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Japan's star sushi chef warns of raw deal from overfishing

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I would love to visit this place sometime in the near future.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

growing demand for tuna amid a global sushi boom is leading the domestic industry to depend more and more on farmed fish.

Before the 1990s the thought of eating raw seafood was considered disgusting by nearly everyone in most countries outside of Japan. Now, it's fairly mainstream. Several decades ago, I never in my wildest dreams thought I would see American truck drivers enjoying sushi.

This really is the bitter irony in it all.

Compared with the situation now, wild stocks of seafood used to be much more plentiful. Unfortunately, the increasing global popularity of sushi (and seafood in general) has caused prices to surge and ocean stocks to become depleted. Often times less-flavorful farmed seafood is all that is available on the store shelves.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Hey Frank, you should make it soon while there is some quality tuna left.

Overfishing has been a huge issue for many years, but it hasn't stopped the Japanese consuming 90% of the world's raw tuna. The U.S. is the world's largest consumer of canned tuna. The general consensus is that, tuna populations are so far in decline (about 25% of what they should be) most populations will never recover and will totally crash in the next 5-10 years. Even if they were to stop tuna fishing completely it is likely the populations would still crash. It has also been noted that, due to the demand for high quality large fish the fish themselves are getting smaller due to limiting the gene pool. It's all well and good for this 90 year old fella to speak out, but it is because of him and others like him that the tuna stocks are in so much trouble worldwide. He's made his millions on tuna and now wants to warn others about how there are few fish left? What an absolute hypocrite!

0 ( +9 / -9 )

Jiro should lead the way and serve more sustainable, plentiful fish than tuna. The business has to change. I'm sure it would still taste awesome.

But at 1500 yen per sushi piece? I could just about afford one!

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Who's getting a raw deal? He's the guy serving the stuff.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Yep, I always wink when I'm enjoying myself ; )

I'm a total winker....

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Great but useless. It's too late now, time to get used to veggie and natto sushi... Sensei, where were you 40 years ago when the problem appeared and things could still have been controlled ?

3 ( +8 / -5 )

I would love to visit this place sometime in the near future.

I've eaten there before. Met this guy. He was a complete a-hole.

Far better sushi in Tsukiji.

1 ( +10 / -9 )

Yeah Japan should have been leading the way towards conservation from the 80s onwards but just kept full tilt ahead on consumption, Japanese will have no one to blame but themselves, they buy seafood world wide with little regards to stocks & always seem amazed when catches "suddenly" crash DOH!

6 ( +8 / -2 )

I told my young men three years ago sushi materials will totally change in five years,” he added. “And now, such a trend is becoming a reality little by little.

What a hypocrite, this is insane. This is the man from the generation who has refused to listen back to the nineties, yes the nineties that an over-consumption of fish would bring major problems for the conservation of the species being consumed in this huge waste.

Japan is the bigger consumer of bluefin tuna in the world (Japan ate 13,324 tons of the 17,651 tons of Pacific bluefin caught in 2011) and Japan has largely driven the situation seen today for the sake of japan's culture. This is the sort of guy who was claiming that protection of marine species being consumed for sushis was nonsense because the culture of Japan can't see limitations imposed from abroad and that those foreigners saying us to stop are just anti Japanese.

And now he complains like he isn't responsible, what a jerk.

11 ( +14 / -3 )

I'd love to try some of his sushi, but given the cost, and given that he is complaining about how fish like tuna are facing extinction, I'll do my part and stay away. If he's seriously concerned, he should be promoting fish like the farmed stuff or types of fish that are not depleted. As it is, I know more than a few Japanese who blame the depletion on foreign consumption and some have literally said it should be left for Japanese because, "We have a history of eating it (but no one else does)!". Sorry, but with more than 90% of consumption taking place in Japan (at least as far as tuna is concerned), no one here can complain about how that's going to change in the future. Maybe Jiro ought to lead the way and stop serving tuna.

Sensato: "Before the 1990s the thought of eating raw seafood was considered disgusting by nearly everyone in most countries outside of Japan."

Define 'most countries'. Do you mean most 'Western countries'?

2 ( +7 / -5 )

Humans have always used up it's resources since they've first felt bigger than the world they live in.

Wipe out animals or forests or try and manipulate sources of water which then kills off something or energy sources are depleted (food for living things or power for our things).

Of course tuna could be eliminated like plants or animals that were once eaten by those living long before us were because of overkill. Each subsequent generation will never, for this example, eat what a previous generation before it enjoyed. They'll have to find new food. It's the circle of life.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I heard this guy is a horrible person.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

I've eaten there before. Met this guy. He was a complete a-hole.

That's interesting to know.

In what way?

5 ( +6 / -1 )

I've eaten there before. Met this guy. He was a complete a-hole.

Who isn't?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

"warned Tuesday of a sea change in ingredients due to overfishing."

Har!

“He ( Barack Obama ) said three times, ‘This is the best sushi I’ve ever had in my life"

I hope so, at 30,000 yen for 20 little pieces of fish with a little rice, lol.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

The Japanese Fisheries Ministry stopped realising the catch size and weight of local Tuna years ago Suprise! Sand, Head. Envelope!

2 ( +4 / -2 )

It's what nearly all Human Beings do. Overconsume, when given the opportunity. Zero surprise.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I can't eat 20 peices of sushi. I find that INSANE!!! I am stuffed at 10-12. At kaiten sushi, 5-6 plates is my average. 7 I feel six. How can any one eat 20 pieces of sushi. Surely he has smaller "meals".

0 ( +2 / -2 )

How can any one eat 20 pieces of sushi. Surely he has smaller "meals".

@ inakaRob - I believe he offers a "Kids Set" meal. 20,000 Yen. Maybe that would interest you?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Honestly if white people stopped eating fish, the world would be a better place. I am horrified every time I see westerners fillet fish and throw the rest away. Even at fancy restaurants they'll just take the fillet part off the fish and serve it and not give you the rest of the fish. Tanned tuna.... one of the truly worse inventions of the world.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

His "concern" hasn't stopped him from charging JPY 30,000 for 20 pieces of these species he is so worried about. What a hypocrite.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

I've eaten there before. Met this guy. He was a complete a-hole.

That's interesting to know.

In what way?

To say it nicely, he comes across like he has contempt for anyone who isn't Japanese entering his place.

I also heard from a good friend who worked with him later that he thinks that "gaijin don't understand sushi".

I wish sushi would stop being thought of as something almost mythical. It's not.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

The place is nothing special at all. I have had equally as good at a myriad of places. I hate it when they try to make someone a living treasure. The fish were the treasures, but not living any more.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

melonbarmaster: "Honestly if white people stopped eating fish..."

That's where your credibility goes down the toilet. "White people" aren't a threat to tuna, my friend, regardless of what you perceive their eating habits to be or not (and it's not merely as bad as those pesky Asians who fin sharks in terms of waste, if you want to reduce everything to generalizations and border-line racist remarks).

Probie: "I wish sushi would stop being thought of as something almost mythical. It's not."

Exactly. But then, that's where the head-in-sand defense of Japanese culture is iron-clad; if you question it, you "don't understand because you're not Japanese". If you're Japanese and you question it, "You're not truly Japanese", unless you're internationally famous. Just look at the whole concept of the "sushi police" that go to other nations and tell you what is and is not appropriate (and even then it can never TRULY be sushi because it's not in Japan). And keep in mind as well that all this is from a guy and people who supposedly say you "can't understand/appreciate sushi" if you're a foreigner but use a foreign magazine's ratings as the highest standard of food quality (Micheline's). If he were given a high rank by said magazine he'd 'deserve' it. If his ranking were lowered he'd say they just don't understand.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Obama apparently didn't liked it, he stopped eating half way through the course, the other half was left unserved.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

before I die.. I must have one bite of his art.. you eat with your eyes before your mouth and when the master is done... it will be then end of an era ... and the dawn of a new age of farm raised fish, of Chinese overfishing and buying the best tuna... so enjoy now while you remember what quality is and that food is more than just something that you eat... but sharing the energy of the chef and the love of small things.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

And keep in mind as well that all this is from a guy and people who supposedly say you "can't understand/appreciate sushi" if you're a foreigner but use a foreign magazine's ratings as the highest standard of food quality (Micheline's). If he were given a high rank by said magazine he'd 'deserve' it. If his ranking were lowered he'd say they just don't understand.

Completely agree. The way he sucks up to Joel Robuchon (who's food actually is art) is disgusting too. He thinks gaijin can't understand sushi, unless you are a famous gaijin. I guess Robuchon loves his sushi and respects him too. But, there are still far better sushi restaurants in Tokyo than Jiro's place.

Although,

About 70% of Ono’s customers, who pay an eyebrow-raising base price of 30,000 yen for a set of 20 pieces of sushi, are now said to be foreigners.

Since most of his customers are gaijin now, he has probably had to change his attitude towards them in his restaurant. They probably only go because of that stupid movie they made about him that the hipsters and wapanese adore.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I also heard from a good friend who worked with him later that he thinks that "gaijin don't understand sushi".

If you see much of what passes for sushi overseas, you might agree: cream cheese....goma dressing....chili ketchup....Russian dressing....fruit....It's just glop, glop, glop. There are good places overseas, but what are regarded as sushi standards overseas (dragon roll, caterpillar roll) wouldn't be fit for a kid's fifth birthday party in Japan. I'm not saying he's not a jerk or a racist, but in this respect at least he has a point.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I must have one bite of his art.. you eat with your eyes before your mouth

It's a slice of raw fish on top of a lump of vinegared rice. Nice if you like it I suppose, but art?

cream cheese....goma dressing....chili ketchup....Russian dressing....fruit....It's just glop, glop, glop. There are good places overseas, but what are regarded as sushi standards overseas (dragon roll, caterpillar roll) wouldn't be fit for a kid's fifth birthday party in Japan.

A bit like what they do to bread here. And again, if you like it, there's nothing wrong with cream cheese or fruit or whatever on your vinegared rice, just like there's nothing wrong with anpan, kureemupan, sanshokupan, yakisobapan etc., etc. Just not to the traditionalists' taste.

And I've never understood this 'sushi is healthy' thing, either; polished white rice, not a veggie in sight bar a slice of cucumber, a couple of strips of black seaweed and a spoonful of gorn-off daizu?

Rant over. :-)

1 ( +2 / -1 )

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