If you have the chance to visit Tokyo and happen to be in Shibuya around lunch I highly recommend this place.
Edit: I went there because a friend forwarded me the article and they were very interested in reading the article
Sure, there's people like Jiro, but it just ends up reminding me of the xkcd "photo conoisseur" comic: https://xkcd.com/915/
- The owner going to the market every morning to select what he thinks are the best fish and then haggle for them
- Bringing it back, holding it until a customer orders without letting it spoil
- When ready, preparing it extremely quickly so that it doesn't lose its flavor at room temperature and so that nobody gets sick
- The apprenticeship of the owner's employees (or his past apprenticeship if you'd rather)
I'd love to eat good sushi more often, but again, it's hard to justify that kind of price for such a quick and small meal, given the other things you can find in that price range. I've mostly relegated it to occasional celebrations at this point. It's a splurge.
(Reading back on it, I realize my initial post came off as too aggressively negative. I'm not venting. I actually really am curious about what goes into the price of sushi, and whether it's priced appropriately based on the skills and ingredients involved, or if it's instead treated and (over)priced as a luxury gourmet food like foie gras.)
* Sushi chefs need to be highly trained to make good Sushi, ~5 years. => Can't just pay them the basic 800 yen/hour, it's rather going to start at ~3000 yen.
* You need a few helping hands besides the chef. Fish, egg and even the rice is relatively labour intensive. Remember, it's not just plain rice, it's rice cooked with traditional methods to exactly the right point, mixed with vinaigre with an assistant venting by hand to give it a drier surface.
* Good Sushi needs to be prepared right before consumption, so the Sushi chef will spend at least a few minutes for each portion.
Adding all this up propably comes out at around 5-10 bucks labour cost for a decent portion of Sushi. Add to this the fish, the rent and some markup and you're at your $25. Nothing remarkable really, it's the same for most other high quality foods in large cities.
I just remembered an excellent book I read about an American sushi school, called "The Story of Sushi", where each student was made to learn to filet dozens of different kinds of fish with precision. So I can see why training to be the best of the best would take a long time. But how much of this experience is really necessary to make a standard, delicious nigiri platter? Most people don't go for the exotic options; they go for tuna, salmon, eel, etc. Do most sushi chefs even filet their own fish?
> Remember, it's not just plain rice, it's rice cooked with traditional methods to exactly the right point, mixed with vinaigre with an assistant venting by hand to give it a drier surface.
True, but how much of this detail is really necessary for the flavor, as opposed to fussiness and pride in the craft? In other words, in a blind test, would most people be able to tell the difference between quickly-made sushi rice and sushi rice made "exactly right"?
> Nothing remarkable really, it's the same for most other high quality foods in large cities.
I have to disagree! What other gourmet "fast-ish" food, suitable for lunch, costs $25 in a major city? In all the cities I've been to, most of the famous local fare is in the $10-$15 range at most. I've eaten some of the best food in the world for $10 a pop, easy. (Franklin's BBQ is a good example: hours of grueling work, $10 for half a pound of the best brisket in the world.)
GRANTED: I am speaking from a Californian perspective, so none of this may even apply. I am sure you can get some great $10 sushi in Tokyo and that $25 is reasonable for a more gourmet option, but here, you really have to go $25 and higher for sushi to taste good.
That's exactly like ask why you should hire an engineer that has a degree vs someone who's gone though a coding bootcamp. If you're only doing standard things in a standard way then it's fine (this is by the numbers cooking, which most kitchens/restaurants prepare), so not every line cook needs to be a chef. They just need one in charge of the menu. Sushi is very close to the source ingredient, so for great sushi you do need every person that deals with the fish to be a full chef.
From everything I'd read and seen over the years. Yes, the good ones ($25+ a meal) do filet their own fish.
Also, food cost is a much bigger part of sushi because it's raw. Even a few hours fresher or few minutes less at room temperature makes a big difference, whereas cooked foods are much less sensitive to that kind of fluctuation.
> Franklin's BBQ is a good example: hours of grueling work, $10 for half a pound of the best brisket in the world.
The problem is that high quality sushi isn't by the numbers, but brisket is. You need to adapt quality sushi from day to day and fish to fish. Where brisket as long as you have good enough base ingredients you'll get an excellent brisket. It's more like a high end steak. You don't add many ingredients so even if you're the best chef in the world you can't make up for a mediocre steak.
Why is it so confusing to you that quality food costs more? Yes ingredients matter (more so in sushi than most food), yes it requires a lot of skill to prepare. Not only that, the type of sushi restaurant cited in the article, the chef serves the customer directly as he prepares the food. Surely you can see why that'd cost more?
I was staying with friends in Shinjuku and one who was a chef at a hotel regularly got up at 4-5am to get to Tsukiji fish market in time to get a good fish.
Then there's the rice. Cooking it for just the right amount of time, not squishing any grains, etc.
There are a lot of different variables, and you're trusting the person to get them perfect as opposed to "good enough" in exchange for a bit more money.
I can't see where your confusion is going from but hopefully this cleared things up a little.
Even if you don't like Sushi the documentary itself, the style, the characters, the subjects are just every well done.
That's the first time I have seen that movie mentioned outside the media class that introduced me to it.
To this day I think about it whenever I eat luke-warm ramen or soba that's overcooked.
It's a pretty fun movie.
Here's their take on green tea: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=54iG6deEaW0
This urgency to eat it fast in his shop doesn’t make much sense in with regards to the tradition of sushi he supposedly serves, considering he said that they were served from street stalls — which would have to wait for customers and would be out in the open sun with poor refrigeration (probably nothing besides some ice buckets)…
>The first time I was about to eat a piece of raw clam sushi after drinking some sake, Yajima said something to his wife in Japanese, so she could translate. “Chew it a bit but don’t swallow,” she said. I obeyed. “Now sake!” Yajima barked.
Yeah, so they were drinking sake while eating sushi from steet stalls?
Also, real wasabi acts as an antimicrobial agent, which is a historical precedent for modern sushi chefs pre-applying the proper amount of wasabi to each piece before giving it to you.
The taste does change after it's been prepared. They're being a little bit "soup nazi" with the whole counting of seconds bit, but it is better to taste it freshly made.
It actually makes zero sense to wash the sushi down immediately with sake as it changes the flavor of what you're eating, not to mention the varying flavors and mouthfeels of both sushi and sake. If you have to drink something, make it water - but don't drink a lot before or during the meal or you'll get too full to finish all the sushi.
Sake is considered a rice dish in Japan, and sushi (in this article) is nigiri and not sashimi, so sake would be like an extra rice dish, which is atypical for Japan. I don't see why you couldn't drink sake at a street stall, though, if in America you can drink liquor out of a brown paper bag.
I got the impression that was the intended purpose here, though; you can enjoy the flavours separately, but in the case of the briny sushi that he was served the addition of the sake created a different flavour that was worth trying.
Somehow making some orbservations about what an article says without attacking anyone in this dicussion is controversial?
Not that it's productive to complain about a person's (possible) lack of internal consistency in a story like this anyway... This isn't an article, say, giving advice on building secure software where errors would be dangerous.
This is true of food in general. There's a very common "kid's science" experiment involving slices of raw apple, onion, and potato. Block off your nose, and they all taste the same. You might be able to pick them from textural components, but for most people, there's little difference between the three with the nose shut off.
The down side of all of it is there are many smells which aren't so pleasant that are sometimes very hard to block out. I can usually smell when things are "off" well before they are no longer considered "safe" ... will usually dump out milk, meat, etc days before they're actually expired.
Some things I notice far more than others... I can taste the difference between grass fed, and grain fed beef, I can't tell the difference in bone stock, or in the milk. I can tell the difference in what chickens are fed via eggs (prefer corn fed), but not the meat (usually). I actually love trying just about anything and everything. For the most part the only things I don't care fore are more often about the texture than the taste. I don't care for the texture of raw meat, really fatty food, squash or avocados. I don't mind sushi that's cooked (americanized) or at least torched/seared slightly. But don't care for the really raw/fresh stuff (texture just doesn't appeal to me).
I started getting into cooking a few years ago, and it's amazing how different I feel when I can stick to the stuff I make (not all of it so great for me) vs. even a couple days of fast food or pizza. I wish I could impart what I know/understand now on my 18yo self.
Would it be possible to describe the difference in taste?
> But don't care for the really raw/fresh stuff (texture just doesn't appeal to me).
Isn't freshness also about taste, not texture? (I could never tell when something is "really fresh", when other people could.)
She stopped working at age 98.
Or be a snob, if that's the way you like it.
Highly recommended, even for sushi "experts": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yfMqN2vu2Hg
Ever go to a place and see a little card and pencil with a column each for Nigiri and Maki, with individual fish listed and a quantity line next to it? There you mark down what you want and how many pieces each. Fill out like three of them and submit them to your server after you've got your drinks settled, and you should get them pretty quick. If they don't have these cards, you may not get your order quickly.
Sometimes it's hit or miss; check the reviews online first. Back where I grew up in Florida there was a place where you'd get your order in less than two minutes, but the quality wasn't very good.
For an 'authentic experience', you want a simple place with an old japanese guy or two behind a bar watching a baseball game on a tiny tube TV, possibly with some shouting going on. This is super rare in the US from my perspective, but I have found a few places like this in south florida, so you may have luck elsewhere too.
For just a 'good sushi' experience, you want either a japanese convenience store that makes sushi to order, a super pretentious expensive place pretending to be a high end sushi/sake bar, or a place that randomly has a really well trained chef that imports really quality ingredients [which is typically only pretentious expensive places]. Food blogs are a good resource, though they can often be more pretentious than the restaurants.
I like to try out new places and order either chirashi or whatever the chef's nigiri special is, maybe with tuna or beef tataki beforehand to see their prep skills. Most places that don't have japanese chefs fuck up the tataki, and you can usually predict the rest of the quality from there. If you don't get paper thin slices or they come back over-seared, your sushi is gonna be sub-par.
Note: the best sushi i've ever eaten in my life was last year at the now-closed Barracuda in the Castro, so don't overthink it, just order some nigiri and see what happens.
All those places pale in comparison to some of the best sushi (IMO) in town though, if you're willing to spend quite a bit more. Check out Kusakabe in the Financial District :)
To be fair, I haven't been to every sushi place in the city (or even every sushi place in the Castro), so maybe you can find worse places, but overall I was just very disappointed with Barracuda.
> Every piece I tasted was like a totally different animal
Assuming that you were getting different types of fish with each piece, then I certainly hope they tasted different! If the sushi restaurant you're eating at serves up different fish and they all taste the same (or, god forbid, they all "taste like fish") then that's not a very good sushi restaurant.
'Of the stories you read in traditional media that
aren't about politics, crimes, or disasters, more
than half probably come from PR firms.'
Clicking a link, the first thing I read is the whole article is sponsored. What is a standard sponsored article?
Was the article written and the advert tacked onto the start? Did the advertiser commission the article? Did a PR agency plant it on their behalf? I dislike advertising, a personal preference.
My question was, "how long has medium had sponsored posts?"
But the common more affordable places like revolving sushi or where it's part of a larger set meal, everyone just uses chopsticks.
On those metal chopsticks though, I couldn't disagree more. Ever used them for noodles? It just doesn't grab stuff as well as the wooden ones.
I don't like eating sushi with my hands because I don't like the feeling of dirty hands, even if it's simple to wipe them.
Supposedly (internet fact, knock wood) the "traditional" way is with your fingers, but of course, things change.
While I was visiting Sweden I was treated to a local Birch Wine "Grythyttan Bjorkvin" that was amazing with sushi. I can recommend it to anyone who wants to have a crossover between Scandinavian and Asian cuisine.
I don't know where to get it here in California but I'm sure you guys can disrupt the market and bring it over.
But maybe the chef was just having quite a bit of fun watching customers handle three dimensional rotations with chopsticks :)
Other tips: never ever stick your sticks standing up in a bowl. Slurp your broth/noodles. And finish every grain of rice or noodle you order. (If you're in japan, anyway)
Instead, dab a small amount of wasabi directly on the nigiri, then dip into clean soy sauce. You then enjoy the intense wasabi, and the flavor is separated from the soy.
Less "this is how it should be eaten" and more "I tried eating at this place where the chef insists I follow his rules and I kinda liked it".
I grew up in the US.
Also, you don't have to. You can eat it however you like. But he'll pretend the restaurant is full when you call in for a reservation next time.
I'm amazed sushi restaurants let you in after they notice that. That's a level of disrespect for the chef I can hardly imagine.
You can go ahead and not follow the rules, but that would only lessen your enjoyment of the meal.
Why would you do that to yourself?
Maybe, maybe not. I see no reason sushi would be unique in human experiences by being only enjoyable in one manner by everyone.
Hell, people get pissed off over whether firewood should be stored bark-down or bark-up. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/20/world/europe/in-norway-tv-...
One day...I hope ( `-')-b
This chef has his own particular style of running his sushi-ya, which I personally wouldn't enjoy participating in, as someone who doesn't like to be ordered around by anyone - especially someone I'm paying my money to in order to receive food (I eat to live, not live to eat) - and I'd have probably exited the establishment soon after being barked at :)
Not that I'm a particular fan of raw fish anyway - something that caused no end of comedy and drama during my 6 years in Japan, but that's a tale for some other date and place ;)
I appreciante that local culture - as long as it's reasonable and civilized - should be preserved and given respect.
I just don't believe the "old way" or the "traditional way" is, or should be, the only way to do stuff.
I'm very sure Mr. Yajima's sushi must be a unique, enriching experience, but I enjoy the "western" versions of sushi, with all the cream cheese, free choice of sauces and weird combinations just as much.
Let people eat whatever they like, however they like (restrictions may apply). Giving authoritarian commandments to anything only benefits - at most - half the equation.
It does kind of come off as not "eat this way because I am idiosyncratic chef," but "eat this way because it is the right way."