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#foodbeast FOODBEAST Recipes

Tamago Sliders Are The Egg Sandwich Game Changer

Probably one of the most common ingredient in any culture is the beloved egg. Versatile for thousands of recipes, it could be argued that any dish could be elevated with a little egg in it.

Such is @Dandy.Eats‘ innovation she calls Tamago Sliders.

In the latest Foodbeast Recipe challenge, the team was challenged to come up with an egg recipe from home.

One of the standouts was hands down these Tamago Sliders, made with fresh sushi-grade salmon and topped with ikura.

Man alive.

Check out the video above to see exactly how Kimberly pulled off this mouthwatering feat.

This week’s hearty line up of recipes is also composed of dishes such as a Basil Mozzarella Omelet Egg Roll, Nopales con Huevo, Oyakodon, Egg Jello Shots, and Bacon & Egg Rice Bars.

Foodbeast chefs that participated in the egg challenge include Marc, Oscar, Kyle, BMX Gold Medalist Jamie Bestwick, and Costa.

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Culture

Japanese Comfort Foods That Go Beyond Sushi Or Ramen

tamagoyaki

Photo: Laura Tomàs Avila

I didn’t realize how much Japanese comfort food is slept on. I’ve had it many times, but usually just order the same things. Like any culture, the cuisine is vast, and Japanese cuisine is more than just sushi and ramen. Many familiar dishes have existed for hundreds of years. Sushi in particular is estimated to have been around for 1,800 years. So just imagine all of the dishes you’ve yet to try.

pikunico kuniko yagi

With Los Angeles having the second highest Japanese population in the United States, it’s the perfect place to experience Japan’s world of comfort food. One person that’s making an impact in Los Angeles’ dynamic dining scene is Chef Kuniko Yagi. As the former executive chef of Michelin-starred restaurant Sona, contestant on Bravo’s Top Chef, and current owner of karaage (Japanese-style) fried chicken spot Pikunico, Chef Yagi knows delicious Japanese food. This deliciousness is confirmed by a slew of glowing reviews Pikunico has received since it’s opening. In hopes of sharing the dynamic world of Japanese comfort food, below is a list of six lesser known types you might enjoy — all with Chef Yagi’s own recommendations on where best to try them in Los Angeles.

Photo: Buenosia Carol on Pexels, Free to use

1. Japanese Curry

Hugely popular in the country, curry was introduced to Japan by way of Europe’s spice imports from India in the late 1800s. It’s typically served with rice, potatoes, carrots, and onions and is a milder, sweeter counterpart to Indian curry. Japanese curry also varies from Indian in that beef and pork are more commonly used rather than chicken and mutton.

Chef Kuniko Yagi’s Recommendation:

Coco IchibanyaThe place to go when you’re craving any type of curry and want it ASAP! It’s a Japanese fast food franchise, so expect a Burger King vibe, but with one of the most creative and extensive curry menus in LA.

Photo: untitled_folder on Flickr, CC by 2.0

2. Japanese Omelet

A unique take on the French creation, the Japanese omelet, mostly known as “tamagoyaki,” or grilled egg in English, is commonly served alongside sushi. Unlike western omelets, tamagoyaki isn’t served with filling but rather is rolled together using layers of egg. There are two types of tamagoyaki: atsu-yaki-tamago and dashi-maki-tamago. The first type is a thick fried egg and the latter is a rolled egg with dashi (cooking stock). Each type can be prepared sweet or savory. 

Chef Kuniko Yagi’s Recommendation:

OtafukuWhen you’re in the South Bay and craving Japanese, Otafuku is a must! It’s very low-key and unassuming, but they have an extensive, delicious menu. Their Japanese-style omelet is a must. Their seasoning with mirin, dashi, and salt make each bite so delicious.

Photo: Arnold Gatilao on Wikimedia commons, CC by 2.0

3. Potato Salad

Potato salad is a staple of Japanese home cooking. Differing from American-style in texture and taste, Japanese potato salad is mashed with chunks of vegetables and sometimes ham. While the ingredients are similar to Western potato salad, the  version here is made with Japanese mayonnaise and rice vinegar, giving it more of a tangy twist.  

Chef Kuniko Yagi’s Recommendation:

Nijiya MarketAn unassuming storefront leads into a well-stocked Japanese grocer, complete with produce, ready-to-eat foods and specialty snacks. Our favorite thing by far is the Japanese potato salad at the prepared foods bar: mashed potatoes coated lightly with Japanese mayo create a unique combination of creamy, sweet and tangy flavors!

 
Photo: Nakano Mune on Flickr, CC by 2.0

4. Yakisoba (Stir Fried Noodles)

Yakisoba, or “fried buckwheat,” is a popular Japanese stir-fry dish which originates from China. Although “soba,” which means buckwheat, is a part of the word, it is actually made using wheat flour. Yakisoba is typically prepared stir-fried with bite-sized pork, vegetables (usually carrots, onions or cabbage) and flavored with yakisoba sauce, salt and pepper. Yakisoba sauce is made from sake, mirin, soy sauce, worcestershire sauce, Tonkatsu sauce, oyster sauce, and sugar, giving it a sweet and sour taste.

Chef Kuniko Yagi’s Recommendation:

IchimiCharacterized as a “soba-intensive noodle shop” by the LA Times, this restaurant, tucked away in the Rolling Hills Plaza, will fulfill all your soba dreams and needs. They import their buckwheat from Japan and take care in creating each dish — and it shows. 

 
Photo: Ernesto Andrade on Flickr, CC by 2.0

5. Karaage (Japanese Fried Meat)

Karaage is a style of Japanese cooking involving deep-frying breaded meats like fish and more commonly, chicken. Meats are typically marinated in soy sauce, rice wine and ginger beforehand, resulting in a juicy inside and crispy outside. Commonly sold at open markets on skewers, karaage comes in variations that include sesame, garlic or pepper. Karaage is often accompanied by veggies or a bed of rice with a range of dipping sauces.

Chef Kuniko Yagi’s Recommendation:

PikunicoChef Kuniko Yagi’s first stand alone project at Row DTLA centers around Japanese fried chicken (karaage), a dish she would get every Sunday from her grandma’s favorite Tokyo department store for a Sunday picnic supper with the family. Yagi’s nostalgic take on her favorite Japanese comfort food brings to life the delicate flavor and umami of karaage with more of an American fried chicken crunch through her homemade organic brown rice flour and potato starch batter.

 

Photo: Guilhem Vellut on Flickr, CC-BY

6. Cha-han (Stir Fried Rice)

Thought to have originated from Chinese immigrants, Cha-han is a fried rice dish which includes a wide assortment of ingredients: vegetables, onion, garlic, shitake mushrooms, tofu, pork, various seafoods, scrambled egg, and ground beef to name a few. The dish’s seasoning can vary between soy sauce and oyster sauce, sesame oil, salt, pepper or katsuobushi, a dried and flaked tuna product. 

Chef Kuniko Yagi’s Recommendation:

KourakuThis is the place to go when you’re in the mood for some comfort food. It’s a Japanese style diner and open until 3 am Monday-Saturday, making it perfect for a late-night stop any day of the week. Just keep in mind it’s cash only!

Additional Chef Kuniko Recommendation:

YakitoriyaThis is truly one of the hidden gems of Japantown in Los Angeles. When passing by, it might not appear to be much, but venture inside this family-owned and operated Japanese grilled chicken joint and you will not be disappointed!

As you can see, Japanese comfort food goes far beyond mere ramen and sushi. With Little Tokyo so close, us Angelenos are spoiled with many options. But for those who don’t have pockets of Japanese communities in their cities, recipes and local restaurants are an easy Google search away. The next time you’re in need of some Japanese comfort, perhaps try something new, instead of a familiar go-to.

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Restaurants Video

Sushi Crunch Wraps Are The Latest Innovation From This Creative Sushi Joint

Sushi creations have been getting mad innovative over the past couple of years, with items like sushi donuts and burgers taking over the food world. One wild sushi restaurant is taking these to the next level with their newest item: A crunch wrap, akin to one you’d find at Taco Bell, but made entirely out of sushi.

Photo courtesy of Wave Sushi

This Sushi Crunch Wrap can be found at Wave, a sushi restaurant in Mount Dora, Florida. Known for creations like their 16-pound sushi donut, the Crunch Wrap is the latest in a line of fusion items the joint has pulled off.

To make this, chef Jonathan McKinney utilizes sushi rice as an adhesive to hold together pieces of seaweed that serve as the outer layer. Inside of that goes rice, cream cheese, krab, spicy tuna, a fried sheet of nori, cucumbers, and avocado. The entire thing is dipped in tempura batter before taking a trip to the deep fryer to get a golden brown, crispy finish.

Photo courtesy of Wave Sushi

McKinney hasn’t stopped at just the Crunch Wrap, however. He’s also created a Sushi Hot Dog that uses an uncut krab roll as the “bun.” It then gets stuffed with spicy tuna, avocado, cucumber, and sauce, looking just like a hot dog but made out of fish.

Seeing one restaurant create so many iconic dishes out of sushi is pretty unique, and we can’t wait to see what they come up with next.

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Restaurants

Mariscos and Sushi Come Together In Seafood Harmony

When the seafood minds of multiple cultures combine, it’s a sensational gift to the palates that grace them.

Out of Orange, California, Emporio Sushi & Mariscos serve a plethora of unique seafood based off not just Mexican cuisine, but Japanese, as well.

The base of each dish is inspired by Sinaloan techniques, but incorporates Japanese flavors that we have become accustomed to from sushi restaurants.

Sure you can stick to the usual avocado roll or salmon roll, but why would you when you can explore the depths of a highly stacked “Torre,” which is piled high with a mix of both cooked and raw shrimp, octopus, Mexican scallops, avocado, cabbage, and a house made salsa negra.

The other featured superstar is a hollowed out coconut that’s stuffed with marinated shrimp, octopus, a coconut salad, and their salsa negra blend. The coconut itself is also dipped in chamoy and Tajin, giving it a bit of a Michelada feel.

If you’re feeling adventurous and want to try out a bold concept, this place looks like a perfect date night for your seafood-loving S.O.

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Features The Katchup

Everyday Foods That Are Commonly Faked And Mislabeled

Meet the food playing the food, disguised as another food.

If you’ve ever been skeptical about brands being a bit deceitful in the food they sell you, there’s good reason for it, as there’s a little something called “food fraud,” and it happens in the most unusual of instances.

Dr. Rosalee Hellberg, a food fraud expert, spoke in depth about mislabeled products on The Foodbeast Katchup Podcast, rattling off food after food that you’ve probably had in your kitchen cabinet.

Dr. Hellberg and her team at Chapman University have dedicated their lives to researching fraudulent food, identifying the specific genes within different foods, and ultimately discovering sketchy practices within the industry.

While some companies have been publicly exposed and corrected the course, food fraud is easy to repeat, and has been a problem for hundreds of years.

Here are the foods, and some fraudulent examples that will leave you walking around the grocery store with constant doubt.

__________

Pepper


“Pepper is really interesting ’cause it has a really long history of fraud,” Dr. Hellberg said. “Even dating back to Roman times, there are instances of… fraudulent pepper being sold.”

While you’d think pepper would get its act together over the last 600 years, fraudulent practices still occur today. From adding dirt, to dried juniper berries, pepper manufacturers still try to get that weight up on the cheap. If you ever feel your lemon-pepper shrimp tastes like dirt, now you know why.
__________

Honey

Honey is the third most faked food in the world, according to New York Times best selling book, Real Food, Fake Food.

Dr. Hellberg said that with honey, a lot of times, sugars will be mixed in, so you’re not actually getting the 100 percent honey that’s put on the label.

If you’re in the loop with bees being wiped out at a rapid pace, this one may or may not be that surprising to you.
__________

Wine


“With wine there’s a lot of possibilities for fraud,” Dr. Hellberg said. “Some of the most common are mixing finished wines. You take one type of wine, another type of wine and mix them together.”

This one’s crazy because unless you’re a professional wine taster, how can you even tell they’re being mixed? Dr. Hellberg suggested the best we can do to avoid this, is to get to know the source, find their ethos, and go with wineries with good reputations. You can even ask if they’re actually doing anything to prevent wine fraud. While this form of fraud won’t hurt you, it might hurt your wallet if you’re paying for a premium wine and not actually getting it.

__________

Chocolate


“With chocolate, one of the main things I found was counterfeit chocolate,” Hellberg said. “People are taking substandard chocolate and putting it under a fake label of a chocolate brand that’s well recognized.”

One widely publicized occurrence of this type of mixing came from the Mast Brothers’ chocolate, which was accused of using melted chocolate from Valrhona chocolates, and selling them for $10 a pop. This type of chocolate fraud is common globally, according to Hellberg.
__________

Olives


“…In Italy, fraudsters were taking olives, and typically the substandard olives that are discolored, they were soaking them in a copper sulfate solution, which gives them a nice bright green color. Hellberg said. “They’re called, ‘Painted Olives.’ If you’re eating copper, you’re going to have some health problems.”

This happened in 2016, and Italian police seized 85,000 tons of those green olives. Believe it or not, this type of olive fraud is pretty common, so keep a close eye on your olives.
__________

Olive Oil

Like a few other things on this list, olive oils have been found to be mixed with lower quality olive oils. In 2016, it was reported that 80 percent of the Italian olive oil sold in markets is fraudulent.

“If you see something that’s out of wack, that doesn’t look right on the label, or the price doesn’t match, that’s usually a good indicator that it might be a fraudulent product,” Dr. Hellberg said.

While a lot of Italian olive oils are mislabeled, our own resident food scientist Constantine Spyrou argues that getting Spanish olive oils that are labeled “Italian” isn’t really a downgrade.
__________

Sushi


One of the most common forms of sushi fraud comes from the ol’ red snapper. It seems that every time researchers dig into the fish, regardless of year, or location, the fish has been faked.

It’s so bad, that you’ve probably never truly tasted real red snapper.

“Most of the time studies have found it’s not red snapper,” Dr. Hellberg said. “We actually just completed a study in my lab… and again, ‘red snapper’ was not red snapper.”

We can even take it one step further, as in 2017, a study showed that almost half the sushi in Los Angeles is mislabeled. From halibut to flounder, there’s a good chance Angelenos are not actually getting the sushi they ordered.

Categories
Culture Food Trends Grocery Hit-Or-Miss Packaged Food Products

7-Eleven Is Selling Realistic DIY Sushi Candy And We Tried It Out

Japan is known for its cool and unusual snacks because their use of aesthetic and flavors always grab attention. Years ago I came across a YouTube video of someone making sushi candy out of powder and water. There was no explanation, just the quiet sounds of a little plastic spatula mixing the powder together.

Now, years later on an every day trip to 7-Eleven, I came across the same cute box with illustrations of delicious sushi gracing the cover. It made me stop in my tracks. How did this 7-Eleven even consider ordering this? It doesn’t even matter, my time had finally come to give this tiny food kit a try.

The Box

This adorable little box depicted what I guess should come of this project. The instructions on the back seemed simple enough. The arrows show where to begin and where to take it. The Japanese was cryptic to me, but luckily the box directs you to Popin’ Cookin’s website where you can find instructions in English.

The Tools

When you open the little package you get an assortment of packets, a tiny plunger and spatula, and a small black rectangle of “nori.” Each of the little packets will make either rice, tuna, egg, salmon roe, or soy sauce. The little plunger is to put the perfect amount of water for each section of this bento box. The packaging itself serves as a guide for how big to make your rice ball and how long to stretch out the seaweed.

The Rice

There’s one thing strange about this kit: The box says “sugar powder cake mix,” with its online description stating it as grape flavored, though all I can smell is bubblegum. The “rice” looks and has the exact texture and stickiness of sushi rice which is a little eerie. I don’t know what to expect of the taste.

The Egg & Tuna

Next comes the egg and tuna mixes. Each of their sections have little details of swirls and lines so that the gelatinous mixtures will have the markings of egg and tuna. Since the box says to wait 3 minutes for it to form, let’s move on to what else we can get into in this box.

The Salmon Roe

Now, for what I was really fascinated by: The salmon roe. This requires a watery mix for the orange-hued liquid to be dropped into in order to form the tiny balls of “roe.”

As a side note, handling the plastic spatula was an experience within itself. When mixing the powder, the spatula makes light scratching noises against the plastic. Because the compartments are so small, you are forced to make gentle movements to avoid overflowing any of the mixtures into the wrong cell; I was put into a meditative state because of the necessary focus. The motions and sounds of mixing were entrancing and it recalled a similarity to the ASMR videos I love.

Despite my intention to be as cautious as possible I am just not coordinated enough for that kind of precision. Some of the rice powder from earlier had sprinkled into various chambers and my “roe” suffered because of it. They were less like eggs and more disfigured into comma-like shapes. It was fun to see the small eggs form as if it was a science experiment. As soon as the orange fluid comes into contact with the blue water, it rushes to arrange together without getting stuck to the others.

The Soy Sauce

I understand that soy sauce is an important part of sushi, but the visual of it in this situation made me a little uncomfortable. The brown color represented soy sauce exactly and that’s not exactly appetizing for candy, even if it doesn’t taste like it.

Stretching the seaweed was no easy feat. I wanted it to be as smooth and perfectly straight as it looked on the box. It had the texture of thick gum and the more I pressed into it, it brought out thin white lines instead of a solid and shiny black color. On the other hand, the measuring space for the rice was satisfying to use. I measured my little rice balls happily and honestly, if I didn’t have it I would have probably made them all too big.

Assembly Time!

The instructions say to split the egg and tuna in halves to make your sushi. As a tuna lover I have to say it looked so real, the color is perfect as well as the consistency. The egg was a nice color but egg isn’t usually as slimy! The seaweed wrapped around the rice well enough but I couldn’t figure out how to seal it closed without squishing all of it.

My Masterpiece

Here is my masterpiece! Okay, some angles are better than others.

Now as for the taste?

When I popped the tuna into my mouth it was the strangest sensation. The texture of the sushi was on point. It was exactly what you would expect from it, but the taste was so sweet. It wasn’t grape or cake or bubblegum, it was just sugar. The texture of the fish was perfect, and the egg a little slimy. The salmon roe had a skin that popped and released the juice into your mouth just like popping boba. It was fun, but I couldn’t bring myself to eat more than one to be honest.

The Verdict

It was a fun little project. It satisfied my tiny food obsession and I got the ASMR tingles from the mixing and squishiness of the rice. The taste, however, was awful and I probably would not recommend that you eat this. If the sushi firmly held its shape it would not have been so bad. The texture of the sushi was almost too realistic and the melt in your mouth experience I love from quality fish was not what I needed from this sugary clump.

I saw several other kits at 7-Eleven that make noodles, rice cakes, and donuts. Those are a little scary after the flavor I got from this, but honestly I’m still going to try it.

To my knowledge, this can be found only at the 7-Eleven in San Gabriel, CA on Las Tunas drive for $7.99.

Categories
Culture Features Restaurants

Nobu’s Protege Serves Dishes Inspired By Ancient Samurai Street Food

Student to the prolific Nobuyuki Matsuhisa, or otherwise known famously as simply Nobu, chef Takuya Umeda spent a quarter century honing his sushi-making techniques from the iconic Japanese chef at many different Nobu locations across the globe.

His newest restaurant Umeda, located in Hollywood, CA, is his first solo venture from his teacher’s shadow — complete with Nobu’s blessing and all.

A majority of Umeda’s menu is inspired by the Edo Period in Japan, where street food and bite-sized portions were common fare.

“I believe serving traditional dishes makes clear the identities that we are a Japanese restaurant,” he tells Foodbeast, as he bustles through kitchen.

“I discovered Edo tradition and techniques while cooking at a long-established restaurant in Sapporo City, and it inspired me to grow my knowledge by visiting, dining, and researching the practices of as many old Japanese restaurants as I could,” Umeda said.

Japan’s Edo period took place from 1603 to 1867 and is essentially the heart of Umeda’s menu. The chef adopts the use of ingredients and centuries-old cooking methods that were valued in Japan during that era.

“I find creativity and inspiration by holding firm to the foundation of Japan’s ancient cooking principles,” he says. These principles include honoring the five flavors of sweet, spicy, salty, bitter, and sour. Another key element is the five different ways to prepare Japanese food: raw, fried, boiled, grilled, and steamed.

Behind all the modern appliances in his Los Angeles kitchen, tucked away in the back of the house, lies a traditional Japanese grill he cooks skewers on over a bed of Binchō-tan charcoal.

Dishes like his grilled chicken skewers are a prime example of what’s fondly referred to as “samurai street food.”

Samurai Street food is essentially anything you can eat quickly on the go and served commonly through street vendors. Convenient bites like yakitori (grilled chicken skewers), a bowl of noodles, and sushi are all something a hungry samurai can speedily consume before returning to his post at a moment’s notice.

Chef Umeda’s menu harnesses the timeless fare and executes them with a blend of modern and traditional methods that he acquired from Nobu and other Japanese culinary masters throughout his lengthy career.

Layered with peppers, the chicken is pierced with kushi (bamboo skewers), dunked into a sweet terikayi-like marinade, and finished over a bed of white oak charcoal.

Quality and tradition go hand-in-hand with Chef Umeda and a prime example is his use of Inaniwa noodles. He sources these thin noodles from a single family-run business in the Akita region of Northeast Japan where a 350-year-old technique has been passed down to the eldest son of each generation.

While the chef reassures that there are many noodle manufacturers that yield a delicious product, he has yet to come across one that compares to his supplier — both in quality and respect for tradition.

His Inaniwa udon dish highlights these noodles as they are served in a savory broth accompanied by three plump chicken meatballs. A simple dish that packs centuries of technique, sensibilities, and flavor behind it.

“Sushi, tempura, noodles, grilled [meats], those are still popular at present time in Japan,” Umeda explains.

With a humble gait, always speaking with a smile, Chef Umeda was the only pupil to receive Nobu’s blessing to venture out, open his own restaurant, and incorporate the famed chef’s sushi techniques.

As I sit there watching him craft my meal, I’m mesmerized by the deft and efficient motions of his hands as he produces the sushi. It was as if his fingers were plucking notes from an invisible instrument whose music could only be heard by my taste buds.

The sheer speed and technique was something a camera could barely capture.

During Umeda’s time studying under Nobu, he learned two important things he still holds onto today.

The first was to put the customers first.

“Making customers happy above all else,” Umeda shares. “Their happiness and satisfaction is paramount.”

With that priority established, the second lesson draws from the chefs drive to constantly improve himself: Always looking for a better way to create, finesse, present each and every dish – because there is no best way.

“My greatest pleasure is making our guests genuinely smile after dining with us, which is something that Nobu has been able to do all of these years,” reflects Umeda. “Nobu taught me to find the joy in making guests happy in their daily lives through something as fundamentally simple as a good meal.”

As Umeda Restaurant begins its second year, Chef Umeda continues to build upon the teachings of the great Nobu through both his food, the exemplary way he hosts his patrons. Umeda’s spotlight on samurai street food, however, is what may set this sushi chef apart from his mentor.

Categories
Grocery What's New

Whole Foods Is Now Testing Sushi Sandwiches Based On A Popular Japanese Dish

Sushi burritos and sushi donuts have already laid their claim to fame as new forms for the classic Japanese item. Whole Foods is now expanding on that success and testing their own version of a popular Japanese item: sushi sandwiches.

Known as onigirazu in Japan, these on-the-go meals feature your typical sushi ingredients wrapped up in seaweed and presented like a sandwich. They’ve been gaining popularity on Instagram as of late for the visual contrast of the sushi ingredients and the rice. Whole Foods appears to be capitalizing on that for this brand new product.

The sushi sandwiches are being produced by Genji, a sushi manufacturer that operates in over 200 Whole Foods stores. The items have been around since about early January, and The Washingtonian reports that the Logan Circle, Pentagon City, Rockville, and Vienna stores in Washington, D.C. are currently carrying the onigirazu.

Whole Foods is currently pre-making and packaging the sushi sandwiches ahead of time, making it easy for a grab-and-go option. It does lose on some textural contrasts and desires since it is pre-made (the rice can apparently be quite dense, for example). Thus, while it’s a novel convenience option right now for Whole Foods, I wouldn’t mind seeing this as a dope made-to-order option, right next to the teriyaki bowls you can get built fresh in multiple stores.

Genji Sushi has confirmed to Foodbeast that the onigirazu are testing in Philadelphia, DC, and Virginia. A 4-piece sushi sandwich featuring spicy tuna, however, just launched nationwide last week. Any Whole Foods where Genji Sushi operates is now carrying that item.