That melt-in-your-mouth texture of fresh fish, coupled with the perfectly prepared rice and just a smidge of salty sharpness. If you’ve ever had incredible sushi, you know exactly what that tastes like.

But with sushi booming in popularity, there are a lot of inexperienced chefs and poor produce trying to pass average sushi as something decent.

So what is good sushi and how do you tell the difference? Keep reading our fine dining guide to good sushi to find out!

Complex Preparation of Fine Dining Sushi

Complex Preparation of Fine Dining Sushi

Sushi is made up of very few base ingredients. Some types of sushi are simply a piece of fish and rice. So, it can’t be very hard to make…right?

Wrong. Sushi preparation takes years to master and is an art form that is all about the finer details. For example, if you order the sweetened egg omelet, Tamago, an excellent sushi chef will ensure that when you break it in half, you will see air bubbles. That’s perfection.

This is the best choice for sushi that is prepared with pride.

Characteristics of Sushi

Sushi is about simplicity. Real, traditional, elegant sushi is not lathered with foreign toppings such as lemon zest or stuffed with western favorites such as cream cheese. The beauty is in combining a few, perfectly made, and constructed ingredients.

Here’s what they are and how they should taste.

Rice

Rice

Sushi comes from a Japanese word meaning ‘sour rice’. The rice is very important in sushi. It’s not only the base, but it has to be just right for top-quality sushi.

First of all, feel the rice and check the temperature. Ideally, sushi rice should be at body temperature, however, room temperature is acceptable too. Cold rice is an indication of average sushi and rice that has been left in the fridge. Proud sushi chefs will never use sushi rice that is more than a couple of hours old.

What is the consistency like? Perfect sushi rice needs to hold together well with just the right amount of stickiness to not fall apart on your plate.

When you eat it in one bite, the grains should separate in your mouth. Achieving this delicate balance is done by applying just the right amount of pressure so that the outer layer is denser than the inner layer.

Topping (Neta)

There are endless combinations of toppings and more that keep popping up as sushi continues to grow in popularity. The important aspect of the topping is that it needs to be the right size in proportion to the rice.

The toppings shouldn’t be so big that they overshadow the rice, or so small that the rice drowns it out. If there is wasabi, it should sit between the rice and the topping.

Fish

Fish

This is where the love of sushi often lies – in the tiny piece of fish wedged into the roll of lovely rice. It’s a small piece of fish, which means that it’s important that it’s high-quality, full of flavor, and with the right texture.

If you smell a ‘fishy’ smell, it’s a good indication that the fish is not fresh. Or that it hasn’t been treated with vinegar to remove the unseemly smell. Good sushi chefs will remove the smell of fresh fish with a sprinkle of vinegar.

Fine dining standard sushi should contain fish that is firm and shiny, and not at all wet and greasy.

On the Search for Good Sushi

Life is too short to eat sub-par sushi and now that you know how to tell good sushi from average sushi, you’ll never have to settle again. Remember to look out for the finer details like the temperature of the rice and the size of the toppings, to distinguish fine dining sushi.

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