There appears to be a whole group of folks who fear of sushi the assumption that all sushi is raw fish and nothing but is keeping them away from some really good fare. With dozens of all you can eat sushi joints opening up over Ontario these folks are missing out on a real treat. With this in mind these are some basics to hang onto when tempted to go to an all you can eat sushi restaurant.
Most of these types of eating establishments serve a huge variety of food. In London, Ontario two popular joints are Wonder Sushi and Conception Sushi. These kinds of sushi joints are not known for service or massive slices of raw fish. In Toronto check out Sushi Island or Wasabi, there is also great site for the top AYCE (all you can eat) restaurants at chowhound. There is also a site for the top Sushi restaurants in Canada at www.sushiref.com.
Sushi actually means cooked sticky white rice that is seasoned with vinegar, sugar and a little salt and used with a variety of other ingredients in different ways. Futomaki is usually a round roll surrounded by sushi rice then a layer of nori which is dried seaweed. The centre of a futomaki roll will vary widely from the now well known California Roll which is generally avocado, carrot, cucumber, and fake crab meat, to a good selection of chopped raw fish like tuna or salmon. You will also find tempura shrimp or crab, eel which usually has been barbequed, plain shrimp (ebi), fake crab and numerous other ingredients. Hosomaki is a much thinner roll, usually with only one ingredient in the centre such as cucumber, carrots or avocado. Hand rolls or Temaki are cones of nori wrapped around the usual variety of ingredients used in futomaki. Hand rolls can be quite substantial up to 4” long and should be eaten quickly or the nori becomes soggy. Uramaki is similar to futomaki but the nori is on the outside of the rice and the ingredients can be the same. Many of the rolls will be topped with tobiko which is actually flying fish roe, the taste is vaguely salty and the little grains just pop in your mouth with no real flavour.
Sashimi is the name of the dish most feared by North Americans this is the actual raw fish cut very thin and fine and devoured by aficionados in huge quantities. The all you can eat joints don’t generally serve sashimi until the dinner hour and even then it is not the best sashimi but a cheaper cut of tuna, an average salmon, snapper, mackerel or white fish.
On these AYCA menus you will find loads of other dishes from fried rices, noodle bowls, edamame, which is fresh green soybeans steamed with a little salt (which you then pop the bean out of to eat), teriyaki, tempura, dumplings, spring rolls, grilled chicken or beef, and much more to choose from. So don’t be afraid to sample an all you can eat sushi joint when a few of your friends ask you to join them.
Some favorites and their fillings include:
California roll: usually consists of avocado, imitation crab and cucumber
Caterpillar roll: generally includes avocado, eel (which has been bbq’d) and cucumber.
Dynamite roll: tempura-fried shrimp, tobiko, mayonnaise and avocado
Rainbow roll: is Avocado, tobiko, spicy mayo, tempura bits, salmon, tuna plus white fish on top
Spider roll: includes tempura fried soft shell crab (yes you eat the shell) and other fillings such as cucumber, avocado, daikon sprouts or lettuce, roe, and spicy mayonnaise.
Philadelphia roll: will almost always consist of smoked salmon, cream cheese, cucumber, and/or onion.