What makes a great sushi roll?
We break down this lunchtime staple with the team from Sushi Hon Izakaya
Bringing a slice of Tokyo to the corner of Scotch Row and Watermans Quay, Sushi Hon Izakaya draws inspiration from the flavours and vibes of Japan’s informal street bars.
Adding to the existing Sushi Hon outlet in The Canteen, the new venue delivers a casual bar experience (which is a first for the Sushi Hon brand), with a range of Japanese beers, sake, umeshu and cocktails. The expanded menu includes udon noodle soups, bento boxes and share plates such as gyoza, chicken karaage, tempura and agedashi tofu. At the heart of it all, however, is the premium sushi experience Sushi Hon is known for, with their ingredients sourced from some of the finest suppliers in Australia and Japan.
We recently caught up with Sushi Hon’s Director, Hyung Nam, to take a closer look at three of the main elements of a great sushi roll (while sharing a few plates of sushi, of course!).
“With sushi rolls, the quality of the rice and how it’s cooked is so important, particularly since it makes up about two-thirds of the roll! Koshihikari rice is the best variety for sushi, as it’s a short grain rice that keeps moisture for longer; and has a light, springy texture that’s not too dense.
There are only a few countries around the world that can produce really high quality koshihikari rice – and luckily, Australia is one of them. We source our sushi rice exclusively from SunRice, as they’re one of the leading producers in the country, and grow a completely natural variety that hasn’t been genetically modified or crossed with other strains of rice.”
“People are often surprised to hear this, but not all seaweed is the same! As well as there being different varieties, there are also multiple grades of nori, which are determined by the harvest. Every year, there’s a fresh harvest of seaweed –and the first crop is the freshest and highest quality. The same plant will continue to produce for another three to four times that season, and the quality drops off a little with each harvest.
Our nori comes from one of the largest exporters in Japan, and we only use the highest-grade Nori, created from the first harvest. Aside from a few fine dining restaurants, we don’t know of anyone else in Australia that uses first harvest nori.”
“One of our most popular rolls is Salmon and Avocado, so we go through a fair bit of salmon every day! All of our salmon is sourced from Huon Aquaculture, one of the world leaders in sustainable salmon farming.
When we started Sushi Hon, we had the opportunity to meet the owners down at their farm in Tasmania, and check out their salmon pens. They have a really high water-to-salmon ratio - it’s something like 90% water to 10% fish! They’re market leaders in this regard, and we believe they have the best sashimi-grade salmon around.“
Once the ingredients are prepared and cut to size, it’s all about the rolling technique and keeping everything together. Your sushi roll shouldn’t be packed too tightly though - Hyung tells us that the individual grains of rice should still be visible, and not clumped together.
Lastly, as with all Japanese food, the final touch is in the presentation. The pieces of sushi should be neatly-cut, the perfect size for one bite, and arranged elegantly on the plate. Of course – that’s only if you’re dining in – so if you’re grabbing a couple of rolls to take away for a quick lunch, you’ll just have to use your imagination!
Sushi Hon Izakaya is located on the corner of Scotch Row and Watermans Quay (view on Google Maps), and is open Monday-Friday.