wood
and the placement of ikebana (Japanese flower arrangements). Master
Hiroshi, the immaculately dressed owner and head sushi chef. Master
Hiroshi is a lifelong sushi chef of about 60 years old. Originally from
Hokkaido, he and his wife have been in The States many years now.
The quality and selection of sushi here is just what you would expect to
find in an authentic, high-end restaurant. While there may certainly be
other good sushi restaurants in Portland, I figure "why fix what isn't
broken," and would consider this the city's standard.
Corner of 13th South and 11th East
|This is another sushi spot that has seemingly been around forever. Truth be told, I even worked as a waiter here
while a college student back in the '80s. However, at that time, there was no sushi served here. It served merely
as a traditional Japanese restaurant specializing in dishes such as sukiyaki, teriyaki, and tempura. It's tough to
imagine now, but back in the mid-80's there just wasn't a demand for sushi. We've all come a long way, and so
has Kyoto. They have been operating a great sushi bar within the expanded walls of the original location. All
three main sushi chefs (Akira, Katsu, and Testuya) are Japanese. These guys are traditionalists and put out
straight forward, yet high quality sushi. Don't expect anything "fusion" here, but do expect to find a number of
specialty fish and well stocked quantities of higher end selections such as Uni and Toro. The decor is simple
and traditional, the chefs friendly but quiet, and the overall atmosphere relaxed and professional. Owners
Yoshiko and "Sam" Tada are also wonderful people who can often be found out and about on the floor greeting
and chatting with customers.
|I "Love" Sushi
368 S. State Street
SLC, Utah 84111
|If I'm not mistaken, I believe this is actually a chain restaurant (though this is the only one in Utah). That
alone is normally something that would keep me away. However, I have experienced nothing but great
sushi here. I initially tried this otherwise inconspicuous place due to reading a very positive review from
local food critic Ted Scheffler. I don't really trust Ted's knowledge or pallet when it comes to Japanese
food (especially sushi), but he seemed truly impressed, so I sought it out. Sure enough, despite being
modest in size and appearance, I "Love" Sushi is legit. The head chef/owner is a half Korean, half
Japanese guy named Catfish. Catfish is not only a personable and very likeable guy, but is a
knowledgeable and conscientious sushi chef. If I'm downtown and unable to get a seat at Takashi or
Naked Fish I head straight to I "Love" Sushi..
|Sushi and Kushi Imai
8300 Wilshire Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA 90211
|I've always been disappointed in the sushi scene in L.A.. After all, this is a big town, and located right next to the ocean. Additionally,
there are A LOT of foodies here and many who can easily afford to dine out on top-notch sushi year round. One would automatically
expect there would be a plethora of great sushi joints, but surprisingly there is not. There are some great places around, but it takes a
lot of work to find them. I've been lucky enough to have found another of these recently (2010). This place is Sushi and Kushi Imai. This
very professional and comfortable place is Japanese owned and run, and not only provides beautiful sushi but grilled "kushiyaki" items
such as eggplant, sirloin steak, and scallops. The sushi menu is extensive, with a number of rarely seen specialties. They also have an
impressive sake selection and separate bar area in the back that appears quite popular, especially during there happy hour. A bonus
to me personally is that Sushi Imai happens to be located right around the corner from my good friend Gary's place, where I stay most
times I'm in town. So happy to have found Sushi and Kushi Imai!