It is no doubt that sushi has become a massive food trend over the past few years – Instagram feeds are flourishing with delicate rolls and more and more restaurants are focusing on these Japanese delights with exotic bites of the distant land. And as modern cuisines change and adapt, the term ‘Sushi’ has entered a grey area as to what it is and what it isn’t. Many questions have emerged…What is actually Sushi and is it in fact just raw fish? Is it considered a healthy diet choice? How to properly hold the chopsticks? (no, eating with bare hands is not advisable).
Trying to understand more about one of our favorite dishes and to give answers to your questions, we headed to Porto at the newly opened restaurant of Subenshi, located in Praça Parada Leitão, right next to the Rectory of the University of Porto. For their new space they chose a building full of history, where the interior design blends elements of the Japanese Gastronomy and Portuguese culture, represented in the designer mosaic tiles in each chamber.
Be one of the first to take a virtual tour around the place.
Subenshi is well-known to the people of Northern Portugal for its high-quality food and exceptional service. With a successful history in the city of Aveiro (check the article), the business is expanding to the streets of Porto where both locals and tourists would enjoy unique sushi rolls with rich and distinctive flavors. But it was not long ago since sushi actually became popular in Portugal, in fact what do people here know about it? It was in a period of three to four years ago that the Asian cuisine spread rapidly across the country, causing the demand for rice and raw fish to reach the top. And the more people started to eat sushi, the more they began to get familiar with the taste and to distinguish what is considered good and healthy and what is not. To evaluate this, we spoke to Bernardo, the owner of Subenshi, who shared his thoughts on the topic.
“The initial concept of the sushi was to be a healthy food – raw fish and cooked rice that contain essential and natural nutrients – it is soft food…” ,he says, “…nowadays there are a lot of options with tempura, ketchup and mayonnaise or other sauces that are all but healthy. “
Where the main ingredients come from is also a major factor – he supplies the fish from the area of Portugal, mainly from Peniche, Aveiro, Madeira and the islands of the Azores. “I buy the fish directly from the fisherman as I want my products to be fresh.” he states.
On the photos: Sashimi, which means: ‘Pierced Flesh‘. Sashimi is simply fish – usually dipped in sauces or served alongside sushi.
The traditional sushi consists of raw fish or fruits/vegetables, rolled in ‘cooked, vinegared rice.’ Meaning that if vinegared rice is not involved, it cannot be considered sushi. There are many forms that you can meet – Nigiri, Temaki, Norimaki, Gunkan maki and even more varieties. However, at Subenshi you can experience unique versatile combinations, which are called ‘Fusion’.
“The Fusion is different from traditional Sushi from Japan. It is important that when you experiment with flavors it needs to make sense. You have to think about the mixture, using good ingredients with balance.“
However, what you should not fear when at a sushi restaurant is to ask questions. If you’re unsure of what to order, sit at the sushi bar and ask – the lovely employees at Subenshi are true experts and will always guide you.
“First experience with Sushi is important. If the mixture does not end up well, it will be confusion and people will get a bad impression of the sushi concept.”
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For those of you that have never eaten sushi and want to know how to get the most out of your initial experience, we would advise you to go the right place. And of course, this is not a mean that you will like it – everyone’s taste is different. But the first touch is essential to whether you would enjoy the taste or rather be pushed away. Giving this exotic food a chance to enter your menu is something that Bernardo advises.
“We should be open minded and try different things as to understand why so many people like sushi” – he adds.
So do not close the door to this delicate and sometimes misunderstood food. The more we experiment in life, the more we start to appreciate and understand what is good for us.