New to sushi? Intimidated by all the different options, or by the prospect of eating raw fish? Here at Oki Japanese Grill in Plano, TX, we’re excited to give you an easy introduction to sushi and help take the mystery out of enjoying sushi!
Below, we’ll walk you through the best sushi types to try for beginners.
Maki is the Japanese word for sushi rolls, and simple maki consists of just rice and one ingredient wrapped in nori (edible seaweed). These bite-sized rolls are probably the most basic and most approachable type of sushi.
There are many types of single-ingredient vegetable maki rolls, like cucumber, avocado, asparagus and sweet potato maki. Simple and tasty, these are also great choices for vegetarians. If you are willing to try raw fish on your first visit, we always recommend starting with two of the most popular and mild tasting fish: tuna (tekka in Japanese – tender, delicate flavor) and salmon (sake in Japanese – buttery and smooth).
If you enjoy tuna or salmon maki, try stepping it up another notch with Spicy Tuna and Spicy Salmon maki! The only difference between these rolls and the basic tuna and salmon maki is that they are tossed in spicy mayo sauce, which adds a subtly spicy kick and creamy richness to the maki.
The California Roll
This roll was literally invented for sushi newbies!
Though several different sushi chefs are credited with inventing the California roll, the most popular attribution goes to a sushi chef named Ichiro Mashita, in around the late 1960s to early 1970s in Los Angeles. The story goes that Mashita experimented with ingredients that were more accessible for his clientele, many of whom were averse to eating seaweed and raw fish. He thought that the smooth texture and oiliness of avocado would make a great substitute for toro (fatty belly tuna – a highly prized and very delicious cut of tuna). Turns out, he was right! To this day, the California roll is one of the most popular sushi rolls in America.
Because it contains no raw fish and is also rolled inside-out with the seaweed on the inside, it’s a fantastic roll to introduce to beginners to sushi. Fresh and delicious with familiar ingredients to Western palates, try this classic Japanese-American roll that was invented for beginners to sushi!
Nigiri is a pressed mound of sushi rice with a slice of fish (or other protein) laid atop, with just a touch of wasabi between the rice and the fish. Nigiri is a bit of a step up from maki, because it is meant to highlight the flavors of the two main ingredients: the rice and the fish.
If you don’t want to dive right into fish nigiri, we recommend starting with a tamago nigiri. Instead of fish, this type of nigiri is topped with a slice of tamagoyaki – Japanese rolled egg omelet, which is fluffy, sweet and savory.
Ebi (cooked shrimp) nigiri is also a great starter nigiri, especially if you’re a fan of shrimp!
Once you are ready to try nigiri with fish, again we recommend trying salmon or tuna to start. With nigiri, you can truly appreciate the subtle yet impactful flavors of the fresh fish, beautifully complimented by the slight sweet-tanginess of the sushi rice.
Meaning “scattered” in Japanese, chirashi consists of a bed of seasoned sushi rice with an assortment of fresh sliced fish arranged on top. Chirashi also often has nori, tamagoyaki, and one or two other vegetables or greens.
The assortment of ingredients in chirashi make this dish a delight to the tastebuds! Chirashi can be thought of as a freeform sushi dish, without the hand-shaping needed for maki and nigiri.
We think chirashi is an excellent dish for people who are relatively new to sushi and want to expand their knowledge and appreciation for different types of fish. With chirashi, you can explore and savor the delicate, complex range of flavors of several types of fresh fish at your own pace.
Of Hawaiian origin rather than Japanese, poke (pronounced “poh-kay”) is somewhat similar to chirashi in that it consists of rice with raw fish and vegetables on top.
However, poke and chirashi are entirely different dishes! Poke bowls usually have plain rice rather than sushi rice, the fish is chopped in small pieces rather than sliced, it has far greater quantity and variety of vegetables, and poke bowls are drizzled with several sauces while chirashi does not contain sauces.
Poke bowls can be made up of near-infinite combinations of different fish, vegetables and sauces. They’re a fantastic way for people to enjoy and expand their sushi appreciation with delicious and widely ranging flavor combinations.
From simple maki and California rolls, to nigiri, chirashi and more – whether you are a complete newbie to sushi, a budding enthusiast or a longtime fan, we welcome all sushi enthusiasts here at Oki Japanese Grill in Plano, TX!