I don't want to eat sushi but I have to
May 14, 2010 4:39 PM   Subscribe

Can you teach me to love like tolerate sushi? How did you learn to like sushi?

I lost a bet with my girlfriend. Due to a grotesque display of hubris while setting the terms, I am obligated not only to buy her a sushi dinner, but to have some myself as well.

I don't like sushi, both in theory and in practice. Assorted loved ones have been appalled by this (it seems that people take sushi VERY seriously) and have attempted to convert me into a sushi-lover. I have gamely tried some here and there and I just don't like it. It is mushy and slimy and tastes like cold vagina and dirty beach water, even at high-quality places that were meant to impress me.

I'm a notoriously picky eater, both because of dietary restrictions (I don't eat sugar or refined carbs, so anything made with white rice is out) and because I just don't like a lot of things. But I love my girlfriend and I'm also curious why so many people go insane over sushi, while I am dreading it like it's a tetanus shot. Please teach me Sushi 101: what's the most painless way in? What on the menu will be least likely to make me gag at first? Did you always love sushi or were you once like me?
posted by granted to Food & Drink (58 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
For me it was getting used to the texture. Do you otherwise like seafood? If so, the flavor probably isn't part of your problem.

My only recommendation is to stay away from the nigiri (rice on bottom, meat on top) and get the maki (the usual cylindrical sushi with rice outside and meat inside). That way your eyes and mouth will be doing a little less "interfacing" with the raw fish. Also if you can tolerate the heat, extra wasabi can cover the flavor if you can't tolerate it.

As far as which to get - the various tunas usually have the least strongest flavor in my experience.
posted by MillMan at 4:46 PM on May 14, 2010

Unagi is it's smoked eel with a carmel-like sauce. It's a lot tastier than it looks or sounds (And more savoury than fishy).

Also, you seem like the sort of person who won't ever like sushi. Force down a few pieces for laffs and then fill up on tempura.
posted by bonobothegreat at 4:48 PM on May 14, 2010 [4 favorites]

I sympathize; I can't enjoy any food that's cold and slimy or gelatinous, so people think I'm just close-minded about eating raw meat -- I'll happily eat rare beef and really I'm not skeezed out by germs or whatever -- or foreign food, neither of which are true. I get the same thing when people try to take me to authentic Chinese restaurants: the texture of half the dishes literally nauseates me, so even though I'll like some of the other stuff available, people always think I'm nuts for not liking the slimy stuff. I get roped into trying so many things -- "here, you'll like this!" -- that by the end of the meal I feel really sick, even if I mostly ate stuff I like okay. All those little samples do me in.

That being said, I've found that I like California rolls -- no raw fish, just some vegetables, I forget if these have cream cheese but they're a bit crunchy overall -- and Philadelphia rolls, which has a bit of raw salmon with avocado and cream cheese. That's arguably slimy but I'm used to eating avocado and cream cheese so it doesn't bother me as much as things I'm not used to, and I like the flavor. And I've found rolls much easier to tolerate than nigirizushi (a clump of rice topped with a slice of raw fish). I can't do nigirizushi at all. I think rolls help because there's the rice and seaweed on the outside, so by the time you chew a bit and reach the inside, the sliminess is dispersed and it's not much different than eating, say, a sandwich that has mayonnaise in it. I can tolerate other rolls with raw fish, even, they're just not my first choice.

But do you have to eat sushi? Lots of sushi places offer other Japanese menu items that aren't raw. Lots of people like tonkatsu, if you can eat pork: it's just a breaded fried pork chop, really. Most places seem to offer it. I also sometimes get an order of crab puffs, which if it's offered, is usually an appetizer; it's just fried wonton pouches with cream cheese and crab meat in them. If it's part of the bet that you actually eat sushi, and not just something from the restaurant though, go with rolls.
posted by Nattie at 4:51 PM on May 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

I can't tell from your question, but have you tried vegetarian sushi? I love kappa maki (cucumber rolls), and there's no slimy/beach water in there. They taste very "clean" to me, and you can focus on the combination of textures (cucumber, rice, nori). They are also excellent with brown rice.
posted by Fifi Firefox at 4:52 PM on May 14, 2010

Does it have to be raw or can you cheat some with a cooked roll? Knocking out the white rice adds a whole new level of difficulty. What about asking for a spicy tuna hand roll without rice?
posted by thebrokedown at 4:53 PM on May 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

Veggie sushi or crispy salmon skin roll, if you don't mind the taste of salmon
posted by ersatzkat at 4:54 PM on May 14, 2010

Yea, I stopped in to recommend unagi also, and maki rather than nigiri.

So, have some unagi rolls. They usually have cucumber in them, which is nice for a bit of crunch factor. Liberal application of soy sauce + wasabi will make it so you can't even really taste anything anyway.

I had tempura rolls once at a modern place where the whole roll was fried tempura-style. I liked that for the crunch too.
posted by cabingirl at 4:54 PM on May 14, 2010

Seconding vegetarian sushi. Yam, egg, cucumbers, avocado, etc.
posted by ifranzen at 4:54 PM on May 14, 2010

Some people like cold vagina; I guess you aren't one of them.

Er, speaking as a bisexual woman, most people wouldn't like to actually have to chew and ingest it, even if they're down with it sexually. Same goes for anything that is heavily reminiscent of an actual penis. I dunno, I don't think it's unusual to be squicked out by having to chew something whose texture reminds you of human genitals.
posted by Nattie at 4:54 PM on May 14, 2010 [5 favorites]

I've managed to convert a few non-sushi eaters. Here is what I would suggest -

-look over yelp and talk to your friends about their favorite sushi restaurants. Sushi quality varies greatly from place to place and just because a place is expensive and famous doesn't mean the fish tastes good. I had one of the most awful pieces of salmon in my life at Nobu in Malibu. Every other piece of the meal was amazing until the actual sushi arrived. *shiver.* Choose a well-reviewed place to minimize the likelihood of disaster.

-Start with rolls that involve sauces, spicy versions of fish and tempura. Rolls with crunch in the title, eel sauce, shrimp tempura, sesame sauce, things like that. Shrimp tempura is breaded, fried and cooked so it won't be a particularly shocking palette experience. Soft shell crab is also pretty easy to eat, though it's usually alive when they grab it out of the case. Also look for rolls that contain ingredients you like in other foods like avocado or jalapenos. Rolls are great because they have a lot of flavor and they are more texturally various. They aren't quite as much of an in your face experience as just going directly for the raw fish. It's a great way to figure out what textures and flavors appeal to you gradually.

-Stick with milder fish. Salmon, yellowtail and tuna are pretty "non-fishy" assuming you are eating at a restaurant with good quality fish. Save the mackerel and sea urchin for the brave.

That's what I order for people when I take them out and introduce them to sushi. I've managed to convert 2 or 3 sushi-phobes into complete addicts like myself, much to the horror of their bank accounts.
posted by amycup at 4:55 PM on May 14, 2010

You probably already know this because you have "sashimi" listed as one of your tags, but "sushi" actually just refers to the white vinegared rice part, not the fish part. Will you be breaking your ban on refined carbs to satisfy the terms of this bet, or can you only eat sashimi?

If you're willing to eat the rice, I'd suggest trying unagi (freshwater eel, cooked, usually served with a drizzle of sweet BBQ sauce) or ebi (cooked butterflied shrimp). If not, stick with tuna, as it's usually the mildest and least mushy of the raw stuff.
posted by arianell at 4:55 PM on May 14, 2010 [2 favorites]

I think the safest thing to get is California Roll (cucumber, crab meat, and avocado), but it traditionally has white rice, but maybe you could find a place to dine that offers whole wheat rice? A lot of sushi places do offer it as an alternative to white.
posted by zarah at 4:55 PM on May 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

I will eat pretty much anything, but sushi makes me dry heave sometimes. I thought it was just the wierd fishy flavor, but I love fish. What really does it isn't the raw fish or seafood, its the Nori, the seaweed wrap. It's vomitastic.

If you have a choice, choose something more sashimi like, anything without the seaweed. Also take anything with Tuna, it's fantastic.
posted by sanka at 4:56 PM on May 14, 2010 [3 favorites]

If you won't eat refined carbs, all you can eat is sashimi. Good sashimi should never be anywhere near what anyone would call "mushy" or "slimy" unless maybe you're talking about sea urchin. I personally like sushi and sashimi for the interplay of textures and the bite of wasabi. I would try salmon, since even when you order it cooked it is usually served fairly rare and it is fatty and delicious. Tuna is mild but terrible for the environment. A good fluke or snapper is firm and slightly sweet. Raw squid is also amazing when cut right (into thin strips), definitely not slimy or mushy, it's almost crunchy.
posted by ch1x0r at 4:58 PM on May 14, 2010

Oh, I just noticed your white rice restriction. I'm the same way -- low carb, especially because of a family history of diabetes, so I shrink away from even a tiny amount of refined carbs -- but a lot of restaurants offer brown rice now. Try to find one that does, otherwise you're just going to have to choke down raw fish. I find salmon the most palatable if you've gotta do that, but really, the amount of white rice in a couple of sushi rolls isn't that horrible for a one-time thing.
posted by Nattie at 4:58 PM on May 14, 2010 [3 favorites]

what definition of sushi are you using? does the fish have to be raw?

1) a lot of places i've gone offer tempura shrimp in a roll. this is delicious.
2) any of the rolls with cream cheese, excepting instances of 3
3) stay away from the roe
4) tamagoyaki - it's like egg and rice - almost like fried rice if you squint and open your mind
5) if you like tofu, i think inari is very, very good. some places it's spicy, some it's sweet
posted by nadawi at 4:59 PM on May 14, 2010

If you go someplace very good, raw salmon actually tastes rather sweet and not at all "fishy."
posted by availablelight at 5:02 PM on May 14, 2010

At first I loaded up on the wasabi and soy sauce, because I like hot/spicy. After I got used to the texture I backed off on the wasabi and soy sauce and began to enjoy the flavor of the fish.
posted by JanetLand at 5:04 PM on May 14, 2010

If you're like me and you can't stomach nori, you can always substitute rice/soy paper.

And seconding brown rice. Maybe a tempura roll. I notice you're in San Francisco. I absolutely love the yellow tail and first crush rolls at Sushi Bistro.
posted by politikitty at 5:05 PM on May 14, 2010

Assuming you go to a place that does brown-rice sushi at all, I would simply say stick with cooked fish rolls to start. We like raw fish just fine around here, but our favorite roll from our local cheap-ass sushi place is a very simple roll with asparagus down the middle and a baked whitefish in a cream-cheesy sauce on top. Lots of places take pride in their special rolls, and a lot of those rolls are cooked. There's usually at least two rolls that use smoked salmon, which you might find more appealing than raw.

I do have friends who I have introduced gently to sushi when they didn't think they liked it, with a mix of the cooked-fish rolls and a few fresh decent rolls or nigiri. You don't have to go crazy with the sea urchin and raw scallop, either: both salmon and yellowtail are, to me, very mild acceptable raw classics. I love unagi, which is usually broiled in a toaster oven with a super-sweet sauce, very easy to eat on a roll. The volcano roll, also featuring a cooked fish and a spicy sauce, is on pretty much every menu.

If you like avocado, head for a dragon roll: stripes of (raw) salmon, tuna, avocado on top, usually mayonnaise or cream cheese in the middle, usually has some dabs of sriracha or spicy mayonnaise on it. Only a nasty bad-fish dragon roll should be either like beach or cold vagina; it should taste creamy and clean. Almost everyone's starter roll is the California roll, which is (cooked) fake crab and cucumber, either with sesame seeds or tiny orange fish roe (texturally interesting, otherwise flavorless) on the outside.

You can also cheat with tamago nigiri, which is a very slightly sweet omlette-type egg (with a dash of soy) on top of rice. Nothing offensive about that, if you like egg.

But if you don't really like fish at all, just stick with the non-sushi side of the menu and see if you can't find enough to like there that you and your girlfriend can go to a sushi restaurant and you can still eat happily enough. Many Japanese restaurants can do some decent steak, or tempura at least.

Sushi has nearly ruined me for cooked fish, and I was highly skeptical the first time. I cannot stand cooked tuna anymore, and overcooked salmon makes me gag. Good sushi fish should be fresh-smelling and more or less taste/feel like firm butter.
posted by Lyn Never at 5:06 PM on May 14, 2010

I grew up in a very rural area. When I got to college this was a big problem food wise so I tackled everything rather than deal with the fears. i.e. to get past the chop stick issue I went to a place for lunch alone and ordered white rice and ate it with chop sticks, one at a time. Took forever but I figured it out pretty quickly then.

For sushi, cucumbers and carrots are the way to go for the texture problem. They make a nice crunchy feeling that'll get you used to the rice and such. The next easiest step for me was crab and the above. That integrates fish into it, and the crab was cooked. Liberal amounts of low salt soy sauce also help big time.

After that it's up to you, but hamachi (yellowtail) was the first raw fish I tried and wasn't troubled by it at all. Be sure you go to a place that cares about quality. Knowing the chef wouldn't disgrace himself by serving bad meat took the fear out of it. I doubt you'll get this far the first time but who knows. If you go in with a genuine game plan you'll probably be all set with just the carrots and cucumbers. Good luck!

On preview - Lyn Never's right about the smell. Ocean=bad. One caveat on the tamago (egg) - as silly as it sounds, I thought this was my safe roll and then it arrived, cold. Cold egg threw me for some reason. I figured it'd be hot.
posted by jwells at 5:22 PM on May 14, 2010

Just start with the veggie / cooked stuff as suggested above. It's just like Indian cuisine, you start with the most basic stuff like Chicken Tikka Masala before you ramp yourself up. I am not the biggest fan of sushi either, but I have learned to like it after chomping on a whole lot of Kappa Maki and then into some Spicy Tuna Roll with a lot of soy and wasabi.
posted by jasondigitized at 5:25 PM on May 14, 2010

Some people are very picky eaters, and it sounds like you're one of them. There's nothing wrong with that.

I loved sushi from the moment I first tried some. I like sashimi even more, which is essentially just raw fish -- you might prefer this since there's no rice. But if you don't like it, well... you don't like it. That's okay. :)

Another thing is just to enjoy the experience. The experience of eating something different, something that tastes new. Like any sensual experience in life, it can be treated as mundane or as a chore, or it can be cherished and enjoyed. Even if you don't like the taste or the texture, you're still experiencing it! Just my philosophy.
posted by mattkh at 5:30 PM on May 14, 2010

Raw fish tastes like "cold vagina"? Seriously? Grow up.

Sushi literally refers to the rice. You can eat all kinds of rolls (maki) and things that don't involve raw fish in any form. You could order rice with a little sliced omelet on it (tamago) or cooked shrimp (ebi) or any number of other cooked things. You could order a bowl of rice with cooked fish on top (some types of chirashi-sushi). You could eat sweet and sour rice stuffed into little tofu pockets (inari sushi). Sushi isn't just raw fish and it's not monolithic in any way; do the tiniest bit of research and you can figure out what you'd be likely to be able to enjoy.

If you don't eat white rice, you'll need to go somewhere sufficiently trendy/untraditional to offer brown rice.
posted by peachfuzz at 5:41 PM on May 14, 2010 [3 favorites]

Find a restaurant that will make sushi with brown rice, if possible, and just get avocado roll, cucumber roll, or mixed veggie roll. You can get sushi that doesn't include fish and it's still sushi.

Sushi is perfectly fine, but it's also expensive, and I'm not sure there's a point in forcing yourself to develop a taste for it. There are wonderful noodle soups, edamame, tempura, and age dashi tofu to be had at sushi restaurants, so you can still enjoy yourself while taking your current girlfriend out for dinner.

Also, you should never compare something your girlfriend likes with an image designed to evoke disgust -- not even in jest. I've dated people (improv comedians, no less) who did this and it has a seriously chilling effect on communication. Also it will hurt her feelings.

That said, there's something very pure and clean about sushi. There's no reason to be disgusted by it. It gets people much closer to the source of their food than meat-eaters usually are. I'm a vegetarian and it doesn't bother me to be around people eating sushi. It's lovely to look at.

By the way, it's not slimy at all. Maybe the outside skin of some fish is slimy sometimes, but the part used for sushi is generally not slimy.

Avoid bubble tea for goodness' sake.
posted by amtho at 5:42 PM on May 14, 2010

Different fish taste somewhat different as well, so get a variety. I'm not a fan of fish as a rule, but I've yet to meet sushi/sashimi that I didn't like (ok, haven't worked up to eel, but aside from that...)

Raw fish tastes like "cold vagina"? Seriously?

Reminds me of the time when The GF was professing her love of fish tacos, at a time when I had no idea that it was anything other than a crude metaphor.

I'm still not entirely convinced, to be honest.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:56 PM on May 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

I didn't see it mentioned by anyone else but all of the rice is going to have sugar in it.
So I'll pile on the sashimi recommendation.

Or, if you want to sort of cheat on your dietary specifications, try to go to a nice place then sit at the sushi bar and tell the chef you are new. They'll be able to make a lot of different stuff for you to try and you can provide feedback on what you like or don't like.
posted by zephyr_words at 6:17 PM on May 14, 2010

The first time I tried sushi someone gave me a spicy tuna roll which was not a good idea, made me gag, and I didn't eat sushi again for like, 10 years. Now I could love on it if not for the scurvy.

So I started with California Roll and also Shrimp Tempura rolls (because I love fried shrimp) and those are mostly vegetables. Then I graduated to mild fish like Yellowtail, Hamachi and Kanpachi - no fishy flavor at all if done right.

A lot of places will let you order rolls without rice or with brown rice. Also, my mom's biggest problem is with seaweed, so she asks them to be rolled in soy paper.

Super-sneaky alternative...some places do kobe beef "sushi" which, technically, may get you out of it. Don't worry, the steak is always cooked. But that might count.
posted by buzzkillington at 6:19 PM on May 14, 2010

I can't recommend any restaurants in particular, but try to find one that has a lot of warm/fried rolls...there are some rolls I've seen that actually barely qualify as sushi, but they're damn good!
posted by radioamy at 6:40 PM on May 14, 2010

Oh and most places will offer brown rice instead of white
posted by radioamy at 6:41 PM on May 14, 2010

Huh. This is dumb. Truly, the best way to maintain someone's dislike of something is to force them to ingest (or listen/watch/read/ride/etc.) it.

If you don't like sushi, then fine. If you want to like it, then stop with the lame metaphors and negativity and open your mind--that's 9/10ths of it. All of us have had things we didn't like at first and then grew to like; you're no different. But if you are going to go into it with such a crap attitude then there's no way you're going to like it.

Honestly, I don't really get your question. It seems like you are asking those of us who like sushi to justify it to you. But I can't really explain anything to you when you start with sushi "is mushy and slimy and tastes like cold vagina and dirty beach water, even at high-quality places that were meant to impress me." I mean, what do you want us to say? Sushi is delicious and I've had it at Tsukiji where it was caught the same morning and the toro was fucking incredibly melt-in-your-mouth outstanding and the uni sweet and buttery and it blew my mind. If you want to understand that then cultivate a love for it just like you've cultivated a love for anything else you didn't like at first. If you don't want to, well, then don't make stupid bets next time.
posted by dubitable at 7:09 PM on May 14, 2010 [6 favorites]

Um, yeah, brown rice and veggies instead of fish (avocado is your friend here, as is a lot of wasabi in your soy).

It is also okay to simply not like certain foods, everyone has their own preferences, as long as you've tried something in order to form your opinion, any decent person should respect you for it.

Also, the 'cold vagina' is really uncalled for and offensive.
posted by cestmoi15 at 7:28 PM on May 14, 2010

I loved sushi from my first try. You've made a great effort already and still don't like it. I say don't worry about it and let it go. We all can't like everything.
posted by sockpup at 7:37 PM on May 14, 2010

I heart Dubitable.

That said, if you want to get used to sushi:

1) Start drinking Miso soup.
2) I was going to suggest California (veggie) rolls, but you won't eat rice. Maybe try some seaweed salad.
3) When you do work up enough courage, start with milder fish, like salmon. When you have a small piece, dunk it to death in a mixture of soy sauce and wasabi. There is no way you are going to taste anything if you do that. Get used to it, try less sauce each time, and try to discover the actual flavor of the fish without freaking out.
4) You can also order rolls like maybe an arctic roll or other rolls that have a lot of sauce on them, making the fish undetectable.

But seriously, try to sit with the fish on your tongue and not freak out. Interact with it. It won't kill you. There is a reason sushi joints are almost outnumbering Starbucks outlets these days.

PS The crack about "cold vagina" made me think you were a serial killer (!).
posted by teedee2000 at 7:38 PM on May 14, 2010

I just now got home from having dinner at my favorite sushi place. I used to like the raw stuff ok but at some point it just became kind of... not my favorite. Tonight I had a spider roll made with deep-fried soft shell crab, and a diablo roll which cooked is scallops in a slightly sweet spicy sauce over rice rolls. Soooooo good. I highly recommend, if she'll let you get away with eating a roll with cooked fish.

As for raw stuff, a lot of the edge can be taken off by ordering rolls with "crunch" in the name and topped with a spicy mayo sauce.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 7:41 PM on May 14, 2010

Having been there and done this situation once upon a time with an ex... let's just say at one point I got dragged to Yoshi's in Oakland and they literally served up the entire sea floor, I had no clue what I was eating, and could not show fear. I sucked it up and ate god only knows what. You can do it if you have to.

But if you can't eat white rice and hate cold fish, I think it would take a tongue transplant to make you like sushi. Sorry. I am not terribly fond of limp cold fish on rice either, but the rolls are far tastier and don't have that cold meat taste. But again, you'd have to eat rice for them.

Why do people like sushi? They have different taste buds than yours. I don't actually think most fish even has flavor (plus chill factor = meh to me), but most people apparently think they do. Also, humans love finger foods. I like rice + food that comes in roll form, especially the ones with sauce, so I can at least eat some sushi.

You have my sympathies--I'm a coffee hater and lord, it's awkward not to love food that 99% of the population loves. I hope your girlfriend just lets you order non-sushi in Japanese restaurants after this.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:41 PM on May 14, 2010

For me, I started to really enjoy sushi for the first time when I went to a place with friends and they told me to just order a big sampler type of thing with a lot of variety on the plate.

I liked it once I gave up on asking "What the hell am I eating?".
posted by goHermGO at 7:50 PM on May 14, 2010

I only eat veggie sushi, but enjoy it a lot. Avocado and cucumber are both good and not fishy or weird. When you get the balance of salty soy sauce + "pow!" wasabi (horseradish) right, it's great.

If you're going for the rolls, be aware there are some that are small with seaweed on the outside (avocado and cucumber are both like this), but there are some that have more stuff in them and another layer of rice outside the seaweed wrapper, and those can be huge. My only really bad experiences with sushi have come when I've tried to eat a whole roll that was too big. If you take a smaller bite, there's less of an interval of chewing, which may make your textural issue easier to deal with.

So: Small bites.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:51 PM on May 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

The "sushi" you get in most places in North America is just not that great. If you're ordering "maguro" tuna, chances are it was shipped frozen to the restaurant and thawed before serving. It's just not worth eating. Skip it.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:52 PM on May 14, 2010

I'm really not at all crazy about sushi, but I really, really love poke. Somehow the texture of plain fish is totally altered by the flavorings. And I've found it at a lot of sushi places, at least on the west coast.
posted by padraigin at 7:54 PM on May 14, 2010

It's OK to not like sushi - I really only do the veggie and California rolls, with the occasional salmon. However, a local place I go to has a veggie sushi dish that is sprouts, shittake mushroom, shaved egg, seaweed, and pickled ginger all served on rice. I love that dish.

And I hear you on not liking a food that the vast majority of the populace likes. My least favorite food on the entire planet? Cheese. God. Ew. I was even born and raised in Wisconsin. You may all point and laugh now.
posted by spinifex23 at 8:11 PM on May 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

i started liking sushi within the last few years after not being able to stand the stuff my entire life. some rolls still ick me out, but sashimi never does. i can go to town on that stuff. delicious. so in my experience it's not the fish that you have to get over but the seaweed. i can't really eat rolls with the seaweed on the outside, they make me gag like 10% of the time. try inside out rolls (uramaki or whatever they're called) first. start with something like a spicy tuna roll. then work your way to salmon and yellowtail. and maybe start with a seaweed salad to get your stomach used to the ocean flavor. and drink some sake too.
posted by nathancaswell at 8:12 PM on May 14, 2010

Often, sushi restaurants will have items that are not on the menu. I recommend broiled Yellowtail neck. Order that instead.
posted by effluvia at 8:21 PM on May 14, 2010

I know "sushi" technically means the rice, but to most people "sushi" means the whole raw fish deal. Look, you lost a bet. I think you're morally obligated to have raw fish, which means sashimi considering your dietary restrictions. Anything like vegetarian sushi, rolls that barely have any fish in them, yadda yadda yadda, wouldn't satisfy the terms of the bet in my mind, they'd be skating by on a technicality.

According to your profile you're in San Francisco. You can get awesome sushi. Ebisu often wins best sushi in the local alternative papers. Note that the negative ratings are mostly due to it being crowded. Pro tip: Hotei serves the same sushi in a nicer atmosphere with less of a wait.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:34 PM on May 14, 2010

Good sushi does not taste fishy. You may dislike sushi because you think it will taste or smell like the fish you would get from your local supermarket. Sushi fish is way fresher than this. The smell we normally associate with fish is the smell of fish that is no longer fresh.

I would caution against having high expectations with unagi, because it is a somewhat musky taste. I would recommend instead starting with vegetarian sushi and perhaps venturing into hamachi nigiri when you feel you're ready to try sushi with raw fish. Try a bite, and don't think of it as fish, because, compared to what we normally eat, it's an almost entirely different food.
posted by zippy at 8:36 PM on May 14, 2010

If you don't like the taste(s) of raw fish, consider drowning everything in soy sauce. Then it will all taste like soy sauce. Or better, soy sauce with wasabi.
posted by musofire at 8:43 PM on May 14, 2010

Avoid bubble tea for goodness' sake.

I wholeheartedly disagree with this statement.
posted by kylej at 9:30 PM on May 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

It sounds like you do not like sushi, so just skip it. Would it really be better for you to find brown rice rolls with cooked seafood? I'm thinking no.
posted by Gilbert at 9:57 PM on May 14, 2010

Mackerel saba toasted, smooth buttery bliss nutritious
Monk fish liver pate, I can't tolerate liver, this stuff is out of this word delicious.
Yellowtail cheek kama, juicy tuna from the grill, all those jaw muscles are oily rich.
Broiled blackcod w plum sauce
Flying fish egg tobiko bite for crunchy bursts of flavor, fun to eat.
Shrimp dumplings
Chilled, cooked, sliced, octopus tako tastes kinda like popcorn sometimes.
Shitaki mushroom salad
Albacore tataki
Egg tamago slightly sweet slightly fishy simple delicious.
These are some tasty treats that are not too challenging to eat, the tako maybe.
p.s. don't nibble, take big bites.
posted by hortense at 10:02 PM on May 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

(I don't eat sugar or refined carbs, so anything made with white rice is out.)

Unless you have a food allergy: what about trying rice once, in a small amount? After all, you lost your bet. Otherwise, start with salmon and/or tuna sashimi, perhaps a soup and some Japanese beer. Enjoy your meal!

Btw, if you still dislike sushi, try ceviche the next time: “Ceviche is basically Latin American sushi. Without the rice. (...) It also packs more bite with its characteristic chilli and lime flavour."
posted by iviken at 4:15 AM on May 15, 2010

If you're talking about raw fish, just don't eat it on a bet. The creature gave its life to wind up on your plate. Skip it if you can't give it any respect.
posted by BibiRose at 5:07 AM on May 15, 2010

tastes like cold vagina and dirty beach

Avoid Uni sushi (I actually got used to it and like it now).
posted by yoyo_nyc at 8:07 AM on May 15, 2010

Yeah, just go somewhere nice and get a sashimi sampler with your meal. I actually got my dad to try it for the first time in his life (he's 66, and was very vocal about not wanting to) when the waitress brought a half plate of tuna sashimi served with optional sauces.

It was delicious. That's also close to how I started eating sushi, except that I ordered a whole sashimi platter. It was daunting seeing all that stuff but after I started mowing through it I was hooked. And I feel great every time I eat it--it's this feeling of satiation without being really too full.
posted by dervish at 9:38 AM on May 15, 2010

Meat sushi?
posted by iviken at 10:29 AM on May 15, 2010

Also, peepshi!
posted by buzzkillington at 11:54 AM on May 15, 2010

It's not the greatest etiquette in the world but the way I got my friend to try sushi was by taking it apart. Even the idea of just veggie sushi kind of upset her... I think it was the idea of the nori (seaweed). I encouraged her to just try the rice, to see how different it is from what we're used to. So she cut a piece of maki sushi in half and the just tasted the rice, then the nori, then the fillings. Once she found out that wasn't so bad, she ate the other half without taking it apart. She didn't think it was fabulous but she didn't hate it either.

If you want more rice, try an onigiri. It's rice and nori and usually some kind of filling like salmon or tuna, though there are other fillings. Note that onigiri is not sushi and is made with plain or salted rice, not the vinegared rice used in sushi.

Also, avoid dipping the rice in soy sauce. This applies more to nigiri, while you'd probably like maki better, but the rice soaks up the soy sauce and starts falling apart. Also, be specific about what you order. The first time I tried sushi at an authentic Japanese restaurant (my previous sushi experience was limited to the local Chinese buffet), I ordered the chef's choice, since "they" say the chef will make you what he thinks is best. It was all nigiri and I didn't like it much. I managed 1-2 small bites of each piece. (I know, you're supposed to eat it in one or two bites. I didn't succeed.)

If you haven't, try the pickled ginger that comes with. Eat it plain as a palate cleanser between pieces. I find it tastes fabulous, and I normally don't like pickled things.
posted by IndigoRain at 3:12 PM on May 15, 2010

I have a friend who will happily pay $20+ for a mediocre steak at a chain restaurant but would never consider paying any more than that at a steakhouse for a really good steak, because she's "not a foodie" and says she doesn't care that much. Her worldview is very different from mine, but I'm not going to try to drag her to a high end steakhouse just to see if she can tell the difference, and thus the price increase would be justified for her. Seems like a similar situation here. There doesn't seem to be a reason for you to force yourself to like sushi, especially since you claim to be a very picky eater (which usually = non-adventurous) and can't eat white rice, which is key to much of sushi. I'd say let it go or stick with the veggie options (if you can find a place that makes brown rice sushi).
posted by FlyByDay at 5:43 PM on May 15, 2010

In case you haven't gone through with it yet: your painless entry is definitely vegetarian. You can get rice with squared bits of omlette on top, maki wrapped on green onions or cucumbers, or rice topped with a kind of corn salad.

When you have made it that far, confidently order some natto sushi for her. I love natto but it is a notoriously unlovable food for the Western palette. Made from fermented soy, it is cold, slimy, sticky, and a bit smelly.
posted by whatzit at 11:26 AM on May 19, 2010

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