• By The Financial District

TOKYO SUSHI CHEF WANTS TO SPREAD ART OF TRADITIONAL JAPANESE FAST FOOD

"When autumn approaches, mackerel becomes rich in fat. Salmon begin to lay eggs, so ikura (salmon roe) during this time is tasty. Bluefin tuna also takes on a distinctive winter taste." So says sushi chef Yoshinori Tezuka, 41, as he gently shapes rice in his hand to make sushi using fatty tuna, Tadahiko Mori reported for Mainichi Shimbun.

"Different kinds of fish all have their own season. I would like for people to taste the difference in seasons through the fish," says the chef of Matsunozushi, a sushi restaurant near Tokyo Bay in the capital's Shinagawa Ward. He has actively engaged in promoting the art of sushi overseas, while drawing from his four-year experience as a ski tour guide in Europe and North America at a young age. During the Osaka G-20 summit last year, Tezuka demonstrated his skills in front of the spouses of world leaders, and conveyed the heart and essence of the craft in English. 


Matsunozushi, which has been offering traditional Japanese cuisine for 110 years, started off as a sushi street stall in the Shibashinmei area -- currently the area around the capital's Hamamatsucho district -- in 1910. The eatery kept the ambience of Edo-style sushi stalls that apparently began to appear during the latter half of the Edo period (1603-1868.) They were transportable booths rather than establishments with counters -- let alone the rotating conveyor belts that are seen at some eateries today. Sushi two to three times larger than the current servings were prepared at the stalls, and filled the stomachs of the people living in Edo. 


Tezuka remarks, "It was the fast food of the time. Being able to grab a quick bite of sushi, which people could pick up easily with one hand, seemed to have been well-received among Edo locals, who tended to be hasty and brusque." Sushi -- raw fish on vinegar-flavored rice -- can be broadly classified into two types: "oshizushi," or pressed sushi, an old tradition originating in the western Japan region of Kansai; and "nigirizushi," or hand-shaped sushi, also known as "Edomae-zushi." "Edomae," which can be literally translated as "in front of Edo," refers to fish caught in the sea in front of Edo (currently the Tokyo Bay). To phrase it in modern terms, it was "local production for local consumption."