When I was still living in Thailand some years ago, I took my nephew and his schoolmate to my usual sushi restaurant in Bangkok. It is a small sushi restaurant, run by a Japanese owner and served by sushi chefs from Japan. After one piece of sushi, his friend, Josh, gasped and said, almost in disbelief, “Oh my god, this is… nothing like sushi that I usually eat at Fuji (pseudonym)!”
If I ever have to eat sushi overseas, I make a point and carefully find out who runs the restaurant first. Sushi is raw fish (!) and you want to be sure what you are eating and who is handling that fish.
But apparently, it’s really hard to do so in Los Angeles. Two researchers at the University of California Los Angeles and Loyola Marymount University just let the cat out of the bag by publishing the result of their four year study on labelling sushi fish by highly rated 26 sushi restaurants in the area.
The gist of their result is you don’t really know what’s on your plate. The most important number coming out of their paper is this – of 364 samples tested, 47 percent showed that the sushi was mislabeled.
The researchers warn that apart from tricking consumers, the mislabeling is “a health risk for people with allergies to certain fish and for pregnant women and children who should avoid high-mercury fish“.
If you ever have to eat out at a sushi restaurant in LA, says the researchers, you should try to void the halibut and red snapper, which are almost always mislabeled, and eat salmon because salmon is almost always salmon.
Better yet, why bother going out to a restaurant wondering if you are getting the real deal, when you can make perfectly safe and perhaps cheaper sushi in the comfort of home? Here is a few things you can get from Japan, which will make your home sushi party the most delicious, hassle-free and safest raw dining experience!
First of all, it is important that you get rice right. You might not believe me, but some of the people I’ve known have served me sushi with non-vinegared sushi at their homes. Also, sushi restaurants overseas are, I don’t know, but rather stingy about amount of vinegar they put into sushi rice.
There is nothing more excruciatingly painful than sushi with rice that doesn’t have enough vinegar in it. If we want to entertain our family and friends, let’s get the amount of vinegar right. My dream is to try sushi vinegar produced by that Sukiyabashi Jiro. Without doubt, Sukiyabashi Jiro is the most celebrated sushi restaurant in the entire country!
Chirashi Zushi is an easy and yet gorgeous way of enjoying sushi at home. You can always do it by yourself, but you are in a hurry to prepare sushi lunch or dinner, you can just take out the chirazhi zushi mix and put on some tuna, salmon and if you have, ikura on top, and then there you go, you have an amazing dish in the middle of your dinning table!
You have rice ready, with plenty of sushi vinegar? But find it a hassle to make each piece of sushi? Don’t worry. Sushi makers, a plate and a tong, are the easiest way to go. Doesn’t look authentic enough? Obviously you haven’t tried them – they are super easy to use and you’ll have more time to entertain your guests!
Sushi Nori Seaweed
Bad nori is a major let down at a home sushi party. We want to offer the whole shebang and impress our guests. Remember Josh in Bangkok? He was also super impressed with nori offered at my carefully selected sushi restaurant. If a high school kid can tell and appreciate the difference between cheap, stale nori and high quality, crispy one, most of your guests do, too! It’s best to get at least made in Japan nori.
Premium Soy Sauce
Eating sushi with free soy sauce in a sachet is okay when you eat on your own. But if you are entertaining guests with sushi at home, don’t do that. You’ll realise how much you’ve missed out after you’ve tried using good quality soy sauce.
Life is too short for bad soy sauce for high quality sushi!
Sushi & Soy Sauce Mini Plates
How about going extra mile to entertain guests with cool Japan-themed plates?
Agari – Green Tea after Sushi
At proper sushi restaurants in Japan, green tea is called “Agari”. It is an important part of sushi experience and we shouldn’t cut short by offering low quality agari at a sushi party. Getting good Japanese green tea makes a whole lot of difference to home sushi experience.
If you consider presentation of green tea to be important, you’d perhaps like to have a good quality Japanese teapot. My choice would be nambutekki while Hello Kitty will surely put smile on your guests:-) If sushi parties are held in summer, try iced green tea with Hario’s iced green tea bottle.
Sake Servers & Cups
Sake lovers need to be enticed by both quality sake and the servers at a sushi party! While we can’t send real sake to you overseas, we have a range of sake servers and cups that will entertain your important friends and families. Kanpai!