Part of the meal was just fine, while another was “amazingly bad.”

When time allows, our Japanese-language reporters like to travel outside of Japan, immersing themselves in the local culture. But while visiting foreign countries, they also like to sample the local sushi.

We’re well past the era where anyone but Japanese nationals turn up their noses at the prospect of eating raw fish, and in the past we’ve dined in sushi restaurants not just elsewhere in Asia, but also in Europe, Africa, and even Cuba. So when our reporter P.K. Sanjun was in Mexico City recently, he kept his eyes peeled for a chance to see how the Mexican capital does sushi.

To his surprise, he actually had plenty of options to choose from, ranging from orthodox-looking restaurants managed by Japanese ex-pats who’ve emigrated to Mexico to cheap fast-food food court sushi joints. But one name he kept noticing was Sush Itto, a sushi chain with multiple locations in the city. As a matter of fact, P.K. saw so many Sushi Itto branches that he came to the conclusion that the chain’s sushi might just be the example Mexico City residents are most likely to have eaten, and so he decided to try it for himself, visiting the branch in the Zona Rosa entertainment district.

Inside, P.K. found a colorful interior with a refrigerated sushi ingredient case that the Mexican chef was taking slices of seafood from. Behind him on the wall were three maneki neko (“beckoning cat”) statues of the sort often found in shops and restaurants in Japan to promote prosperity, as well as three bottles of Japanese Ramune soda, displayed with prominence equal to the maneki neko.

P.K. ordered the standard sushi set, priced at 250 pesos, working out to about 1,400 yen (US$13), which wouldn’t be an unreasonable price for a sushi lunch in Tokyo. But while the price of the sushi reminded him of home…

its appearance was a startling reminder that he was far, far away from Tokyo.

There’s no denying that Sushi Itto’s presentation is dramatic, but, in P.K.’s words, “The visual balance is amazingly bad. The corners are staked out like someone’s playing a game of Othello on the tray, which leaves thus huge air pocket kind of void in the middle.” There’s also daikon radish shreddings and sesame seeds haphazardly scattered, and a pitifully, comically tiny pinch of gari ginger.

But as odd as it looked, P.K. found that the flavor wasn’t bad at all. While the rice for the pressed nigiri pieces was a little too hard compared to the authentic baseline you’ll find in Japan, but the fish was of decent quality. As for the rolls, their rice was fine, though neither one was particularly traditional. Particularly the hand roll with what appeared to be fried carrot shreddings was unlike any sushi P.K. had ever seen before, but still a perfectly edible novelty.

So in the end, P.K. has no qualms about eating Sushi Itto’s sushi. He just doesn’t want to look at it very much.

Photos ©SoraNews24
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