nothing's finer than some fishies

sushi is one of those things that i can eat for every meal, day in, day out, and never get sick of it.  i just love those raw fishies.  i also love how going out for sushi is just so easy, and common sense seems to go a long way towards enjoying a fabulous meal and making it through the whole thing without chowing down on some gluten.  through my numerous hunts for the best tasting sushi at a price that i can afford, i have discovered what i believe to be a general truth about the food -- the super high-end places aren't the best.  maybe i'm just a sushi purist and i don't like those crazy deep friend, cream cheese filled, and otherwise fancy-pants-ified rolls that are common at more formal joints.  I like to taste my fresh salmon for what it is, and it's pretty damn tasty.

there have been a few things i've learned in my many years enjoying the raw stuff.  here's a brief run down:

1.  never order take out.  you get whatever is left over, and you're not able to complain about it.
2.  sushi + refrigerator + 12 hours = dog food
3.  octopus ain't never gonna be eaten by me.  i'd rather chew on a belt.
4.  same goes for sea urchin.  i'm not going to tell you what that's like chewing on.

okay okay okay.  enough with the jokester act.  i do have some useful information that you can use the next time you find yourself perched at the sushi bar, wondering what deliciousness needs to find its way to your plate.  first off, and i'm sure this is redundant, don't reach for the soy sauce.  i usually bring my own, in that big, awkward bottle, and like someone sneaking home-brought snacks in a movie theater i'll guiltily shove my heavy purse to the far side of the booth.  i'll look about with shifty eyes, in hopes that the sushi chefs don't see me fill that little dish with some dark liquid pouring from my bag.  my goodness that makes dinner entertaining! 

for those of you that refuse to go without the 'sauce, i found this AWESOME product just this afternoon, and i'm trying to figure out how to order it for home delivery.  kari out, a company that supplies restaurants with condiments and such, makes little tiny, ketchup-sized packets of low sodium, GLUTEN FREE SOY SAUCE.  oh hell yeah.  i am NOT kidding.  a product like this deserves a description containing words in all caps.  i so want a box of these babies in my pantry, each of them at the ready and oh-so conveniently sized and non-leaking for my small purses!  come to momma!  i am sending the company an email on non-corporate orders, and will let you know what they say about it.

let's get back on topic.  soy sauce is a no.  check.  

miso can also be a no-no, but not always.  white miso is sometimes made with only rice and soy, however you can always cross red miso off of your list.  ask your server what's in their miso recipe if you're just dying for some.  same goes for that seaweed salad.  recipes differ, and some places are GF when making that green deliciousness.  some are not.  

speaking of green deliciousness, wasabi is only okay if it's pure wasabi.  some places use wasabi that's been cut with other ingredients, and this often includes some gluten product to maintain its consistency.

crab stick is made with pure wheat gluten.  yeah.  doesn't get any better than that.  if you eat anything with "crunch" or tempura you might as well stick a spoon in a bag of whole wheat flour and start feasting.  eel, or "unagi," is cooked in a wheat-based sauce and then drizzled with it, and pretty much anything with a sauce or a drizzle is probably a good idea to avoid.  

spicy rolls are iffy, and you are best off to ask how they are prepared as the spicy aspect of it might be a naughty gluteny sauce just waiting to turn your innards into knots.  most salad dressings and such are also suspect.

sake can sometimes be made with barley.  although it is distilled, some super sensitive folks will react to that.  i suggest that you either find a brand you're familiar with on the menu, or go for one of the more premium offerings, as the barley-containing sakes are the lower end varieties.  otherwise, sake is rice wine is should be a-okay.

perhaps this is why i love the simple sushi approach, and i stay away from the crazy combo rolls.  when sushi is just so fresh it is just so so delicious, and i'd rather not have those sauces and extras anyway.  who wants "crunch" when that bit of bright pink buttery salmon melts in your mouth?  the rice is seasoned just-so and the seaweed hugs it all together and keeps all of those gorgeous colors in place?  sushi feels healthy in my body after a meal, and it's not just a treat for my taste buds but it's also a feast for my eyes.

man, i just love those fishies.

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my fav wallet-friendly sushi place:

888 s michigan avenue
chicago 60605

50 e grand avenue
chicago 60611

monday - friday: 11:30am - 2:30pm, 5 - 11pm
saturday: 5pm - 11pm
sunday: 5pm - 9pm

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