Five Things to Look for in a Sushi Takeout Joint
The three times I've been I've found the sushi to have been... fine. I miss ginger-colored ginger as opposed to the neon-pink kind and rolls made with real crab. Still. When I'm hit with a sushi craving, I'll take what I can get. And I want to love it here. (I'll keep trying.)
In the past, I've gone by this loose list of takeout criteria for picking sushi places that offer the most flavorful fish, but I'm thinking that I'll have to abandon a couple of them here. I know I'm likely one of those people whom sushi chefs hate, though I don't use wasabi, I eat pieces with my hands, and I agree that (overfished) tuna usually sucks.
On to the list.
1. Go where the lines are. When it comes to bars and restaurants, I usually try to avoid lines. When it comes to sushi -- particularly during lunch -- I look for one. Lines vouch for higher turnover and ostensibly fresher fish.
2. Check out fish on display. And note that what's on display doesn't look dessicated and limp.
3. Stick to the nigiri, simple maki, or temaki. The freshest fish is used for sashimi and nigiri, while older fish is often doctored up in crunchy shrimp or spicy tuna/salmon rolls.
4. Find a place that doesn't use fake crab. Crab stick -- or surimi -- is made from artificially flavored fish slurry. A takeout joint that doesn't use it indicates the restaurant sources higher-quality fish.
5. Be mindful of cleanliness. Here's to stating the obvious, but one that seems to be lost in a couple of places I've ducked into that look like they hadn't had a sprucing in a while. I have yet to find a clean, well-lighted place (it's been one other the other). Also watch chefs as they assemble orders. If you can't see them, order at your own discretion or risk (though I'm so unsqueamish I abide by the five-second rule with anything but raw fish).
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