Worked as a sushi chef for thirteen years and held two head chef positions during that time. Cut my teeth in Seattle and performed most of my career in Minneapolis.
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I don't really have a favorite piece of fish of all-time, but my favorites are o-toro, the fattiest of the tuna bellies (looks like glistening bacon), sea urchin when it is firm and sweet, and mirigai (known as giant clam or geoduck).
I think there can be a stigma to varying degrees with non-Asian chefs. Is it justified. No, it's unfair and racist. Is every graduate from the CIA (Culinary Institute of America) of French background? Do I need a German mechanic to work on my Mercedes? Does my salsa instructor need to be from Latin America? Do I need to be of Greek decent to use math properly? If you want a Japanese chef making your food then go to Japan if it makes you feel better.
Many non-Japanese Asians make sushi too. That's like a German making Italian food. But people don't seem to respond to that as much.
I've seen some mediocre Japanese chefs and some brilliant Caucasian or Latino chefs. It doesn't matter. Japanese people typically don't grow up eating sushi all the time either and have a significant point of reference; it's expensive there too.
It's actually a good thing they do that, even though I strongly dislike the practice. Imagine if you had meat exposed in your refrigerator; meat on a plate completely uncovered. Then imagine you open and close the refrigerator door over a hundred times in a night. The meat's exterior will quickly dry out and that is what can happen with the seafood inside the showcases. Restaurants wrap the fish in plastic to limit air exposure. For the fish to look good while wrapped, the chef needs to wrap the fish precise and tight so that it has a clean appearance.
It sounds like a win/win, but in practice when the restaurant gets busy the chef doesn't have time to properly rewrap the fish tightly each time and the showcase ends up looking really trashy. It's like looking at a row of unmade beds. Plastic hangs loose and the juice from the fish lines the draping plastic.
The best case scenario is that the restaurant is really busy and doesn't need to do this. Or they might do this at the beginning of the night and then discard the plastic wrap when the rush hits. Food is such a visual experience and whatever the customer is exposed to needs to look amazing and appetizing. It's a no-brainer but you'd be surprised.
The showcases are not meant to be over-night refrigeration devices. Restaurants will transfer the fish to a cooler and clean out the showcases at the end of the night.
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