Has anyone else noticed that both the food and food media world have gone nuts for sushi? There are two serious books vying for our attention—Trevor Corson's The Zen of Fish and Sasha Issenberg's The Sushi Economy—and an exhaustively comprehensive, brilliant-but-nutty 50,000-word piece about sushi and its idiosyncratic, tradition-dominated culture by the insanely brilliant Nick Tosches in Vanity Fair.
From what I've read and heard, both sushi books are worth reading. Tosches's piece was so compelling and so enveloping that I closed my eyes and thought I had become one of the Harry Potter pod people who took the latest and last installment of the beloved series home with them last weekend and didn't come out until they knew what happened to everyone. In Tosches's sushi piece, all the fish die—and I don't think I'm ruining anything for anybody when I reveal that.
Tosches does give his elegantly gonzo take on the differences between bad, good, very good, and great sushi joints.
The difference between a bad sushi joint is: At a good sushi joint the sweetness of the sushi doesn't challenge the taste of the fish. The difference between a good sushi joint and a very good sushi joint is: At a very good sushi joint, the sweetness of the sushi doesn't challenge the taste of the fish, and the fish is very good. The difference between a very good sushi joint and a great sushi joint is: At a great sushi joint, the sweetness of the sushi doesn't challenge the taste of the fish, the fish is excellent, and, piece after piece—sushi should never be served more than once piece at a time; each piece should come freshly made directly from the chef's hands to you—the meal unfolds in a concert of many varied tastes, some delicate and some strong, all in a sequence of subtle harmony and balance that leaves you satisfied, in a way that Mrs. Paul never could.
But after we've read all these books and magazine articles and logged onto numerous sushi-finding websites that don't prove to be all that discerning, we serious sushi people are left with the nagging question: Where can we get some good sushi now? Once upon a time, in the days before Serious Eats, there was the legendary Sushi Finder. Alas, all that's left of Sushi Finder after its partners had a fight is this poignant note.
So now, I'd like to put together a guide to high-quality sushi in any city or country Serious Eaters have eaten in. Follow me over to the Serious Eats Sushi Roll, where you can weigh in on your sushi finds wherever you may be.