We scanned down a list of restaurants in the city: Chinese, Mongolian, Brazilian, Mexican, Ethiopian, Italian, Malaysian, Indian, Thai, Irish, the list goes on. Finally, we settled on Lebanese and were treated to an array of appetizers and a belly dancer. The restaurant was lush with tapestries and pillows. This is dining out in Vancouver. Not only is there any and every ethnicity prepared by a chef who grew up eating and cooking this food, stepping into a restaurant can be a brief glimpse of stepping into the culture itself.
A Vancouver special (Credit: Jeremy Lim)
There is one major exception to this rule: sushi. It’s a delicacy in its native home of Japan. It is fine dinning. The case is a little different here in Vancouver. First of all, sushi is often the only full meal out one can afford as a student. There are sushi places right on campus. Secondly, it is considered a staple of the diet. It can be a lunch out with friends, an all-you-can-eat diner, or a summer picnic. Sushi is often the last meal a Vancouverite will have before heading abroad and the first upon returning home. We call it the “sushi-fix”. It transcends even the typical Canadians’ “Tim Horton’s fix”. While we Vancouverites also love the national doughnut shop and will engage in conversations about coffees and breakfast sandwiches with any Canadian we meet in travel, sushi takes over with someone from Vancouver.
Sushi, North American style (Credit: SweetOnVeg)
North America as a whole has morphed sushi. Namely, we’ve added ingredients like avocado, cream cheese, and mayonnaise to invent locally named rolls such as the California Roll, the B.C. Roll, or the Alaska Roll. While this does distract from the undeniably light and healthy feel of eating sushi, these are often starter rolls to convince new-comers and children to join the sushi eating force.
Sure, we can find sushi inland and even abroad, but unless we are travelling to Japan itself, the sushi simply does not meet our expectations. We want it fresh, we want it juicy, we want it to melt in our mouths. We want to be able to see the ocean it came from and the trained chef preparing it. Otherwise, it’s just not sushi.
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