I love sushi. I could eat it every day, for every meal, until I die. This goes doubly so for my boyfriend. For his birthday, I decided to sign us up for the Sushi 101 class that is done and hosted by Saki Tumi (yes. Did you know that? They do a Sushi 101 class. Isn't that amazingly cool?). I don't know why, but there are no sushi classes in Charleston, SC. However, this turned out to be a good thing because the 1 hour and 30 minute drive to Columbia, SC, was 100% worth it.
When we got there, our waitress greeted us and was INCREDIBLY friendly. I wish I had gotten her name, but she was the best waitress I have ever had at a restaurant ever. She was very excited that we were doing the class and immediately showed us our table, and gave us a little info about the class while the instructor was doing the prep. When the instructor / co-owner / head chef, Larry, came over, he was very friendly and super nice. Larry is a great chef, a great teacher, and a very opinionated person (a great thing! It made the lesson so much more fun). Seriously--Larry knows his stuff and he's funny, too.
During the lesson, he told us a little history of sushi. He told us how to cook sushi rice and what sort of utensils to use. He told us where he gets his sushi grade fish and how we can get ours. He told us why he makes his sushi differently than what's currently mainstream and at other restaurants. A perfect example? His spicy tuna! Instead of finely chopping (or, you know, mincing) the tuna and mixing it with a spicy sauce, he actually leaves leaves the tuna in chunks. CarolinaGrad06 wrote in her review "Their spicy tuna may be the best spicy tuna roll I've ever had." Do you know why? Because you can actually taste the tender, delicious tuna and not just minced-up, spicy meat. Seriously--it's the little things that matter.
After talking to us for a while, Larry gave us each some seaweed and showed us how to put rice on it, how to put our ingredients on it, how to roll it, how to use the bamboo mats, and so on. I don't want to give away the whole lesson because you should really, really, really just go and try it out for yourself, but it was an amazingly good time. The best part about the lesson was Larry was genuinely interested in what we liked on our sushi, and he would run back to the kitchen / sushi bar and grab out fresh jalapenos for us, or let us try his mouth-watering garlic chili dipping sauce (try it. Try it. Try it. Try it. Try. It.). He joked with us, educated us, and even gave us a lovely parting gift along with his business card (so that we can buy our sushi grade fish from him. He also sells the sushi rice already prepped and ready to go!).
The sushi class, for 2 people, was 130 total (without tip). For groups of 4 or more, the price drops to something like 60 per person. If you want, you can add sake/wine to your class. That bumps the price up by 10 per person, but you get refills for the whole time you're there (and the class itself takes about two hours--not including eating the sushi you've made). The price includes...
-The sushi lesson
-Soup, salad, and edamame appetizer
-All the sushi prep stuff. For us, this was a cucumber, green onions, tempura flakes, spicy mayo, Sriracha, two avocados (delicious), four crab meat sticks, some spicy tuna, regular tuna, salmon, and smoked salmon. Bonus on the meat: there was a lot of it and we were allowed to take it home. Actually, all the prep stuff--save for the mayo and Sriracha--we were allowed to take home. So we ended up taking home a good bit of delicious, sushi grade fish (which we, and our cat, loved).
-Five sushi rolls. My boyfriend and I made 2 rolls each (4 total) while Larry made 1 (and then proceeded to plate beautifully). We got to eat all of it and it was so freaking good.
So, I can't say that all their food is amazing because I haven't tried it all. But I can tell you that by doing the sushi class and actually seeing and working with some of Saki Tumi's ingredients, that restaurant is doing things right. Everything was fresh. Everything tasted good. Larry cares A LOT about what he's doing. The amount of love and care he puts into cooking the sushi rice alone shows how much he cares about not only his business, but how his food tastes. If you go there and your meal is terrible (which I find very doubtful), tell a waitress. Let them know. Larry truly cares about what he's doing.
But, really, just go there. Try their food. Enjoy their stuff. The restaurant is very nice. It's actually very small, but it seems a lot larger because of the way it is set up. It's a little noisy, but not too bad, and the atmosphere is very intimate and cozy. Go there. Do the sushi class. Try their food. Really try it. Try to meet Larry if he's around. You won't regret any of it.
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