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How to distinguish a good sushi bar from a bad sushi bar

“If it looks like sushi, it’s sushi”

No doubt that making sushi is not just a culinary craft, but is also considered an art perfected throughout life. Below are some memories and points that highlight various things that make sushi bars good and bad. Things like the conditions of the store, the quality of the ingredients, etc., but more importantly, the sushi chefs themselves are the ones who stand out for affecting good sushi vs. poor sushi comparison.

Sushi Bar “bad” 1: Tokyo, Japan – A local place caught my eye as a quick and cheap way to end my weekly sushi craving. Unfortunately, most of the time, “cheap” and “fast” should be taken as red flags when it comes to sushi. The restaurant immediately smelled fishy upon entering and after taking my seat the counter smelled of cleaner, a sign that the food would not go well. However, hunger and convenience took over my reason and I began to order.

Every order seemed to take 5 minutes and, in my opinion, too long to serve one person out of half a dozen customers, most of them already on their way to the register. I noticed right away that the fish was spending too much time in the chef’s hands, and it smelled and tasted slightly of other types of fish, meaning that he was not cleaning his hands well between orders. After a few pieces, I decided to cut my visit short and finish with a piece of sushi that I thought no sushi place could go wrong. maguro nigiri (tuna sushi), but again they failed me. Despite a 3-4 minute wait (now being the only customer in the store), the maguro was ice cold and still frozen in the center despite being handled for so long. I paid my (short) bill and left with a promise never to return (I wonder if the 6 or more customers before me also thought the same …).

Some points to take out of this experience:

  • A sushi restaurant shouldn’t smell especially fishy, ​​as that means the ingredients are not fresh, or (unlikely) have overstocked with fatty fish such as mackerel or salmon (low quality).
  • Waste from excessive use of cleaning chemicals it interferes with your sense of smell, partially ruining the taste of sushi – giving those part-time workers extra cleaning tasks during the day wasn’t worth it.
  • Spending sushi too long in the hands of a chef there is a risk of coming into too much contact with the heat of the chef’s hands and the oils of the human body, which can reduce the freshness of the fish and interfere with the overall taste of the sushi. It might have been fresh once, but it only took 5 minutes to screw it up.
  • Sushi ingredients except for bintoro (bincho maguro) should not be frozen because it is not only similar to eating a sashimi palette, question the freshness of the ingredients (if it’s still frozen, it wasn’t obtained at any point in the near past).

Sushi Bar “bad” 2: An even smaller place in Shinagawa, Japan, noted for having a fresh, made-to-order menu at a reasonable price. I tried, but I was turned off for different reasons than at “Bad” Sushi Bar 1. For example, shortly after placing the order, I could see the sushi chefs who were on standby. tuxedo in the kitchen. Just imagining the smell of tobacco and the nicotine stains on the fingers that make my sushi was enough to make me a little wary of what I would soon be feasting on. I also noticed that all the fish to be used for sushi was pre-cut and placed on metal trays in the counter’s transparent cooling units. I thought this was a bit of a disappointment as I want to make sure the fish is pulled from a fresh “slab” of tuna, etc.

My custom sushi plate was made in record time and was picture perfect. While I appreciate speed when served in a restaurant, I also know that it takes skill and care in handling ingredients to produce a good product. The sushi looked like a work of art, but it was very fragile. The rice fell apart with the slightest touch and neither mastery of chopsticks nor subsequent efforts by hand could prevent my soy sauce plate from filling up with grains of rice. It was a real pain to eat. Also, the cut fish seemed hastily cut and some chunks were crooked, affecting its taste as it mixed with the rice inside my mouth. That is another place I will not return to.

  • Pre-cut fishAlthough it had no immediate impact on flavor that I could tell, it looks like it was ripped out of a machine.
  • Not only should the sushi look appetizing, it should also hold its shape with little effort from the diner.
  • Sushi takes time to make, but that time must be devoted to skill and care. “If it looks like sushi, then it’s sushi” she failed here.
  • While there are many “fast food sushi” shops, it will take quite a few visits and many disappointments to find the perfect place.

“Good” Sushi Bar: A memorable experience in Fukuoka, Japan, in a sushi bar that was very crowded but very good and it was worth the 20 minute wait for lunch. The store was clean and smelled of tatami and vinegar rice. The lonely sushi chef had mastered a simple 5 step nigiri (molding) a process that limited contact with your hands, wasted no movement, and prevented the finished product from falling into your lap. The fish in each piece of sushi was professionally cut as each order arrived and it was a nice sight to watch the knife work. The highest level of freshness and consideration of customers’ needs was very evident and the chef, even during slow periods, did not take a break to smoke or anything that would detract from the quality of his sushi. A glass of water and a damp towel seemed to be the only items she needed to keep going.

Probably the most memorable thing about being served by this chef was that after eating his sushi, he asked, “How are you?” He got engaged to me and wanted me to criticize his work, a sign that he not only cares about how I feel about his sushi but tells me he wants to improve, one of the fastest ways to improve as a sushi chef is to listen directly. . the client’s.

  • TO from the chef Appearance and manners at work is a clear sign of how good your sushi will be. Clean, disciplined chefs seem to make better sushi. Dirty, smoky chefs may not be giving you their best (as they were in previous cases).
  • The sushi chef must make it clear to his client, who in a sense is his “audience”, that his performance it will result in a high quality sushi, from cutting to molding and presentation.
  • In many cases, the price and speed are reduced to offer the customer the minimum of what they need; fast food does it very well. However, this should not be the case with sushi: the best sushi chefs skillfully Balance time with effort, action with results and most importantly, balance your expectations with your abilities.

When searching for your next fine Sushi destination, it is useful to keep the above points in mind. Some points cannot be noticed simply with a glance, but hopefully consulting through word of mouth or checking restaurant reviews online or in newspapers can help you make a good decision. The next time you pass a sushi bar, take a look through the window and watch the chef mold some pieces of sushi. Is it taking (too) too long? Are you rushing from piece to piece? He smokes? Do you relate to your customer? All of these things can be observed and noted, so that when you finally enter the store, you can have a general idea of ​​what to expect.

* Previous experiences may differ from yours, but if you think any information is wrong, feel free to contact the author.

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