Three Ways to Tell if You’ve Found the Best Sushi Restaurants

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One of the fastest rising stars in the American culinary landscape, starting in the 1950’s, is the sushi industry. According to IBIS World, the American sushi industry pulls in $2 billion in revenues every year and is expected to grow by 1.6% by the end of 2013. With only 4,000 restaurants employing 20,000 people per year, as statistics from Statistic Brain show, it’s easy to see that the sushi restaurants that do make it can be quite profitable.

Just like any other successful industry, imitators have hopped into the pool, hoping that they can get by on the sushi name alone. This is great for business, but it’s decidedly less so for people who really care about sushi as a top cuisine of the world. If you’re sick of eating at restaurants that somehow pass off their food as sushi, here are three tips for finding the best sushi restaurants in the world.

What Does the Fish Smell and Taste Like?
As Willamette Week, a Portland-based publication focused on food and art suggests, the best sushi restaurants go above and beyond to make sure the food they serve is both palatable and safe. With sushi, the biggest worry is that the fish component of each piece, if there is one at all, will be beyond its prime and starting to pose a health risk. As the source writes, good sushi restaurants give you fish that isn’t fishy; in other words, the flesh is firm and fresh, without overly pungent smells coming from it.

The Chefs Care About the Rice
If you’ve ever asked a friend to sushi, chances are you’ve heard “Thanks, but I don’t like fish,” at least once or twice. This is a common mistake, but, as They Call Me an Egg, a blog focused on Japanese history and culture, points out, it’s the rice, not fish, that makes sushi what it is.

The best restaurants use a proprietary blend of sugar, salt, and rice vinegar to sweeten and slightly sour rice that has been properly cleaned, allowed to soak, and gently formed into each individual piece. This rice, known as “sushimeshi” in Japanese, is the defining factor of this type of food, whether it features vegetables, eggs, or fish.

How is the Sushi Presented?
Japanese cuisine is part of a Japanese aesthetic principle known as “wabi sabi.” As the Global Oneness Project writes, “wabi sabi” is the idea of finding beauty in ephemeral beauty and imperfection. In sushi, this generally means taking pride and finding beauty in creating something so beautiful as a piece of sushi, whether it’s chirashizushi or nigirizushi, knowing full well that the beauty won’t last.

This concept is one reason why, according to Global Post, it takes anywhere from a lifetime to be considered a master sushi chef. As any of the chefs at the top sushi restaurants in the world can tell you, creating sushi is an art that cannot be perfected easily. If you want to find the best sushi restaurants, look for those with chefs who demonstrate that they understand this principle, putting care into everything they touch.

There are a lot of sushi restaurants in the United States, but the best sushi restaurants are illusive. Looking for these three things, you can find the best sushi restaurants, wherever you live, and enjoy the flavors of this Japanese culinary treasure as they were intended. To learn more, read this.


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