What to look for in a Good Sushi Restaurant
If you're like me, you love sushi. It's one of my all time favorite foods. And these days sushi's popularity has skyrocketed. Now you can find sushi restaurants in just about every major city anywhere in the world. The only problem is that not all sushi restaurants are created equal and it can be really hard to find a good sushi restaurant especially when you don't know what you're looking for.
So before you pick your chopsticks and dig in, there are a few things you should think of.
Popularity is a good indication. Go online, do some research. See what others are saying about the place you are thinking about going to. Maybe even ask around. If nobody knows about the sushi place your heading too it might be wise to go somewhere else. If it's new it doesn't necessarily mean it's bad, but a well established place means it's successful and probably worth trying for yourself.
Do Japanese People Like It?
I've heard this tip before, but it generally holds true. If the Japanese population in your city is a fan of the particular establishment you are eyeing than it's probably pretty good. Its not always the case of course but if there seems to always be a lot of Japanese hanging around the place it must be doing something right.
Check the Fish
At nicer sushi restaurants in Japan, the sushi chef almost always has their fish on display under glass so that patrons can check the freshness and quality. If the restaurant doesn't do this it doesn't mean its a bad place, but it just something to look for. The nice thing is that if they do have the fish on display you can check it out for yourself. If it looks dry and leathery or looks like the color is fading, then you might want to take step back and find somewhere else to eat. Also check for a smell. If you notice that the place smells particularly fishy it's a good indication that all is not well with the fish. You might expect it to smell fishy but fresh fish does not have a strong odor.
Japanese Staff and Owners
I don't want to sound insensitive, but the Japanese came up with sushi and tend to be the best at making it. I'm not saying that others aren't capable of making excellent sushi, it's just that if you want a truly authentic sushi experience you will have a better chance if it's prepared by a Japanese Chef. That being said I managed to find a really great sushi place in Seattle owned by a Korean couple.
Test the Chef's skill
Sushi is actually a difficult dish to make. It requires a lot of knowledge about not only fish but other components that make up the various kinds of sushi. In Japan, sushi conniseuors check a chef's ability by ordering egg sushi or tamago yaki as it's called in Japanese. It may not sound like a simple omelet on rice would be difficult to make, but the fact is sushi chefs prepare it in a particular way that requires a lot of practice and skill. If you haven't sampled it before, try it whenever you go to a new sushi place. Soon you'll figure out whats good and be able to judge a sushi restaurant before you even try the fish.
One thing I think is a good indication of quality is if the Sushi restaurant's menu is constantly changing. Check for Seasonal specials. Talk up the chef and owners to see what they recommend and what's best during each season. I've learned from a friend of mine who supplies sushi restaurants that certain kinds of fish are much better during certain seasons. A good sushi chef knows this and will tailor the menu to the season and will be actively involved with their suppliers to find the best fish and seafood they can.