There’s a right and wrong way to eat sushi, and Katsuya Uechi, executive chef of Katsuya Worldwide, is here to teach us all we need to know about mastering the skill.
Let’s talk sushi etiquette. What’s the correct way to eat sushi and sashimi?
It is OK to use chopsticks or even your hands (as some people do in Japan), but dipping the fish side in the soy sauce is the right way to eat sushi, not dipping the rice portion. Also, if you sit at a sushi bar, it’s proper manners to eat sushi immediately when the chef serves it, rather than having a chat and letting the sushi wait on the platter.
What are your top tips for rolling the perfect sushi roll?
It is difficult to perfect the regular sushi roll the first time – I think a hand roll is better. Put sushi rice on a half sheet of seaweed and then put sashimi grade fish or vegetable and wrap it. It all sounds rather simple when you say it but you can only perfect the technique with practice. It takes some people only a couple of years, while it takes some a lifetime.
More than ever, people are dining at home because of the pandemic. What ingredient essentials are needed from the supermarket to create sushi at home?
If available, go to an Asian supermarket and get medium grain rice, sushi vinegar, wasabi, soy sauce, sashimi grade fish and some vegetables – that’s enough for a perfect sushi meal.
Where would you recommend going for the best culinary experience in Japan?
There are many options in the culinary world in Japan and one can enjoy any place you go, even if you don’t go to an expensive restaurant. For example, if you go to Tsukiji, go to Asakusa, if you like sukiyaki (a Japanese dish that is prepared and served in the nabemono, a Japanese hot pot) or unagi (freshwater eels).
Tell us about your journey as a chef…
I grew up in Naha, the capital city of Okinawa, where I lived with my parents who were very active in the restaurant business – so it wasn’t new to me. After graduating from Osaka Tsuji Culinary School, I went on to do a couple of apprenticeships in Osaka and Tokyo, and got my first job at a first-class Okinawa restaurant.
I then moved to the U.S with my wife in 1984, and after working as an executive chef at a few local L.A restaurants, I decided to become independent. I started my first restaurant in Ventura Boulevard in LA, an area that is often referred to as ‘Sushi Ginza’ meaning ‘Sushi Corner.’ This is where I began experimenting with my own sushi creations, and the restaurant’s reputation spread throughout the city by word of mouth, attracting a variety of clientele, including celebrities.
For more information about Katsuya, visit https://www.katsu-yagroup.com/