Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Back from the depths, still seeking the real

Yes, I'm still alive.
I wanted to come up with a good excuse for neglecting this blog for nearly six (gulp!) months, but "my dog ate my laptop" didn't quite work, since, well, I don't have a dog.

There's no good excuse. I just got busy with life. I've eaten sushi, but I just got lazy about writing about it. My apologies to the handful (um, maybe 3?) of my fans out there.

Done with my brief visit to Slackerdom, I'm gonna do my best to catch up. I actually have a lot to share.

I'll start with this other blogger's post that I came across recently.

Obviously, I loved her for espousing exactly what I'm espousing.
And she's not (I don't think) Japanese. Her name is Heather Irwin and she's an educated, articulate foodie (from the Midwest, of all places) whose well-written Bite Club blog is served up on the New York Times-owned, the local newspaper for Sonoma County (including wine country), in Northern California.

Her eloquently written "sad state of mainstream sushi" post came back to my mind today, when I was thinking about trying a fairly new sushi place I spotted in my neck of the woods.
My early research on Yelp a few months ago made me think this may be an authentic little mom-and-pop Japanese place. But when I checked Yelp again today, there were dozens more 5-star reviews raving about the beer and the rolls, written by obvious Sushi Rookies (dead giveaway: some complained the rolls were too SMALL. Egad!).

These "Gimme Phat rolls" sushi groms need to read a bit of Ms. Bite Club:
"I won't pretend to know much more about the mastery of sushi outside of what I've learned over 15 years of loving sushi and a friendly Wikipedia assist, but I can say that ... the increasing preponderance of American-style sushi rolls (mango! wasabi mayonnaise! lots of fried stuff inside!) sends me (and most true sushi chefs) into convulsions. California rolls are one thing. Stuffing a piece of nori with as much sweet, creamy, fried stuff as it will hold and then squirting sauce all over it is quite another."
Here, here!

I did find one balanced, 3-star Yelp review by a "Japanese-educated sushi eater" who confirmed the chef-owner is Korean, and advised not to get the nigiri or sashimi because the fish quality is questionable for the price. She suggested this as a good place for rolls and lunch.

Needless to say, I won't be checking out this place after all.

This depressed me a bit, the fact that the happening, diverse city of Long Beach (population >450,000!) can't seem to open and keep any REAL sushi places. The closest to the real thing, Sushi Saurus, closed recently and is apparently under new ownership.

Ironically, I found better quality raw fish in Mexico City recently: the sea-bass sashimi, pictured at the top of this post, served up at the Sheraton Centro Historico Hotel. This appetizer was served with chopped onions and very mild peppers and a yuzu-olive oil. The dish was actually bland in taste (where's the soy sauce when you need it?), but the fish was high quality, firm and fresh-tasting.

Is there a real sushi place in Long Beach that I've missed somehow? Please alert me by commenting!

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