UPDATED: A Jiro: Dreams of Sushi-Inspired Meal at Kata Robata Disappoints

Categories: Edible Events

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Sushi Club of Houston
UPDATE: Ryan Snyder, Chief Operating Officer of The Azuma Group, contacted us about this story. After the jump is his unedited response to the piece, in its entirety.

Jiro: Dreams of Sushi is a fascinating movie about passion and work ethic. It also happens to feature a sushi chef. It could have just as easily been about a ditch digger or glass blower.

The Sushi Club of Houston helped sponsor the film and a dinner afterward at Kata Robata. I was not familiar with the Sushi Club, and became a member so I could get a spot at the dinner and understand what the club does. There are 4,213 members, and 45 were at the dinner (which is apparently very high for an event); there was also a sold-out crowd at the film.

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Patrise Shuttlesworth
Carl Rosa introduced the film and spoke about founding the Sushi Club of Houston and serving as director of the Japan-America Initiative. Carl is very knowledgeable about Japanese culture and food and is more than willing to share his knowledge with Houston. He talked about the differences between real wasabi and the green horseradish we are usually served, and how the dunking of rice in a paste of soy and that horseradish is a terrible faux pas.

Carl told us about the time he was lucky enough to dine at Jiro's, but -- because Jiro is totally about quality, not quantity -- left impressed but hungry. The next part of his story stunned me -- he said he went around the corner to a McDonald's for a Big Mac so he would feel full. I appreciate Carl's knowledge and experiences; however, I cannot fathom being a foodie, in Japan and in a McDonald's. Granted, Carl had just dropped $350 at Jiro's, but I bet he could have afforded some noodles or tempura to satiate his hunger.

The film was spectacular and fascinating. Although it is no longer at the museum, if you ever have the chance to see it, do not miss the opportunity. Jiro talked about being on his own since the age of nine. He grew up with survival instincts and a talent he could not ignore. His palate and sense of smell are in a class of a rarefied few. Interestingly, this man who is admired and idolized for his palate and sense of smell wishes he could have Joel Robuchon's. Jiro says Joel has a sense that defies this earth; Joel's sense of smell and palate are of the heavens.

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Jiro: Dreams of Sushi
Jiro speaks of the zen of sushi and how important timing is. In fact, the filmmaker commented that when he finished photographing a piece of sushi Jiro had made and then went to eat it, Jiro took it away and explained it was no longer the same piece of sushi because time and exposure had changed its temperature and texture. Sushi is to be served, according to Jiro, one piece at a time and eaten immediately. Anything more, and you have permanently altered the sushi's integrity and the sushi master's flavor intention. I learned the importance of this at Uchi as Nobu was making sushi for me last week.

After this inspirational film about perfection and seeking it in all you do, 45 members showed up at Kata Robata for a Jiro: Dreams of Sushi-inspired meal. As a newcomer to the Sushi Club, I wondered how it was possible to serve sushi to a large group and adhere to the rule of "one piece at a time, eaten immediately," especially since this meal was in homage to Jiro. The answer: It isn't possible. Sushi is not meant to be banquet food, served on a buffet or family-style.

While I appreciate the Sushi Club's mission of educating its members about the "fundamentals of sushi while uncovering the common misconceptions of this extraordinary cuisine from Japan," this dinner was anything but. I brought two novice sushi eaters with me and thought this would be a great setting for their first sushi experience. They would see a movie that showed them what true, traditional sushi should be, and then they would attend a dinner in honor of that. It was going to be great.

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Patrise Shuttlesworth
We arrived at Kata Robata 15 minutes early. As we were seated, I noticed that every inch of clear counter space at the sushi bar was covered with pre-plated sushi for 45 people. My heart sank. If I was 15 minutes early, how long had the plates been sitting there? Our first course was miso soup. It was clean and briny-tasting while being warm and comforting. A good, solid first course. Then plate one of sushi was served (we had now been at the restaurant 30 minutes). It consisted of Soy Sauce Marinated Tuna, Japanese Yellow Tail, Norwegian Salmon, Japanese Horse Mackerel and Japanese Snapper. Before I even get to the food description, I should tell you that it was at this point that the server turned over a dish of soy sauce on our table, and it drained into my guest's purse. The manager gave us a wet towel to clean it up. Remember, this is my guest's first sushi experience.

On to the sushi -- the tuna was sticky and plastic-tasting. The yellowtail was creamy, but it had started to dry out around the edges. The salmon was pretty decent -- fatty and creamy. The mackerel had been sitting too long and had acquired that very fishy taste, which I'd learned at Uchi doesn't occur with very fresh mackerel served immediately. The snapper had begun to form a skin because it had sat out for so long. I was so disappointed. I have eaten many times at Kata Robata and have enjoyed some truly inspired dishes. Chef Manabu Horiuchi can make some really terrific sushi, but I don't think anyone can or should make sushi for a crowd.

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Patrise Shuttlesworth
Plate two was a Toro Tuna and Green Onion Roll and a Daikon Pickle and Shiso Roll. The tuna roll was your standard tuna roll that you could get at Kroger. I was not moved. The daikon roll was the best sushi we had all afternoon. Vinegary, crunchy and floral, it was original and inventive. I appreciated the playful balance of textures and flavors. I should have stopped at this point. Plate three was Canadian Sweet Shrimp, Japanese Scallop, Canadian Albacore and Homemade Egg Omelet. The shrimp was sticky and bitter, and the scallop had a strong fish flavor, not subtle and velvety like a scallop should be. The albacore was lightly seared, soft and sour, and the egg was very sweet and soft, reminding me of the vanilla soufflé at Brasserie Max & Julie.

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Jiro: Dreams of Sushi
As I tasted each and every piece of sushi, I sat facing a framed picture of Jiro and his team in Japan. The Sushi Club had given it to the restaurant in honor of the movie. I wanted to hang a cloth over the picture so Jiro couldn't see his homage. Our final plate was Homemade Japanese Sea Eel, San Diego Sea Urchin and a Fried Shrimp Head. The eel was sweet and had a very soft, mealy texture. The crunchy shrimp head reminded me of sucking the head of a crawfish without the spice. The sea urchin was the saddest moment -- what should have been a real delicacy was haphazardly lopped on top of rice, and the edges were dried out. I did not eat mine.

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Patrise Shuttlesworth
One of the lessons of the Sushi Club and an important section of the film is about sushi rice. It is at least as important as the fish, if not more so. Morimoto wants it for his dying meal, Jiro has only one rice supplier and sushi chefs guard their rice recipes like they guard their knives. The rice at this meal was cold and very starchy, with no flavor. I wish Kata Robata had said no to such a dinner, knowing that you cannot serve sushi with its integrity intact, banquet-style.

Carl Rosa is a kind, informed, highly knowledgeable man who loves sushi and wants to share that passion with others. I love the idea of a sushi club, but I don't think it can work on a large scale and stay true to such an extraordinary cuisine. I look forward to returning to Kata Robata, sitting at the sushi bar and eating sushi one piece at a time.

UPDATE: Ryan Snyder, Chief Operating Officer of The Azuma Group, contacted us about this story. After the jump is his unedited response to the piece, in its entirety.

Location Info

Venue

Map

Brasserie Max and Julie

4315 Montrose Blvd., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Uchi

904 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

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110 comments
PlatovAristotle
PlatovAristotle

This really is not such a big deal; the author suggests:

"my entire contention is that sushi should not be served that way. None of my opinions were against Carl, Kata Robata or their talents and expertise. My issue is the theory of serving sushi to crowds. I do not believe it can be done and maintain the integrity of the fish. Period, the end."She provides evidence to support her view. Her perceptions about unremarkable toro rolls. Tuna that was sticky. Aji that tasted more fishy than normal. Yellowtail that was creamy but drying at the edges. Uni that was dry and crusty around the edge, and so on.

Her detractors don't reply to this assertion. One guy says it's been done before, by the Japanese themselves, at some great places, so it must be fine. Another Japanese guy says that sushi is served at big meetings and on conveyor belts and that this really popular in Japan, while Jiro's ideal isn't really 'acceptable', so hey, guess you don't know anything. Some, including the restaurant, claim her sensory perceptions are simply wrong, and they have footage to prove it. Others carp about tiny matters like the homage thing, and about deeply offending the chef, as if one woman's opinion can reduce his rep to ashes (even as she applauds his talent). But no one really addresses the kernel of her argument, her contention, her claim.

In the end, this is an argument about what the *other* Japanese commenter wrote. It all comes back to the movie's theme, I would suggest. The ideal v. the real. What 'should be' versus what actually 'is'. Craftsmanship, slow-eating, versus banquets and the serving of a crowd. The author was simply siding with the former idea, and saying she had enjoyed that ideal many times at Kata Robata. The others were not rejecting her idea, but saying she was wrong about some specifics during this night out.

All should be friends now. Right?

David Holmes
David Holmes

My own little anecdote. I was at the front end of the sushi bar watching as the prepped the sushi for the club. There were a few plates covered in plastic wrap, not sure if they were extra or somebody didn't show. A couple of the chefs were going on break and there was some discussion around these plates. They were very happy when they found out they could have them.

guest
guest

Hori-san should speak for himself.  The writer did.  

Megan
Megan

Did you not read the release from Azuma Group? Quoting DIRECTLY from the article: "I would like to go over the most alarming parts of the article and give Hori-San's direct response."

Diego22
Diego22

THE AZUMA GROUP, via the paid Communications Director, almost makes me want to cover Jiro's eyes again, in homage to Patrise. (Not an official homage, I might note).

Spartacus
Spartacus

I'm Diego22....I am Diego22....I'm Diego22...no I am Diego22

Ryan Snyder
Ryan Snyder

Diego, I am Ryan Snyder, the Azuma guy that wrote our response. I am the C.O.O and I work in our locations everyday. You can find me at Soma, Kata Robata, Azuma or Azuma on the lake 6 days a week my friend. We don't have a paid communications director. We are just a humble, local, Houston owned and Houston operated company. I wrote the response with Hori-San Monday afternoon, I'm sorry you don't seem to believe that. When you have some free time, please stop by one of the restaurants, ask for me, and I'll treat you to some great cold sake and tasty bites, on us. Have a great day.

Albert Nurick
Albert Nurick

I think this entire difference of opinion highlights how those with different backgrounds can have two different experiences during the same meal.  

Mr. Rosa, who has encyclopedic knowledge of sushi and Japanese cuisine had an appreciation of Hori-San's work creating the meal.  He identifies several finer points that many would have missed.  (I know I would have.)

Ms. Shuttlesworth, who is perhaps not as knowledgable about the cuisine, brings the perspective of a foodie who is not a sushi expert.  She made some assumptions that may have been incorrect, and her whole experience was colored by them.Other than factual errors (and apparently there were a few) I think this explains the wildly divergent opinions these two respected foodies reported about this no doubt memorable meal.

Pvalqui
Pvalqui

As someone posted I also would like to throw in my two cents because the article and the comments lay out two problems I have with food critique on the one hand and food knowledge by the general population on the other. I attended two events of the sushi club in the past because i accompanied a sushi lover. the setting was not my kind of eating with so many strangers around me and specially because I do not eat much seafood, but I have a good relationship with Carl and wanted to admire his work by attending so I can form an opinion about it. For someone who wants to meet new people, try sushi in different places and see the "touch" of the different sushi chefs in town, cares a lot about sushi, etc. its a perfect event. Carl knows about my position towards seafood and I doubt he takes offense that I did not attend again or write this lines. I admire Carl for the energy he sets into the sushi movement in town, his trips to japan and such. Do I have to be a unconditional follower of him for that reason, not at all. But this city has 4 million people and as he finds his followers unconditional or not, I find mine. Live and let live. in my job in the food industry i several times meet people that think that because they like something it is the best thing in the world and all should eat it that way. I have heard this sentence so many times that I have started dissecting the sentence (as former linguist come food merchant a strange career development, but whatever). Do the people think that more people should eat what they like or do they want to force their personal preference on others. I have found out in the meantime that a lot of people like something (a concrete example is people recommending me (?) that I should serve prosciutto with melon) and put it on a pedestal till they actually make a further experience that brings their palate to another mind blowing experience, then that item will be on the pedestal and so on. For me as a merchant that is great since I want people to open their minds towards food and explore new worlds beyond their today's limits. however I have found also people that believe that a prosciutto with melon is the non plus ultra of gourmet food taste and will never try anything and yet recommend it to everyone. Then their orthodox behavior gets a religious zeal and I do not think thats a good thing.

TO FOOD CRITICS:I have always found food critics in the US as quite dull if I compare it to Gault Millau or Michelin. Sometimes because they are doing critic that is basically paid for with advertising, sometimes because they schmooze with the owners of the big restaurant names, critique her was always a little dull for me. This article by Ms. Shuttlesworth has raised and turned hell twice already since I started following the comments. There is finally some pepper in the food here. Critics in my eyes have to be objective, truthful, honest, try everything (if she was scared of getting sick from a fish, she was irresponsible in letting all the other 45 people eat it, prevent others from getting sick; or if she was insecure about an item maybe just asking someone who knows or should know, for example Mr. Rosa or a restaurant representative would have been a good idea. Would have provided some education to her. Since none of the other attendees that ate the Uni got sick, I would assume that she was wrong in her assessment of the risks she believed to see in the Uni), and if they make a mistake they should try to learn from it and not try to twist words around and simply ignore other comments (several people pointed out the hanging of the cloth over Jiros picture as a huge insult to Japanese people but she stayed mum about that accusation) I would wish critics would critique in a serious way, that is visiting a place several times, not during Christmas or any other special events, because these events are special and could compromise the quality of the kitchen. I also do not criticize a restaurant that fails during 35 USD Houston Restaurant Weeks, I simply do not go back to pay three or four times as much.

TO THE GENERAL POPULATIONWhy can people not participate in a discussion keeping up a certain level of respect even for people they do not agree with. Food is meant to make friends and to be enjoyed in a positive way. I only imagine some of the people throwing insults at their antagonists, full of bile, how and which ways they enjoy their food. Churchill said once to the formation of a joint European army that soldiers (specially French and Germans) that eat together will not shoot each other. Lets not polarize the society more by insulting fellow foodies in this medium, its bad enough in politics and in professional sports.

 

MonicaDD
MonicaDD

Rather odd point you make, that food writers now have a moral imperative to alert other diners in the room if they suspect something they've been served might have turned. I picture a panic button installed beneath the table, or a red light/green light device similar to a churrascaria, that could send out a Paul Revere like warning.

Btw, what in the world is a "former linguist come food merchant"? That sounds dirty.

Pvalqui
Pvalqui

 it was meant ironic. if she meant that the fish was maybe poisonous because of laying out too long would she be liable for letting each of the other eaters poison themselves. Given that food writers have tried more stuff including bad foods do they not have an obligation towards us normal mortals to warn us of something bad?

Diego22
Diego22

maybe to test a hypothesis? I don't know. Why do you think she attended?

writers don't write to spoil fun or increase fun; they write what they think, and if they're good, they get read. and they get a reaction.

Pvalqui
Pvalqui

 if she thought that it was a bad idea to serve sushi to a big crowd then why even attend, just so you can write up the whole event negatively afterwards and spoil the fun for the people that went there to enjoy it? As I wrote in my much longer entry lines above, if i do not enjoy a certain way of eating or of anything else, why even attend?. So i can produce bile, bicker over it and spoil the fun of people that may enjoy it. Not a very human sociable approach to my understanding. I, for example refused in the past going to big dinners in restaurants I do not like because I know that i will be doing just that. Try to find the faults and mistakes and then rant about them. So I either promise that I won't do any of that and just concentrate on a small and simple dish, that I know I will like and drink or I just do not go

PepperAD
PepperAD

It could be argued that she was warning us about something bad: the idea of serving sushi  to a crowd. Not, however, because it was poisonous, but because it wasn't nearly as good as it could have been, had it been served more intimately, without pre-plating.

EC_Esq
EC_Esq

OK, I don't have a dog in the fight. I don't even like sushi. I think it's too trendy & I find the people who love it just a little too pretentious for my taste. I'm a steak & potatoes guy & if I pay that much for a meal, frankly, I want it cooked.

That being said this article was negative. Almost a hatchet job. There's no other way to read it. If some Joe Blow read it, probably the last place he'd want to go to try sushi is Kata Robata thanks to this blogger.

The restaurant's response was concise and on point. It concentrated on facts, not her opinion. I applaud them for having the balls to post it. Frankly, if I ever go there it will be because of that.

Finally, I would just like to say that this all goes back to the old addage that it is better to keep your mouth shut & let people think you're a fool rather than speak aloud & confirm it. Look, she may say she's "just a blogger" but people follow her advice. People read her posts. As such, she has a duty to be accurate. Especially when you're talking about someone's livelihood. So if she's not really an "expert" on a subject then she should make that clear from the outset. Which is not what she did in this article.

SC
SC

 Just an FYI, Kata Robata serves some fantastic cooked food.  I suggest their braised pork belly.

Dustin Kalman
Dustin Kalman

I am impressed by the response from the company. It was very well written and I believe a fair criticism of the article. If only more people who don't like what is written about them handled it this way.

DynaWest
DynaWest

Great piece! It obviously got a lot of people thinking. Or at least talking a lot.

GUEST
GUEST

A little knowledge can lead you the wrong way.

Rl55
Rl55

Wow some of these comments are really an attack on Patrice's integrity . She wrote a blog with her opinions and the mob mentality that ensued is really over the top. I think Mai Phams first comments were written to put Patrice against kata robata which should never have happened. She loves kata robata as she stated in her blog . Enough already

Justin
Justin

Ruth c'mon. Mob mentality? If you write something and give an opinion that includes something factually wrong (same tuna roll as kroger), describe something as the saddest part of a meal when you did not even eat it, and insult a well respected chef (not intentionally, but insult none the less) with implying (with the cloth comment) Kata or Hori shamed Jiro with the food served or how it was served, you can't then label those that point out these things or strongly defend a chef or a restaurant they like as a 'mob mentality". Where is the accountability on the writers part? There should be none? Patrice responded in kind but never gave any quarter on those 3 issues. I have seen Katherine Shillicut and others respond and say they may have mis-spoke or apologize for getting something wrong or for not using the best manner of words to get a point across in the past, but Patrice seems to not want to do that for whatever reason. She deoesn't have to mind you, but it sure would go along way with her readers that didn't like the way she wrote this piece.

If she didn't like the look of the uni fine, but uni sitting out 30-45 min, while maybe not looking the best, will not make you sick. She keeps saying she will not knowingly eat compromised raw food and get sick. She doesn;t know what she is talking about. It would take uni sitting out several hours for that to happen. Typical american ignorance on the subject and the paranoia of getting sick from sushi is common. From what commenter Ed said , who was there, it didn't even sit out more then a few min and was the last thing made sushi wise. America has much stronger requirements for storing the fish at much colder temps then in Japan. (unnecesarily) Fish can safely sit out much longer then most Americans realize and not make you sick. Now of course sushi at its best is consumed as quickly as possible, but one does not get sick because some sushi sat out for even an hr or two if in a stable tempurature like a restaurant or your home. After about 3 or 4 hrs is when concerns about getting sick would be justified. But as Ed said, it did not sit out, he watched it being made, so what does that say now about her apprehension if it didn't even sit out?

The bottom line is nobody is killing her for talking about her experience per se. They are upset because of some of the key points that she got wrong, a thing or two she wasn't as knowledgable about as one should be if they are going to comment so strongly about and her unnecessary insult at Hori with the cloth comment.

She is a good writer and I am sure some part of this will resonate moving fwd and she will get even better and give us more great stuff to read down the road. She seems to find very interesting things to write about, and that's why we read her stuff.

It's America baby, we all got our 2 cents to give, but if we err and get called on the carpet, let's own up to it and move on. All I am saying.

DinkinsNY
DinkinsNY

1) She thought the toro roll was nothing special. Hence, the type that you can get at Kroger. Does she believe literally that Kroger sells toro rolls? Doubtful.

2) Uni with dried brown edges. That is a sad sight. It simply confirms her thesis that sushi is not banquet food. She needn't eat it to say it's the saddest part of the meal. Some things make you sad when seeing them, especially if that sight confirms a hypothesis.

3) If she insulted the chef, well, sorry. That sometimes happens when anybody writes an honest opinion piece about a meal. But on balance, the line you mention is in the context of her thesis: sushi is not good banquet food. And a talented chef like Hori would agree probably, and so would Jiro.

4) If you disagree about her overall thesis, or individual parts, no sweat. But don't act like she's being mean or misinformed or fictitious.

I'm outta here now....

CarolJamison
CarolJamison

I do not mean to offend, but I think Shige Minoru makes an interesting comment beneath your own, Ota-san. Do you agree with his point that what is, is. But what should be, should be?

(Minoru-san, forgive me if I have mischaracterized your position, and thus offened you. I do not mean to offend).

Tatahiko Ota
Tatahiko Ota

Sadly, no.  My apologies but you are incorrect.  Very few Americans understand sushi but believe they have a strong concept of it.  I believe that many Americans have strong opinions but little knowledge about our culture.  We praise people like Horiuchi-san and Rosa-san for demonstrating the best of our culture to Americans. 

I am sorry to say that most Americans believe that they understand it with very little knowledge.  Kaiten sushi is not considered the freshest but the most popular.  Several events in Japan provide vast amounts of sushi and is appreciated by our leaders and our monarchy.  Jiro-san sushi concept is the rarest of sushi eaters and Japan does not consider that to be normal or worthy of a suitable meal.  Please forgive me.  I do not mean to offend.

Andreotti
Andreotti

She didn't write that the chef had shamed Jiro. She said the chef was an excellent chef and that she really loved his stuff when done on a less grand (as in numbers) scale. Her point was that a craftsman like Jiro would be saddened by the state of modern sushi and its mass-ness if I may use that word.

Go read the comments above. Coming from a Japanese person who thinks along the same lines as Patrice and Jiro, and less along the lines of Tatahiko Ota, it shows that just maybe she is onto something. Sushi from vending machines is reality, but maybe not such a good reality.

Justin
Justin

Elaine- Your comments are ridiculous. No one is saying at all that a critic should hold back their opinion or be afraid to take the food, service, or any aspect of a dining experience they did not like to task. If that is what you take from the above comments your just not that bright. Kill a place for the food you didn't enjoy, by all means. However, when you imply a Japanese chef has shamed another Japanese chef, and you do not have a high degree of knowledge or expertise in all things sushi, or even a rudimentary understanding of Japanese culture to levy such a statement, your going to catch some hell. One thing to critique the food, quite another to lob a more personal cultural insult. Can you comprehend the difference?  

Go read Mr Tatahiko Ota comments on this suibject. They are on this same thread above our comments here. Coming from a Japanese person who clearly thought the writer insulted Hori-San. Then again you probably could care less if a line was crossed.

ElaineMay
ElaineMay

Wiser words were never written.It is highly important that a food writer write for the restaurant's staff, so as never to insult them or hurt their feelings. I am trying to get this idea out to the theatre and film critics as well: write honestly what you will, but be certain you never offend an actor or director with your true thoughts! That is the essence of humane and decent criticism.

Jiroshero
Jiroshero

A giant verbosity bar. Little substance.

Justin
Justin

Make that FRIDAY night, not Sat. I mis-typed in my eager zeal to go grab some sudz.

Justin
Justin

DinkinsNY- We can only go by the words she used my friend. She said: "The tuna roll was your standard tuna roll that you could get at Kroger." Hate to split hairs here but that is not factually correct. It is fictitious as you say. Who knows what she was thinking, but the way she wrote it was just not true, just going by her own words here. They don't sell toro rolls at Kroger. Per the Uni, while I certainly agree if something looks not so nice you can make a pre-judgement, but considering the only other people who were there commented it was steller and Ed said it did not sit out at all, she can't make a claim like it was the saddest part of the meal without consuming it and keep integrity as a food blogger in this single instance. I do not disagree on the broader context of sushi not being the best type of banquet food, but considering who was serving it and where one was eating it, the benefit of the doubt should have been given, and despite reservations, try the item in question. If she did not want to eat it, fair enough by the way, then it would be wise to not level the harshest comment of the day at it. Can you not see the logic in that? That is what is most troubling for those that were bothered by the "saddest' comment". Lastly she didn't insult Hori by saying saying some of the fish was dried out, not at all. The insult was when she said: "I wanted to hang a cloth over the picture so Jiro couldn't see his homage.". It was not a homage! Again, the man who put this together (Carl Rosa) has repeatedly stated this. It is not a true statement. The implication that Jiro would have been shamed by the experience implies Hori shamed Jiro. One who is familiar with Japanese people and how seriously honor and shame are dealt with in their culture would know better. She made a mistake there, sorry. An insult to Americans may not be such a big deal but for Japanese people it is a huge deal.That is an insult Dinkins my friend, whether you want to admit it or not. Japanese take that type of insinuation extremely seriously, one must be very careful when taking that tone. She did so unknowingly I am sure, but does that let her off the hook? I must say these things seem pretty clear to me and many others, it is a shame so many words have to used to highlight these points, and I dont want to beat a dead horse, and this isn't life and death. I dont think Patrice was trying to be mean. I do think in writing this piece she was misinformed, a little ficticious and unintentionally insulting. Not the end of the world by any means.Now I am going to go have a beer and enjoy Saturday night. Considering all the passion and heat in this thread, maybe a few others should go grab a drink as well. Cheers or Kanpai!

Gerontion
Gerontion

I feel a wisp of sadness and embarrassment for Mai: she totally missed the point of the piece while 'leaping' to the defense of someone who needed no defense. And then came the lemming-type comments from the sushi club...yada yada yada

Mai Pham
Mai Pham

"I think Mai Phams first comment was written to put Patrice against kata robata which should never have happened." 

Interesting that you should speak of attack and then turn around in the very next sentence to attack me and my integrity. My comments were a response to Patrise's choice of title as well as what I thought to be an unfair comparison of a $300++ meal to a $27 one. The fact that others have chimed in to voice their similar takes on the tone and content of the post are independent of me. My comment did not "put Patrise against Kata Robata" -- the post did that.

Ruthmarie
Ruthmarie

Mai Pham my apologies for seeming to attack your integrity. I should not have said it was written( on purpose) I don't know you but have enjoyed your blogs. I think just as you felt compelled to jump to the defense of kata robata ( which I love by the way) I felt like jumping to the defense of Patrice. I know her and she is not mean spirited and I wanted to have her back. Please accept my apology to you.peace and love for real!!!!

GUEST
GUEST

Jeez. I wish there was as much conversation and opinion shared about more important topics which truly matter in the world than about sushi and who got it right or not.

Edwhite3231
Edwhite3231

It's a blog about sushi.  It's what we are supposed to be chatting about.

Rhesusgibbon
Rhesusgibbon

...or ranting about in your case.

All due to different experiences. And the inability to accept another version of said experience. Sad. Especially for a man of science, or orthodontist at least.

SirRon
SirRon

This thread has really become a ringing endorsement for Sushi Club. Very good work, my friends. {/}

BillieWi
BillieWi

Great post! I'm excited to see this movie.And to try Kata.

Robicheaux
Robicheaux

I have spent years traversing the small towns and cities of Japan learning about what makes great sushi.

Sushi is clearly not a banquet food, as Patrise writes, and Jiro implies.

I challenge anyone who disagrees with this viewpoint, including Carl. Anyone. 

Edwhite
Edwhite

Well then this is really going to make you look confident, but silly.  My wife and I are both retired orthodontists in Pearland.  We were one of the original financial supporting groups for the genesis of the Japanese Garden in Houston.  To unveil the garden, the prince of Japan, son of the Emperor Akihito, attended the event and specifically asked that sushi be catered for the reception.

In the mid 1980s, my wife and I attended the International Convention of Orthodontists at the New Otani Hotel in Tokyo.  It was a fully catered sushi event.

In the early 1990s, the Hotel Okura catered a big event in their Heian ballroom for all of the graduating class of the biomolecular studies from Waseda University.  It was a full sushi catered affair. 

I hope that you are not attempting to condemn the two greatest hotels in Tokyo while informing the Prince of Japan that he's eating it wrong.

Constanza
Constanza

Since you brought that up:Do you know the most groundbreaking news here? No, you don't.Kaneyama, run by a tall white Texan guy and his Shanghai wife is where the Japanese Consulate gets their catering/event food. Yes, to serve to Japanese guests, among others.

The people who know the most about sushi don't obsess about it like Carl and some of the other folk here. Or maybe they buy into Patrise's point that when you're serving a lot a sushi, it's not terribly important to give a damn.

Rhesusgibbon
Rhesusgibbon

I know! Personally, I love uni with dried brown edges. Even request it that way.

DupuisR
DupuisR

Maybe you missed Patrise's explanation above about this?

Justin
Justin

Regina- Maybe for you and I there is nothing wrong with choosing to not eat something that appears to not look appetizing per se. An exception may be when you are a food blogger, crtiquing a chef considered a master at his craft, and describing said dish as the saddest moment of the meal. In such a circumstance you better damn well be right about what you speak of if that is what your going to print with. You think if this was New York and a well known food blogger made such a statement about a dish from Nobu, Morimoto, Massa et al without even trying it, they would not be getting ridiculed right now? Absolutly. The heat is warrented in this case. 

Edwhite3231
Edwhite3231

Regina, just stick to eating pizza, gyros and buying your wine from CVS Pharmacy.  LOL This article definitely de-educated people on the realities of the cuisine and, in my opinion, kicked chef Horiuchi in the crotch for his generosity to a group that merely wanted to celebrate a meal together.  People easily get the wrong impression and begin to revamp their criteria for sushi by reading the posts of people would couldn't make sushi (or detect good sushi) with 7 sets of arms and two brains.  One thing I will agree with you on - the Press doesn't provide great stories on food. You and I are totally on the same page there.

My issue with Patrise's comment about the uni wasn't that she detected Brown edges.  My issue is that she would not touch it and yet claimed it was the saddest part of the meal.  What is she basing that on?  Brown edges?   That is totally irresponsible.

ReginaD
ReginaD

Baloney. "De-educates" them, lol. A blogger makes a (contentious) point that sushi suffers when served as banquet chow. And notes the brown edges on the piece of uni she was served, says it's sad, and won't eat it. What's wrong with that?

This is obviously your first time reading the Press, as they've don't great stories on all sorts of food. Think they've won some Beard awards along the way. It's even available in Pearland, via the webs, as you've now discovered.

Edwhite3231
Edwhite3231

I'm concerned that people who do not know about sushi are commenting as if they are authorities and swaying people's opinions in the wrong way.  What's worse, when columnists post stories that are irresponsible (the uni was the saddest part....um, but I didn't eat it) it de-educates people on sushi.  Perhaps the Houston Press should stick to covering stories on burger joints.

ReginaD
ReginaD

That's true EdWhite. It's just not very good sushi. Sorta like most banquet food in general.Why so serious? What's wrong with living on Westheimer? We can't all inhabit the Land of Pears.

Edwhite3231
Edwhite3231

No, actually I don't think it is great banquet food.  And I would also guess that 99% of the bloggers on this board don't know the difference between Katsuo, Kampachi and Medai.  Houstonians think they know sushi.  You don't know it at all.  The Japanese consistently use sushi for large events - large dinners, large parties, etc.  Consistently.  Consistently.  Please don't attempt to convince them that they can't enjoy it because it does fit the standards that people who live on Westheimer invented in their own heads. 

EaudeDurian
EaudeDurian

So you think sushi is a great banquet food? Or that at least it's been tried by the Japanese before. OK. Great. But I don't agree.

And I think you got it backwards: Japanese Consulate is a client of Kaneyama. Kaneyama provides them with sushi...I think Constanza was saying. (Retired orthodontists have such tempers!)

Mistymui
Mistymui

....Or that Kaneyama, borne from a Taiwanese guy who studied oceanic fauna, and then studied under Kubokawa to get the prep right, is the most solid place around. The guy now has a place called Keeper's; but it's far from the coverage zone of Houston Press, in Sugarland.

Edwhite
Edwhite

Kaneyama is the client of the Consulate?  You think that is groundbreaking news?!?!?!?  Are you kidding?  Everyone knows that.  And yes, the Consulate caters too.  what a shock!  sushi is catered around the world!  shock of shocks!

Also, I'm glad that people 'obsess' about things, as you put it.  I want an obsessive mechanic who loves what they do.  I appreciate an obsessive doctor who has a passion for medicine.  I want to get to know someone who spends his time trying great cuisine.  If you have a problem with people loving what they do, maybe you need to find a life of your own and just admire them all from afar but pretend to hate them.. 

Rockwell
Rockwell

Quite frankly, I don’t care either way.  But I don't think that Carl is claiming sush is meant to be banquet food.  Patrise's article and her most recent comments completely contrast.  Sounds like she felt the need to clarify herself because her viewpoint did not have the impact she thought it would.She says that none of her opinions were against Hori or Kata but she wanted to cover Jiro’s eyes in the photos so he would not see his homage.  Which is it?  Is she making a disparaging remark or not?  In my opinion, her comments shamed Hori for no reason.In the article she states several points from the movie.  In the movie, they say that the flavor is most important.  I saw the movie twice.  She rated the sea urchin as the worst part of the meal without touching it.  Perhaps she could have said ‘the sea urchin did not appear to be up to standard so I didn’t take any chances.’  No.  Instead she stated it was the worst part.  From the pic she posted, it’s a beautiful color.  Even she said it was a beautiful color.  That doesn’t make sense to me.I don’t see anything negative against Rosa himself. Patrise is actually complimentary. He just apparently disagrees with her overall assessment. But at no point does he say that sushi is banquet food.I usually love Patrise's writing.  She is a good writer.  And she might call yourself a devout foodie. But maybe she should stay away from sushi.  Sounds like she might need to do some more homework before disrespecting a chef again and then working hard to ‘take it back’.

Reinhardt
Reinhardt

You're right, I don't think Rosa, in his exalted loquacious, even addresses her main point about sushi being prepared in advance for a small banquet of 45. He doesn't seem able to separate the trees from the forest here, and just 'challenges' her that he knows best about this item or that. Or that she's wrong here and there, about this and that. To me, his argument resembles less of a cogent counter-point, and more of a ghost crab, darting this way, then that way, always responding.

OldPete
OldPete

May I suggest "Sushi Fight Club".The first bout features Carl and Robicheaux going head to head, fighting in a cage that is a large reproduction of an Japanese lobster trap, painstakingly crafted by Japanese artisans. 

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