"The Sushi Police Are on Their Way":

Japanese authorities are aghast at what passes for Japanese food in much of the rest of the world, today's Washington Post reports.

A fast-growing list of gastronomic indignities -- from sham sake in Paris to shoddy sashimi in Bangkok -- has prompted Japanese authorities to launch a counterattack in defense of this nation's celebrated food culture. With restaurants around the globe describing themselves as Japanese while actually serving food that is Asian fusion, or just plain bad, the government here announced a plan this month to offer official seals of approval to overseas eateries deemed to be "pure Japanese." . . .

So beware, America, home of the California roll. The Sushi Police are on their way.

Them Jap cooks ain't gonna be down messin with stuff at the bait shop, are they?
11.24.2006 12:06pm
Randy R. (mail):
Actually, I think the Chicago newspapers did an expose and found that about 80% of the world's sushi grade fish is controlled by Rev. Sun Myung Moon and his church.

If the Japanese start regulating their food, even if voluntarily, perhaps it will loosen his grip on things.
11.24.2006 12:47pm
Chimaxx (mail):
Doesn't sound like they're planning regulation (if they even could regulate restaurants in other countries) but providing (or withholding) a seal od approval. I don't see anything inappropriate here. Diner's will still be able to say "well, it may not be authentic Japanese, but I like it," restaurants not receiving the "pure Japanese" seal will be able to advertise how thay adapt Japanese cuisine for Western taste, and why that's a good thing.

Sure, those resstaurants that offer Sashimi and Pad Thai on the same menu will never get the "Pure Japanese" seal, but that doesn't mean they;ll be any less popular.
11.24.2006 1:28pm
Many years ago I frequented a small, very authentic Washington DC Japanese restaurant. When I attempted to order a dish off the Japanese language only menu, the Waitress advised me with this cute accent: "This is not recommended for the Western taste." I asked no question, just took her advice.
11.24.2006 1:41pm
plunge (mail):
Yeah, I don't think I'll ever understand how anyone could enjoy ume shiso mountain potato rolls. Extremely sour and salty fermented plum + minty leaves (not so bad on their own) + a block of granular white potato what looks and tastes like wet Styrofoam.
11.24.2006 2:18pm
The River Temoc (mail):
...the Waitress advised me with this cute accent: "This is not recommended for the Western taste." I asked no question, just took her advice.

I generally take "advice" such as this as license to say "bring it on."
11.24.2006 3:21pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Hey, mess with us, and we'll pass federal regs requiring that restaurants *cook* food before they serve it.
11.24.2006 4:18pm
Just Dropping By (mail):
"When I attempted to order a dish off the Japanese language only menu, the Waitress advised me with this cute accent: 'This is not recommended for the Western taste.'"

Yes, that's not an uncommon event. I once almost dragged a sushi chef across the counter over his repeated refusals to serve me tako (octopus) because of his insistence that, "Americans don't like."
11.24.2006 4:42pm
John (mail):
How civilized! Don't they know that in America the solution to this problem is to be found in the courts?

Surely not serving actual Japanese food in a Japanese restaurant is a penumbral violation of my right of assembly. Warm up Stevens and Ginsburg. We're coming!
11.24.2006 5:01pm
Dell Adams (mail):
The Sushi Police are on their way.

Instantly recognizable by their seaweed armbands.
11.24.2006 5:31pm
BobNSF (mail):
Ever had "Italian" food in Tokyo?

More seriously, preserving cultural integrity -- at least at home -- is a laudable goal.
11.24.2006 6:13pm
Avatar (mail):
Nothing like those corn and tuna pizzas. (No, folks, not kidding, they have that in Japan. And it's supposedly quite good!)

Can't really complain about this. It's HARD to find authentic Japanese cuisine in the US, at least away from the west coast. Granted that "authentic" isn't necessarily "good" (especially for those of us unfortunate enough to sport a shellfish allergy, boo), but there you go. I -like- Philadelphia rolls, I just don't kid myself that they're Japanese. ;p And when you do find an authentic place, it's usually also high-quality (and high price, naturally, but there you have it.)
11.24.2006 7:25pm
Ted Frank (www):
Italy certifies pizzas as "authentic," and it hasn't destroyed the business of the 99%+ of American pizza restaurants that refuse to comply with the certification standards.

The Union of Orthodox Rabbis certifies food as "kosher," and there's still a big market for the treyf -- and even for the food certified as kosher by competing certification groups.

This sort of voluntary compliance and certification scheme is a public good, so long as it isn't used anticompetitively. I don't know that I'd want my taxpayer dollars spent on it (the DC Sushi Society shows that the government of Japan need not get directly involved), but I lost that battle before I was born—check out the CFR some time on food labeling.
11.24.2006 7:30pm
Ship Erect (mail) (www):
Nothing like those corn and tuna pizzas.

Corn on pizza (and corn meal in the pizza dough) is absolutely amazing at Viva Herbal on 2nd Ave in the East Village. Haven't seen tuna on pizza (must be available somewhere in NYC or L.A.), but then again I'm a vegetarian.

And I have never seen an American palate actually enjoy a futomaki roll. Gobo root, ugh!
11.24.2006 8:35pm
M (mail):
It's about time, I say. Sushi at least is one of the few things in life that one really should not try to do on the cheap.
11.24.2006 9:53pm
Michael Barclay (mail):
C'mon, everybody knows sushi and the other "Japanese" food they serve in the USA is fake. See:
11.24.2006 10:37pm
Michael Barclay (mail):
Well, the link did not insert correctly, sorry. Go to Google video, and search for:
the truth about japanese restaurants and sushi

11.24.2006 10:38pm
WHOI Jacket:
Having "pizza" in Harajuku is a life-altering experience, I can assure you.
11.25.2006 1:11am
The River Temoc (mail):
More seriously, preserving cultural integrity -- at least at home -- is a laudable goal.

Er, what is cultural integrity? Tempura was, IIRC, inspired by the Portuguese.
11.25.2006 9:24am
SocratesAbroad (mail):
I didn't realize topics like this a propos here.

Anyway, for those of us in Asia this is old news:
Japan Times
Friday, Nov. 3, 2006
Government to certify real Japanese food

Fvcked Gaijin
J-Gov't to certify real Japanese food
Various comments from us better-informed 'gaijin'
11.25.2006 9:33am
The River Temoc (mail):
I guess the Itsu Sushi Bar in Picadilly can now assume it will be de-certified.
11.25.2006 11:50am
James of England:
Tuna is a common pizza topping in the UK. You haven't lived until you've eaten a (primarily Scottish) Tuna, Banana, and Onion Pizza. *sighs in happy nostalgia*
11.25.2006 2:15pm
YankeeInItaly (mail):
Tuna is a common pizza topping in Italy.
11.25.2006 7:52pm
Nate F (mail):
I had a pizza with sardines, onions, and peppers once in Prague. It was awful. And I like anchovies on pizza, mind you.
11.26.2006 2:00am