The history of fusion sushi dated back to the 1970s when the Japanese in America, sorely craving for food back home, had to recreate their native cuisine using what ingredients available in the Western hemisphere.
California Roll was probably the first fusion roll ever created, which substituted Bluefin Tuna’s belly with avocado (native fruit in California) and surimi (crab sticks), instead of the conventional hand-shelled crab meat that is much more costly. Furthermore, California Roll marked the dawn of uramaki (inside-out rolls), hiding the nori in the middle and putting the rice on the outside.
Apparently, the Americans couldn’t swallow the idea of eating seaweed paper back then. So the trick was to hide the nori inside, but this method makes the nori soggy from the moist filling. This was not how the Japanese would’ve made their sushi back then.
Sushi Mori at Central Park, West Jakarta, is a sushi restaurant that is originally from Surabaya, East Java. East Java is famous for the people’s taste preference, which tends to be sweeter than average. When Sushi Mori first came to Jakarta, one of the owners, Amanda Kumala, explained that they needed to adjust the original menu to match the taste preference of the customers in Jakarta.
Creativity thrives well in a free environment. That’s the philosophy that the management in Sushi Mori Jakarta practices. And it has encouraged the sushi chefs in Jakarta to create some interesting twists, adding more to the hall of fame of fusion sushi. For example, the Snow Crab Narudo Roll (crab stick, tobiko and avocado rolled in cucumber, instead of rice) and Ebi Osaka (prawn tempura, crab stick and cheese rolled in omelette).
Also recommended: the Yaki Sake, baked salmon and crab stick that is soft inside and crunchy outside.
Witnessing for myself how the chef meticulously crafted the Snow Crab Narudo Roll, I truly appreciate the art of sushi-making and the most fundamental ingredient: patience and tons of practice to master the art of peeling the cucumber all the way to the core to make a continuous thin rectangular layer of cucumber.
Arranging of the filling requires skill too, it must neither be too full nor too little. Any hollow must be filled with additional filling (the chopped crab stick). When rolling the whole thing together, you use the bamboo rolling mat that is lined with a plastic film to prevent sticking. Even rolling itself takes skill, slowly but surely, and with just the right amount of pressure to prevent over-compacting the sushi.
Jakarta: Central Park lower ground #115
Tel. 021 56985255
Surabaya: JL. Dr. Soetomo 97 E
Tel. 031 5688041
For more delicious treats, visit the author’s blog at http://culinarybonanza.blogspot.com/