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Jiro Ono, sushi master
March 20, 2012 9:55 AM   Subscribe

What animates a sushi master? What drives someone to be so focused, to be a god of small things?
posted by Trurl (62 comments total) 42 users marked this as a favorite

 
Tony Bourdain ate there for No Reservations. video
posted by smackfu at 10:04 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


The film looks lovely — I liked the Film Comment review that suggested viewers should beware, because it will render them unable to eat anyone else's sushi without disappointment.

(Wow, that's an obnoxious advertorial at the end of the first link.)
posted by RogerB at 10:07 AM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


...because it will render them unable to eat anyone else's sushi without disappointment.

My neighborhood has an glut of dirt-cheap Sushi places. They're all Chinese-owned and kept in business by Chinese teenagers and the Russian community. And when I say "glut" I mean there's about six or seven sushi places within a maximum of ten minutes walking between them. I've been eating at/ordering from these places on a regular basis (like, weekly) since I was maybe 12. None of it looks like those pictures. I mean, the basic shapes are there, and some of the ingredients may have claim to come from the same fish, but damn if that stuff doesn't look a galaxy away from what I think of "sushi."
posted by griphus at 10:19 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh god I'm so hungry.
posted by fight or flight at 10:22 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Love this man's mastery of his craft and his total dedication. And how amazing isn't it that his restaurant is in a subway station yet has three Michelin stars?

I wonder how long it took this master chef to reach his peak. Because I don't believe that you improve noticeably - as in if customers can notice the difference in the food - past a certain age; that's just the halo effect and/or sentimentality. Would love to see a blind experiment with Jiro Ono and one of his sons or a less renowned sushi master. I'm fairly certain that very few customers, if any, would be able to tell which chef made a certain sushi.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 10:29 AM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


There is a place, in Nashville, TN, that is the most magical place in the world. It's a tiny little shop front, all glass, about the size of my office, tucked in an out-of-the-way corner on a busy road. There might be a sign, or there might not be, I can't remember, but if there were a sign, it would say simply, SAM'S SUSHI. Like all good bookstores and restaurants, it appears to be open only on every other Tuesday if it's a full moon, or whenever else the owner feels like it. When you go in, the place is a jumble of mismatched chairs and fridges and counters and the high narrow walls are plastered with random postcards. There's always the latest The Economist on the table. Behind the low partition that separates the eating area from the cooking area, there's an unremarkable looking man with a basilisk stare. He will make you the best sushi you've ever had in your life, and charge you a three digit number for it. Three digits including the cents.

There are some rules to Sam's though. Be prepared to wait at least twenty minutes to have your order taken, even if there is no one else in the shop, because Sam is busy and serves only on his own time. Don't ask about wait times after he tells you to sit down. This is a test of your honor. File in quietly, and for God's sake never show up with more than one other person, or two, if you've been there before and Sam really likes you. Come in with three and you will receive a barked, "NO! TOO MANY! WE'RE CLOSING!" regardless of the actual time of day and Sam will usher you out with a pointed finger and lock the door behind you to make sure you don't get any ideas about coming back. When your requisite twenty minutes of silence have passed, you can order off the very simple, limited menu, and you might get what you asked for. Eat what he gives you if you value your life, and dignity. I don't actually know if he yells at you if you don't eat all of it-- I do know I've always been slightly too terrified to ever leave any on my plate, even if I was already full.

Sam will nod his approval. Thank him. Tell him how good it was, and that you'll be back sometime soon-- alone. Let him take your debit card, and don't mention the fish roe it will be smeared with upon its return to your hand. Put it in your wallet, leave in an orderly fashion, and enjoy the fact you just had the best sushi of your life in an entirely land-locked city for the price of a McDonald's happy meal.

So as far as I can tell, three things animate a sushi master: belligerence, sake, and love.
posted by WidgetAlley at 10:29 AM on March 20, 2012 [21 favorites]


God, I miss the omakase sushi place that I found last summer... we went once, it was the best sushi I've ever had, the chef explained everything and loved to chat about his food (although his English was limited), and then the place closed a few months ago. At least I got to go once.
posted by Huck500 at 10:32 AM on March 20, 2012


'Jiro Dreams of Sushi' Facebook page.
posted by ericb at 10:32 AM on March 20, 2012


You know, even the best sushi that's sold in Tokyo (with the exception of the small shops that ring Tsukiji, perhaps) cannot compare to sushi prepared in an actual fishing town.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:41 AM on March 20, 2012


So this guy has absolutely abused the foodie/michelin star-fuckers and it amuses me greatly. Like many very high-end restaurants in Japan for years he refused to take foreigners. For the last several he's referred people to his sons restaurant in Roppongi Hills. His rationale being his lack of English means he can't communicate with his guests, while his son speaks english. A less charitable interpretation is that he doesn't think someone who hasn't spent a lifetime eating sushi can really differentiate him from the other superb Sushi places in Tokyo. Anywhoo somewhere along the line Michelin or some other western dining guide/blogger posse got into see him - probably by having a Japanese speaker make the ressy and come with them - and anointed him the ne plus ultra of his style of sushi. SOOO all of a sudden the guy is getting bombarded with phone calls from western foodies looking for a seat and many of them won't take no for answer. So... this is the great part and more power to him - he now offers a "Special Lunch" menu that non-Japanese speakers can book for approx 1.5x-2x premium over other similarly rated sushi-ko in Ginza. Not only is there a price premium, there is only one menu, you can't order by piece - even if you want more after the set menu is done, and you are guaranteed to be out in an hour. All that for 350k Yen.
posted by JPD at 10:46 AM on March 20, 2012 [11 favorites]


In the comments of the second link it's mentioned that the course costs 35,000 yen. What is that, like thirty bucks? *googles* 400.
posted by cmoj at 10:47 AM on March 20, 2012


yeah typo on my part - 35k not 350k. For lunch most of the similarly thought of places are closer to 20k
posted by JPD at 10:49 AM on March 20, 2012


Is this guy universally acknowledged to be the best? Are there endless debates like Absolute bagels vs ess-a-bagel and Guss pickles vs Pickle Guys? I would like to see some counterpoints, unless of course the guy really is acknowledged to be the best.

This is cool and all but it reeks of the kind of strange "there is this pizza place down a back ally that only serves 20 pies a day and you have to eat it right there with no garlic or red pepper or the owner shouts at you" that foodies go nuts for.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:50 AM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Endless debates, and I'm only reading English language stuff - I'm sure there is a whole different list of options if you read Japanese. Not only that, but he works in one particular style. So you could also have the argument about what style is superior. As an American I didn't really realize how important the different styles were. You can get some really out there stuff thats "sushi" - heavily fermented stuff and things like that.

Take a look on Tabelog via Google translate and you'll see there isn't really a consensus.
posted by JPD at 10:58 AM on March 20, 2012


Everyone likes to pretend that the hole in the wall sushi joint that they frequent is the best in the universe. It keeps them from killing and eating each other.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:59 AM on March 20, 2012 [8 favorites]


Yeah, I think Bourdain said on one of his shows that he was having problems finding spots to eat when going to a new town. When he asked for recommendations nobody would answer as nobody wanted the hole in the wall place they ate to be on tv. He said instead of asking for recommendations he would make a statement like " Joe's has the best cheesesteak" and people would come out of the woodwork to argue that their favorite place was better.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:05 AM on March 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


A little sushi place opened near here, and lucky for me, but not the sushi chef, I was their only customer for quite some time. So the sushi chef could talk with me about sushi all through my meals.

A couple of fun points: He told me that when being trained, he would have to make rice balls with fifty grains, then take them apart and count them. He had to do this until he could reliably hit fifty grains. That's a marble-sized ball, small by our standards. He said that small rice potions in sushi indicated the highest-class places, since it was peasants that would want more rice.

He kept pieces of stale fish, to satisfy customers who sent their sushi back for not tasting right. Still, he regretted having to switch from the highest grades of fish to the second tier to please his customers. Who knew that yellowtail is supposed to slightly crunchy, not soft?
posted by StickyCarpet at 11:12 AM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


I saw the movie this weekend. It was fantastic and even though I had lunch just before we were hungry again as soon as the movie began.

Some stuff from the movie - they said 30k yen minimum, but because it's a set course with no menu it could be higher. Reservations are taken a month in advance. There are only 10 seats in the restaurant. They appear to go the fish market daily to get the best fish they can - his son rides a bicycle with a cooler on the back rack. If there's no good octopus or shrimp or whatever that day, they don't settle and get something else. His second son has a opened a spin-off but I don't remember what it's called and google isn't helping me right now. It's the mirror image of the original.

He talked about innovations he created, but it is still conservative sushi. Stuff like boiling the shrimp right before it's served, not the day before and then throwing it in the fridge. That sort of thing. This isn't el Bulli. This is a master at his craft using the best possible ingredients. And he's been working at it for 75 years!

Lastly, they are constantly eating and tasting whatever they are preparing. That really stood out for me. Maybe other chefs do this too, but the filmmakers really focused on that. I want to sit in on their staff meal!
posted by thecjm at 11:13 AM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


You know, even the best sushi that's sold in Tokyo (with the exception of the small shops that ring Tsukiji, perhaps) cannot compare to sushi prepared in an actual fishing town.

This. And it won't cost you ¥35,000.
posted by 3.2.3 at 11:22 AM on March 20, 2012


but damn if that stuff doesn't look a galaxy away from what I think of "sushi."

Yeah in North America, sushi is often quite different even when prepared by Japanese people. My fave spot locally is a modern izakaya-style place run by a guy from Shibuya and his friends, not unlike a place you'd find young people eating at in Japan, but even still Japanese people often find some of the menu options strange. When a Japanese friend of mine came to visit, we went there once and he bristled at the idea of mango in a sushi roll (which is actually a very normal thing in Vancouver). After he tried it, he was converted and actually spoke at length with our server about how surprised he was that the flavors worked. The major difference I think is that we go over-the-top here more frequently. Strong flavors and textures. It's not inconceivable to have a crunchy sushi roll with jalapeno and mayo and avocado and mango here. The stuff I tried at proper sushi places in Japan was typically quite subtle and very very fresh. Typically just fish or fish on rice. But man is it ever good!
posted by Hoopo at 11:23 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


There are some rules to Sam's though...

I didn't know Kenny Shopsin had moved to Nashville and opened a sushi place.
posted by briank at 11:23 AM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah in North America, sushi is often quite different even when prepared by Japanese people.

The challenge is that it is impossible to get good fish in North America, so they need to be creative in order to offer a full menu.

It's simply not possible to get good. Period. I don't say this as a snob, it's just that local fish, which make the best sushi, are simply not sold to restaurants. Local octopus? Don't sell it. Locally caught squid? Sent to Japan. Locally-caught crab? Too expensive. Yellowtail? Not caught here. Abalone? Sold to Japan. Local flounder? Not sold here. Urchin? Sold to Japan.

We're left with salmon roe, farmed salmon, imitation crab, and yellowfin tuna. They all taste okay, but typically the markup in a North American sushi eatery is pretty significant compared to the actual quality of the fish. It's possible to order "maguro", which is typically flown in to North America in frozen blocks... And eating maguro or bluefin tuna is about as ethical as eating baby blue whales.

I've heard there are some first-class sushi restaurants in New York that cater to Japanese expats, but I'll pass. I'm not even sure why people go to expensive sushi restaurants, even in Japan. I suppose it's supposed to be more about experience than anything else.

The best sushi I've ever had is at Omi-cho market in Kanazawa. The fish is caught locally and arrives from the port.

Save the seating fee at a Tokyo sushi place, use the money you saved to buy a train ticket instead, and book your hotel room in Kanazawa instead of Tokyo. You'll have money left over to buy several large bottles of beer.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:47 AM on March 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Reading and watching this while eating a tuna sandwich is sheer, unadulterated torture.
posted by Splunge at 11:54 AM on March 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


Man I was in Kanazawa for the height of crab season. I'm ruined forever. Some amazing Sushi in that town. I can't wait to get back to Japan.

BTW a slightly different take on Jiro - read the comments as well.

KR - I sort of disagree with you about Sushi in North America. You can't get the very very best fish - yes that all goes to Japan first and Spain second - but you can get the next notch down - which is still superb. Even if its done a roundtrip through Tsukiji to get to you. The real problem is that great sushi is by North American standards an inherently expensive food. Even in a place like Kanazawa you are going to end up paying 10k-15k per person for excellent sushi (at least). In North America thats seen as a ton of money for "Fish and Rice" - its a cultural thing.
posted by JPD at 11:55 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well New York has Masa. At $350-$600 per person it is actually kinda comparable in price to this place.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:56 AM on March 20, 2012


It's simply not possible to get good. Period.

and I'll admit, I'm pretty easy to please. I still love what I can get here, and in Japan I wasn't huge on spending exorbitant amounts on a really good sushi dinner if I could get a pretty good at a reasonable price. Also I love me some toro, and in Japan it seemed like that was the cheap stuff for whatever reason. Probably yellowfin rather than bluefin or something. You can get toro sashimi here from time to time that makes my mouth water, and BC salmon is good enough for me even if I tend to prefer Atlantic (yeah, I said it, that Atlantic shit is like butter!).

Urchin? Sold to Japan.

You can actually buy it straight off the boat at certain times of year at the wharf right next to Granville Island. Last time I saw it was during spot prawn season. I was not wild about urchin though so I havent tried it locally.
posted by Hoopo at 12:05 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well New York has Masa. At $350-$600 per person it is actually kinda comparable in price to this place.

American foodies say you could fly to Japan and have a better sushi experience for that price. I think the implication is that even though Masa is in the same price range, the product quality suffers. Which makes sense, because it's not local cuisine.
posted by polymodus at 12:09 PM on March 20, 2012


Vancouver certainly does have a great food culture. Over here in Victoria, all of the locally-caught fish is sold to wholesalers in Delta or wherever, so the fish rarely makes it back here - and we live on an island! Surrounded by ocean! Luckily, Fairways, the local version of T&T, is starting to sell sardines since the fishery returned to health in the last decade, as well as local shrimp (as opposed to farm-raised prawns from SE Asia).

Not suitable to be eaten raw (and neither are sardines), it's possible to buy frozen mackerel and Pacific saury, which are perfect for summer barbeques.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:11 PM on March 20, 2012


Well you can't get a flight to Japan from NYC for $600 so... but yeah I would say general consensus is that Masa isn't worth the price premium over Yasuda et al.
posted by JPD at 12:12 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


The challenge is that it is impossible to get good fish in North America

Maybe in most parts of the US, but here in Newport Beach you can buy fish off the fishing boats as they come in... it's super cheap, and they'll clean it for you. Lots of local restaurants go there every morning, including sushi places.

On Yelp
posted by Huck500 at 12:14 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Because I don't believe that you improve noticeably - as in if customers can notice the difference in the food - past a certain age

"I have been in love with painting ever since I became conscious of it at the age of six. I drew some pictures I thought fairly good when I was fifty, but really nothing I did before the age of seventy  was of any value at all. At seventy-three I have at last caught every  aspect of nature—birds, fish, animals, insects, trees, grasses, all. When I am eighty I shall have developed still further, and I will really master the secrets of art at ninety. When I reach a hundred my work will be truly sublime, and my final goal will be attained around the age of one hundred and ten, when every line and dot I draw will be imbued with life." - Hokusai
posted by Trurl at 12:15 PM on March 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yasuda aint exactly a bargain. Check out this rather amusing check.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:18 PM on March 20, 2012


Well no it isn't a bargain - but that's 160 per for Omakase - and who knows what they got into. I'm not sure what's amusing about the check? Am I missing something?
posted by JPD at 12:26 PM on March 20, 2012


> I'm not sure what's amusing about the check? Am I missing something?

It's funny because someone paid a lot of money for food! Food! Not an iPhone or an iPad, but food!

You can get food for less!
posted by mrzarquon at 12:28 PM on March 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


The first time I ever went to a real sushi bar in Japan (as opposed to a revolving sushi restaurant or whatever) was when I had been in Japan for a couple of years. A relative took me, and we all sat at the counter, where we could take a look at fish glumly swimming in a tank (many places in Japan buy live fish from fish farms).

Was that an octopus, I wondered aloud, trussed up in a net on the floor of the tank? The sushi chef immediately reached into the tank, and disappeared into the back. Minutes later a plate of fresh, squirming sliced octopus arrived in front of me.

I drank a couple of bottles of beer, and, tipsily, wondered what that long, slender fish was, floating in a different mesh bag. The sushi chef reached in, grabbed the fish, skinned it alive and chopped it into sections. Fresh, squirming anago, or conger eel.

I shut up after that.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:29 PM on March 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


Right, I'm mister austerity when it comes to food.

No, I just think it is funny because it is 1 line item.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:30 PM on March 20, 2012


You can't be funny, this is serious sushi talk. The 1% of sushi, in a way.
posted by smackfu at 12:35 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


where is your Occupy Tsukiji manifesto?
posted by JPD at 12:36 PM on March 20, 2012


Actually, the more I think about it, I'd be pretty disappointed in that bill.

Not the meal, or even paying that amount if I could afford it, but the fact that I just dropped $160 a person on a meal or whatever, and my receipt is a piece of paper like that?

Either go all out and put it on a handwritten in fountain pen on velum receipt, or go futuristic and just email it to me.

Ending what appears to be a wonderfully enjoyable evening dinner with dealing with a credit card and clumsily sticking the receipt back into your pocket or bill fold or whatever just seems so ridiculous in context. If it's going to cost so much for me to eat there, then it should be possible to have my credit card on file (in fact, some places do offer that, along with a menu with no prices and automatic gratuity, to cater to the super rich).
posted by mrzarquon at 12:37 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


actually I think that's a Japanese thing- the non-itemized, non descript bill. Its a little strange when you get a post-it note sized piece of paper asking your for 100k Yen.


If you go to fancy western places (although more expensive than Yasuda) you usually get a copy of the menu, maybe your wine labels, stuff like that.
posted by JPD at 12:40 PM on March 20, 2012


It really depends on where you are eating, if it is a fixed menu or selection of items, handing you a copy of the menu at the end of the night is fine, it's getting thrown out tomorrow anyway. But still, someone ends up with a piece of thermal paper with a signature on it.
posted by mrzarquon at 12:47 PM on March 20, 2012


So being allergic to fish and reading all this sucks pretty bad. I love Japanese food, too.
posted by infinitywaltz at 2:53 PM on March 20, 2012


>Uni – While I rarely don’t like sea urchin, for whatever reason it didn’t seem as fresh as the last time. The urchin was beginning to lose its shape and melt down the sides of the seaweed.

No doubt. The uni looks like it was passed through a blender on the "hi" setting.

> Kozue, at the Park Hyatt, is another one.

The link lists Kozue's dinners at 35,000 yen, but they also serve lavish box lunches--think "bento on steroids"--in the 5,000 yen range. Complemented by a tasty Hyatt pastry as well. And spectacular views. Loves me some Kozue.
posted by Gordion Knott at 2:59 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I would challenge a visit to Jiro's place to my old "local" after seeing some of the reviews on his service. I know Jiro is a master of many years, and yes his food would be a whole new level of excellence, but I prefer being treated as a human not a wallet ( a wallet which is very lucky to even eat at Jiro's by the sound of it).

Take the case below on what visiting a restaurant should be like:

When I lived in Okinawa (Small island chain very south of Japan) I used to eat at my local Kaiten-sushi (Sushi train) almost once a week, or at a stretch once ever fortnight. It would always impress me watching the skill of even these sushi chef's making the sushi, especially when you placed a direct order and watch your own meal made as you wait.
Now I lived there for 3 years, so became quite a regular over this time, and 3 of the chefs were there the whole time I was. It got to the point where when I walked in, regardless of on my own or with others they would immediately start preparing the 2 regular orders I had every time I went even without even asking for it.
After I returned back to NZ, we visited Okinawa once a year, and even with a year gap I was still remember, and they asked me when we sat if I still wanted my regular, even up to our last trip in December some 4 years since I lived there.
And 2 of the chefs are still working there as of last visit, so that’s at least 7 years they have worked as sushi chefs

Now I know the food wouldn't be at the same skill level as Jiro but I think my old local could really teach him a think about making the customer king. Oh yeah and last time we ate there 5 of us ate till busting point all for under 10,000yen (Say $100USD approx)
posted by Merlin The Happy Pig at 3:02 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I thought you weren't supposed to ask sushi masters what makes them great. Previously
posted by Metro Gnome at 3:47 PM on March 20, 2012


You know, even the best sushi that's sold in Tokyo (with the exception of the small shops that ring Tsukiji, perhaps) cannot compare to sushi prepared in an actual fishing town.

I wouldn't be so sure about that. In a city of 12 million people, you can actually find a wide variety of quality and styles, and to make such a generalization comes off to me as wistful "yearning for the country life", but not necessarily founded in fact. There is a tremendous demand for quality in Japan in general, and a lot of money in Tokyo in particular. Put another way, if you had what you knew to be the "world's best sushi", where would you try to sell it?
posted by Metro Gnome at 4:17 PM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


You know, even the best sushi that's sold in Tokyo (with the exception of the small shops that ring Tsukiji, perhaps) cannot compare to sushi prepared in an actual fishing town.

I also call BS on this (sorry.) Tsukiji's power is that it has the weight to pull in great seafood from all over the world, not to mention all over Japan. So any one fishing town might have really good seafood for that local area, but it won't have specialties that aren't available in that area, or aren't available in Japan.

There's lots of similar-to-Jiro quality places in Tokyo. If you love sushi, please come visit Tokyo. Don't focus on Jiro.

The Japan board on Chowhound is a good place for people who need English info on restaurants in Japan.
posted by gen at 4:29 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't think my claim is necessarily bullshit, and it's not "yearning for the country" either, since I've spent all of my time in Hokuriku. Obviously I'm a minority opinion here, but I don't think having access to specialties from all over Japan or all over the world is necessarily a great thing.

It's important to eat local, because it gives the food meaning, and gives you a greater connection to that food. Eating maguro is great and all that, but wouldn't it be more meaningful to travel to Aomori, the only place in Japan where bluefin is caught locally (and sustainably)?

If you've never lived in the country, where it's possible to eat food grown, harvested or caught within 50 kilometers of your home, it's going to be hard to grok the eat local thing.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:12 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


There are many things I don't miss about living in New York and many things I love about returning to Holland. But I miss good sushi every single day.
posted by digitalprimate at 12:51 AM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I wanted to love this guy - I really did. But honestly - 3 Michelin stars for sushi that really barely looks different from any other sushi? 3 stars is a very comprehensive ideal...

And then I looked at the ads on the site. $250 for 3 lb of special tuna. Yeah, right. Not prepared - shipped, raw tuna.

The article is written (and film is shot) for foodies who want to worship at an altar. I've got nothing against high-end food; I've counted 2-star meals among my greatest experiences, and I didn't even have a fancy receipt to show for it; but this isn't it.

Then you add in the guy's dick racist attitudes...
posted by IAmBroom at 2:04 AM on March 21, 2012


I know we're all excited about sushi right now, but can I just change the subject for a second? I'll make you guys a deal. You see, I live in Japan right now, and I would kill for some halfway decent Mexican food. God, if I could only get some molé...so, I'll send you guys some toro if you can ship me some molé, and some of that awesome yucateco spicy green habañero sauce...do we have a deal?

Guys?? I'll toss in some shochu too...guys...?
posted by dubitable at 7:18 AM on March 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also actually I'm kinda serious
posted by dubitable at 7:19 AM on March 21, 2012


dubitable, if you could guarantee freshness... you'd be expecting a package from me.

That didn't sound so dirty when I started typing.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:26 AM on March 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


I walked into Sushi Yasuda one night. and ordered soup and a rice bowl. It was good quality fish and rice… but the only thing was, the only Japanese seemed to be the chefs and staff. Meanwhile the bar was lined with well-heeled young people on dates.

I'm not quite sure what to make of that except being Asian it somewhat raises a red flag for me. For example I'm not sure about bringing my parents there.
posted by polymodus at 12:53 PM on March 21, 2012


There must be nearly 20 sushi places in Wellington, which seems quite a lot for a city with a population of under 400,000. I only go to Yoshi and the other place near the Library that I think is run by a Japanese family. Many of the other places have sushi that's too big, or they don't have any decent nigiri, or they have too much gimmicky crap like deep fried makizushi. It's not like we're a landlocked country or anything.
posted by Soupisgoodfood at 4:55 PM on March 21, 2012


It's important to eat local, because it gives the food meaning, and gives you a greater connection to that food.

Absolutely. We're in agreement there. I guess I should separate eating local from eating the best the ocean has to offer (which is mostly not local.)
posted by gen at 6:54 PM on March 21, 2012


You see, I live in Japan right now, and I would kill for some halfway decent Mexican food.

Finding good Mexican food in Tokyo is very, very difficult. 難しいです。 Sadly.
posted by gen at 6:55 PM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


There must be nearly 20 sushi places in Wellington
My favourite is actually Shinobi-sushi. The chef is actually a kiwi, with piercings and tattoos all over. He definitely does not fit the profile of a stereotypical sushi chef. I doubt that he's come close to mastering all the techniques in the article, but he certainly gets fresh fish, and serves to a Japanese palate rather than your typical takeaway (like the "chicken sushi" you see all over. WTF?). That guy, and this article, really make me think about what it takes to make that art your calling.
posted by Metro Gnome at 1:53 AM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm not quite sure what to make of that except being Asian it somewhat raises a red flag for me. For example I'm not sure about bringing my parents there.

this is kinda sorta vaguely racist. Like "White folks can't tell what good fish is" kinda racist. Here's a hint - its an expensive place, rich people in NYC are overwhelmingly white.
posted by JPD at 6:17 AM on March 22, 2012


dubitable, if you could guarantee freshness... you'd be expecting a package from me.

Yeah...*sigh*...you probably wouldn't want anything I could send by the time you received it. Unless you like natto, which is already rotten as far as I'm concerned. But if I tried sending that they'd probably kick me out of the post office.

That didn't sound so dirty when I started typing.

heh

posted by dubitable at 8:40 AM on March 22, 2012


My favourite is actually Shinobi-sushi.

Thanks. I think I've seen that place before, but I'm not usually around that area. I'll have to try it.

There's a Japanese place on the waterfront in that apartment building between Te Papa and the old Overseas Passenger Terminal. It looked interesting. Recently I saw a "New Management" sign in the window, so I'm not sure what it was like or what it's like now.

Many of these lesser sushi places adopt a "more is better" philosophy when it comes to their selection, the range of ingredients inside each one, and the size. If people want chicken teriyaki and some rice, that's what bento is for! Still, I see queues flowing right out the shop in a few of the places around Lambton Quay area.
posted by Soupisgoodfood at 5:39 AM on March 23, 2012


» My favourite is actually Shinobi-sushi. The chef… certainly gets fresh fish, and serves to a Japanese palate rather than your typical takeaway (like the "chicken sushi" you see all over. WTF?).

I was in Wellington last month, wandered into Shinobi-sushi on a whim, and booked another meal after we finished our first one. Fantastic menu, thoughtfully prepared, and just generally a fantastic place. Love.
posted by sidesh0w at 7:22 AM on March 25, 2012


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