A sushi experience to remember
I couldn’t go all the way to Japan and not taste real sushi. In all honesty, I just wanted to know if the real deal in Japan would taste all that different from the sushi back at home.
A friend of mine and a Japanese local, took me out for sushi when I visited her in Osaka. We went to a place called Sushi Kaiba. She assured me her and her friends always went here because the seafood was always fresh, so I had some high expectations.
We ordered a plate of 14 pieces each, along with some exuisite plum wine. I had to enquire what each and every piece of seafood was – and I’m glad I did, for some answers really did surprise me!
On my plate was sea urchin, eel, cockle, squid, prawn, tuna, and two other types of fish. All raw of course. Now, I had read ahead of time that Japanese people use very little soya sauce with their sushi, and that its very uncouth to dip the rice itself in it as it soaks up too much sauce (unless its the type of sushi that is wrapped in a roll). What you should do is flip the piece over and lightly dip the seafood itself in the sauce, which can be tricky if your not the master of your chopsticks.
My friend, bless her, showed me the easy way to get sauce on your fish. You take a piece of the pickled ginger, dip that in the sauce and use it like a paintbrush to slightly spread the seafood. You can then simply pick up your piece and pop it in your mouth.
I started with the safest option on my plate, the tuna. It was absolutely lovely. The fish just melted in my mouth. The rice was the perfect sticky consistency, with the slight hint of the rice wine vinegar flavour. It was served with a light smear of wasabi already between the rice and the fish, which was unexpected, but teamed well with the salty soya sauce. Heavenly!
Such a successful first taste gave me the courage to try one of the more exotic choices on my plate. The cockle looked a lot like squid, so I went to that, imagining that it would be a bit more chewy. But again, it was so fresh it just about dissolved without much chewing needed.
I had to brace myself for trying the eel, it was a bit scary I admit. I couldn’t help but imagine it being slippery and oily in my mouth. However it was very soft, with a pleasant powdery texture. Definitley not what I was expecting. The flavour was delicate too, not overly fishy, but I suppose a bit creamier than fish.
This whole time I kept trying to avoid looking at the sea urchin… its orange tentle-looking pieces seemed to be taunting me. I have never had the desire to try sea urchin and couldn’t possibly fathom why someone would want to eat it. But now it was here in front of me, and I was in Japan, and kinda obliged to give it a go. Not having one iota of what to expect, I took a deep breath and popped that baby in my mouth.
Well the texture wasn’t as bad as I imagined. Again, it was very fresh so it was very soft, but a bit grainy. The flavour wasn’t really to my liking though. It wasn’t bad, but not that pleasing either. Kinda tangy, almost acidic, with some unique undescribeable flavour that could only be sea urchin. But I didn’t die, and I didn’t spit it out; I had done it! But I wouldn’t be keen to have it again in a hurry.
Our sushi plates were served with a savoury egg pudding called chawan mushi, which I had never tried before, but it was delicious. And that plum wine…. I could easily keep drinking that all day.
All in all, a fabulous experience. I’m afraid I’ve been spoilt now for any lesser imitation back at home!