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What to Look for in Sushi

sushi appreciation page

Brief summary here… But I often get people inviting me to “the best sushi they’ve ever had” – and it usually isn’t, by far.


The best I’ve been to in the US is Sushi Sasabune in LA – and it’s pretty affordable as well! There are some places in NY that get a lot of things right, but they (to me) either aren’t as good as Sasabune or are about as good and substantially more expensive. Sasabune in Oahu is just about as good as well. Ichigo is almost as good in the LA area and a bit cheaper.

In the Philadelphia area, the best is actually Sagami – also quite affordable. Morimoto in Philadelphia proper is quite good (and has better cooked food than Sagami) but is way too expensive and is no better than Sagmi for sushi.

Things to Look For in Sushi

A regional “best” sushi place will often do a few of these things well but will usually not do all of them. Getting more than 4 or 5 right is a very good sign!

  • Shiso leaf served, fresh and minty, not bitter
  • Slightly sweet salmon
  • Distinctive tamago (egg cake). Sagami has the best I’ve had – sweet and salty both.
  • Unagi served hot, always
  • Ikura (salmon roe) a bit salty but not briny (light on the pickling)
  • Sea Urchin not nasty tasting. I don’t like it in any case, but at good restaurants it’s at least not completely disgusting.
  • Tako crisp to the bite but a bit chewy. Ditto for Ika.
  • Yellowtail not fishy at all
  • Mackarel that’s not completely fishy – I know, I know, but I have had Mackarel that has a nice taste at Sasabune.
  • Sushi chefs drinking beer or sake.
  • Sasabune has a distinctive style of rice – vinegary and not sticky. If you’re on Atkins they’ll notice and actually cut down on the rice.
  • Sasabune has melt-in-the-mouth Albacore that I haven’t had anywhere else.