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Sushi: Original vs Western style

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Sushi: Original vs Western style

Sushi is more than just a fish with rice. It has an etiquette, a specific way of serving it and eating techniques. In my country (Kazakhstan) and in most of the foreign countries the understanding of it is pretty narrow. Here, I would like to share the foreign and original sushi experiences.

Zhaniya Toktassynova

Zhaniya Toktassynova

Published on 27 May, 12:00

General difference

It was somewhere around my school graduation years when I started getting familiar with Sushi. You could try something pretty close to real Japanese sushi in higher quality restaurants. But also there were cheaper versions of sushi, where fish is not a dominating ingredient, but rice (mostly Makizushi).

The prices would be close to the budget belt-sushi restaurants in Japan (100-300 yen per 2-3 pieces).

California- Philadelphia Maki and other Sushi Rolls (A screenshot from https://okadzaki.kz/)
California- Philadelphia Maki and other Sushi Rolls (A screenshot from https://okadzaki.kz/)

Anyway, the concept is much simpler of what real sushi is: they are usually Makizushi type, but presented or cooked in different ways and shapes, stuffed with various toppings, mostly having cream cheese or mayonnaise filling.

This concept comes from American or western kitchens that changed the original sushi in their way of serving. They even called them names of a cites such as California maki, Philadelphia maki and so on.

So here we talk about the rice being topped with variety of fish and sauces, while Japanese original sushi are rich with fresh fleshed fish on top of a small piece of rice.

Japanese Sushi Take out
Japanese Sushi Take out

Presentation

In Japanese nigiri we have raw fish or fried shrimp on top of rice, with more other types such as inari zushi, gunkan maki , kappa maki and etc. The freshness and seasonality of a fish is a main principle for a good and experienced Master chef of sushi (chefs need somewhere around 10 years to study Sushi art).

Baked sushi (Western)
Baked sushi (Western)

The western style sushi apart from raw types of sushi has kinds where the whole roll is fried before being cut into pieces. In case of baked sushi, after being cut, they are topped with mayonnaise and cheese and then being put in the oven. Such types are called "Hot rolls".

#Facts: The concept of uramaki first emerged in Little Tokyo in the 1960s and it is believed to have been invented by a Los Angeles-based chef named Machita Ichiro. He used avocado in the place of tuna and hid the nori sheet by turning the rice part outside. This was done to appeal to the foreign customers and it turned out to be an instant hit.
Inside-out sushi (Western) (A screenshot from http://yakitoriya.kz/)
Inside-out sushi (Western) (A screenshot from http://yakitoriya.kz/)

Etiquette

We all know that Original sushi has a certain way of eating it.

For example, you can use hands for nigiri, but sashimi should be eaten with sticks, or when dipping into sauce it should be fish side rather than rice. This and other things I learned before going for sushi restaurants in Japan, beside that, there are general rules, that are made for not violating the principles of sushi restaurants.

In case of western sushi restaurants there are no rules or suggestions for eating sushi.

Unless it is very prestigious place that guides customers for an etiquette of Japanese traditions. Such restaurants as well as Japanese original sushi places with real sushi Master would be much expensive (around 500-1000 yen per 1 plate).

Cooked Eel (Unagi)
Cooked Eel (Unagi)

Way of serving

In my country, sushi restaurants usually serve 6-8 pieces of sushi rolls per person, or if there are 2 or more people, the menu offers a variety of sets consisting of different types of makizushi (baked, fried, raw).

Meanwhile, the original sushi concept we know, whether it is a belt-sushi or bar restaurant, sushi mostly come 2-3 pieces in one plate. Those are the ones you can eat in the restaurant only. In case you’d like to have a take out food, you are offered big sets with minimum of 10 pieces and more.

Fried sushi (A screenshot from http://yakitoriya.kz/)
Fried sushi (A screenshot from http://yakitoriya.kz/)

Moreover, it worth mentioning, that in Japan, they do not give you a menu, you choose them whether from the tablet and order, or at the bar you pick from what is offered by the chef.

Meanwhile, the foreign concept of sushi has a menu with whole range of Japanese cuisine such as ramen, teriyaki chicken, tempuras, bento or even gedza. Some restaurants may offer even burgers and pizzas with cakes as a side dish, while in Japan all you eat is sushi in Sushi restaurants.

Belt Sushi Restaurant experience
Belt Sushi Restaurant experience

To sum up, this article definitely wasn't a comparison of two completely different concepts of sushi. I personally find both of them unique and delicious in their own way.

And whether a Japanese person or a foreigner, who is reading it, will have an understanding of different style of sushi than what he/she is used to see.

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Zhaniya Toktassynova

Zhaniya Toktassynova

I am from beautiful country called Kazakhstan I am married and we have an adorable child who was born in Japan, Tokyo My specialty is Tourism Management, that is why I love to share all my experiences of cultures and traveling destinations,and I’m happy to share with my current experience in Japan

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