Sushi for the Sushi Fearful

So you can’t get your head around sushi, huh? Lately I’ve gotten a lot of questions about advice for sushi novices: Where to go, what to order, etc. With that in mind, I’ve put together a couple ideas to help the uninitiated.

1. Head to Sakura, in downtown St. Paul. They’ve got the best veggie sushi in town. What’s veggie sushi? No fish—just cold rice and vegetables. Sushi actually means “vinegared rice,” so your veggie sushi will give you a basic idea of sushi if you’re hung up on the raw fish thing. If you do like it, you can move on to:

2. Crazy rolls and cooked things. Not all sushi made with fish is made with raw fish. Check out Minneapolis’ newest sushi spot, Tiger Sushi 2, in the Lyn-Lake neighborhood of Minneapolis. They’ve got this beautiful new patio overlooking the greenway bike trail, and they have loads of sushi made with things like tempura-fried shrimp, mayonnaise, and so on. Again, you’re getting the sushi taste, without raw fish. This strategy can work at all kinds of places. Crave or Tiger Sushi at the Mall of America, Saji-Ya in St. Paul, and so on. Today, when people go out for sushi, a lot of what they’re getting is in fact cooked fish and rice.

3. Be a kid again. Crave at the Galleria down in Edina now has kids’ sushi—cucumber boats topped with fish roe, and so on. Come on, how can you not eat it—it’s cute! And if you finish it you get a $3 coupon to use at Creative Kidstuff for being brave.

4. Skip the sushi altogether. Japanese food is a lot more than sushi, there also is a lot of beef and cooked seafood eaten there. My advice? Go to Kikugawa, on riverplace in downtown Minneapolis, for an eight-course, $33 menu that will give you a real sense of Japanese cuisine, no sushi required. Or, you could head to Moto-i, the United States’ first sake brewing brewpub, which, like Tiger Sushi 2, is also the Lyn-Lake neighborhood of Minneapolis.