Why isn’t there a sushi chef behind the bar?
We think the experience of talking to a sushi chef behind the bar is a great thing. However, when we examined the impact it could have on our guests, in terms of quality, value, and time, we decided to replace that part of the experience with a concept that delivers the highest quality sushi at a price and a pace that was more consistent with what our guests want.
Why do I have to wait until my whole party arrives before I am seated, even when the restaurant is mostly empty?
Our restaurants are very small, and that helps us to control the quality of the food and deliver the intended SUGARFISH experience to our guests. Because we’re small, we, of course, don’t have many seats, and if we seat people whose parties are not complete, two things happen: 1) Our other guests may end up waiting longer, sometimes much longer for a table; and 2) Our ability to run our restaurant efficiently will be impacted, which in turn affects our ability to keep our prices reasonable given the high quality sushi that we serve. Even when there are only a few tables occupied, our restaurants can fill up very quickly. We realize not everyone agrees with this policy, but we do it to be able to continue to deliver great sushi at a fair price.
Why can’t I order a bowl of rice when you allow kids to do it?
Our rice is a very important component of the SUGARFISH experience. We make our rice in very small batches, and in order to deliver Nozawa’s signature warm rice, we make a fresh batch at least every 30 minutes, discarding any unused rice from the prior batch. If we allow all guests to order extra rice, it will slow our kitchen down and cause other guests to have to wait for their food. (For several months, we allowed extra rice orders, and although the volume was not great, we found that our ability to serve all of our guests in a timely fashion was significantly impacted.)
We allow side orders of rice for children because some are not yet eating sushi, and we think that feeding hungry children is a good thing for everyone’s dining experience.
It’s true that making a single exception — “just one bowl of rice, just one time (for you!)” – wouldn’t be disastrous, but if we made exceptions for everyone, our kitchen would slow to a crawl. Because of this, we don’t make exceptions for anyone to ensure that we are fair to everyone.
Why can’t I get more ponzu?
We know that some of our guests will not agree with this answer at all. It is very important to us that everything at SUGARFISH is served exactly as Chef Nozawa intends for it to be eaten, and therefore we cannot honor requests for extra ponzu. Each detail in preparing the items on our menu has been considered and is vital to the SUGARFISH experience. Of course, this attention to detail extends to the type and quantity of sauce provided, with the sole intent of offering to our guests sushi prepared in the way that we believe is the best.
We are passionate about serving great sushi that people will love. Our adherence to Nozawa’s principles of tradition and quality do not allow us to make exceptions to where and how we serve sauces with our fish. We know that some of our guests will disagree about this limitation on extra ponzu — and we understand why — but we can’t waver on our basic philosophy of being faithful to serving Nozawa-style sushi.
Why can’t you give me the fish without the rice?
We have several sashimi dishes (without rice), and many nigiri dishes with rice. The nigiri cuts are for nigiri, not for sashimi. Serving those nigiri cuts without the rice does not make them a dish, and again, we are dedicated to serving dishes as Nozawa intends for them to be served. We understand that some of our guests prefer not to eat rice, so we currently have 4 or 5 daily sashimi dishes on the menu.
Where does your fish come from? Is any of it farmed?
Our fish comes from all over the world: Japan, the South Pacific, Boston, and beyond. We get the best the market has to offer. Some of our fish is wild caught and some is farmed. Please see our page called Sushi and Sustainability for a discussion about fish and sustainability.
What about mercury?
Please see our page called Sushi and Your Health for a discussion about fish and health.
Where did you get the name SUGARFISH?
Nozawa is known for “melt in the mouth” sushi that’s a “wow” experience for most people. Imagine a child eating his first sugar cube. We wanted a name that would evoke that simple, pure, “wow” sensation.
Is the whole Nozawa family involved? What are their roles?
Chef Nozawa is responsible for our food. He selects all of our fish and creates our recipes. He works hand-in-hand with his son, Tom, to make sure our sushi is up to his standards. In addition to working with his father on our menu and selecting our fish, Tom is responsible for the operations of all of our kitchens. Additionally, Nozawa’s wife, Yumiko, who has worked side-by-side with Chef Nozawa for the last 25 years, played – and continues to play – an important role in the planning and strategy of the business.
Why does your rice fall apart? And why is it served warm?
Warm, loose rice is a signature of Nozawa-style sushi. We think the airiness and temperature of our rice is one of the key components to great sushi. It may be a little more difficult to handle, but we think it’s worth the effort. If you find it too hard to use the chopsticks, don’t be afraid to use your hands.