Sushi can be quite expensive because it requires talent, time, training, and high-end ingredients to build each hand-made sushi roll. Sushi is known to have originated in ancient China and Japan when chefs chose to wrap their raw fish in rice as a way to preserve it. The dish with time became the modern sushi that we know and love today.
However, over time, the combination of raw fish (sashimi), rice, seaweed, vegetables has not only become popular in Japanese culture but also in other cultures around the world. Reports also have it that there are renowned sushi restaurants in almost every big city across the globe and sushi is loved by millions of people.
Sushi has what the Japanese tend to refer to as Otaku – a term for people with obsessive interests. Indeed some people don’t mind traveling hours for the best sushi.
The first sushi arrived in the United States sometime in the 1950s to tend to the cravings of Japanese businessmen in California. However, the first major popularity of sushi in America was with the Kawafuku Restaurant in LA’s Little Tokyo in 1966 with Itamae Shigeo Saito. Almost a decade later, at the Tokyo Kai Kan restaurant, also in LA’s Little Tokyo, the Americanized California Roll was sampled.
As sushi became more popular and spread across the United States, the flavor palettes expanded just as much, if not even more than the geographical reach. And no matter your past experiences with sushi, it still remains well known around the world, and many people eat it regularly.
Factors that Influence the High Cost of Sushi in 2022
The only real downside that people experience as sushi fans is the cost. Pricing is quite high when it comes to sushi, but there are several reasons behind it.
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Cost of Ingredients
You need to understand that the fish used for sushi is not only fresh but also comes from all over the world. Note that a good number of them, if not all, are expensive than locally grown vegetables and meats, and their prices also tend to change more often than the meats and vegetables.
Discolouring and spoiling of the fish are the two major problems sushi restaurants have to cope with. This tends to happen faster to fish than vegetables and meets. Discolored fish is eatable but not useable at a sushi restaurant. They will have to be discarded or served as an employee meal.
Just have it in mind that the location where you are eating your sushi will more or less affect the price you pay. According to reports, some of the most expensive sushi are located in areas like California and New York. Although these areas don’t have trouble sourcing fish and crab for the sushi rolls, they have the ability to charge more because of the market.
Also, note that you may have to pay a lot of money for sushi if you live in a small town away from major cities. Indeed, small-town restaurants might have to go through quite a bit of trouble to get sushi to their doors. This will be reflected in the meal price and will make it daunting for people to afford sushi.
One of the major reasons why sushi is so expensive is because it is very labor intensive to produce. Note that each of the rolls must be made by hand, putting together the delicate and fresh ingredients carefully and arranging them artfully on the plate. A platter of sushi comes with a visual treat as well as tastes good, so a lot of work goes into the presentation of the dish.
The preparation and presentation serve to increase the cost of Sushi. However, one of the good things to note is that sushi is something that is very clean to eat, and it can be very filling as well. Even though they can be quite expensive, it is enjoyable to look at, tastes great, and helps you not feel overly full.
Once the whole fish has been filleted, the head, bones, fins, and some other parts of the tail are thrown away. This more or less doubles and triples the cost of the fish. Only certain parts of the fish are ideal for nigiri or sashimi. The tail of tuna cannot be used for Nigiri and Sahimi, therefore, used for a cheaper item like spicy tuna. Since the restaurant will have to pay the same price for one fish, they also have to price sushi and sashimi higher to cover the cost.
Service and Knowledge of the Chef
You will have to understand that making sushi is only half of a Sushi Chef’s job. At the sushi bar, the chef is also tasked with keeping guests entertained. This might involve sharing the knowledge of sushi and fish. It could also entail engaging in an interesting conversation with the guests. Knowing what the regular customers’ likes and dislikes is part of the service too. Taking a special order is another service you can get only at a sushi bar.
One of the reasons why sushi is so expensive is because it is considered a luxury item. Sushi goes beyond something a person needs and is more of something a person desires. Therefore, just like most other luxury food items, including steak, lobster, and seafood in general, sushi is priced quite high. Note that items like hamburgers, sandwiches, and pizza are not seen to be luxury items because they are more for the average person, and the pricing is much fairer.
What is the Average Price of Sushi?
Have it in mind that the exact price of sushi is highly dependent on where in the United States, or the world, you choose to dine. For instance, in Japan, you will have to pay around 1,000 yen per person to a staggering 10,000 yen. This more or less translates to $9 up to $93 in the United States.
The cheapest options, most often, would be conveyor belt sushi restaurants, but always remember that you get what you pay for and these can still amass quite the price tag for larger groups. However, note that the Best places to try sushi or sashimi would be fish markets and other kinds of busy seaside market places.
According to experts, these locations may offer sushi that is average in price but not lacking in quality, with the additional perk of maybe watching the chef prepare your sushi and sashimi while taking in the sights and exciting atmosphere.
Another unique thing about fish markets is your sushi and sashimi will be very fresh, as most of them would have bought the fish from that morning’s catch. Also, remember that sushi is priced on a day-to-day basis. The cost will more or less depend on the flow of customers and what they were able to buy or catch as well as the quality of that fish.
Indeed, a sushi meal can be quite expensive especially if you intend to experience the best quality. However, it is absolutely worth it. Well-prepared sushi has wonderfully fresh, subtle flavors and a unique mouth-feel that you cannot experience in any other food.
Also note that the numerous ingredients come alive and complement each other in a way that is simply mind-blowing and the experience of feasting on an array of beautifully presented plates is a treat for the senses.