The Journal is just filling space until a new food critic is hired. Today is an article about the explosion of sushi in the US and its impact on fish populations. I think that sushi restaurants are in a tough situation. People love tuna, but the populations are being depleted so what are they to do? Remove tuna from the menu and you will likely lose customers, keep it on and you become part of the problem. I think that restaurants and customers both need to change their approach. Restaurants should encourage people to try different items on the menu. Maybe find a fish that is a similar taste and/or texture and recommend that they try it in their spicy roll instead of tuna. I also think customers need to start thinking about the food they eat. The next time you are in a sushi restaurant give something new a try like eel, scallops, or mackerel.
One thing that bothered me was the attitude of the restaurant owners criticizing the way their customers order and eat. Fujiko Yamaguchi, chef and co-owner of Izumi’s ripped customers who ask for other sauces by stating “…people ask for some other sauce, like teriyaki, or vinegar, or yakitori, That’s just wrong.” I would pose this question: “Would you rather have them order sushi and use teriyaki sauce or would you rather they didn’t order anything from your restaurant?” I agree that most American’s do not know how to eat sushi. I cringe when I see people dipping the rice side of a nigiri sushi into their soy sauce and watching the rice fall apart as it soaks up all of that soy sauce. You are supposed to lightly dip the fish side into the soy sauce and then eat it fish side down so your tongue touches the fish first. With that being said, if I owned a restaurant I would have little cards on the table or a page in the menu showing the proper way to use soy and wasabi and how to eat sushi. The key is education. If a customer still chooses to eat it in an incorrect manor, just shut up and be happy they are eating at your restaurant.
The co-owner of Izumi’s also criticizes how Americans eat sushi somehat fast and I kind of take issue with it. When I go for dinner I do enjoy a slow-paced meal, trying different fish, ordering a couple of things at a time, but when I eat sushi for lunch I only have about 30-40 minutes to eat. Its not my fault that I need to get in and out quickly. If I owned a sushi restaurant I wouldn’t give a crap if the customer ordered the sushi and fed it to their dog as long as they paid their bill.