Gil Asakawa's Nikkei View | sushi
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It's cold outside, but it's colder in Asahi Foods' refrigerated cutting room, where stacks of cardboard and Styrofoam boxes filled with giant fish await. The fish cutter is in early on a Saturday, wearing a white lab coat and heavy rubber gloves, various razor-sharp knives at the ready. Charlene Thai, a tiny woman in a similar lab coat, hovers nearby, watching...

sushi-istockphoto-72dpi Recently a Seattle sushi restaurant, Mashiko, posted an open letter on its website saying that people who criticize the restaurant for having non-Japanese employees sushi are bigots. “Stop being an ignorant racist,” the letter said, after noting that the restaurant is Japanese-owned and there are Japanese as well as non-Japanese staff. The letter also defends one of the restaurant’s most popular chefs, a Caucasian woman, who’s worked there for 12 years and has a loyal and devoted following. “Should you refuse her fare based on her gender or race, you are an absolute fool,” the letter states. I feel for the staff and owners of Mashiko, and I’m surprised that diners in such a great foodie town as Seattle would be so unsophisticated that they’d make decisions on food quality just on a racial basis. Still, I think this is a much more complicated discussion than just bigotry (though that's part of it, for sure).

[caption id="attachment_4911" align="aligncenter" width="520"] Jiro Ono (left) and his son, Yoshikazu.[/caption]For the past year, people have been telling us to watch "Jiro Dreams of Sushi," the 2011 documentary by David Gelb about Jiro Ono, the 85-year-old artisan sushi chef who operates a Michelin 3-star restaurant, Sukibayashi Jiro, tucked into a Tokyo underground station. We finally saw it, and it's a charming...

I recently returned from a fantastic trip to Japan, with my wife Erin Yoshimura and my mom. We flew first to Sapporo in the northern island of Hokkaido, where one of my uncles lives, and then traveled to Nemuro, my mom's hometown on the easternmost tip of Hokkaido, where another uncle lives. Then we flew down to Tokyo for a...

Sushi Poppers -- is this cool or dumb? Wow. As if buying crappy-tasting, unauthentic "sushi" at your local supermarket or Costco wasn't enough, they've found a way to completely commodify sushi -- sushi rolls, at least -- as a mass-produced pre-packaged snack food. Sushi Poppers are individually wrapped sushi rolls on a stick that you eat like... a Popsicle, those quiescently frozen confections. In fact, you can even buy Sushi Poppers online, and have it delivered frozen, packed with dry ice. They claim they'll be fine frozen for up to 30 days. I dunno, I've never been able to eat sushi that's even refrigerated overnight, never mind frozen for a month. I may have to order some just to test it. You get six tubes of sushi on a stick, with seven pieces in each roll (that's 42 pieces), for $29.95. You can get various flavors, including ones with raw tuna, spicy tuna or salmon, cooked fish, vegetarian, meat (teriyaki chicken or beef, miso chicken) and some dessert flavors. It seems they're really stretching the definition of "sushi" here. If you're suspicious of ordering frozen sushi through the mail, the company is planning to have the Poppers available at retailers nationwide, with the sushi made locally.

Coca Cola just introduced Coke with Green Tea in Japan.Consumer culture in Japan is where you'll see the collision of Asian and American tastes. More than in the U.S., Japan is where East mashes West. You can get shrimp Filet-o-Fish sandwiches at McDonald's, or pizza with seaweed or squid, and spaghetti with salty plum sauce. So I supposes I shouldn't be dismayed at the new Coca-Cola flavor, Green Tea Coke. After all, here in the states there seems to be a growiing market for almost anything with green tea added, from soap and shampoos to Lipton Ice Tea and Starbucks' Matcha Latte. But Coke with green tea? I'm not much of a Coke fan (Pepsi's the choice if I have a cola at all), so I don't care that much about the purity of the soft drink. But it seems heresy to put green tea into the syrupy sweetness. Can you even taste the subtle bitterness? This fits right in with conversations I've had recently with (non-Asian) co-workers about Lipton's green tea flavored ice tea. I pointed out that Asians don't sweeten their tea.