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Be Coy With The Soy

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Sep 12, 2005 6:00PM

From the "we don't get out much and it's a slow news day" department: According to an article in the Bright One today popular sushi restaurants have taken to topping their nigiri with non-traditional sauces, vegetables, and oils in an effort to stop diners from drowning their fish in soy sauce. Apparently doing so masks the natural rich flavors of the fish being eaten. Maybe some diners weren't schooled in proper nigiri dipping etiquette. Some diners might be washing their nigiri in soy sauce so that they aren't reminded that they're eating raw fish. Either way, it's a decidedly American faux pas that sushi chefs are learning to cope with.

Macku Chan, executive chef at Kaze in Roscoe Village, says in the article that diners incorrectly dip their nigiri into soy sauce rice-side down rather than fish-side down. In a proactive effort to stem the tide of soy sauce abuse Chan adds ingredients like truffle oil and banana peppers to his nigiri. Another restaurant cited in this ongoing "trend" is the West Loop's Izumi Sushi , which offers a "lava scallop" topped with a mayonnaise concoction of cilantro, jalapeno, and flying fish roe, then briefly heated so the sauce bubbles like lava. Still, even with the creative approaches being taken, Chan says, people still dip. Although the Sun-Times does mention places like Sushi Wabi and Japonais as examples of sushi restaurants that leave their nigiri unadorned, it also infers that they are becoming exceptions to the rule.

As a former loyal subject of the kill-it-and-grill-it sect of good eatin' Chicagoist has been there, folks. We eventually learned to stop worrying and love the nigiri thanks an old friend. She also introduced us to this little hidden gem in River North popular with both the Chowhound and Mimi Smartypants.

And the nigiri there? Naked, totally naked.