The Japanese restaurant authentifiers start moving
Early last year, a movement to set up an authentification program for Japanese restaurant was proposed, to mixed reactions. Now it seems the people behind it are getting going: the inspectors are already in Bangkok, Shanghai and Taipei, and this year they'll be invading, er researching London, Amsterdam, Los Angeles and Paris.
Now according to this Times UK article they will be inspecting the 'provenance of ingredients'. Based on this argument, the Times looked at the ingredients some UK chains use and found them to be fairly authentic. Now, I do hope that this provenance thing will not be a major factor in weighing the authenticity or worth of sushi restaurants. Just because a rice is grown in California or Arkansas does not make it bad. In fact, rice from Japan that is exported is prohibitively expensive, and not economically feasible for most establishments unless they are of the Nobu level of expense-account pricing. Similarly, soy sauce can be made outside of Japan to suit Japanese tastes too (as Kikkoman does).
I really hope they just do a lot of tasting. I don't care if Yo! Sushi uses a lot of Japanese ingredients, they are still mediocre to bad. (Yep I gave them yet another try since that previous post and they still suck. I know that I should not expect much from a conveyor-belt-sushi place in the first place but it bugs me how so many people seem to think this place is somehow 'authentic'. I want to slap these people around with a wet flounder. Grr.) Some cities will be disappointed by the results I'm sure...I'm rather thinking of Paris (not that I've tried every single sushi restaurant in Paris, but the ones I've tried have been...eh.) If they make it around to Zürich...hmm. But above all, it's about taste, ladies and gentlemen, taste.
Incidentally, if you are a sushi fan and traveller, I hope you know about this oldie but goodie: The Sushi World Guide - A Guide to Japanese restaurants outside Japan. This site has been around for eons in interweb terms, as the old school styling of the site shows. It's a treasure trove of restaurant listings, and the reviews are really pretty spot on.