Unsavory Sushi

If there was ever one single food trend that 99.9% of the population could identify with, foodie or not, it would absolutely be the ingenious Japanese creation known as sushi. Climbing up the ranks of culinary fads so rapidly that it has barely established it’s roots in the US before hitting cult-status. Fanatics sprung from the woodworks and soon, it seemed as if the country was engulfed in a collective obsession over those rolls of vinegared rice. One could practically trip over all of the dime-a-dozen sushi joints sprouting up in metropolitan areas, and I personally have yet to see a single one of them go under. It would seem as if every last person on earth were enamored with them, and their appetites as bottomless as the wallets that strain under their often exorbitant prices… And I am certainly not excluded from this majority. As shocking as it is to still find the stray uninformed eater who has yet to try sushi for themselves, it is even more startling to still encounter confusion when I profess my love for this simple fare. “But… I thought it had fish in it? Are you sure you’re VEGAN?” they might ask incredulously. While hundreds of different vegetable combinations and recipes struggle to emerge from my slightly gaping mouth, the overwhelmingly abundant options prevent more than a feeble response of “Of course, there are vegetable sushi…!”

Coming from someone who partakes in some sort of rice rolls about once a week, you would expect a slightly more in-depth explanation, but if you ask me, sushi speaks for itself. So simple in its basic construction but with so many complex adaptation and options along the way, it’s no wonder that the preparation of this ubiquitous Japanese specialty is considered an art in its homeland. When it comes right down to it however, I take the purist’s approach and pursue the easiest choices, guaranteed to be found on any menu. The sheer number of kappa maki that have rolled down into my gullet over the years would be terrifying to account for, to say the least. They’re my idea of comfort food, and so every time I returned home for a weekend between classes, there would always be sushi in the dinner plans.

Unfortunately, the difficulties of ordering in most rinky-dink restaurant become abundantly clear from the moment that we’re seated, and the waiter can’t even tell you what certain dishes are composed of. The rank smell of stewing chicken wafts out of sticky kitchen doors and stamps out the scent of what’s actually being served. Requests for separate plates go unheeded, and fish comes piled on top of my sad, squished rolls, rendering them uneatable. These occurrences are nothing new, but worst of all is when orders get mixed up, an suddenly an unseen hand above my head drops a bomb: A plate with only fishy flesh.

Vegetable sushi. What is so hard to understand about vegetable sushi? I’m sure that one combo platter is just as easy to make as another, but that doesn’t mean that they can be prepared interchangeably! A lovely work of art in it’s own right, it’s almost an insult to return such a meticulously constructed platter back to the kitchen, as I’m sure most other patrons would be delighted with the brightly colored fish perched delicately on their starchy thrones. My confidence abandons me, and the most I can do is stare sadly at those unsavory sushi. With nothing else to eat while the rest of the family digs in, ordering sushi starts to become more of a trial than a treat. Struggling to replace this offensive dish with the correct one for several more minutes, followed by another long wait while a new plate is prepared… It’s a surprise even to me that my love for the stuff still remains untouched by the end of such arduous meals.

I can’t be the only one to have experienced this, and yet there is still such an enthusiastic reception for sushi that it clearly has a firm hold on a multitude of palates near and far. Perhaps it’s the promise of exotic new flavors, the sheer possibilities that keep sushi fans coming back for more… Or just the possibility of making it in the comfort of one’s home that makes it all the more appealing- Something that I can certainly agree with!

22 thoughts on “Unsavory Sushi

  1. Yikes, I can’t believe that you were served dead fish instead of vegetable sushi!! It’s so ironic how a lot of people equate “sushi” with raw fish – “sushi” actually refers to the RICE!! eek.

    Sushi used to be my all-time favorite food (especially avocado rolls); but unfortunately I developed a serious taste aversion to it about 3 years ago (you MUST remind me to tell you about this, next time we chat!!).

  2. Sushi is great! Especially your felt version.

    I always prefer the vegan version even though I eat fish – it’s so tasty and fresh! A couple of well-known high street shops sell lovely vegan sushi in the UK. If you’re ever here, I’ll point you in their direction as the only other place you can go vegan is Starbucks (their hummous and falafel wrap is fab, all the same).

  3. Your sushi looks great Hannah – it is crochet isn’t it? Sorry to hear that you have such trouble buying your sushi out, I would hate to be served un-eatable food and then have to watch my family enjoy eating while I waited!

    Happy belated Birthday!


  4. I too *love* sushi and would not want to be staring at a plate of dead fish…that’s a bummer. Thanks for pointing to the interesting sushi recipes!

  5. Sorry to hear they served you fish with your sushi!! That hasn’t ever happened to me, but I have gotten mine on the same plate when there was a big group of us. I just don’t think they quite get it. Regardless, there are a couple of sushi places here that I can’t pass up, especially those that hav soy paper! I much prefer it to nori. But I’ve found that making my own is easy and cheap.. plus I know my knife or plate hasn’t touched a dead piece of flesh.

  6. mmm… sushi is so spectacular. That’s terrible about your restaurant troubles, you would think they would GET it or something. Any sushi-maker worth his vinegar knows it’s all about the rice!

  7. did you try the korean sushi kimbap (gimbap)? usually there’s some barbeque meat (!) and watercress or spinach (from the place i get it, anyway). it’s a maki sushi, but packed with a lot of filling of veggies. without the meat it can be vegetarian. but there’s that hint of sesame seed/oil, probably from the spinach…anyway, guess what i’ll be picking up for lunch now….with a side of kimchee…and i haven’t even had breakfast yet!

  8. That’s precisely why I bought all the equipment and learned to make my own sushi! I have turned green more than once at a sushi bar watching them pull out the most disgusting things and lay them on the chopping board. The thought of mine being prepared right after on the same board makes me a little sick! I’ve never been served a plate of fish, though. I think I might have totally lost it then.

  9. At least when it’s sushi, you can tell right away… I bit into my “vegetarian” dumplings once, only to spit out a mouth of beef… I was not happy at all. >< I still love my sushi, though. Nice avacado and squash rolls go down like nothing else. :) It’s also a nice grease-free alternative to the days when I’m eating tempura and dumplings…

  10. I love this entry. I have admit that I nearly wet myself reading it. I dare say that if you ate sushi here in Japan, this would not likely be a problem. The Japanese are so meticulous about orders that they would trip over backword to avoid this problem!

  11. Our best sushi place (and the only sushi place in a fifty mile radius) just went out of business! I don’t know what I’m going to do 2-3 times a week for lunch now!

    People give me a hard time too about my love for sushi. “But that’s FISH! I thought you didn’t eat fish?!?!?!” Blagh!

  12. Isn’t it annoying when sushi is a comfort food? For me at least, because I make my own (sadly, there aren’t any sushi places around here). So when I’m home, sulking around with a head cold or something, I have to go through the rounds of making myself sushi. By the end I’m not hungry.

  13. Hello Hannah,
    I came across your blog then your site and was so impressed with your food as well as your photography!! You’re so young and talented.
    The photos are some of the best most creative that I’ve ever seen online and I’d love to feature you on my blog.

    I am currently eating mostly gluten free meals….as much as possible….I’ve even seen a great improvement in my skin. I have a few friends who are vegans…but i’d love to learn more.

    All the best,

    Jen Ramos

  14. Aww, cute little sushi, the only proper kind; cruelty free!
    I made sushi at home for the first time last week & let me tell you, spicy seitan, asparagus, & tofutti cream cheese rolls are delicious! I’m not a nori fan though, so I went with mame nori, aka soy paper sheets.

  15. Yeah, this has happened to me before, too, being served fishy sushi instead of veggetable sushi. I also feel like Cindy, that’s why I make my own sushi. Unfortunately, it takes forever so I hardly ever make it.

  16. :( It makes me so sad to hear that people can’t understand such a simple request! I’m not vegan, but I know there are so many options for vegetarian and vegan sushi out there… especially when you start to experiment with the use of tofu and fruits in sushi!

    I would really really REALLY love to buy those felt sushi from you if at all possible… and with your permission and a link back to here from my blog of course, use them in my own pictures! They are incredible… you are extremely talented!

  17. My best friend is a vegetarian, and whenever we go out we always manage to find someone who’s willing to take vegetarian sushi orders, even when its an all-you-can-eat special (which is normally what they serve you, no special requests/no choosing). Unfortunately they are a little boring with only really avo, cucumber and carrot, seldom any shitaki mushroom or anything, but they’re still great. I’m sorry you struggle when it comes to getting someone to take your order correctly :(

    And incidently, sushi refers to the art of making the food, yet everyone associates “sushi” with “raw fish”. Sigh. And unless you’re watching the chef make it, they shouldnt be charging for it, as half the price is for being able to watch the artist in action :)

Leave a Reply