I've Never Eaten Sushi

I wonder if the Japanese have similar beliefs and rituals when they eat, say, a hamburger? That’s really what sushi is - Japanese fast food.

Ah yes, Asahi, Japan’s #1 beer, brewed and bottled in Canada. :slight_smile:

I used to work at a sushi restaurant (I was a busboy). Basically I’d be wary of the stuff you find pre-packaged at a supermarket or convenience store (!), but in a sit-down restaurant, you’re probably safe (the more people you see in there, the better the place it is, was my parents’ rule of thumb).

The thing about sushi is it’s a lot fresher than you think. I was surprised the first time I saw the chef in the back room cutting up an entire fish. For some reason I always assumed it came to the restaurant in those colorful bricks you see behind the bar.

Making sushi also takes a bit of skill; every now and then a waitress would sneak behind the bar and try her hand at it. It’s like a picasso painting made with crayons; the difference is obvious.

And don’t stress about the “proper” way to eat it. Ask for the chopsticks that are tied together with rubber bands if you feel like it. The idea is to have fun; I’ve seen more people getting noticably drunk at the sushi restaurant than at bars I went to for years.

Dunno about just hamburger, but cheeseburgar quite possibly. My japanese mates have lived here for a few years now, and still get all weak at the knees when they order a pizza. Cheese is exotic/expensive in asia, so pasta and pizza restaurants are (according to my mate) very swishy. She gets a guilty grin every time we bring home pizza and seems slightly shocked that we just ram it into our faces without taking the time to appreciate it :slight_smile:

Hahaha, pizza…

Arrrggghh!!! My entire post just got erased. Let’s try this again.

re: wasabi in soy sauce
As jovan mentioned, nearly everyone here mixes extra wasabi into their soy sauce. Big platters of sushi always come with extra mounds of wasabi specifically for this purpose. Those who do not add more wasabi refrain because they just don’t like so much wasabi with their sushi, not because they feel it would be “uncouth.” If sushi chefs say different then this is an indication that wasabi-adding riff raff are an international problem, not specifically an American one.

re: dipping the rice vs. dipping the fish
I’m sure there is an issue of “decorum” involved here as well, but my impression was always a much more simple one: you avoid dipping the rice because getting it wet makes it fall apart before you can get it into your mouth. It’s all practical.

re: fingers vs. chopsticks
I have been told by a number of people that using the fingers is actually the proper way to eat sushi. Some have even told me that it was those heathens out in Osaka who started eating it with chopsticks. Who knows? More importantly, who cares? You see people doing both here. At any rate, don’t be embarrassed to eat with your fingers.

re: “good” sushi
As has been mentioned a number of times, “good” sushi is sushi that tastes good to you. Having said that, once you have had really good sushi, you will be forever ruined. Really good sushi is difficult to find even in Japan, though I find that most of it is pretty dependable. I’ve had some really awful stuff in the States, but also some pretty good stuff too.

An added plus to going to sushi restaurants is that they have the best green tea and the best miso soup anywhere.

Oddly enough, the best sushi I ever had was at a place called Gombei-zushi in King’s Cross, London!

Not as many, but they’re there. For one, never hold the sandwich directly: you unwrap the burger halfway and hold it through the paper as you eat. The wrapper catches anything that spills out the back, but it gets awkward as you get to the last 1/3 of the sandwich. I usually cheat by holding the burger with my thumb and first two fingers, and the wrapper with my ring and pinkie fingers, thus keeping a firm grip on my food while still catching drips and drops.

And I agree with gobear (except about natto. Yum!). Most ‘authentic’ sushi places are pretty casual. If this is the first sushi place in your neighborhood, chances are that a lot of customers are new to it, so go there when they’re not too busy, get a seat at the counter and ask the chef for pointers. He’ll probably be happy to explain the ins and outs to someone who’s interested in learning.

Anyway, enjoy!

This has been a wonderfully educational thread.

This explains why I end up with a chopstick full of fish and all the rice soaking in the bowl.

Can anyone explain why they have to make the pieces so damned big? I have to work pretty hard to shove it all in my mouth at once, then have to sit there with my hand over my mouth while chewing, and hoping that I don’t spit some out onto my date’s lap before I can swallow it all down.

What I really like is a big bowl of toasted sesame seeds with sushi. Do people eat it that way in Japan?

A bowl of sesame seeds? I’ve never seen such a thing here. How do you eat it? Do you sprinkle it? Dip your sushi in it?

Really traditional sushi doesn’t use sesame sesame, though black sesame is sometimes used in more “fusion” type sushi.

Heh – I bet I’ve got you beat on this front.

My fiance and I went to a pan-Asian buffet a couple of weeks ago: we were out shopping for a sofa and were getting hungry and grouchy, so we stopped at the first restaurant we saw.

In amongst the macaroni and cheese, the day-old spicy green beans, the jello, there was a tray of sushi rolls. I grabbed one, thinking that the pink slab inside was some sort of fish.

Oh, no. Not fish. I got back to my table and examined it more closely, and realized it was a slice of hot dog.

We’re, um, never ever ever going back there.