I remember clearly the first time I tried sushi. I was living in South Boston at the time, and a friend of ours said she knew a “bomb” of a sushi restaurant in Quincy. The restaurant was a small whole in the wall called “Fuji”. There were probably only 8 tables total in the whole place, but when we arrived there was a line out the front door. I’d never tried sushi before, so I opted in for a safe bet and ordered the teriyaki salmon. My friend was a sushi fanatic so she went all out, ordering squid salad, spicy tuna rolls, and various sashimi. I was happy nibbling on my salmon, making the most of my poor chopstick skills, when she reached over and dropped a piece of a roll on my plate. It was the spicy tuna concoction. Wanting to make a good impression, I took a drink of my saki, and boldly tossed the chunk of raw fish into my mouth. To my surprise, it was absolutely mind blowing. The texture was smooth, the spice had just enough kick, and there was a crunchy treat of tempura to even it all out. After that, spicy tuna was my signature dish, and the rest was history.

But not all sushi is created equal, and that was something I found out over the next few months while I consumed as much sushi as humanly possible. There are a few key things to keep in mind if you are looking to enjoy this delicacy.  First and foremost, many warn to not eat sushi on Monday’s. Why? Because most sushi restaurants are not open on Sunday, meaning that you’re getting a day old fish when you pick up your favorite roll at the beginning of the week. While there are definitely some contradictions to this myth, it’s best to check your local restaurant’s schedule to see which day, if any they are actually closed, then just avoid the subsequent day.

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

With any food group, you want to weigh out your options and find the healthiest of choices, including your favorite sushi roll. Seafood on ice at the fish market There are many different types of fish and ingredients one can ordered when visiting your local sushi shop, but here are some of the basics on how they measure up against each other on the health factor.

  • Cucumber Roll – 136 calories, 0g fat per roll
  • Mackerel Roll – 232 calories, 2g fat per roll
  • California Roll – 255 calories, 7g fat per roll
  • Spicy Tuna Roll – 290 calories, 11g fat per roll
  • Salmon and Avocado Roll – 304 calories, 9g fat per roll

For the most part, I’ve always had positive experiences when it came to my sushi experience, but like I said before not all sushi restaurants are created equal. And while you explore your favorite new dish there are a few things to keep in mind when picking out your raw fish.

  1. Never eat fish that smells
  2. Never eat the day after a close
  3. Never let your fish sit out in the heat
  4. Never eat “discounted” fish
  5. Never overeat fish with high mercury

Another solid piece of advice is to do a little research before you venture out and try your next raw fish dinning experience. Looking for positive reviews, checking to see if the restaurant is open every day, and simply taking a count of the number of patrons enjoying the food are all great ways to test the waters before you ever take your first bite.  If you are new to the sushi world and try out this wonderful experience, remember to cleanse your palate with a pinch of ginger between each different roll to get the most out of your dining adventure.