Sushi is considered a Japanese specialty cuisine in the United States. A look in the rear-view mirror flashes a different image of this ancient form of eating, which is a central menu feature of Asian Paradise at Montgomery and Fields-Ertel Roads in Symmes Township.
Rudiments of sushi are found in the Neolithic Age, which loosely might be dated from 9,000 BCE. In lay terms, this period of prehistory is the New Stone Age, when obsidian stone tools became all the rage, and agriculture began to change the cultural dynamic from nomadic to fixed living styles.
In areas of what now is modern-day China, rice cultivation — hence agriculture — began about 11,000 BCE, a bit ahead of the agrarian curve elsewhere. Growing rice became widespread by 8,200 BCE. When rice fields would flood from overflows of rivers and lakes, fish would be caught in the rice paddies as waters receded. An over-abundance of fish was the result. So, what to do? Fermenting the raw fish with a rice and vinegar combination became the go-to way of preserving these seasonal windfalls.
The know-how to do that played forward ten thousand years has turned into big business. For instance, Sushi Industry News research purports that sixty-two percent of American adults have tried sushi, and eighty percent of West-Coasters enjoy eating sushi. More than four thousand “sushi bars” are spread across the USA today, and sushi is an option in nearly seven percent of America’s restaurants. All those sit-down eateries and carryout options combined do twenty-two billion dollars in annual sushi sales.
At Asian Paradise, more than half the menu is devoted to sushi and sashimi starters, rolls, and entrée selections. There are two sushi chefs to turn out sushi orders at busy times in the restaurant, so high is the demand for this cuisine specialty. The sushi chefs are in addition to a full kitchen turning out wok-based Asian and Pacific Rim dishes that make up the other half of the menu; dishes such as Vietnamese basil beef and General Tao’s chicken.
Recently, we tried the soho roll, with its beautifully bright spring-green soybean wrap (pictured) — truly a delight to eat. This roll features tuna, salmon, yellow tail, and avocado, and is delicately flavored when eaten with none of the accouterments provided. Personally, I eat a portion of the roll as is, and enjoy the subtle flavors and freshness of the ingredients. But also, it’s a taste treat to mix the wasabi into a little soy sauce, and dip the sushi into the mixture, which creates an explosion of flavors. Or one may want to spread just a little of the wasabi paste on the sushi—as I also do—and eat. Be prepared for a sinus-opening rush that’s like no other I have experienced—but it’s a fun way to eat the sushi all the same.
Before entrée dishes and along with the sushi, there is a salad that is great accompaniment and a balance to a good portion of sushi spread with wasabi. Look for the kani salad on the first panel of the menu. For Jewish diners-out eating kosher style, know that the “crabmeat” identified among the ingredients is imitation crab, made from soybeans, so, not crab at all. The salad features a julienne of the imitation crab and cucumber, dressed out in a spicy sauce. The chilled salad is delicious, and I’m betting you will enjoy it with or without the sushi.
At Asian Paradise, GM Rainbow stated that she is under the same pressures that other restaurants are facing regarding the supply chain, price issues and attracting help: “It’s not easy to find people to work; we have that problem too. We could use couple more server, but we don’t have: I think most customer, they know that it’s not easy, so it’s okay (with them).
“Same with a lot of stuff (food supplies) we cannot get it one week, then next week we do. But some things, they way too high (to buy). Last year, we pay maybe twenty dollars a pound for sushi-grade (seafood) and now, forty dollars a pound, if you can get it at all. We work around stuff the best we can,” she said.
Recently she went to New York City and to Chinatown there to buy things needed for her restaurant. “I buy little side dishes for soy sauce; we need and cannot get here. They have in Chinatown, but not enough, so I buy what they have and bring them back. Not enough, but we make do. Do the best we can, day to day,” she said.
See you at Asian Paradise!
9521 Fields Ertel Road
Loveland, OH 45140