No, I mean stuff like Crab Stick - pulverized fish (usually Alaskan pollack) that is reformed with "meat glue" (transglutaminase - an enzyme that reforms the puree into a solid), and maybe starch from wheat and tapioca or corn and vegetable oils and MSG and salt and it's dyed red and then shredded to have the texture of crab. It's the Chicken McNugget of sushi, and is decidedly a cheaper alternative to real crab (or real fish for that matter), which is why we often see it being served in our sushi restaurants. And it's crap.
Which is why the Crab Stick-in-my-throat overload at the Asian Tea House last week was such a disappointment. I was with a group of over 50 people organized by the Sushi Lovers Meetup here in Albany, NY - a lively group of folks who actually LIKE eating sushi with others that LIKE eating sushi and we don't need to listen to your weird "bait" jokes. We arrived and were seated at 6:30, and had our first dish at 7:15 - (45 minutes to chew on fried won tons): a lovely bowl of Hot & Sour soup. It was a bit gooey for my liking but warm and dense with mushrooms, egg, water chestnuts and tofu. It had a sneaky heat and was actually slightly sweet - a first for my tastes - but good.
|The hot and sour soup was rich and tasty|
|Sushi pizza was pretty and pretty disgusting|
|Fried won tons filled with chicken|
|Fried dumplings filled with pork|
|Above - seaweed salad, and below the "crab" salad. The plates themselves were very attractive.|
|Red snapper (front) and then from left to right: tuna, salmon, "white tuna" and yellowtail|
|Crab stick in the roll on the left and mounded on top of the rolls on the right. Who knows what's under there.|
The next platter was........................ and we waited over a half hour for it.............................wait for it..................... was more of what we just got (see the ones with the little dots of sriracha pepper sauce?), and a shrimp roll with avocado and
|Weird shrimp roll had more of that |
|The sushi, when it finally came, was delicious|
And no doubt there were sushi snobs in that room full of Sushi Lovers, but nobody complained about the food, just a bit about the service (and online/later), and they enjoyed each others company. So I kept my big mouth shut, which for me isn't an easy thing, and I saved my valued opinions (HA!) for Albany Dish.
The Sushi Lovers Meetup really is a nice bunch of folks.
Zena, Goddess of Fire
PS: I hate plastic tablecloths except on a picnic table.