I love sushi, I hate sushi.
It’s not so much the sushi I hate but the burden of the sushi-train-price-system.
It all looks so deliciously innocent, tooting around the restaurant on it’s little train, each morsel hiding under it’s plastic sneeze-protector cup. Some of my favourites putter by, as I prepare my wasabi, ginger and soy sauce combo , mixing it to the perfect spice to salt ratio. Maguro Nigiri (tuna), Amaebi (prawns) and Hotate Nigiri (Scallop). They are right there - just begging me to reach out and rescue them from another trip around the track.
Then there are some that make my life much so much easier, as I wouldn’t eat them even if they were free. I see you Ikura Gukan (orange jelly balls), Kappa Maki (waste of money cucumber), Futomaki (so many ingredients ain’t nobody know what’s in there.)
There are multiple steps and considerations that need to be thought through before you just can reach out and grab something. What, are you crazy? Each min-meal requires the mental aptitude and the alertness of a Chinese tiger. One wrong move and you either leave hungry or with no money left for frozen yoghurt.
Let me take you through the basics:
1. Measure the speed of the pass zone. The area in which you can (without looking like a total novice) appropriately reach out and secure your plate. This will let you know the time you have for what will be critical on-the-spot assessments.
2. Set a hunger to cash limit. If you are really hungry but only want to spend $15, you know you are going to have to go for piece-per-dollar value. This isn’t easy as you will need to assess the value of the kind of raw fish on the plate, verses the number of pieces, verses the desire for that particular dish (also know as the fish-lust quotient.)
3. Set an upper spend limit. For those times when you only realise that you are hungry when you start eating. This leads to a related point - start with a fiver plate. It doesn’t matter so much what it is, just grab something cheap with five items. This will help asses where you are on the sushi hungriness scale from 1 to 10. With 1 being “I could just eat the ginger and leave” and 10 being “stick the whole sword fish in my mouth and let me munch - I don’t care about pain.”
4. Know your plates. Every colour is a different price, from about three to eight bucks. Every restaurant values the type of fish to cost-colour-plate differently. It’s this kind of arbitrary price setting that makes me even more bamboozled by this kind of dining. If they are charging more than $4 for three 3 cooked tunas - leave immediately.
5. You need to constantly update your budget verses hunger level and choose accordingly. Think it through before the burden of the pass zone becomes to much.
6. Don’t look like a guts-ache. Looks are important. Go for higher piece plates if you are hungry, don’t stack up a pile of ten $2 plates - it doesn’t matter what you think - you look like a gobble guts. Especially to the Japanese who like tiny little portions and sensible eating.
7. “Seagull” your neighbour. Start by saying “oh my goodness what is that, it looks amazing.” Only do this on four-count and above plates, that way your friend or significant other will feel selfish if they don’t share “just on bite”. Always choose the biggest piece without drawing attention. If you “seagull” every two plate, you can reduce your overall spend by 12% and your hunger level will round off much better by the end of the sitting.
8. Drink water. No soft drink goes well with Sushi. That $4.50 is much better spent by choosing a tasty four-count or above plate. Is they have Saki you aren’t in a sushi-train style restaurant. Start with one bottle on and empty stomach, order whatever you feel like and have someone else pay with your credit card at the end of the night. This is the preferred way to eat sushi as it avoids all the guilt and angst of the train-system.
Well done, if you have followed all these points you are now full and don’t feel ripped off. Congratulations it’s time for frozen yoghurt. Oh my god, it’s the pay per weight system. This can be fraught will peril especially if you don’t know your biscuit to candy aproximate weight per spoonful decision matrix.
You know what, just stay home and order pizza.
PETE CAMPBELL is a Creative: Writer/Producer based from Australia, now based in LA. He has worked on projects for McDonalds, So You Think You Can Dance, Nikon, TEN, The Waratahs, Royal Bank of Scotland, Sydney Opera House, Bankwest, HP, Gumtree, Kijiji Taiwan and a stack more.