The next time you dig your fork into a Japanese tuna sushi, it might just be Korean. Most Japanese eateries in the city are fending off fear of radiation in foodstuff by switching over to ingredients sourced from other Asian countries instead of importing them from radioactivity-hit Japan .
Sakura at The Metropolitan that sourced its fish from Tokyo’s Tsukiji market has switched over to Korea and Thailand for sourcing sushi ingredients. “There is a drop of 40 % in our sales at Sakura. Our Japanese client are not in the mood to celebrate,” says F & B Head, Rajesh Khanna of the hotel. . “Fish such as yellow tail, tuna and salmon that we imported from Japan will now be sourced from other parts of Asia. From a 50-teppenyaki cover, we have come down to 30. It’s a loss of almost 30 % that we have suffered just in the last one week or so,” says Saurabh Khanijo of Kylin.
Drop in quality due to use of substitutes is a growing concern for restaurateurs. “A sushi made with Thai or Singaporean ingredients would not taste the same. We might also have to rework our prices as substitutes to Japanese ingredients are quite expensive,” says Sushil Chadha of Tamura who has already suffered a loss of 24 % due to drop in sushi sales. F & B Manager, Rajnish Kumar, Courtyard by Marriott says, “One ingredient that will face major jolt will be sushi rice that we were importing from Japan. It’s difficult to find an equally good substitute for rice. We are in talk with Nepal now where suppliers are assuring us that they would get us good quality rice.”
Ai, another Japanese eatery in the city has pulled out Japanese dishes from its menu. Chef Vikram Khatri says, “We have banned all Japanese ingredients in the kitchen. We will be pulling out dishes that use directly imported ingredients from Japan such as sushi rice, scallops, shrimps and Japanese mushroom. We are going to switch over to dishes made with organic food.” “You will have to wait for authentic Japanese food for a while. There is no other way out,” adds Khatri. Varun Tuli, CEO, Yum Yum Tree however says there’s no reasons for foodies to panic. “Most of the stuff used for Japanese cuisine can be easily sourced from other countries and would not affect quality. You can get good salmon from Scotland, scallops from Canada and crab from Alaska.”
With most restaurants opting for substitutes sourced from countries such as Nepal, Korea and Thailand, restaurateurs say soon there might be a scarcity of Japanese substitutes. “The prices of substitutes might increase steeply and affect the overall cost. In such a case, me might have to revisit our menu prices,” says F & B Manager, Rajnish Kumar, Courtyard by Marriott.