The first time I ever ate sushi was at an Ocean Basket. I think I was 12. My family never had sushi – ever. Going to a sushi place was just not what we did, but I was desperate to partake, so one day when we were out to dinner, my dad and I decided to try it. Being complete noobs, we ordered California rolls, because that what they always ate on American TV shows. It was not my dad’s cup of tea. I, on the other hand, fell in love.
Since then I have become a sushi fanatic, and as such stopped eating sushi at Ocean Basket. To me, a sushi snob, that was a place for beginners; where novices go to experiment with the delicacy before tucking into a seafood platter for one. It wasn’t until I was invited to taste their new Mediterrasian sushi revolution that I realised that they are doing so much more. To innovate the stagnant sushi we’ve grown accustomed to, Ocean Basket brought in the world’s best sushi innovator, Pepi Anevski. Trained in Japan and Denmark, with over 15 years experience, Anevski knows his sushi. He even won the World Sushi Cup in Tokyo, Japan, in 2013.
Anevski, who works in Cyprus (did you know they have Ocean Basket there?) combined Mediterranean flavours with the Asian art of sushi to create (you guessed it) Mediterrasian sushi. The result is a unique fusion sushi menu. There is Tarama gunkan with calamari heads wrapped in cucumber, Sesame salmon gunkan with zucchini and tempura, salmon Tomato roll with fresh basil and grilled green pepper or Kypro prawn roll with Romaine lettuce and origanum sauce.
I was very apprehensive about trying it. Would the flavours work? Would it feel less like sushi and more like mezze? All doubts fled when tasting it. It was very different; there is not doubt about that, but once you get past the idea of traditional sushi and start concentrating on the flavours, it is delicious. I think my dad would even enjoy it.
Some sushi purists may argue that introducing new flavours may compromise the integrity of the dish, but according to Anevski, this is not the case. He says sushi is Japanese by origin, with seaweed, rice, wasabi, soy sauce and ginger as its primary ingredients, but that’s where the sushi rules end. This means that you can build on this basic in any way you see fit; in this case, introducing Mediterranean ingredients.
Anevski went to each and every Ocean Basket in the country to personally train the sushi chefs how to make the Mediterrasian sushi, to ensure it is of his high standards. If you are the type of person who only enjoys traditional sushi that is entirely Asian, this is not for you. But for the open-minded, experimental and curious, you will be pleasantly surprised.
The Mediterrasian Sushi Revolution is now available at all Ocean Baskets countrywide. To find out more www.sushirevolution.co.za
Photography courtesy Annzra Denita