Sushi is a dish from Japan famous for its use of a variety of raw fish used as a topping on a small lump of hand-pressed rice. In fact, there are many different kinds of toppings including octopus, natto (fermented soya beans), red caviar and sea urchin. Popular ways to present the sushi include temakizushi in which the rice and filling is wrapped in a cone of crisp roasted seaweed, or makizushi which is a cylindrical role of seaweed-wrapped sushi.
Alice Mabel Bacon, an American writer and women’s educator in America and in Japan during its Meiji era (1868-1912), introduced sushi to the English speaking world through her book A Japanese Interior (1893) in which she described sushi as “rice sandwiches”. Unlike sandwiches, however, sushi is often eaten in restaurants which specialise only in this cuisine. At top-end restaurants, customers make successive orders of individual sushi prepared by a highly trained chef. At the lower end is kaitenzushi – better known as the sushi bars with a conveyer belt from which customers take their desired dish.
If you’re looking for a quick and healthy meal option, there’s nothing better than going to your local kaitenzushi for some cheap but delicious sushi which always comes with unlimited green tea. It’s great fast-food when you’re on the go since you only have to take a seat at the counter and the food is already there. A single plate with two pieces starts at around 105 JPY (60 pence/ 1USD) and since the food is continually travelling past you on the belt, it can be difficult to put your chopsticks down and ask for the bill. More expensive options are usually available such as otoro – and sushi really doesn’t get better than this. Otoro is tuna from the belly area and despite its unappetizing description, there are few foods that melt in the mouth like a good slice of raw tuna belly.
Sushi has steadily grown in popularity in the U.K. over the past decade, but prices are expensive and variation limited. It seems like Brits are still not sure about delving into the world of raw fish and the more unusual forms of seafood, and dishes are focused mainly around salmon, tuna and an array of vegetarian offerings. Perhaps in another decade or so, if the taste for sushi develops, we can look forward to some more adventurous options at the kind of price that make sushi bars a quick, but delicious lunch stop.