Ways to Identify Bad Sushi Restaurants

27 Nov

By virtue of the mass amounts of information circulating in today’s world of ever-growing technology and social media, it is almost impossible to be taken completely by surprise by a restaurant’s quality. Namely, people don’t go to 5-star restaurants expecting to eat fast food, and people don’t eat $1 pizza expecting a slice of Italy. So it goes without saying that people tend to roughly know the quality of the fish they are about to eat when they dine at a sushi restaurant. Just in case, however, I have decided to include a couple of pointers aimed at identifying sushi places that could potentially be worse than you think when you walk in. I have chosen not to include such obvious signs as buying sushi in odd places such as pharmacies, the cleanliness of the restaurant, etc.

1. A roll piece is bigger than the ‘ok’ sign – Make the ‘ok’ sign by connecting your thumb and index finger. Roll pieces in the best of Japanese restaurants will be around half that size. Anything as big or bigger than the sign and you’re dealing with poor quality sushi and a lot of rice.

2. The ginger is very rose/dark in color – Not always an accurate measure of the sushi’s quality, but a good rough estimate. Better sushi restaurants tend to serve fresh ginger, which is white in color rather than straight from the package ginger, which is rose or darker in color.

3. Buffet/all-you-can-eat sushi – Need I say more? There’s a reason you are getting a ‘bargain’ for $12.95.

4. Several rolls feature interesting names/ingredients – Sure, I enjoy a guilty pleasure now and then and order some exotic roll containing cream cheese, asparagus, mango, and/or filet mignon, but you’re not going to find any top quality sushi restaurants serving ‘Spicy Mexican’ or ‘Crazy Dragon’ rolls. Not sure if an ingredient is unorthodox? It probably is.

5. The sushi bar chef is not Japanese – Of course there are exceptions to every rule, and I’m sure there are many places not owned by people of Japanese origin, but at the end of the day sushi is a truly exquisite Japanese treat, and just like any ethnic cuisine, the best sushi will be found in Japanese-run restaurants.

6. Artificial crab is used – You cannot expect much quality from any place that stuffs crab stick into rolls or serves pieces of artificial crab as nigiri pieces.

7. Pieces of nigiri or sashimi are paper thin/too much rice is used – It is hard to explain the exact colors that certain cuts of fish should be, even though this is the best way of telling the quality. An easier way of surmising its quality before consumption is noticing how thick it is cut – poor quality places will often include a large amount of rice with the thin cut of fish. All-you-can-eat sushi joints often use this trick with vinegar-ized rice to fill you up quicker.


6 Responses to “Ways to Identify Bad Sushi Restaurants”

  1. Anne/Marie November 27, 2011 at 8:11 pm #

    How about never on Sundays?

    • georgeembiricos November 27, 2011 at 11:26 pm #

      I included this problem in my post regarding common sushi eating mistakes, as many sushi restaurants are open Sunday and closed Monday and the problem often lies more with the consumer than with the establishment

      • SushiRoll December 2, 2011 at 7:52 pm #

        George, great job, but you forgot #8.

        The quality of the sushi does not matter if you eat it slowly off of the body of a naked woman.

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