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You don’t have to be a Japanese or know how to use chopsticks to appreciate the intricacies of sushi. As an art form of food, sushi has gained popularity far and wide across the globe. No matter where on the planet you go, you are sure to find a sushi restaurant near you.
I know some people from different cultures find it distasteful to eat raw fish because they used to eat properly cooked tuna or salmon. If you are worried about food safety then put your fears to rest. The chefs use highest quality sushi-grade fish and seafood for making sushi
If you are worried because you have read in the news about people getting food poisoning from eating raw fish then let me assure you that those are rare. Accidents may happen anytime, and even properly cooked food may pose certain health risks due to food contamination.
The key to staying safe is to eat sushi only at a reputed and popular restaurant that always has fresh supply due to huge demand. You probably know the good and bad places in your city but when you are traveling, always check the online ratings of a restaurant and read customer reviews.
For sushi lovers like me, we really don’t need any reason to eat this Japanese delicacy at any time of the day. However, those who have never eaten sushi before but find the gorgeous nigiri and colorful rolls on other tables highly lucrative, here are 15 reasons to eat sushi.
#1. Raw Fish Is An Excellent Source Of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Sushi does not technically mean raw fish, because it is one of the many ingredients used in this delicacy. However, we cannot deny that sushi presents a wide gamut of raw fish and seafood species that you don’t find in other dishes. No wonder, the very mention of sushi brings up images of succulent salmon or priceless tuna.
While sushi is not just raw fish, it is undeniably one of the most essential parts of it. No one goes out to the high-end sushi restaurants to eat cucumber rolls. It’s the delicate flavor of fish so perfectly cut and prepared by the chef that drives people to their favorite sushi joints.
Besides their great taste, raw fish such as salmon, sardines, and mackerel are also an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, known for reducing cholesterol and improving heart health. Now that you know why the Japanese are so healthy and have a higher life expectancy, isn’t that a good reason to start eating sushi?
#2. Sushi Is An Impressive Art Form
I agree that any type of food can be presented in an artistic manner, but there’s something about sushi – the colors, the form, and shiny glaze that cannot be replicated in other dishes. The Japanese chefs take years to learn and master the art that looks so simple but is yet so complex.
When guests are presented a nigirizushi prepared so perfectly by a trained chef, it’s not just the flavors but the beautiful artistic form that captures the soul. The neta (fish part) is cut with great precision to sit cozily atop the bed of vinegared rice. It is brushed with traditional sauces to add that extra glaze and decorated with garnished like fish eggs or chopped chives to make more appealing.
Sushi rolls, on the other hand, are creatively prepared to resemble a crunchy caterpillar in caterpillar roll and a delicious dragon in dragon roll. They are decorated with a plethora of sauces ranging from white (mayo) and brownish-black (soy sauce) to dark brown (teriyaki) and red (sriracha).
#3. You Are Served Amazing Condiments And Sauces
When you order sushi, it’s not just the nigiri or roll that comes in the plate. The food is accompanied by mouth-watering condiments to enhance the flavor. A sushi plate will typically comprise of your order and 3 additional must-haves – a bowl of soy sauce, wasabi paste, and pickled ginger.
The small bowl containing shoyu is for those who prefer an extra drizzle of sauce over their sushi rolls. It is also used to dip the fish part of nigirizushi before putting inside the mouth. However, be careful to not overdo the shoyu because the chef already it to sushi.
Wasabi paste is that green stuff you see on your sushi plate and it has a fiery taste that can blow up your sinuses, so a little bit is enough. It is a paste made by grating the rhizome of a plant named wasabi. I have created an article that explains what is wasabi and how it should be eaten. Avoid mixing wasabi with soy sauce as it is against the sushi etiquettes.
#4. There Are So Many Different Options To Choose From
Yes, you don’t have to repeat your order and eat the same thing again and again. One of the best things I love about sushi is that there are so many crazy options to choose from. When I am in the mood to spoil my tastebuds, I treat myself with a Philadelphia roll or shrimp tempura roll.
On days when I am concerned about my health and don’t want any fatty food, I can still enjoy my favorite tuna roll. There are so many varieties of fish and seafood that may be eaten raw, grilled, boiled, or steamed, that you’ll never be short of options to try!
There are also numerous vegan and vegetarians options, and they are all delicious. So, I don’t feel guilty when eating out at a sushi joint with my vegetarian friends. They can also enjoy a delectable share of tofu and shitake mushrooms rolls that I don’t mind savoring from their plates!
Besides the world of options for fillings and toppings in sushi, you can also choose from the different ways in which sushi is presented. For example, you have nigiri sushi, maki sushi rolls, uramaki rolls, gunkan maki, temaki, or chirashi bowl sushi.
#5. Making Sushi At Home Is Fun
If eating sushi frequently at the fine dining restaurants blows up your monthly budget, consider preparing your own sushi dinner at home. You will not only enjoy the homemade sushi but the process of cooking, cutting, chopping, and rolling is also full of fun.
I know it’s not possible to challenge the expertise of sushi chefs and you may not be able to get restaurant-like rolls on your first attempt, but it’s still worth trying. I have created a few articles that explain how to cook sushi rice and interesting ideas for sushi fillings and toppings.
You can let your creativity work in full swing and come up with unique creations of your own. Savor your creations alone, with family, or invite friends for a sushi party. Another fun element of making sushi is that everyone in the family or friends can partake in the food preparation.
#6. Eating Sushi Gives To Insight Into A New Culture
Sushi may have gone global due to its various adaptations in the western countries, but it’s still a window for people to explore Japanese culture and traditions. The Japanese are very particular about everything and there’s a lot of discipline that reflects in the perfect shape of sushi, precise cuts, and balance of flavors.
The fusion of east and west cultures can also be beautifully seen in the likes of California rolls, Boston roll, Philadelphia roll, and so on. While these variations are different from what you get in Japan, they have not lost the basics. They will still have sushi rice and nori, but the fillings are much more extravagant. If you wish to stick to the real thing, order nigiri sushi or a maki roll.
Besides the food, the ambiance inside a Japanese sushi restaurant, the chefs that are mostly Japanese, and the oriental-style decor can transport you to a different world. The way food is served to you, the method in which they should be eaten, the traditional side dishes, and the sushi etiquettes to follow, give you the opportunity to learn so much about a new culture.
#7. Interaction With The Sushi Chef Is Priceless
If you want to get the real pleasure of eating sushi at a Japanese restaurant, choose to sit at the bar where you can see the chef prepare food for you. It’s a magical experience witnessing a master chef create a perfect nigirizushi or sushi roll in front of your eyes.
Other than watching him in action, you may also indulge in friendly conversation with the chef. No other culture allows guests to have such a direct conversation with the chef and give your feedback first-hand. However, be careful about what to say to the chef so that you don’t offend him. I have created an article on sushi etiquettes that can help you be on the right track when conversing with the chef.
The advantage of befriending a sushi chef is that he will remember you if you frequent the place often. He will know what you like best and ensure that you have a great experience every time you walk in. A customized dinner for your tastes is certainly one of the 15 reasons to eat sushi.
If you wish to get one-of-a-kind experience while dining at a sushi restaurant, opt for an omakase meal wherein the chef decides the menu and makes sure you are delighted. Read my article that explains what is an omakase meal and also the difference between kaiseki and omakase.
#8. Sushi Is Perfect For Dates
Whether you are on a first date, second, or third, eating at a sushi restaurant can always be a great choice. In fact, a study by a reputed dating site showed that taking your date to a sushi restaurant can increase your chances of getting subsequent dates with her.
Sushi presents you with so many things to talk about that you will not be scratching your head for topics. Your lady will be impressed with your fine choices, provided that she also loves sushi (make sure you ask her before taking to a sushi restaurant so that it doesn’t turn up as an unpleasant surprise).
If this is your third or fourth date, and you know the person really well by now, you can suggest making sushi dinner at home. Do it together and it will be a lot of fun having rice stick to your fingers and sauces dripping as you both try your hand at rolling! It can turn out to be that push to get your relationship to the next level, who knows?
#8. Sushi Is Easily Transportable
If you are in a hurry but still craving for sushi, there are numerous take-out options available at grocery stores and supermarkets. So, don’t necessarily need to sit and eat sushi. You can buy the bento boxes for a tasty dinner on your way home.
If you are heading for a road trip, you can make or buy several cooked/ vegetable sushi rolls to keep hunger at bay. I strongly recommend cooked or vegetable rolls because it’s not a good idea to take raw fish on a trip. They may become unsafe to eat if left out at room temperature for too long.
You can also plan a fun sushi picnic and carry all the essentials such as seasoned sushi rice, chopped/ sliced fillings, nori sheets, knife, bamboo mat, sushi kits and so on. It can be a great outdoor activity to roll your own sushi and savor the mouth-watering delicacies together.
#9. Sushi Is A Great Conversation Starter
Whether you are eating with close friends, office colleagues, business partners, or perfect strangers, sushi gives you the opportunity to discuss several things. A special type of sushi roll, a new variety of fish, the sauces, presentation, and cutting methods – there’s so much to talk about sushi. It can not only help in breaking the ice but find like-minded people and make new friends too.
#10. Sushi Can Be Served As Appetizers
I know it may sound a bit de-grading to compare sushi to finger foods and appetizers, but they taste great when served at a cocktail party. When done beautifully, small bite-size pieces of sushi rolls or nigiri can be the perfect appetizers that are delicious but not filling. Your guests will be raving about the food and its presentation for long.
#11. Sushi Is Healthy Food
If you are watching weight and wish to skip food bathed in oil and butter when dining out, sushi can be your go-to option. Sushi is a lean food you can have for dinner or lunch. It is packed with proteins and essential nutrients. However, it all depends on the choices you make.
The heavy influence of western culture on sushi has given rise to specialty rolls dunked in cheese and cream. Stay away from tempuras, fried sushi, and cream, and you will be good to go!
#12. Sushi Is Utterly Delicious
This delicacy from the Land of the Rising sun is so delicious that you can find it in restaurants across the globe. The perfect balance of rice, fish, vegetables, and seaweed create the unique taste of sushi that cannot be replicated. For the Japanese, it is essential that their dishes are not too spicy or salty. Each ingredient finds its place without overpowering the other.
#13. You Get To Experience Unique Taste
You may not have tasted pickled daikon radish, kanpyo, tobiko, masago, ikura, or tamagoyaki before. Sushi introduces you to many traditional Japanese pickles and seafood that may be new to you. It’s a great way to expose your tastebuds to unique flavors in an interesting way.
#14. Nori Acts As Metabolism Booster
That dark green cover you see outside your maki roll has a bigger purpose than just adding more flavor and holding the ingredients together. Rich in vitamins, minerals, and iodine, nori acts like a great metabolism booster. Although you don’t find seaweed in all types of sushi, most of the popular ones like maki roll, uramaki, gunkan maki, and some nigiri have nori to give that perfect shape.
#15. Sushi Meal Is Concluded With Green Tea
The traditional delicacy is mostly concluded by a sweet dish and then green tea, which cleanses the palate and also aids in digestion. While there are several health benefits of green tea that you may already be familiar with, I enjoy it simply for the great flavor. There are numerous other beverages that you can pair up with the dish, but I feel this classic Japanese beverage is one of the 15 reasons to eat sushi.