Sure, frosting and strawberries are great, but today we’re chowing down on a “cake” topped with premium tuna and actual gold.
Japan has a custom of eating cake at Christmastime, with the most popular variety making use of strawberries and snowy white whipped cream. But while we can get plenty excited about sweets, this year we were craving something a little different, and so we decided to try the Sushi Cake from Japanese sushi restaurant chain Kappa Sushi.
Priced at 10,000 yen (US$85), the Sushi Cake caused a bit of sticker shock, given that Kappa Sushi is a kaitenzushi (revolving sushi) chain famous for charging just 100 yen per plate. Still, we’re not ones to shy away from the occasional 10,000–yen indulgence, and the advance photos we’d seen of the dish made it look too tasty to pass up, so we ordered one and waited with bated breath for it to be delivered.
The sushi cake comes covered in a furoshiki (Japanese wrapping cloth) patterned with the Kappa Sushi logo. Unwrap the cloth, and you’ll find a wooden sushi tub and shamoji (rice scoop), which, along with the furoshiki, are yours to keep after you’ve finished the meal.
We removed the lid, and feasted our eyes on the treasure trove of sushi within. At the center, and extending all the way down to the bottom of the seven-centimeter (2.8-inch) deep tub is a spire of ikura (salmon roe) so dense that its color looks almost ruby red, instead of the orange hue it appears as in smaller quantities. The amount of ikura used is the equivalent of what would go into 50 individual pieces of ikura sushi, and surrounding it in a ring are more than two dozen thick-cut slices of otoro (extra fatty tuna).
The otoro isn’t just glistening with extra fat, though, but with gold! Sprinkled over the fish are flecks of gold powder, a decorative element Japan likes to employ in upscale cuisine and sake.
The dish’s presentation is so unique that we weren’t sure how exactly we were supposed to go about eating it. Kappa Sushi, though, told us that any way diners want to enjoy the Sushi Cake is fine. You can mix everything together with the vinegared rice that’s at the bottom of the tub, scoop out individual servings of each component separately, or even wrap the contents in nori (dried seaweed) to make hand rolls.
Despite the fact that Kappa Sushi is ordinarily a budget sushi provider, the ingredients used in the Sushi Cake are all delicious and high-quality, and we actually found ourselves starting to feel a little giddy as we ate. Ikura and otoro are traditionally two of the highest-priced types of sushi, so many diners usually have just a piece or two to cap their meal. With the Sushi Cake, though, we could eat as much as we wanted of the premium ingredients.
But as we sat around digesting, we couldn’t help but wonder what makes the Sushi Cake a “cake.” It’s made entirely of fish, roe, and rice, with the rice shaped more like a super-thick donut. So we decided to ask Kappa Sushi how they settled on the name, and they simply told us:
“We chose to call it a “cake” because it sounds festive.”
We can’t argue with them there, since we’re ready for another Sushi Cake party anytime. If you’re looking to throw one of your own, the Sushi Cake is available, by prior reservation only, from Kappa Sushi branches nationwide between now and January 9.
Follow Casey on Twitter, where he’s now ridiculous hungry.
[ Read in Japanese ]