When I talk about my past career at sushi restaurants, people always, literally always ask me why. Every time.
But the question perfectly makes sense to me. (Hiro)
I’m now in the translation industry, which has nothing to do with it.
So far, I have no idea how to make use of my sushi career with my current job … except for this blog.
I have just 3 year experience with sushi.
Before that, I had not had nothing to do with it.
I loved to eat sushi, and thought it as a part of Japanese food cultures.
But that was it.
When in university, I didn’t even expect myself to be hired in a sushi restaurant and to serve the food to customers.
Sushi attracted me pretty much though, when I was asked to get involved in the company’s overseas projects to open more restaurants in U.S., Korea and China. My future bosses, CEO and the board members of the company, talked to me about their plans when I had an interview with them.
They also planned to have stores in other Asian countries.
That sounded fun, though it was not actually. But to me at the moment, just a newcomer to the industry, it sounded fun anyway.
That’s why I thought I would try it.
Most of the Japanese people don’t speak English so fluently. As for Japanese working for restaurants in Japan, less than 1% understand English. I assume most of my ex-coworkers in Japan never understand what I am writing here. Never.
I am a rare case. So, the company seemed to want me.
That was the start of my sushi career.
I know how unusual and interesting it is to have such an “inconsistent” career in Japan.
Japanese people don’t like to be unusual, and, or so, are interested in the unusual.
It was surely an unusual experience.
But it was so unusual and interesting that few people can experience in his/her life.
In the first year, I trained myself to be a sushi person with “ok” level. Of course, at the beginning I was aiming to be a “good” sushi person, but as I learned it, I did not think I could be “good” in one year.
The skill of sushi looks easy. Easy to say, and looks easy actually, but never easy to do it.
It is an art of touch and balance, so I would call.
You, or your body, or your hand, know that just a touch makes huge difference in its quality, when you learn it.
Sushi has a basically easy structure in itself.
It is just the combination of a small rice ball a little vinegared, a sliced piece of raw fish on top and a little bit wasabi in-between. So, it is not difficult to make sushi at all as long as you are given some time.
But sushi people are not allowed to make one sushi with some time, like 20 seconds with each.
They are required to make one or two sushi within a few seconds. Literally, in seconds.
And its necessities are as follows.
Its small rice balls always need to weigh the same.
Its softness and shape are also required to be almost same.
Wasabi should be same. And how all these sushi look same and beautiful.
When customers ask to arrange a bit, like less rice or no wasabi, we will follow their instructions. Some customers request to cut the sushi into two pieces for their kids to eat. Yes, please, follow their request.
If you put some more or less with the sushi, it will not be the same.
If its rice is squeezed a little strongly in his hand, the rice ball will lose its softness.
If you put more wasabi, it will be so spicy that customers cannot eat it.
If you put some more rice, it will get more like Onigiri with sashimi. Its shape as well.
A touch of your right or left hand will make all the differences.
Also, I mentioned “within seconds”.
We are not allowed to take more than seconds.
In a store, actually, customers place orders, paying little attention to the people in the sushi bar. If you are slow, you forget the orders and serve so late that you never meet their demands.
In general, speed is the most important factor of all in restaurant business.
Sushi is a kind of art, but it can also be called the speed business.
I was required to balance its art and business to be “good”.
Not much time did I need to learn how difficult it was to get there in one year.
This was the first year.