It was twenty-five years ago when I was first introduced tosushi, and it was love at first taste. I’ve been a sushi addict ever since. Back in 1981, I was in grade 11 living with my parents in Vancouver, Canada. That Christmas for the holidays, I went out to Irvine, California, to visit with my cousin and his wife, who were studying at UC-Irvine. I recall my cousin asking if I had ever tried sushi. I had no idea what on earth he was speaking about. He explained that it was a Japanese delicacy, whereby raw fish was beautifully prepared usually on beds of rice, and presented by sushi chefs in what could best be described as a culinary art form. Having grown up in Vancouver, that was back then more of a colonial outpost than an international cosmopolitan center, I had never heard the term sushi. However I was keen to test. So for lunch, my cousin took me to a local Irvine sushi bar (whose name I no more recall), and I’ve been All You Can Eat Sushi fan ever since.
I recall it as being a completely new experience, although one today that everybody accepts as common place. You walk into the sushi bar, and the sushi chefs behind the bar yell out Japanese words of welcome, plus it seems like the individual you’re with is a regular and knows the chefs and the menu as old friends.
The sushi scene has much evolved in North America, and today, most people has heard of sushi and tried it, and millions have become sushi addicts like me. Needless to say there are individuals who can’t bring themselves to accepting the thought of eating raw fish, possibly out of fear of catching a health problem through the un-cooked food. But this fear is unfounded, as millions of people consume sushi annually in North America, and also the incidents of sushi-related food-poisoning are negligible.
Sushi is becoming wildly popular in metropolitan centers with diverse cultural interests, specially those with sizeable Asian communities, and people who are favored by Asian tourists. Therefore, Sushi restaurants are concentrated up and down the west coast of North America with sushi bars being easy to find on many street corners in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Vegas, and Vancouver. In the last quarter century since its arrival in North America, the sushi dining experience has created a significant change in a variety of key markets, which includes broadened its appeal. The development of the all-you-can-eat sushi buffet has evolved the way lots of people came to know sushi.
Initially, the sushi dinning experience was only for that well-healed. The raw seafood ingredients that make up the basic principles in the sushi menu include tuna, salmon, shrimp, scallops, eel, mackerel, squid, shark-fin, abalone, and red snapper. It is imperative that the raw seafood be properly cleaned, stored and prepared, and then in most markets (even on the west coast) these raw ingredients are costly in comparison with other foods. Therefore, the cost of eating sushi has historically been expensive. Sushi bar eating is normally marketed inside an a la carte fashion whereby the diner pays for each piece of sushi individually. Although a basic tuna roll chopped into 3 or 4 pieces might costs several dollars, a more extravagant serving such a piece of eel or shark-fin sushi can easily cost $4 to $6 or more, depending on the restaurant. You can easily spend $100 for any nice sushi dinner for just two with an a la carte sushi bar, and this is well unattainable for many diners.
The sushi dining business design changed within the last decade. Some clever restaurant operators saw a brand new chance to have the sushi dining experience more of a mass-market home business opportunity, as opposed to a dining experience only for the rich. They devised a method to mass-produce sushi, purchasing ingredients in big amounts, training and employing sushi chefs in high-volume sushi kitchens, where a team of 5 to 15 skilled sushi chefs work non-stop creating sushi dishes in large capacity settings, where such restaurants can typically serve several hundred diners per night. It was this business design that devised the rotating conveyor belt, where sushi plates are positioned on the belt and cycled through the restaurant so diners can hand-pick their desired sushi right from the belt at their table side. However, the key marketing concept borne using this model was the one price, all-you-can-eat sushi buffet concept, where diner pays a flat price for the sushi they can consume in a single seating, typically capped at 2 hours by most sushi buffet restaurants. Most major cities in North America will have an all-you-can-eat sushi buffet restaurant, though they are predominantly situated on the west coast.
Outside Japan, certainly, the town of Vancouver, Canada, has more sushi restaurants than every other city. Part of the explanation might be the truth that Vancouver has the largest Asian immigrant population in North America, which is an increasingly popular tourist destination for tourists from all over Asia. Many of Vancouver’s immigrants seek self-employment, and open restaurants, a few of which meet the needs of the sushi market which is ever-growing. The Vancouver suburb of Richmond features a population exceeding 100,000, and nearly all its residents are made up of Asian immigrants that arrived at Canada within the last two decades. Richmond probably has the greatest density of Asian restaurants to be found anywhere outside Asia, with every strip mall and mall sporting several competing eating establishments. Of course sushi is a fundamental element of the Richmond restaurant business, and diners can find anything from $5 lunch stops, to $20 sushi buffet dinner mega-restaurants.
Vancouver’s lower mainland (that has a population of some 2 million) is also the world’s undisputed capital for those-you-can-eat sushi restaurants. Given Vancouver’s fame for the abundance of fresh seafood because of its Pacific Ocean location, the city’s sushi restaurants have become world renowned for trying to outdo one another by giving superb quality all-you-can-eat sushi, at the best prices to be found anywhere on the planet. Quality sushi in Vancouver is priced at a small fraction of what one would pay in Japan, and several Japanese tourists marvel at Vancouver’s huge selection of quality sushi restaurants. Some say Vancouver’s sushi offering meets and exceeds that lvugwn in Japan, certainly in terms of price! Not many individuals Japan can manage to eat sushi apart from to get a special day. However, Places For Sushi Near Me is really affordable in Vancouver that residents and tourists alike can eat it on a regular basis, without breaking the bank! In the past decade, the price of eating sushi in Vancouver has tumbled, with sushi restaurants literally on every street corner, and also the fierce competition has driven the expense of a quality all-you-can-eat sushi dinner down to the $CAD 15-20 range. An all-you-can-eat sushi dinner for 2, with alcoholic drinks can easily be had cheaper than $CAD 50, which can be half what one could pay with a North American a la carte sushi bar, and possibly one quarter what one could pay for an equivalent meal in Japan!