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How Sushi Rolls in OKC

A guide to OKC sushi, including etiquette



Chirashi sushi at Tokyo Japanese Restaurant

 


Sushi, like nearly everything else that lands in America, has been Westernized. Taken a step further, it’s even been Oklahoma-tized. Those of us who have lived here a few years can remember a restaurant that served sushi rolls made with bacon. Bacon! If that’s a real thing, how is there not already deep-fried sushi on a stick at the State Fair?
 

 

Sushi, which is really a word derived from the rice, not the preparation or the raw fish, tends to be polarizing even among fans of sushi. We all have at least one friend or relative who insists on proclaiming their undying hatred for sushi – usually accompanied by a facial expression communicating disgust or revulsion – every time the group is taking suggestions on where to eat. No one even has to mention sushi; the question “Where shall we eat?” is sufficient to elicit the negative response. We shall leave those people to their chicken nuggets and French fries for now.

But even among people who love this food category, there are also battles to be fought. Fried or not fried? Raw or cooked? Original or low sodium soy sauce? Why is there human skin on my plate? Ginger? That’s ginger? I’d rather have human skin on my plate. Gross.

You get the idea.

To help sort through sushi terminology and etiquette, we talked to two chefs who have extensive experience in the field. Vuong Nguyen learned about sushi at Sushi Neko and opened Guernsey Park. He’s worked around (and eaten) sushi his entire professional life. Jonathan Krell, executive chef at Patrono, worked at Morimoto of Philadelphia early in his career, and his private sushi dinners are one of Oklahoma’s greatest secret meals.

 

For beginners, Krell has very basic, sensible advice. “Start wherever you like. If it sounds good to you, chances are it will be good. If you know you don’t like something, don’t order it.” If you hate shrimp, wrapping it in rice won’t change the taste. Solid wisdom there.

 

Because our editor is adamant that brown rice sushi is (or ought to be) a thing, we decided to start there.

Krell: “No.”

Nguyen: “No.”

Yes, it exists – but no, it shouldn’t, according to both chefs.

“It’s the wrong texture,” Nguyen explains. “The rice is supposed to melt in your mouth. Brown rice will not do that.”

“It sounds like a Western, ‘health’ thing,” Krell says. “I’ve never rolled brown rice sushi. Ever.”

 

It’s a short-grain, white variety, and that’s important because the high concentration of amylopectin (a starch) in sushi rice means the grains break down easily after boiling. Long-grain varieties remain firm. This is, by the way, according to an NPR story titled “Why is Brown Rice Sushi so Awful?” We love NPR.

What makes sushi rice so special is its balance of vinegar, sugar and salt. Nguyen explains the standard blend is four parts vinegar to three parts sugar to one part salt. “There can be variations, but that’s pretty standard and you don’t want to stray too far.”

 

Red Canyon Roll from Park Harvey


 

There are all kinds of roe available, but you will usually encounter three varieties: Tobiko, Masago and Ikura.

Tobiko is flying fish roe. These are the red-orange eggs that pop in your mouth. A favorite due to their texture, the taste is slightly salty.

Masago comes from smelt. They don’t pop, and they aren’t usually as tasty as tobiko.

Ikura is hard to miss. They’re the big salmon roe, and they are recommended for the sushi veteran or adventurous eater. Krell again: “These are usually served with rice, and you don’t want to take a big bite of ikura. It’s the same as taking a huge bit of caviar. It’s not the point, and it’s not pleasant.”

 

There are rules, some based on tradition and respect, and some based on … not science. These are especially important if you sit at the bar and wish to interact with the sushi chef.

You don’t need multiple rolls at once. Nguyen warns that nori breaks down quickly, and if you have five rolls on the table, the nori will be tough by the time you finish the dish.

When eating sashimi, it is acceptable to put wasabi in your soy sauce. Otherwise, don’t do it.

Eating with your fingers is expected with maki and nigiri. Just wash your hands after.

Female sushi chefs are rare, and that’s because, according to Krell, in Japan there was a longstanding belief that women’s hands were too warm and would heat the sushi. Sushi Neko employs only female sushi chefs, and good for them.

If you ask the chef to surprise you – the word is “omakase” – expect to pay and tip appropriately, and be ready to be adventurous. You asked for it; you get it.

 

Both Krell and Nguyen admit that mayonnaise-based sauces are delicious, but they are also not traditional sushi. If you want sushi, avoid the spicy aioli. Traditional sushi is the chef’s proprietary sauce, eel sauce and, begrudgingly, soy sauce. For the “cleanest” sushi in Oklahoma City, both chefs recommend Tokyo Japanese Restaurant in Nichols Hills. It’s as close to traditional as we get.

 

► Our Recommendations


There are a ton of great sushi places in central Oklahoma. This list is not exhaustive, but only meant as a way to get started.
 

​Great for beginners, and the stubborn fish-haters in your group have access to Lobby Bar’s very American menu next door. Sorry, though: There are no chicken nuggets on either menu. 

 

Sushi Neko's Super Tootsie Roll


 

Why everyone does not go there every day is a mystery. It’s not always available, but if they have yellowtail collar (kama), get it. Nguyen asks for it every time he goes. 

 

The nigiri isn’t just delicious; it’s art. As Krell points out: “Sushi started out as fast food. It was food carts and quick meals. Then an art form evolved.” You can see that art form at Tsubaki. 

 

It’s not elegant, and it’s not terribly traditional, but it’s locally owned and solid. Krell calls it the “best fast food sushi in Oklahoma City.” 

 

Some elegantly simple traditional rolls and some less so – such as the bombshell’s glazed strawberry slices. The tapas at night are outstanding, and the poke bowl at lunch is one of the best in town. 

 

Mamasita Roll from Yuzo


 

Most of the menu is dedicated to the restaurants’ imaginative twists on Asian cuisine (i.e., you’ll need a fork), but the sushi menu, small though it might be, pays powerful rewards in taste. (Psst – also, you might want to ask about all-you-can-eat sushi Thursdays.) 

 

Rolls for days – you’ll have no trouble at all finding something delicious in this swanky spot. We’re particularly fond of the Eating Nemo, heartless though it sounds. 

 

It’s convenient for downtown diners, it boasts some nice weekday specials for lunch and happy hour and most importantly, it’s delicious. Try the seafood-laden mountain of its namesake specialty roll. 

 


 

► Sushi Spotting Guide


See below for an illustrated glossary of all the sushi you can eat.
 

Illustrations by Chad Crowe

 

 

 

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December 2018

Visitors to Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary will be able to let their imaginations run wild as they travel back in time with life-size animatronic dinosaurs along a half-mile...

Where:
Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary
1 Nature Place
McKinney, TX  75069
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Sponsor: Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary
Telephone: 972.562.5566
Contact Name: Stephanie Jennings
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A pop-up shop village & Christmas tree lot in Midtown, OKC for the Holiday season. Shops rotate weekly!

Cost: Free

Where:
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399 NW 10th St
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
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Telephone: 405.514.5205
Contact Name: Cleo Rajon
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The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum is proud to host an exhibition by members of the Traditional Cowboy Arts Association (TCAA).   The Traditional Cowboy Arts Association...

Cost: 12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
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Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni Shrum
Website »

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Don’t miss this timely exhibition charting the development of contemporary Indigenous art from the US and Canada. Presenting over 80 artworks including paintings, photography, video,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
600 Museum Way
Bentonville, AR  72712
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Telephone: 479.418.5700
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Grab your family and friends for an incredible performance and reimagining of the classic holiday story! Follow Carlos on his hip hop journey to self-discovery through magical lands filled with...

Cost: $20 presale; $25 at the door

Where:
OCCC
7777 S May
Oklahoma City, OK  73159
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Sponsor: RACE Dance Company
Telephone: 405.410.4978
Contact Name: Hui Poos
Website »

More information

Grab your family and friends for an incredible performance and reimagining of the classic holiday story! Follow Carlos on his hip hop journey to self-discovery through magical lands filled with...

Cost: $20 presale; $25 at the door

Where:
OCCC
7777 S May
Oklahoma City, OK  73159
View map »


Sponsor: RACE Dance Company
Telephone: 405.410.4978
Contact Name: Hui Poos
Website »

More information

Elsa and Anna host this holiday spectacular full of Christmas magic - with a drop-in visit from the big man himself: Santa Claus! Featuring high-quality professional performers from Project...

Cost: $35

Where:
The Station at Central Park
700 S Broadway Avenue
Moore , OK  73160
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Sponsor: Project Princess
Telephone: 405.777.2411
Contact Name: Brooke Ashely
Website »

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You’re invited to hear Sandi Patty in a free concert for the whole family in the Crossings OKC Sanctuary. Sandi, her family and the Voices of Crossings Choir and Orchestra will share the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Crossings Community Church - OKC Campus
14600 North Portland
Oklahoma City, OK  73134
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Sponsor: Crossings Community Church
Telephone: 405.302.1258
Contact Name: Lori Bunyar
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The American Spirit Dance Company Presents Home for the Holidays Thursday, December 6, 8:00 PM, Kirkpatrick Theatre Friday, December 7, 8:00 PM, Kirkpatrick Theatre Saturday, December 8,...

Cost: $18.85 - $29.85

Where:
Oklahoma City University
2501 N. Blackwelder
Oklahoma City, OK  73106
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Sponsor: The American Spirit Dance Company
Telephone: 405.208.4955
Contact Name: Ryan Barrett
Website »

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Don’t miss this timely exhibition charting the development of contemporary Indigenous art from the US and Canada. Presenting over 80 artworks including paintings, photography, video,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
600 Museum Way
Bentonville, AR  72712
View map »


Telephone: 479.418.5700
Website »

More information

The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum is proud to host an exhibition by members of the Traditional Cowboy Arts Association (TCAA).   The Traditional Cowboy Arts Association...

Cost: 12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni Shrum
Website »

More information

Upcoming Casting Calls in Oklahoma City Location: Provided via email Send headshots, measurements, resume and preferred audition time to casting@princessparty.com We are seeking actors who...

Cost: Free

Where:
Provided via email
Provided via email
Oklahoma City, OK  73112
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Sponsor: The Princess Party Co.
Telephone: 616.426.6108
Contact Name: Skyler
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Visitors to Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary will be able to let their imaginations run wild as they travel back in time with life-size animatronic dinosaurs along a half-mile...

Where:
Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary
1 Nature Place
McKinney, TX  75069
View map »


Sponsor: Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary
Telephone: 972.562.5566
Contact Name: Stephanie Jennings
Website »

More information

The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum is proud to host an exhibition by members of the Traditional Cowboy Arts Association (TCAA).   The Traditional Cowboy Arts Association...

Cost: 12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni Shrum
Website »

More information

Don’t miss this timely exhibition charting the development of contemporary Indigenous art from the US and Canada. Presenting over 80 artworks including paintings, photography, video,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
600 Museum Way
Bentonville, AR  72712
View map »


Telephone: 479.418.5700
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Visitors to Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary will be able to let their imaginations run wild as they travel back in time with life-size animatronic dinosaurs along a half-mile...

Where:
Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary
1 Nature Place
McKinney, TX  75069
View map »


Sponsor: Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary
Telephone: 972.562.5566
Contact Name: Stephanie Jennings
Website »

More information

The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum is proud to host an exhibition by members of the Traditional Cowboy Arts Association (TCAA).   The Traditional Cowboy Arts Association...

Cost: 12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni Shrum
Website »

More information

Don’t miss this timely exhibition charting the development of contemporary Indigenous art from the US and Canada. Presenting over 80 artworks including paintings, photography, video,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
600 Museum Way
Bentonville, AR  72712
View map »


Telephone: 479.418.5700
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Visitors to Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary will be able to let their imaginations run wild as they travel back in time with life-size animatronic dinosaurs along a half-mile...

Where:
Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary
1 Nature Place
McKinney, TX  75069
View map »


Sponsor: Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary
Telephone: 972.562.5566
Contact Name: Stephanie Jennings
Website »

More information

Don’t miss this timely exhibition charting the development of contemporary Indigenous art from the US and Canada. Presenting over 80 artworks including paintings, photography, video,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
600 Museum Way
Bentonville, AR  72712
View map »


Telephone: 479.418.5700
Website »

More information

A pop-up shop village & Christmas tree lot in Midtown, OKC for the Holiday season. Shops rotate weekly!

Cost: Free

Where:
Holiday Pop-Up Shops
399 NW 10th St
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.514.5205
Contact Name: Cleo Rajon
Website »

More information

The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum is proud to host an exhibition by members of the Traditional Cowboy Arts Association (TCAA).   The Traditional Cowboy Arts Association...

Cost: 12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni Shrum
Website »

More information

A Comedy by Michael Hollinger No menu necessary at the world's greatest restaurant, the Café du Grand Boeuf in Paris. Why? "Because we have everything," headwaiter...

Cost: $5 to $25

Where:
Carpenter Square Theatre
800 W. Main
Oklahoma City, OK  73106
View map »


Sponsor: Carpenter Square Theatre
Telephone: 405.232.6500
Contact Name: Rhonda M. Clark
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Visitors to Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary will be able to let their imaginations run wild as they travel back in time with life-size animatronic dinosaurs along a half-mile...

Where:
Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary
1 Nature Place
McKinney, TX  75069
View map »


Sponsor: Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary
Telephone: 972.562.5566
Contact Name: Stephanie Jennings
Website »

More information

The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum is proud to host an exhibition by members of the Traditional Cowboy Arts Association (TCAA).   The Traditional Cowboy Arts Association...

Cost: 12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni Shrum
Website »

More information

A pop-up shop village & Christmas tree lot in Midtown, OKC for the Holiday season. Shops rotate weekly!

Cost: Free

Where:
Holiday Pop-Up Shops
399 NW 10th St
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.514.5205
Contact Name: Cleo Rajon
Website »

More information

Don’t miss this timely exhibition charting the development of contemporary Indigenous art from the US and Canada. Presenting over 80 artworks including paintings, photography, video,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
600 Museum Way
Bentonville, AR  72712
View map »


Telephone: 479.418.5700
Website »

More information

Andy Alligator's is hosting a parents night out: Kids will enjoy supervised fun, food and games while parents have a night out on the town to finish up last-minute shopping without the kids....

Cost: $19.95

Where:
Andy Alligator's Fun Park
3300 Market Place Dr
Norman, OK  73072
View map »


Telephone: 405.321.7275
Website »

More information

Come enjoy live, local comedy in Oklahoma City's Plaza District. Shows are Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m., and the 2nd Saturday of every month also has a family -friendly show...

Cost: $5 - $15

Where:
OKC Improv
1757 N.W. 16th St.
Oklahoma City, OK  73106
View map »


Sponsor: OKC Improv
Telephone: 405.456.9858
Contact Name: Kate McLain-Snipes
Website »

More information

With the original Die Hard quickly becoming one of the most popular Christmas films around, we knew that everybody around town would be showing it. So we figured you know what's better than Die...

Cost: $7.50 - $9.50

Where:
Rodeo Cinema
2221 Exchange Ave
Oklahoma City, OK  73108
View map »


Sponsor: VHSANDCHILL
Telephone: 405.503.0050
Contact Name: Sean Peel
Website »

More information

A Comedy by Michael Hollinger No menu necessary at the world's greatest restaurant, the Café du Grand Boeuf in Paris. Why? "Because we have everything," headwaiter...

Cost: $5 to $25

Where:
Carpenter Square Theatre
800 W. Main
Oklahoma City, OK  73106
View map »


Sponsor: Carpenter Square Theatre
Telephone: 405.232.6500
Contact Name: Rhonda M. Clark
Website »

More information

Presented By OKC Ballet, with the OKC Philharmonic Tchaikovsky’s familiar score and Artistic Director Robert Mills’ delightful staging of The Nutcracker will fill your heart...

Where:
Civic Center Music Hall-Thelma Gaylord Theater
201 N Walker
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: OKC Ballet
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Visitors to Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary will be able to let their imaginations run wild as they travel back in time with life-size animatronic dinosaurs along a half-mile...

Where:
Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary
1 Nature Place
McKinney, TX  75069
View map »


Sponsor: Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary
Telephone: 972.562.5566
Contact Name: Stephanie Jennings
Website »

More information

Don’t miss this timely exhibition charting the development of contemporary Indigenous art from the US and Canada. Presenting over 80 artworks including paintings, photography, video,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
600 Museum Way
Bentonville, AR  72712
View map »


Telephone: 479.418.5700
Website »

More information

A pop-up shop village & Christmas tree lot in Midtown, OKC for the Holiday season. Shops rotate weekly!

Cost: Free

Where:
Holiday Pop-Up Shops
399 NW 10th St
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.514.5205
Contact Name: Cleo Rajon
Website »

More information

The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum is proud to host an exhibition by members of the Traditional Cowboy Arts Association (TCAA).   The Traditional Cowboy Arts Association...

Cost: 12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni Shrum
Website »

More information

Come enjoy live, local comedy in Oklahoma City's Plaza District. Shows are Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m., and the 2nd Saturday of every month also has a family -friendly show...

Cost: $5 - $15

Where:
OKC Improv
1757 N.W. 16th St.
Oklahoma City, OK  73106
View map »


Sponsor: OKC Improv
Telephone: 405.456.9858
Contact Name: Kate McLain-Snipes
Website »

More information

With the original Die Hard quickly becoming one of the most popular Christmas films around, we knew that everybody around town would be showing it. So we figured you know what's better than Die...

Cost: $7.50 - $9.50

Where:
Rodeo Cinema
2221 Exchange Ave
Oklahoma City, OK  73108
View map »


Sponsor: VHSANDCHILL
Telephone: 405.503.0050
Contact Name: Sean Peel
Website »

More information

Presented By OKC Ballet, with the OKC Philharmonic Tchaikovsky’s familiar score and Artistic Director Robert Mills’ delightful staging of The Nutcracker will fill your heart...

Where:
Civic Center Music Hall-Thelma Gaylord Theater
201 N Walker
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: OKC Ballet
Website »

More information

A Comedy by Michael Hollinger No menu necessary at the world's greatest restaurant, the Café du Grand Boeuf in Paris. Why? "Because we have everything," headwaiter...

Cost: $5 to $25

Where:
Carpenter Square Theatre
800 W. Main
Oklahoma City, OK  73106
View map »


Sponsor: Carpenter Square Theatre
Telephone: 405.232.6500
Contact Name: Rhonda M. Clark
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
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