The summit of Japanese cuisine is in the delicate morsels of fresh fish prepared by sushi chefs. A sushi chef trains for years, learning to select the best portions of the highest-quality fish and mastering both the methods of slicing and the principles of serving that elevate the chef to the level of artist. It seems almost paradoxical that such intensity is applied to a dish that embodies such simplicity, but only until you taste a sushi chef’s handiwork.
The bamboo-lined floors, walls, tables, and ceiling decorating New York City’s Sushi Yasuda restaurant each contribute to an atmosphere of simplicity and purity. Designer Scott Rosenberg, a partner at Sushi Yasuda, says that upon trying sushi for the first time in 1981, he was determined to seek out the best sushi in the world. Scott found perfection in the sushi prepared by chef Naomichi Yasuda, and he since designed each element of the restaurant to work in harmony with the food.
Naomichi selects his fish one by one, from candidates that are shipped to him from all over the world. He evaluates each one for freshness and size, as well as spirit and energy. Naomichi is just as meticulous when it comes to the rice he cooks. Using a mixture of imported Japanese and domestic rice, he cooks it in purified water, and mixes it with rice vinegars, sea salt, and sugar. Each variety of sushi, Naomichi says, requires a specific amount of rice, pressed together in a particular density. When he’s ready, he can combine fish and rice into a perfectly formed hand roll within a few seconds.
Naomichi also says that there is a certain way to eat the sushi so that it can be enjoyed to its fullest. To best appreciate the contrast of textures, it’s better to eat a piece in one bite. He also advises against dunking a piece of sushi in the accompanying sauce, recommending that only a small portion of the fish be dipped to prevent overwhelming the fish’s flavor. To make his dipping sauce, Naomichi adds seaweed, fish flakes, and rice wine to a basic soy sauce, then filters the mix through Japanese bleached cotton