Wednesday, August 21, 2013

If You Knew Sushi Like I Know...

I am pretty sure that most of us at one time or another have heard at least a snippet of a song and had that annoying snippet repeating over and over in the brain. Right? You best be agreeing with me or else I'll mention a song that you will be stuck humming to yourself for the rest of the day.

Just kidding!

Well, the point is, and I do have a point, that a few of my working brain cells got together the other day and reminisced about one of the most spectacular foods that I had ever presented to my buds of taste: grilled hamachi kama. My slobber glands spring into action at the mere thought of this seafood delicacy.

What is Hamachi Kama the sushi neophyte might now be asking? It's the neck or hamachi of young yellow tail tuna. It is the most fatty and delicious part of the fish. When prepared properly it's grilled to perfection and served piping hot with soy sauce, ponzu sauce, and maybe some shaved cabbage and diakon.

To satisfy my craving, I went to the 'spoon's spin widget to search for a local venue serving hamachi kama. I spun myself into a tizzy and came up with nothing, nada, zip, zero, なにも (nanimo).

I called a couple of places to inquire about hamachi kama and got a "Huh?" and a "We ain't got none of that there", or words to that effect.

The closest I came was Samurai Blue. They do have "Fried Japanese Yellowtail Collar with Ponzu Sauce and half a Lemon" as an appetizer on their dinner menu. That is where I will probably wind up. I'll have to ask if the chef can grill the hamachi kama. I just can't picture it fried.

You know what simply boggled the brain during my sushi search? Tampa Bay doesn't have any traditional Japanese sushi bars or restaurants. All I could find were the westernized sushi joints serving up a lot of stuff that shouldn't even be called sushi, and if you ordered some of this stuff in Japan you would be invited to adjourn to the traditional hari kari room.

So, what is the big difference between the sushi over here and the sushi over there? You might be surprised, or not, that one of the big differences is the calorie count.

Traditional Japanese sushi is low in calories and fat. It has minerals and vitamins. It's usually simple — with 3 or 4 ingredients. Often it's just fish and rice.

Western sushi has a tendency to be larger and have more ingredients. It sometimes incorporates high fat ingredients such as tempura, tempura flakes, mayonnaise, cream cheese and avocado. The result is dramatically higher calories.

A couple of things I discovered on my widget spin around the Bay is you apparently can't be a viable "sushi" restaurant if you don't serve the ubiquitous cream cheese, avocado, and fake crab crap. They all do, and if you don't like the menu choices at sushi joint A, you probably won't like them at joint Z or anywhere in between. They all are essentially the same. There was nothing particularly innovative or exotic about any of them. For that you will have to pack a bag for New York, San Fransisco, or Japan.

Speaking about calories:

California Roll (Western)
230 calories (6 pieces)

Philadelphia Roll (Western)
283 calories (6 pieces)

Dynamite Roll (Western)
310 calories (6 pieces)

Spider Roll Soft Shell Crab (Western)
400 calories (6 pieces) 

Dragon Roll (Western)
435 calories (6 pieces)

And, the big honkin' mother of them all:

Tampa Roll (Western)
1043 calories (6 pieces) 

Typically, the traditional Japanese sushi runs in the 200 to 300 calorie range.

Wanna know why Tampa Bay will never see a traditional Japanese sushi bar? 

This Urbanspoon reviewer said it best (he is real, the Sushi Doodle he is referring to is real but it could be any one of dozens):  "I have only reviewed one other place in my life but ... I really, really hope that all of you people raving about this place are the staff posting on your smoke breaks or the poor people of Carrolwood [sic] have really lost touch of what REAL sushi is about. If you really like this stuff then you just have to try the sushi at Publix! Compared to this place it is world class!"

It must be noted here that several Pubix sushi bars have received rave reviews on Urbanspoon by Bay area "sushi" aficionados.

Now you know. Kanpai, y'all.

Editor's note: All photos are professional stock. What you see here is not necessarily what you will get at your favorite Sushi Doodle.

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