Sushi Lover’s bunch of WHY?

As I eat and write about sushi I wonder why. Why so many things. Sushi was pretty nasty stuff in centuries past, but started getting really good in the nineteenth century. Then in the 1960’s the American sushi invasion began – a bittersweet turning point for some, in the following decades it would transform sushi in many profound ways.

So I look at the current sushi scene and I contemplate some of the less important things in the universe. Here are ten of them.

10. Why do sushi newbies want Western tastes slathered onto already rolls that are already distinctly non-Japanese in character? If you’re eating a salmon and cream cheese roll, why smother it in orange sauce?

You should be getting up to speed eating veggie rolls, spider rolls (fried soft shell crab), seaweed items like hijiki or wakame, ramen, cooked items like unagi, and so much more that is not intimidating to the fish-fearing newbies.

9. Why do people confuse price with quality? The highest priced sushi places are not priced higher because the sushi is better. It could be, but there’s not a strong correlation.

Fresh, top quality ingredients, especially imported from Japan will cost more, certainly. But I think people are often afraid to voice a dissenting opinion. It’s subjective folks, so there are no wrong opinions!

8. Why have sushi maki (rolls) come to dominate so in the US? These inside out rolls are hardly the dominant sushi form in Japan, in fact they’re uncommon. It’s really just another in a bunch of sushi forms. I mean why not temaki, those versatile and delicious hand rolls?

7. Why do people have so little curiosity about sake? So many people love to drink sake bombs, but they don’t seem to experiment with premium sakes. I can totally understand getting turned off by the $5 hot sake served in many sushi bars though. But when I used to see those giant sake bottles I wondered what some of them would taste like.

6. Why do Westerners want to drink their miso soup at the beginning of the meal? Or I could ask why do so many sushi bars outside of Japan serve soup and salad before the lunch bento special?

5. Why do some sushi bars buy the obviously colored pink gari (pickled ginger)? I mean ginger actually is yellow, so why do people want to serve ginger that’s pink?

4. Why do so few sushi bars serve real wasabi? Most gai-jin prefer to eat their sushi without wasabi anyway, so doesn’t it make sense to serve the real product, but only to those who request it? Charge me an extra dollar for it please!

3. Why don’t Westerners have the same level of reverence for ramen that we do for sushi? Maybe it’s a good thing, judging by the kind of sushi that gets served so frequently in the West.

2. Why is that frozen, perfect yellow tamago product so common? It’s not really as tasty as a freshly made, gently sake-sweetened batch of tamago from a good sushi chef. And the good stuff is not really expensive for sushi bars to make and serve. Please put an end to this insanity!

1. Why do so many non-Japanese folks operate sushi bars and show no desire whatsoever to learn even the basics about sushi? Many seem to have a complete lack of respect for the cuisine but decide to operate sushi bars anyway – what gives with that?

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