Ever had REAL wasabi?

I’ve known for some time that the wasabi served in most sushi joints was reconstituted from powder. What I learned recently was:

-this powder is almost always a mix of horseradish and mustard, and
-real wasabi is pretty rare and expensive.

I saw a “How It’s Made” show last week that featured a piece about how wasabi is grown. They showed the work that’s done on the largest wasabi farm in the world - which is a mere 37 acres. Wasabi is a pain in the ass to grow, requiring very specific temperatures to germinate, specific temperatures for optimum growth rate, and very specific soil conditions (lots of gravel and water, and not much else).

I use a lot of freshly-grated ginger at home, and when I saw freshly-grated wasabi on TV, it looked like it had a very similar texture. And to date, I have not seen that texture in the wasabi I was served at Japanese restaurant, so I’m pretty sure I’ve never been served the real deal.

So…have you ever had real, freshly-grated wasabi? Does it taste substantially different from the reconstituted substitute? What sort of restaurant do you have to go to in order to receive real wasabi?

Yes, straight from the root, at MF Buckhead, in Atlanta.

It’s an entirely different creature than the bright green paste.

I have never tasted the real thing, and have always wondered how it is even legal to label the horseradish paste or powder I’m familiar with as wasabi.

a show in that series? if so which one?

a different show, which one?

We get sushi from the local grocery store about once a week, and the packets that come with it are the real deal. I’ve gotten totally spoiled by having real wasabi- it’s kind of a let-down now whenever we go to a sushi restaurant have to make do with the standard mustard-and-horseradish mix.

Looks like it was “How Do They Do It?”, a similar series. The particular episode featured duck calls, wasabi, and accordions.

For some reason that episode doesn’t come up on the Wikipedia page for the series.

Don’t think I’ve ever had fake wasabi, but am interested in hearing how it compares to the real stuff.

I don’t think real wasabi is entirely different from the green horseradish stuff they have at most American sushi restaurants. But it is definitely not as sharp as horseradish or mustard. It has a more mellow, refined flavor, and is more fragrant. (Although the only times I’ve had real wasabi, it was freshly grated, so that would add to the fragrance.)

Have you had horseradish? If so, you have a pretty good idea of the difference.

Yes; I’ve had it grated in front of me by the chef in a small subterranean sushi place in Kyoto.

I had an hour or so to kill before going on a temple tour and decided to wander in and sat at the counter. So I went downstairs to the underground complex of small cafes and sat at his counter. He didn’t speak much English and I speak virtually no Japanese but that wasn’t a problem. So our conversation was a bit disjointed but thanks to an illustrated dictionary I think I got the gist of most of the dishes. I had about seven different little dishes, all of which were made right in front of me. And it was the best meal I’ve ever had without a shadow of a doubt.

I think pulykamell’s description is spot on. It’s not as sharp or one-dimensional as the usual green stuff I’ve had, but it’s not completly different either.

Oh and fugu is meh, whether raw or cooked.

I had real wasabi a number of times when I was living in Japan, and while there is a difference between this and the horseradish stuff it’s not a huge difference. IMHO there’s a bigger difference between yellow mustard and deli mustard than there is between true wasabi and horseradish wasabi.