I’m an American guy who likes sushi. I’m not exactly sure where this obsession started, but it has grown into a hobby that consumes more of my time and disposable income than I’d like to admit. This means the habit for me averages about 1-2 visits to high-end sushiya per month. I don’t plan to write about each and every experience here because that would probably be pretty boring and repetitive. Or at least, incrementally more boring than a blog that focuses exclusively on sushi. Ahem.
I decided to start writing about sushi after noticing the growing American interest in not only sushi and Japanese cuisine (which has been noted by better writers than I) but in particularly high-end sushi that is “authentic” and “just like in Tokyo”. The American obsession with authenticity in terms of flavor and experience (just ask a Texan to talk about barbeque, or a New Yorker about pizza) knows no bounds, but when it comes to American sushi, there is shockingly little information available for somebody to understand this world.
To that end, this undertaking’s primary focus is to write about what are, in my humble opinion, some of the most authentic and excellent sushi places in North America (which I use interchangeably with "the US" or "America"). The posts will unavoidably be centered on New York and Los Angeles, which have a "sushi culture" that is more developed than elsewhere in the country. There is also consideration given to sushiya that are considered the "best" in other regions and major cities, even if on an absolute basis these shops may not measure up to high-end spots on the coasts.
This website is not meant to be a catalog and/or review of every sushi place I've ever been to. It is more a focus on places in North America that meet the following criteria:
- Are serving sushi, particularly nigiri, at a high level of technique and ingredient quality. For this, my bar is pretty high. There are many "very good" sushiya in places like New York, for example, that don't make this cut.
- Provide a unique experience, at least for a US diner.
- Have a dedicated chef with significant experience making sushi. Chef skill in some regards is more important in sushi than any other type of cuisine, and I tend to shy away from shops that have a rotating cast of chefs. So much of a particular sushi experience is shaped by an individual's hands, from the slicing to forming nigiri, that it would be difficult to comment on the consistency of a shop that might have a different head chef each time that you visit. And consistency is paramount.
You’ll notice that there are some posts on my visits to sushiya in Tokyo, which are provided both as a comparison and contrast to spots in the states, and hopefully can shine some light onto what “authentic” actually means. There will also be ample references to rankings of sushi restaurants on tabelog, a highly-regarded yelp-like restaurant review site that most consider to be a barometer of what Japanese (or more accurately, Tokyoites) regard as the “best” shops.
The otaku-like (read: nerdy, obsessive) nature of this website and frequent use of a number of esoteric Japanese fish words and terms necessitates a Glossary, which I suggest as a reference if some of these posts sound like gibberish.
Of course, these writings are all colored by my own experiences and feedback, and need to be taken with that in mind. In addition, these postings are very much a "static" document and may not reflect the state of some of these shops or my opinions years or even months later. My instagram account is probably a better account of my most recent experiences with sushi. I am always learning more about sushi, and my knowledge really only scratches the surface of this art. As such, I am always happy to be corrected or educated further.
I can be reached at subetetabemasu [at] gmail [dot] com or on instagram as @netashari.