Signs A Sushi Venue Isn’t Up To Standard

Is there anything better than going to a sushi restaurant on your Friday evening? You’re certain for a delicious meal, generally great atmosphere, and can even walk away feeling as if you’ve indulged in something healthy.

But, there are caveats to the sushi eating experience. Fresh fish is, as it turns out, a tricky beast. It is one of the most expensive, and one of quickest to spoil foods around. Additionally, the environment in which fresh fish is handled also needs to be kept absolutely spotless. So it need not be said that if a venue isn’t taking these steps, there is a risk that you can find yourself the victim of some pretty unpleasant stomach related issues.

But there is good news. Spotting signs that a sushi venue isn’t up to standard isn’t as tough as you might think.


The easiest test is to simply take a sniff. As it turns out, it is almost a sure fire way to get an idea of how things are in the venue. Fresh fish smells, against expectations, like the ocean, not like fish. In fact, if you get any scent of fish in any fresh fish establishment, you should probably head home and play some Giggle Bingo instead.

You can also sniff the sushi itself; the same rules apply. If it smells fishy, then you should maybe raise an eyebrow. Legendary sushi chef Hidekazu Tojo is famous for saying that good sushi should smell mostly like cucumber, and not much like fish. Interesting.


If your sniffer isn’t the best, try simply looking around, and at your sushi. Signs of bad hygienic practices are normally pretty obvious. If surfaces don’t look shiny and scrubbed to perfection, be worried. Fresh fish needs that sort of hygiene control.

Your sushi should also look visibly good. Which is to say, it should look uniformly bright in colour. Signs that sushi is old will manifest in blotchiness, or by otherwise looking dull. If it looks milky, stay far, far away.


Lastly, if all else fails, give the sushi a good press with your finger. Fresh sushi will be firm, but also retain flexibility. So if your finger leaves an indentation in the fish, it isn’t a very good sign. Though, don’t overdo it. Just a gentle push will be enough to get a good impression on overall freshness.

If your sushi passes all of the above tests, you can be pretty sure that you’re safe, and good to go.

Though one last thought; if you’re at an establishment that isn’t near the ocean, be more observant of the above rules than normal. Although fish can be flash frozen in modern times, which is extremely effective at locking in freshness, venues that require regular long distance deliveries are more likely struggle with freshness than others.

On the other hand; don’t be paranoid. No venue serving fresh fish would stay open long if guests regularly got sick.