At Benihana, our sushi menu has quickly become a favorite among guests, whether they’re enjoying it for a romantic dinner or ordering a variety of rolls with friends. However, very few of our guests know the background about the Japanese staple that transformed the American palate and the way we view Japanese cuisine.

There’s a lot people don’t know about sushi beyond how tasty it is. Here’s a quick look at some sushi facts that might surprise you:

  • The term sushi does not mean “raw fish,” contrary to popular belief. Sushi actually means vinegared rice, which is the base ingredient to every piece of sushi.
  • Sushi is estimated to have started as early as 500 B.C., but didn’t take the bite-sized form until the early 19th century when Japanese street vendors started crafting colorful sushi rolls for city workers on the fly.
  • Traditionally, sushi chefs use special Japanese carbon steel knives that are only honed on a single side to create the sharpest possible cutting edge for prepping sushi. Benihana uses these special knives when preparing its delectable sushi rolls each day.
  • Sushi in the U.S. was essentially unheard of until after World War II when its popularity took off. Now, the act of going out for sushi has become almost as common as heading out for burgers or barbeque – both American culinary staples.
  • Sushi is as much of an art form as it is a delicacy. In Japan, sushi chefs must undergo ten years of professional training before earning the stamp of “Sushi Master.”
  • Sushi is meant to be served in a particular way. In order to achieve the rice’s ideal “stickiness,” chefs aim to keep their rice around 110 degrees Fahrenheit before adding the cold fish. Once served, soy sauce is meant to serve as a complementary condiment rather than a dipping sauce.
  • Often when Americans think of sushi, they visualize rolled sushi, or maki. However, they don’t often picture nigiri (pieces of fish on top of rice), sashimi (sliced fish only) or temaki (hand rolls), all of which are more common in Japan. Benihana offers all varieties for guests to try.
  • On a similar note, while America has largely adopted the Japanese tradition of sushi rolling, we’ve also Americanized some elements by offering many more cooked or fried sushi options for those who don’t enjoy the idea of consuming raw fish.

Sense a crave? Learn more or make a reservation today.