Things You Hear Yelpers and the Yelp Elite Say About Sushi

This blog post has been updated on March 3rd of ’20, December 1, ’21, and April 1, ’23

Anybody can sign up for a Yelp account, and a Yelp Elite is not given that status due to their knowledge, Elite status is more like a participation trophy.

Whatever platform you are on, Yelp, Twitter, Instagram, to WordPress, there is a certain amount of responsibility you need to have when yelping, tweeting, gramming, and blogging (especially at my 3rd grade level of writing ability).

Yes, I am talking about Yelpers because, for some reason, Google Places ratings always seem to be a little higher with less whining.

Also, yes, I was a Yelper before blogging because it was the Tinder of its day for people who love food.

What You Don’t Know, Only Makes You a Total Dick To Most Business Owners/Sushi Chefs

Of course, I am no expert myself, but I do try hard not to be that misinformed Yelper or blogger. Even though Yelp’s criteria of being “useful” is only 1 out of 3 of “useful, funny, and cool,” I do try harder for the sake of the businesses. I also hope you will do the same when you are searching for that “sushi bar near me,” and I hope you take these 8 points to mind when scrolling through the reviews.

Photo Description: good ole fatty tuna that has been marinated and torched to hit up the fat in the flesh (this nigiri sushi is from Kusakabe in San Francisco.
Aged, marinated “zuke,” and torched to perfection at a Bay Area spot I love (the spot had a Michelin star).

“Like, It Was Not Fresh Because It Did Not Melt in My Mouth”

This has got to be the most commonly said thing in a Yelp review, and if you say it, don’t worry, you are here now, that is all in the past.

Tender and soft sushi toppings is not because it is “fresh” bro/brah because most proteins benefit from aging/dry-aging (controlled decomposition).

If you ever had any fish (except shellfish and hikarimono: sardines, anchovies, mackerel, etc.), chicken, or beef fresh, it is very chewy when freshly slaughtered.

When it comes to eating fresh chicken, beef, or fish, do not expect it to be tender right out of the slaughterhouse, the coop, or the ocean. Beef to fish get better with aging (a couple of hours to a couple of weeks), and “fresh” is not everything you thought it was.

Although, the exception to aging is shellfish (ebi, kani, to asari) and several types of hikarimono (saba, aji, to iwashi), which are both best when fresh. If it were not for refrigeration, you would have to live near the coast to eat these fresh.

Photo Description: another shot nigiri sushi from Shunji sushi in Los Angeles. In the pic you can see the color of the rice which is slightly darker due to the type of vinegar they use. This is a Yelp Elite worthy pic bro.
A perfect bite from one of LA’s most acclaimed sushi bars.

“The Rice Just Broke Apart”

That is what it is supposed to do, but if it fell apart after you had the rice lounging in your soy sauce, that is your fault.

If done right, each rice kernel breaks apart in your mouth for the perfect blend of rice to topping mastication.

Bad sushi shari will not make you want to masticate.

If you are going to enjoy good sushi, you should be enjoying it all. From how a properly formed nigiri will break apart (not sticky/chewy) when you bite into it. Each grain of rice should have the right amount of tooth to each kernel, to the sushi shari/sumeshi (rice) at perfect body temperature, unless you are dead. To top it all off, a proper shari su (seasoning: is a typical blend of salt, sugar, vinegar, sake/mirin, and konbu) is key to sushi rice. If that all happens, all I got to say is, respect the rice. 

Photo Description: a small round bowl of sujiko (fish roe) and kegani (horsehair crab) atop a small bed of rice.
So good, sujiko (roe) and kegani (horsehair crab). Also, notice how plump and full/round those taut little salmon roe are.

“What’s Fresh?”

Asking this to the sushi chef does not signify to them, ensure, or define you as a connoisseur. Instead, it labels you as a d’bag because every time I hear it being asked at a Japanese sushi bar to the sushi chef, I cringe. The reason being is that they would not be serving it if it were not at its optimum “freshness.” The old stuff gets thrown out or cooked and fed to the staff (I know that from firsthand experience).

Not the dude who still bathes in Drakkar Noir. He is far from fresh.

The old fish gets baked or fed to employees (I know from firsthand experience).

Although if you’re going to ask if it’s fresh, you’re better off asking about that hot dog at 7-11 which I think you already know the answer to because the roller grill, heat lamps, deep fryer, and Chef Mic(rowave) always says “yeah buddy, it’s very fresh.”

Photo Description: one of my favorites is aji (horse mackerel) nigiri sushi. This one has grated ginger and negi (green onion) with typically a splash of ponzu).
Tasty and fishy, just like how a fish should taste.

“The Fish Smells Fishy”

It’s fish. If you do not complain about pork being too porky, beef being too beefy, or chicken being too, well chickeny, if that is a thing, maybe you just don’t like fish.

That dry-aged beefy steak is the result of everybody’s favorite naturally occurring homie, glutamates. As in MSG (monosodium glutamate) or where umami and flavor town comes from.

When people complain about headaches, and being thirsty, it’s because they are taking in too much salt. Restaurants who use a lot of salt (like McDonald’s Big Breakfast) or soy sauce which is high in sodium will have this issue.

Fish also being too fishy seems to only be an issue when it comes to Americans which is why most Americans do not like or favor hikarimono (iwashi to kohada aka silver, shiny fish). That’s not the case with the Japanese because they love it, but that should not be a surprise since Japan is a seafood-loving country.

Also, any fish to beef that is aged, has increased glutamates aka the stuff that makes it taste beefier, fishier, and tastier. So it will also have a stronger smell.

Photo Description: a shot of uni in its shell. The spiky out shell which is a almost black in color is contrasted from the orange "compartmental" sections of gonads.
Love me some gonads, especially five of them all up in my face.

“The Color of My Uni Was Not Bright Colored”

The color of uni can change due to the variety, region it’s from, to the season. Except for one Yelper I was acquainted with did not know that, and she gave a restaurant that I frequented a negative review because “like OMG, they served me old uni, it wasn’t fresh, it was a darker color.”

There is a reason why a hot dog to a Twinkie tastes the same all the time, it’s processed. Unlike, you know, a sea urchin from the ocean.

Fruit juice, like orange juice, has a consistent taste due to the processing because mother nature isn’t that good.

I know what they had served her, so I dropped her a message saying: “you might be used to Santa Barbara red sea urchin which is typically bigger and a vibrant yellowish-orange. You’re lucky because you got to try the smaller Japanese bafun uni (aka-uni), which is a dark orange/brownish and is commonly from the Hokkaido region.”

I don’t remember what her response was, but I’ll just leave it at “the more you know.” #psa #🌈

Photo Description: Ohhhh yea, a plate of sashimi that I had at Shunka sushi in Costa Mesa. The plate is a textured white plate with a piece of salad greens with fatty tun, tai, hotaru ika, and what looks like buri (yellowtail). On top a few of the fish is grated ginger, yuzu kosho and Chinese red chili oil.
All the tastiest sea creatures on a plate and not a single grain of rice (sashimi).

“I’m Bougie Because I Eat the Fish off of the Rice”

What I’m about to describe to you is horrific (the horror, the horror). There are people out there that will not eat the rice in nigiri sushi because they are on a low-carb diet (ok, bro/brah), or they think it is some devious ploy by sushi bars of adding filler (douche). If the latter is you, just please order sashimi (pictured above) because I get why it would be a good idea to do that at times, such as at hack sushi bars. Like AYCE sushi in Las Vegas buffet lines comes to mind, and I don’t falter the drones of tourists eating the fish off of the rice like locust because the sushi rice isn’t the greatest.


These individuals are not familiar with sashimi aka raw fish without the rice.

Except, what I don’t get is going into a legitimate sushi bar to do that because, with nigiri sushi, it is an integral part. Some Japanese sushi chefs would say it is as much as 60-80% of what truly defines great sushi (I agree).

Photo Description: another shot of nigir sushi, but this one is from my trip to Japan. This was at Seamon in Ginza.
The perfect balance of topping to rice. Also no need for additional sauces or dipping (this is in Ginza, Japan).

“I Like My Fish as Big as Possible (Size Queens)”

“The piece of fish was so small.” Well, if you’re touting this on Yelp as a primary metric for you, nothing can fill that mouth of yours.

The size of the neta (topping) is based upon it being a bite-size piece, and the thickness of the piece will vary depending on the type of ingredient such as fattier cuts being thinner. If not, you would have a slab of fat sitting on your tongue, although a lite torching will resolve that. 

Well, the motion of the ocean probably does play a part in fish size/growth.

Me being me, I Googled the above like a nerd, here you go.

Other instances would be with chewier ingredients like ika (squid) to tako (octopus), and having it cut slightly thinner would be easier to chew.

You can think you’re getting more, but you’re paying for it, so the bottom line here is, bigger is not better (I tell that to myself all the time). So try to enjoy sushi the way it was meant to be without all your size requirements, you size queen.

Photo Description: an Americanized sushi roll with a million and one sauces drenched all over it.
“Like, the imitation crab was so fresh.”

“I’m From (LA, SF, NY) and Like, I Know Sushi”

Yea, this one is usually laughable, and my “cool” compliment is on its way.

Not to say that there are not great sushi spots outside of large coastal cities, but with air shipments, refrigerated trucks, to a massive infrastructure, it is not as much of a shocker anymore to find decent sushi bars in rural areas. Although it can be slim pickings to find legit sushi chefs/restaurants in these areas, and LA, SF, to NY is not the end all be all.

“Ok podunks, big city folk up in the house, I know sushi.”

I remember people visiting me in Newport Beach thinking they would eat fish right off Balboa or Newport Pier, but fish is flown in from all over the world. Also, one hint to let you know that is it is not locally caught is the word Alaskan in the name, like Alaskan King Crab or Wild Alaskan halibut (they are primarily from that region).

The biggest reason why this is hilarious is that I have looked at the profiles of the people making these comments, and they typically go to places like Sushi Fest Miso Hungry AYCE in the IE (I made up that restaurant BTW) throughout their reviews. So yea, you are not a hamburger expert just because you are from the United States.

I Know “Meh, I’ve Read Better, More Informative Articles (1 or 0 Stars if I Could Give No Stars)”

I deserve at least a participation trophy tho.

There is your opinion, and then there is fact, in which some get too invested in their opinion/feelings over the livelihood of the businesses and their employees who usually work six days a week on holidays and weekends with with unlimited PTO (yea, I’m lying about the last one).

Like Spiderman said, “With great power comes great responsibility” (your opinion on Social Media does impact people so use it wisely).


    1. When it comes to 6, I have watched people sit at a sushi bar, and just eat the fish off of the rice (it happened at a popular sushi bar in Orange County), and I think I did ask the guy why he didn’t just eat sashimi.

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