Harry Hakuei Kosato, the founder of Sushi & More, Harry spent over 15 years in India experimenting with Japanese food, especially sushi. He also runs an aligned domain in the sales of Kikkoman India – a Japanese sauce brand. In an exclusive interview, Harry Kosato talks about his journey, do’s and don’ts to have sushi, myths around it, and more. Edited excerpts from an interview:
How has sushi become popular with Indians?
It’s part of a global trend. People love sushi. Sushi is one of the top food trends in India, and globally, now. I think to focus on light, healthy, and really delicious dishes that have a real punch of umami thanks to Kikkoman Soy Sauce which is used to flavor the fresh sushi, this really is a real “sushi fix” kick that aficionados cannot do without – sushi once a week is a popular thing, for Sushi and More, where some 60% are repeat customers!
How has sushi, as a dish, evolved over the years?
The evolution of sushi is an interesting adventure. It is the interplay of bold entrepreneurs, hungry foodies, quality ingredients, a rising economy, and exposure to sushi through more overseas travel by Indians, who craved their “sushi fix” at home in India.
Of course, in all of this, we must never ever forget the role of capable and dependable sushi chefs, who are not easy to find, given their level of know-how and skills, and takes much discipline and persistence to deliver the best sushi to the discerning Indian sushi lover.
It started off in 5-star hotels and high-end restaurants. It then slowly started to spread to standalone and then to delivery kitchens. Now, sushi can be found in pan-Asian restaurants in addition to the 100 Japanese food-only restaurants in India.
How different is Indian sushi from what is served in Japan?
Mainly ingredients are different. I mean different ingredients in the toppings and fillings of sushi and sushi rolls. Vinegared sushi rice, nori seaweed, Kikkoman Soy Sauce, and vinegared ginger called “gari”, are the same. But topping variety is much more, say over 100 fresh seafood mainly, but in India, the selection is much less, and veg like avocado, as well as cooked items like prawn tempura. But as with all things, sushi evolves, in the way that I think Indian curry has evolved – now Great Britain’s national dish!
More rolls in India, versus more nigiri items in Japan. One should also note that other countries around the world have different ingredients and ways of serving, or using atypical sauces like mayonnaise and spicy Sriracha chili sauce.
People, often just relate sushi to Japanese cuisine, please help us in understanding what other dishes are must-haves when we talk about Japanese food.
Indeed. A quick look on Google gives you a taste of the many different types of Japanese food, both dishes and regional specialist dishes and variations thereof. There are too many must-haves. Yakitori. Tempura. Shabu-shabu. Okonomiyaki. Katsu-don. To name a few. These plus many more comprise Japanese cuisine.
What are the dos and don’ts when we eat sushi?
We say, eat like you wish to, but simple things like not putting too much Kikkoman soy sauce and/or wasabi, or say leaving the sushi on your plate for a long time, eat it as fresh as possible when you get it!
Why are accompaniments essential while consuming sushi?
Kikkoman Soy Sauce. Wasabi. Gari vinegared ginger. Chopsticks (but you are welcome to use your hands!)
What are the Japanese food trends we’ll be witnessing in 2023
More varieties of sushi toppings and fillings. And, more of the “more” items. I think udon noodles will become popular. And Karaage chicken and other breaded deep-fried dishes, and Katsu Deep fried dishes, will be more available. Maybe we will see a real Izakaya opening in India, and more kiosk-type sushi outlets in Tier 2 cities as well. Sushi and More is looking at expanding into other metro cities as well as more outlets in our existing chain of 10 outlets. Likely more popup of other Japanese dishes in other cities other than metros.