This ginger includes Zingerone, a pungent component, and Gingerol, a spice component that changes to Shogaol when heated. Zingerone and Shogaol combine with the components that cause the fishy smell of fish and can eliminate that smell from its source. It makes sense to use ginger as a condiment for fish known for a stronger smell, like horse mackerel and bonito. The Gari served with sushi utilizes the effects of these components effectively for the enjoyment of the delicious taste of the sushi.
On the other hand, wasabi works by numbing senses of taste and smell with a stimulating spice so that the consumer doesn’t experience the fishy smell.
Furthermore, when you try to eat a light sushi topping after one with a richer flavor, a bit of Gari will cleanse your palette so you can fully enjoy the lighter fish. The pungent component also accelerates saliva production, assists with digestion and enhances absorption.
How the fish is butchered also changes the taste. If the fish suffers and struggles, the body wears and may be damaged, circulating oxidized blood throughout the body, which makes it lose flavor. For fish of high value such as sea bream, flounder, yellowtail, rudderfish and tuna, a method called “ikejime” is used.
The taste of tuna is said to be determined based on the preparations after being caught. The tuna is caught with as little suffering as possible and the nerves are killed immediately for an instant death. Generally, blood is then drained perfectly, entrails and gills are removed, the tail cut off and then the fish is placed in ice-water to lower the body temperature.
The medulla oblongata and main artery of the fish are cut and a kitchen knife is inserted into the base of the tail to drain the blood. A thin metal rod is inserted into the backbone to paralyze the nerves and at the same time controls the putrefied materials that come out of the spinal cord.
This extends the time until rigor mortis sets in, making it easier to maintain freshness and simultaneously preventing blood from circulating in the body, which also prevents the fishy smell.
Freezing the fish to death in ice water is called “nojime”. This method is generally used for small fish such as sardines, horse mackerel and mackerel that are fished in large volume. Although the freshness of the fish deteriorates more quickly than in the case of “ikejime,” it can be done in large quantities without a lot of labor and maintains a certain level of freshness afterwards.
At fish markets, the term “kill” is not used for living fish, instead the word “shimeru” meaning to close or tighten. The term “dead fish” is also not used. Instead the term “nojime” is used for fish that died naturally en route to the market. This stems from the awe of precious life and turning that life into food.
Even if you order beer or sake at sushi restaurants, your meal will always end with a cup of tea. But if you’re going to go out for sushi, you should really start drinking that tea earlier instead of saving it until the end. The tea at sushi shops is far more significant than a simple beverage. Especially when eating fatty tuna or bonito, tea plays a role that beer and sake simply cannot fulfill.
The key is in its hot temperature.
Hot tea works to dissolve the fat left on the tongue. Traces of fat is left on your tongue when you eat fatty sushi. It covers the taste buds like a film, subtly inhibiting your sense of taste. It would be a shame to miss your chance to experience the full range of flavors on your visit to a delicious sushi restaurant. No matter how much you drink, beer and sake can’t do anything about this thin film.
But drinking hot tea dissolves the fat and washes it away. Tea can also be considered a type of preparation for enjoying the next piece of sushi.
Another fun fact, sushi teacups are bigger than traditional tea cups because sushi chefs used to man their food stands alone. They just didn’t have enough hands to be constantly refilling tea while also pressing the sushi. The stands used large teacups so they wouldn’t need to be refilled as often.
We are sure you’ve never heard of an interpreter accompanying you to a restaurant. Why does Sushi University go through the trouble of providing an interpreter? This is because sushi restaurants have an element that you won’t find at any other restaurant in the world. That is because they are the only restaurants where you can have a direct conversation with the chef. Sushi chefs make the sushi in front of the customers and in addition to chatting while the sushi is being made, they also make an effort to invite conversation that inspires thoughts of the changing seasons and make your experience memorable. Normally this isn’t an option for visitors who don’t speak Japanese, but our interpreter gives you this opportunity. This is one thing that makes Sushi University interesting and unique.
What to expect
The more you know about sushi, the better it tastes. Let’s consider the meaning of these words.
Fish and shellfish are worked with while they are still fresh and fixed into a state that they can be stored. This process was created for Edo-style sushi and has continued to be passed down for approximately 200 years.
These methods were normal practice during a time without refrigerators and the practices continue in almost the same way today. However, the purpose has shifted from optimum storage to optimum taste of each ingredient. In other words, sublimation for even more delicious sushi.
The techniques known as “work” on the sushi, including salting and soaking in vinegar, steaming and boiling and thorough pickling are commonly known in Edo-style sushi, but do you think about which work is applied to each individual topping when you eat it?
Just slicing up seafood and slapping it on some vinegar rice is not Edo-style sushi. It’s fresh. It has fat on it. You should think about the work put into the dish, not just whether the fish is sweet or fatty.
Sushi University offers plans that allow you to acquire basic knowledge of Edo-style sushi while you’re eating. After the lecture you’ll want to visit sushi restaurants even more than ever before.
Sushi University interpreters aren’t just translating the words. There are a lot of things that even regulars at sushi restaurants don’t know. This is because restaurant mentor is always watching over everyone and is in a position to answer questions honestly. The mentor normally doesn’t take the initiative to talk to people and it might just be the interpreter’s job to create opportunities for dialogue.
Our interpreters are able to do this because they are well-versed in Edo-style sushi and have a firm grasp of the basics of why each sushi dish is good and what work was done to make it so delicious. Interpreters who are not familiar with sushi get caught up in just the words of the interpreting and often don’t have the capacity to engage in meaningful exchange with the mentor. Not just anyone can become an interpreter.
What sushi restaurants does Sushi University visit?
This information isn’t disclosed until the day of the course. If students learn the name of the sushi restaurant in advance, they may search for it online and find mistaken information or acquire unnecessary preconceptions. The course is not about where you will eat the sushi, but why it is delicious and what Edo-style work has gone into the dishes to create that flavor. This is what you should focus on during your visit. Thank you for your understanding.
Why do we need to provide my mobile number?
When you apply online, mobile number is a required field. However, we will never call your phone. Perhaps you feel that means it’s not necessary.
When we need to contact you, we will first call the hotel. If we can’t get ahold of you there, we will send an email. If we don’t get a response to the email, then we will send a message to your phone.
If you happen to be staying in an Airbnb, we will send a message to your mobile phone once we arrive at your Airbnb to pick you up.
We appreciate your understanding.
Why do you call the hotel the day before my reservation?
The day before your Sushi University reservation, our interpreter will call your hotel.
The reason for this is not only to confirm your reservation with you but also because the sushi chef will be visiting the Toyosu market the next morning to purchase the ingredients he will use for your meal. Some of the toppings are prepared a few days before serving, but most will be purchased on the morning of the reservation.
Most sushi restaurants serve an Omakase course. The benefit of this for the customer is that you will be served the chef’s expert choice. The benefit to the sushi restaurant is that they can avoid stocking seafood in the counter display case without knowing if they will have an opportunity to serve it or not. In other words, they won’t purchase seafood ingredients that they don’t need.
In recent years, global warming has affected fishing hauls and seafood prices have gone up between 50% to 100% from just a few years ago, so over-purchasing is an important issue from the viewpoint of running sushi restaurants and SDGs.
There are also some cases in which travel schedules change. Sometimes trains or planes are suddenly canceled or don’t run on schedule. Such things are unavoidable, but by calling your hotel the day before, we can understand and mitigate the situation a bit better.
Therefore, we will try calling your hotel the day before your reservation. If the hotel indicates that you have not checked in and do not intend to, we will send you an email and possibly send a message to your phone as well.
We appreciate your understanding.
Can you provide interpreters for languages other than English?
In Tokyo there are very few interpreters for languages other than English. However, if you apply well in advance, we may be able to find an interpreter in your language of choice. In this case, an extra fee will be applied.
Can children participate in the program?
Sushi University courses are not overly formal, but participants need to stay in their seats for a period of time. Please consider this when making your reservation.
Is there a children’s menu available?
Unfortunately, the sushi roll dishes that children tend to enjoy such as Salmon and Avocado rolls and California rolls are not available on a traditional Edo style sushi menu. The sushi can be made smaller, and wasabi can be left out, but generally the menu will be the same as the adult course.
I’m not a foreign tourist. I am a sushi chef. Can I participate in Sushi University?
Of course you can. Please ask any questions you would like, such as points to watch out for when making sushi, preparation methods, etc. We will answer what we can as sincerely as possible. However, you will not be able to actually cut toppings or make sushi in this course.
I am a foreigner living in Tokyo. Can I participate in Sushi University?
Of course you can. However, we will designate a hotel lobby for the meeting place. We are unable to make arrangements to meet you at your home or another place of your choosing.
Is it OK to take photos during the lecture?
It is OK to take photos of anything you are interested in, such as sushi ingredients and knife skills. A sushi master has given us permission. Please be careful not to accidentally get a picture of any other customers. However, please refrain from taking video and uploading to sites like YouTube.
Can I book a large party online?
Online reservations can be made for up to seven guests. For a party of 8 or more people, or anyone who is interested in reserving an entire restaurant, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with the name of the course, the date, the number of people, your name and etc.
What is the cancellation policy?
If you need to cancel or amend your booking, please let us know as soon as possible. No cancellation fee will be charged as long as the booking is cancelled at least 24 hours in advance.
However, if you cancel the day before or the same day as your reservation, you will be charged a cancellation fee as follows :
Day before tour reservation: 50% of total tour fee
Day of tour reservation: 100% of total tour fee
How do I cancel my booking?
Bookings must be cancelled on the link included in the email confirming the reservation. Cancelations will not be accepted over the phone.
What if an emergency happens and I have to cancel last minute?
Cancellations are handled on a case by case basis and at a manager’s discretion. We will always be hospitable and take the circumstances into consideration.
Do your oils contain trans-fat?
Our oils do not contain trans-fat.
Am I allowed to bring my own drinks?
No, guests are not allowed to bring their own drinks under any circumstance.
Do you allow smoking inside the building?
No, we’re sorry, we do not.
What types of payment do you take?
We are sorry to inform you but we do not accept payment by credit card. We only accept payment by cash only.
How do I make a complaint, say thanks or suggest an idea?
Complaints, compliments and suggestions can be sent to us via email to
Can I make a Sushi University reservation for one?
The minimum reservation is 2 people. The problem is that for a single reservation, the interpreter’s fee would have to be covered by only one customer. Communicating with the sushi chef is the most important part of this course and is a major part of the fee.
Back before there were refrigerators, wasabi was indispensable for Nigirizushi, eliminating the fishy smell and also providing bactericidal effects to prevent the fish from spoiling. Wasabi is originally from Japan and it has been used in Edomae sushi from the very beginning. Even with all the advancements in technology for storing sushi toppings, wasabi is still used today to remove the fishy smell and prevent spoiling. However, nowadays the flavor and aroma of wasabi and the way it brings out the flavor of the sushi topping is the main focus.
When wasabi is grated and exposed to the air, its unique heat is made enhanced by enzymes. Using a coarse grater gives the wasabi a rough, fibrous texture that spreads the spicy flavor through to the back of the throat. On the other hand, if Sharkskin wasabi is grated finely, it foams up with tiny bubbles and makes a creamy taste. The type of wasabi depends on the personality of the shop.
However, the powdered wasabi and wasabi paste you find at kaiten-zushi (conveyor belt sushi) is primarily made from horseradish and is colored and scented with additives. It isn’t dried wasabi and it is significantly cheaper.