It's no surprise that when the Washington Post brings a storied, Japan-trained sushi chef to a neighborhood, fusion-happy sushi restaurant, he doesn't like what he's eating. What is interesting, though, are the reasons why. It's not necessarily the fact that most of the sushi rolls are covered in gloopy sauces and excess fish. It's that the rice is not cooked properly and the fish is cut with sloppy strokes.
Part of the reason for the decline of sushi standards is that American demand for sushi long ago surpassed the supply of well-trained chefs, Post reporter Tim Carman explains. Chefs who'd trained for a decade before stepping out on their own began to quickly train new sushi chefs, who then went out and opened their own restaurants and trained others. "Your sushi, in other words, might be a copy of a copy of a copy," Tim writes. On top of that, a sushi boom in Japan is keeping good chefs from emigrating, and U.S. immigration policy is making it harder for American restaurants to hire experienced staff from Japan.
That said, ethnicity isn't the marker of a good sushi chef -- the storied sushi chef's staff, Carman writes, are Chinese- and Guatemalan-American. And the Post lays some of the blame for the decline in sushi on Japanese sushi chefs who assumed Americans wouldn't appreciate good sushi if they tried it.