Mislabeled fish at LA's high-end sushi restaurants

What makes this article more interesting than the typical study of fish provenance is that it focuses on high-end sushi restaurants.

My question for the forum is: do you think this is a deliberate effort to mislead or a workaround for the fact that Americans don’t know the names of and are therefore less inclined to eat what is actually on the menu.

For example, if tai was accurately labeled “sea bream” or hirame “fluke” do you think it would still sell? I’m not excusing the practice of mislabeling but trying to figure out if it’s due to a sinister plot to upsell trash fish or something more mundane. One way of determining this would be to see if the fish are mislabeled in their Japanese name as well.

I’ve had both sea bream and fluke at sushi places.

Not sure I’m following your point. Based on the article I think we’ve all had sea bream and fluke at sushi places, since that is what we typically get when ordering tai or hirame respectively. The issue is that these fish are often mislabeled as red snapper or halibut. I’m wondering if this is intentional deception or an attempt to pander to the fish Americans know the names of and so will be more likely to eat.

Is hirame always referred to as halibut? As I typed in “hirame” in google translate, the word translated was flounder.

I was about to “404 high end sushi not found” but then saw Asanebo and Kiriko…

Hirame is written as ヒラメ【鮃.】 Some sites that call the English name Flounder (turbot).

Or we can just reference wikipedia:

The Japanese page:

English name, bastard halibut. Look up the English page on the left pane and it redirects to Olive Flounder which is the official name

I’d also consider Sushi Sushi and - depending on how you order - Hamasaku to be high-end.

Interesting, so hirame is flounder not fluke… the more you know.

Regardless, from now on I’ll be ordering it as “bastard halibut” since that’s, obviously, the best of all possible names.

it seems to me that any properly trained itamae should be able to identify the differences in most if not all fish and should also have sufficient pride in his craft not to serve mis-labeled fish. clearly the vast majority of the clientele do not have the palate to be able to make the distinction themselves.

the study was limited to “highly rated restaurants on L.A.'s Westside”. would you get the same results from highly rated restaurants in say, little tokyo? if not, that suggests that it’s more about the west side.

I’m pretty sure it applies all over. There have been so many articles the last few years about mislabeled fish at restaurants, supermarkets, down the entire supply chain. I just eat what I like, but never order snapper or “white tuna”.

The article mentions yellowtail as one of the top misrepresented fish, but doesn’t say what they are substituting it with. Curious.

that’s an assumption i wouldn’t make. but i imagine any west sider or fan of any of those establishments would have an emotional reason to want to make the assumption because the implications would be unflattering. so i’m not going to make a big deal out of it.

Lol you just did…

3 Likes

Ugh, this crap again.

5 Likes

It’s not only the Westside, my friend. The articles go back years, and cover the nation.

GWU seafood study

http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2013/02/21/172589997/one-in-three-fish-sold-at-restaurants-and-grocery-stores-is-mislabeled

Bait and switch: UCLA Study finds

The Atlantic: Bait and Switch

2 Likes

“Highly rated” by whom? Are any of those places among the first rank in LA?

Not sure who you were responding to, but I said “high end” not “highly rated.”

In terms of whether any of these spots qualify as top tier, I’d consider Asanebo (owned and run by Shunji’s brother) to be top 5 in LA. I was honestly shocked to see 80% of the fish tested there were mislabeled.

Glad that Yoya-san (Hamasaku) will likely get a bump in sushi love from this article. He’s a good guy.

True sea bream is much more prized than red snapper, not the other way around. Much of what passes for tai is in fact red snapper, so to differentiate, Japanese sometimes use the name “madai” meaning true bream. Not to be confused with “medai” which is a dfferent fish as well.

2 Likes

The study said “highly rated.”

Well, they are certainly above par by any metric, how much above par is subjective.