General Sushi News

Sushi news anywhere in the world other than Austin, Texas

More Sushi-busting With DNA

Sushi News: 

A recent study by scientists from the American Museum of Natural History and Columbia University found more evidence that sushi bars are taking liberties with the labeling of their seafood.

They collected 68 samples from 31 establishments in the New York City area. All claimed to be types of tuna (bigeye, yellowtail, albacore, etc).

The results? "Nineteen of 31 restaurants erroneously described or failed to identify the sushi they sold. Twenty-two of 68 samples were sold as species that were contradicted by molecular identification." Lastly, five samples claiming to be tuna were actually from a semi-toxic fish, Escolar, which is banned for sale in some countries for health reasons. Yuck!

Farm Raised Unagi Now a Reality

Sushi News: 

Japanese scientists have recently managed the first successful farm bred eel. Until now, small eels were captured in the wild and then transferred to farms. But wild stocks have been depleted, raising fears of extinction, according to this story from the Houston Examiner. The story points out that:

Sushi Fraud

Sushi News: 

We've covered this story in the past, but it's nice to see the press still working it over. Sushi fraud works because very few people actually recognize the subtle taste differences between various seafoods. So, restaurants can save some big bucks by, for example, serving you pacific rockfish yet claiming it's red snapper (to be fair, it's sometimes the distributors that are deceiving the restaurants, but any seafood establishment worth its salt should know the difference).

In a recent Wired Magazine report on "mislabeled" tuna, researchers ordered tuna from "31 sushi restaurants and then used genetic tests to determine the species of fishes in those dishes. More than half of those eateries misrepresented, or couldn’t clarify, the type of fish they were mongering."

We first covered this type of story wayyyy back in 2001 when the Houston Press reported on red snapper and lobster being faked using pacific rockfish and langoustine as substitutes. Last year, we also reported on the two kids who fingered rogue Manhattan sushi bars by analyzing fish DNA.

In the not-so-distant future, we will all have DNA hand scanners that we can point at our toro sashimi, but until then, caveat emptor....

Awesome Karaoke Has A Name

Sushi News: 

As mentioned in last month's edition of Austin Sushi News, the old 14,000 square foot Salvation Army location in the Lamar Plaza shopping center (home of the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar) is being completely re-done. However, it will not be named "The Palace," but instead, "The Highball." You can follow the progress on their new blog. For more extensive details, see the recent Austin Chronicle article.

1st International Sushi Day

Sushi News: 

It's not clear who came up with this concept, but if there's a Facebook page about it, it MUST be true, right? So, tomorrow (Thursday, June 18th) is International Sushi Day, and you are all hereby directed to consume sushi.

Going Green With Sushi

Sushi News: 

If you're one of those folks who bicycles to Wheatsville with your own canvas bags, and you're wondering how to lower your environmental footprint at the sushi bar (aren't we all? :-), then look no further. The overused and ill-defined word "green" got another boost in a recent Washington Post article which points to consumer groups that are offering seafood guides to help sushi patrons make the wisest sushi choices. The guides suggest that "it’s time to say sayonara to toro (aka bluefin tuna). Hamachi (yellowtail)....And ... freshwater eel and avocado rolls -- unagi is also a big environmental no-no." These guides will help you decide which seafood species are in various stages of danger. The three guides, from the Environmental Defense Fund, Blue Ocean Institute and the Monterey Bay Aquarium, are available as handy links (to PDF files) here:
EDF Sushi Selector
Blue Ocean Guide
Monterey Bay Guide (un)Officially Launches

Sushi News:

According to lead developer Masahiko Noguchi, took five years to complete, and the new online sushi chef training site had three top Los Angeles-based sushi chefs involved from start to finish. For a mere $10 monthly tuition fee, the site offers you over 170 different classes (totalling some 7,000 web pages). They unofficially launched on September 1st, and, by the way, anyone can take their online classes -- not just sushi chefs. Here's the quick bullet-point list:

  • Online real-time interactive video instruction
  • 3-Way rotating instruction center for multimedia E-learning
  • Downloadable Lessons, recipies, nutritional data in PDF format
  • Over 300 Videos and over 10,000 photos
  • Professional instruction from beginning to advanced sushi training.
  • Online Note taking system
  • Message board
  • User administration center
  • Study at your own pace
  • Quick phone and email support
  • Resource and Links on how to obtain tools and sushi equipment

Got Sake?

Sushi News: 

joyofsake If you dig sake, and your're not planning on attending "the largest sake tasting event outside of Japan," then have a sake event in Austin, k? Otherwise, you can go to Honolulu (August), New York (September), or San Francisco (October), and experience "300 sakes in peak condition and a splendid array of appetizers." Check out the web site for details.

If you happen to be in New York City, check out their first sake store, Sakaya, in the East Village. If you're in San Francisco, you'll want to visit True Sake in the Hayes Valley neighborhood.

But if you're like me, and your idea of a good time is double-fisting cans of Funaguchi Kikusui while cruising over the 290/I-35 North ramp at 95mph while singing along to "Kiseki", then you're probably living in the wrong city (except for the I-35 ramp part). If you're lucky, though, you can find the booze, er, sake, down at that wacky liquor superstore, Specs, which now has three Austin locations.

Non-Essential Sushi Reading

Sushi News: 

A sure sign that sushi-mania has gotten its cultural second wind is when books arrive to give us the historical and sociological background that we so desperately don't need. Still, if you've always wanted to know the history of sushi, as well as details about the infrastructure that delivers it to your local sushi bar, these books are pretty interesting. To find out what books I'm talking about, check out the book review in the New York Times by novelist Jay McInerny -- it's a good read. You may need to login to read it (go to to get credentials).

Sushi and Sake in the Zone

Sushi News: 

We've reported on Nyotaimori (body sushi - eating sushi off a woman's body) in past issues of Austin Sushi News, but we hadn't talked about a related endeavor which is Wakamezake (also called wakame sake and seaweed sake), a somewhat sexy-time act involving drinking alcohol from a woman's body. According to Wikipedia, the woman closes her legs tight enough that the triangle between the thighs and mons pubis form a cup, and then pours sake down her chest into this triangle. Her partner then drinks the sake from there. The name comes from the idea that the woman's pubic hair in the sake resembles soft seaweed floating in the sea. This one may even be too wild for DK's pimpalicious karaoke sushi nights (after 7pm Monday nights at Seoul Sushi Bar). Is that a challenge? Yes!