With all the different options out there how can you distinguish the good Sushi from the bad?
Sushi is synonymous with the Dubai brunch, which means that all of us have been subjected to some pretty interesting sushi offerings. From the tough, tasteless and chewy type to the super fresh, melt in your mouth, can’t stop eating type.
So what should you be looking for, what are the tastiest options and where can you find them?
Here is Keep Dining’s whistle stop guide to sushi. All the basics that you need to know.
Stop 1 – History
Sushi sprang up in Japan around the 8th century and is thought to have been developed as a method to keep meat fresh. The fish was cured or fermented with sake and wrapped in rice to keep in the flavour. It could then be stored or taken on long journeys without fear of spoiling.
On the road to contemporary sushi, the type that we are more familiar with, there have been many stages. In the early 1800s the Japanese chef Hanaya Yohei is credited with creating both the Edomae-zushi and Nigiri sushi styles, and this ultimately was the start of the main stream sushi trend. Still not using raw fish because of the lack of refrigeration, he was the first person to dedicate his career to making sushi; lightly cooking the meat and fish then marinating it in soy sauce or vinegar. Leading on from him, you began to see the development of techniques, and when there were finally sufficient storage methods, the introduction of the raw fish sushi we all know and love today.
Stop 2 – Techniques
The skills of the chefs are paramount in the preparation of excellent sushi. They have to firstly understand and respect the fish and ingredients they are working with, dexterously work with a knife and have a keen understanding for the balance of delicate and subtle flavours that make a delicious dish. The preparation of a fish is a skilled job, and if you are too rough handed, you risk wasting the expensive meat or even worse puncturing a gall bladder, which can be both poisonous and smelly…not the best idea. A sushi chef will have to fillet a large amount of fish in a short amount of time, so need to be calm, swift and precise. There is nothing more relaxing and enthralling than watching a true sushi master at work.
They must then set to work creating the different types of sashimi, Nigiri and rolls, even though it may appear simple sushi works to accent the freshness of the ingredients, the ginger and wasabi can’t be over powering or is will destroy the flavour. A top sushi chef will work for years to hone their sense of taste and balance.
Stop 3 – types of sushi
It always helps to know exactly what you are ordering when you go to a Japanese restaurant, so here is our little sushi cheat sheet.
Sashimi – OK, so sashimi isn’t actually a type of sushi, however, for simplicities sake we will include it here. Sashimi is basically a thinly filleted piece of fish, raw and by itself. For those who love fish then sashimi is a must try.
Nigiri – A very simple style of sushi, thinly sliced sashimi is placed on top of pressed sticky Japanese rice. Tastes lovely with a little soy sauce and wasabi.
Uramaki – These rolls have a fish or meat filing maybe with a vegetable, and the rice is pressed around the outside, sometimes with a dusting of tobiko (little orange orbs of fish eggs).
Temaki – This is a bit of a new sushi trend, a large piece of dried seaweed is formed in a cone shape and filled with rice and fish, fun to eat with a group of people!
Maki – This is probably the most recognizable type of sushi, delicious morsels of fish and maybe avocado or cucumber enveloped in rice and finished off with a salty seaweed wrap.
Chirashi – A bit of a deconstructed dish, the word literally means scattered. A large bowl of rice mixed with fish and other vegetables. A good hearty plate of food.
Inari – Maybe one you have not tried, and more of a meal accompaniment than the main event. It is simply a ball of rice wrapped in a sheet of soft Aburaage tofu.
Oshi – For me this type has to be one of the more visually appetizing. This is one of the oldest forms of sushi, and is translated as “box” or “pressed” sushi. Perfectly formed and beautifully decorated and delicate, if you see this on the menu I fully recommend trying a few (dozen!)
Final destination – where to eat in Dubai?
Many people think that sushi has to be expensive and that this will also guarantee quality. However, I think this is a common misconception, whilst sushi for 50 fils a roll is probably best to avoid you really don’t have to go completely overboard…on the other hand there are some seriously good places in Dubai to go where you can completely spoil yourself.
If you aren’t looking to splurge but want a seriously tasty meal then I cannot recommend Sushi Art on JBR enough, I have revisited this restaurant many times. The sushi is absolutely delicious and they have some excellent lunch deals. For a fun evening out then a great location is Asia Asia in Pier 7, their sushi is quite inventive, with duck & dragon rolls and beef & kimchi. Moving to the slightly higher end is Armani/Hashi in the Armani Hotel, their brunch is one of the best I have been to in Dubai, the sushi spread is unparalleled, with chefs working in front of you, perfect for a special birthday or celebration. The place to go for a party and a meal is of course Zuma their reputation precedes them, still hailed as one of the best and must go restaurants in Dubai, this truly is an experience and their food is amazing. Finally, is Miyako at the Hyatt Regency this is an elegant and contemporary restaurant offering a classic sushi menu, simple and absolutely stunning.