Even if you don’t speak Japanese, if you’re a sushi lover, you’ve probably heard some of the language’s fish-based vocabulary. Maguro is pretty readily understood as “tuna” among foodies with a palate for Japanese cuisine, and many people who can’t put together a complete sentence in Japanese still know that uni is sea urchin, for example.
Not as many non-Japanese speaking diners are as familiar with the word iwashi, or sardine, though. Although sardine sushi isn’t unheard of, it definitely trails in popularity behind less fishy-tasting fare, and its relatively low price and humble image mean it doesn’t have the same level of pizazz as a seaweed-wrapped pile of ikura (salmon roe) or a glistening cut of otoro (extra fatty tuna belly).
Visual impact isn’t a problem, though, for one Japanese restaurant chain’s latest creation: the Whole Sardine Sushi Roll.