Making sushi is an art. Have you ever watched a sushi chef work? He sits behind the bar waiting for you to blurt out what kind of fish you want. He pretends not to notice your crappy pronunciation of Japanese words, and repeats the order back to you in perfect Japanese. “Maagoo-ro Nee-geery” you say. “Maguro Nigiri, Hai,” he replies. Then he gets to work.
Lucky for you the Japanese know how to play your game. They make rolls with English names so you can order easily and confidently. You smugly add to your order, “Rainbow roll and California roll” and he comes back with, “Hai, ru-ain-boru ro n kari-fuoni-a ro.” A few minutes later a small bowl holding boiled soybeans is placed in front of you to distract you.
Meanwhile your chef is opening and closing the sliding doors of the fish case in front of you. Then he’s slicing gorgeous, shining slabs of raw fish, avocado, cucumber and sprouts. His glistening hands work the rice, yet not a grain sticks to his fingers. Then he skillfully puts all this into a sleeve of seaweed, or he sometimes arranges the roll so the rice is on the outside.
Then he slices it up and arranges it on a platter next to a green blob of wasabi and a pink pile of pickled ginger. Like snowflakes, no two platters look alike. You dive in and it disappears before your eyes. Before you know it’s time to order more.
Sushi is the ultimate food. In Western culture it seems ultra-modern but the Japanese have been eating it for centuries. Leave it to the Japanese to find a way to consume raw ocean products in a way that’s as visually appealing as it is delicious. Sushi bars are popular on Maui and you will find one in every town. There are many to choose from: Sansei, Unisan, Wow Wee Kava Bar, Isana, Rockin Sushi, Sushi Paradise, or whatever sushi bar is nearest you.
Isana, 515 S. Kihei Rd., 874-5700; Rockin Sushi, 81 Makawao Ave., 573-9076; Sushi Paradise, 1215 S. Kihei Rd., 879-3751; Wow-Wee Kava Bar, 333 Dairy Rd., 871-1414; Unisan, 2102 Vineyard St., 244-4500; Sansei, 115 Bay Dr., 669-6286; 1881 D. Kihei Rd., 879-0004. (Jen Russo)