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How to Host a DIY Sushi Night

Craving sushi? Whether it’s because you’re concerned about Omicron, hate to go out in the cold NYC winter, or despise crowds and are living in the wrong city, you can bring the delicious sushi to you!

Rather than going out to a restaurant for the night, having a do-it-yourself sushi night may sound equally just as appealing. Hosting a sushi night by yourself, with your friends or family brings the charm of being at a sushi restaurant, all while being comfortable in your own place surrounded by loved ones. It can be cheaper, will be a lesser distance traveled, and a new experience. You also don’t have to put on pants or deal with crowds. 

One of the key ingredients in sushi is raw fish (unless you prefer cooked ingredients). Raw fish tends to throw a lot of people off because people usually think of parasites or nasty little germs that will make them sick. And yes, when you don’t know how to prepare a freshly-caught fish, you are more at risk for a parasite. If you want to steer clear of parasites, tuna and farmed salmon may be the best two options. However, a DIY sushi night doesn’t mean you have to know where to catch the fish, how to fillet them and serve them just right. Luckily, living in NYC, a city that is almost completely surrounded by the ocean means that there are plenty of options for sushi/sashimi-grade fish.

The terms “sushi-grade” and “sashimi-grade” really mean nothing other than for marketing purposes. There isn’t a governing body like the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) that grades the quality of beef to do the same for fish. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has advisory guidelines that are for handling a variety of fish for raw consumption, but these guidelines are not meant for determining the quality of a fish. If you are out shopping for sushi fish and see some that are labeled “sushi-grade” or “sashimi-grade,” it means the seller has determined it to be safely consumed raw. But as a buyer’s beware, the claim is only as trustworthy as the place that makes/sells it. 

A lot of people immediately place all their trust in the raw sushi a sushi restaurant serves, no matter the place. So as fun as a DIY sushi night would be, it also puts the responsibility in your hands to pick out fish that is safe for raw consumption. There are many options in NYC to choose from, so here is a list of fish markets/shops that sell reliable sushi-grade fish:

Roy’s Fish Market | 1138 1st Ave.

A small shop located on the UES, Roy’s is known for the quality and freshness of their fish. Reviews say the freshness of the fish is up to par and the prices are very reasonable for what you get. Roy’s has another option of ordering a platter of sushi.

Sunrise Mart | Multiple locations

If you’re looking for smaller portions of fish, Sunrise Mart may be the perfect option. This Japanese supermarket offers smaller cuts of sushi-grade fish, some of them already filleted perfectly to fit on top of rice. There are a lot of varieties of fish to choose from.

H-Mart | Multiple locations

This Korean market is like Sunrise Mart, where the sushi-grade fish come in smaller portions. While assessing their options, their fish looked fresh and not discolored. Reviews also say that they trust the freshness and quality of H-Mart’s fresh fish selection. 

Osakana | St. Marks Place

A self-described Japanese-styled fish market was founded in 2016 to make high quality take-out sushi more accessible to people in NYC. They pride themselves in preparing sushi-grade fish for sushi nights. You can go into one of their locations to pick up fish, or you can check out their menu of what they have available. Besides selling cuts of fish, they also sell sushi platters, sashimi platters, bento boxes, and sushi kits. 

Sea Breeze Fish Market | 541 9th Ave.

Located in Midtown West, Sea Breeze is a family-owned seafood business. They have pricing on their website if you want to check them out before going for pick-up. They are responsibly sourced, which means their seafood is sustainable. 

With these options in mind, you might be wondering what kind of sushi to make and what the easiest ways are. Sashimi is thinly sliced meat and will usually be served without rice. With sushi, make sure you are picking seaweed that is for rolling sushi (it should be specified on the packaging) and sushi rice. You might want a bamboo mat, as it makes sushi rolling easier than just with your hands. With preparations made, sushi rolls and hand rolls might be the easiest for a DIY sushi night. Instead of preparing everything yourself, it might be more fun to have your friends and family have a go at making their own rolls. Placing all the prepared ingredients in front of them can give everyone the satisfaction of becoming their own sushi chef. If more variety is needed, make sure other sushi ingredients are available than just fish. A lot of sushi rolls in restaurants have avocado, tempura, cucumbers, or sprouts inside. You may be intimidated, but it’s not impossible to roll a sushi roll, and make a hand roll.

If this all still seems like too much to handle, you can always just throw in the towel and visit a unique NYC raw seafood or top seafood restaurant to get your taste of raw or cooked fish.

Nina Yu is a writer, new to the city. Her articles have been published to local newspapers and a national women’s online magazine.

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