Roll Away Your Fears, Embrace The Maki

Philadelphia maki and Sweet Potato Tempura maki from Tamarind

By Benita Zepeda

Hapless Intern


I absolutely love sushi, but I’m not going to lie, there was a time when I was intimidated by how unfamiliar it seemed. I remember being nervous about eating something raw, while at the same time, owning a fish named – yes, it’s true – Sushi.


What helped me get over my fears and turn me into the sushi fiend I am today? Aside from the help of my friend, who happens to be somewhat of an expert when it comes to sushi, I took a few important steps on my own. With a new year just a few weeks away, perhaps those of you who might be sushi averse could follow these simple steps, and join the ranks of the sushi lovers like me.


Sweet Potato Tempura is a great cooked roll from Tamarind.

1) Start with cooked or veggie sushi if you’re afraid of trying fish right away. Choosing these types of rolls is a good way to acquire the taste first. Sushi has a distinctive taste, which for me was the taste of seaweed in combination with fish and rice. I enjoy the sweet potato tempura at Tamarind, or a cucumber and avocado roll.


2) Wasabi: Use with caution and use it sparingly. If you’ve never experimented with wasabi, make sure you don’t load on a lot of it right away. Its bright green color might make it seem harmless, but too much can feel like a nuclear bomb went off in your mouth if you’re not careful. Try mixing it in soy sauce or add some ginger garnish to dilute the spice a little bit. When used correctly, though, it gives it the perfect kick.

Wasabi, ginger, and soy sauce are the perfect garnishes for sushi.


3) Stick with familiar foods. If you like shrimp, try shrimp. If you like calamari, try squid. If you’ve never tried eel, maybe it’s not best to sample everything at once. I could be wrong, though. Maybe you’re adventurous and will start with the Unagi Lover at Jaiyen Sushi & Noodle. If that’s the case, I like your style.


4) Pair it with a good beer or tea. Don’t be afraid to ask your server for suggestions. Just like wine paired with pasta or meat, beer and tea can function just as well with sushi. I enjoy Sapporo or lighter beers like Three Floyds Gumballhead. You need to understand that pairing beer to sushi also changes based on what type of roll you are eating. It could change the flavor, so you need to experiment. Which leads me to my next point…


Philadelphia maki is my go-to sushi roll.

5) Stick with lunch specials for experimentation. This way you can save some money if you don’t like what you get and some restaurants offer smaller portions. That’s the key message here, experiment until you find your go-to sushi roll. Once you find it, you will wonder how you ever lived without sushi in the first place.

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