Being in the restaurant business, you're always looking for something that will give you an edge with the competition or something new that will bring in more customers, along with keeping your regular clientele satisfied. If you're considering adding a sushi bar to your restaurant, you're definitely on the right track: Sushi is a booming business, and due to the growing popularity of this delicate and delectable Japanese dish, it could do wonders for your dining establishment.
Unfortunately, however, you can't simply slap a sign in your window proclaiming the arrival of sushi and serve it the way you do other foods. You need, primarily, a consultation with a commercial refrigeration service, along with many other preparatory engagements:
Highly Specific Training
Anyone handling raw fish must be aware of how to do so properly, lest they risk putting everyone, including your customers, in jeopardy. Sign up for a safety course and bring your manager(s), then include safe handling of the sushi and all its components in your general training. Certifying everyone who handles the sushi will give you and your customers confidence in the quality and safety of what you're serving.
A Hiring Event
A real sushi chef has had years of training; thus, if you're going to officially incorporate sushi into your menu, you probably need to hire a specialty chef. You could test the waters by having sushi nights, such as on Thursdays or Fridays, negating the need to hire a full-time chef before you know how well the menu addition will go over.
The Right Commercial Refrigeration Equipment
Even if you already have a state-of-the-art restaurant, raw fish requires unique refrigeration equipment. Therefore, you may need to invest in a few additional items:
- A refrigerated display shelf.
- A stainless steel prep table, also refrigerated.
- A dry table for rice storage and preparation.
- A new freezer or section of your current freezer, if your sushi will be frozen.
Unless you're located close to the ocean and can abbreviate the time between fish being caught and fish being served, you're going to need to freeze your sushi, in order to eliminate any potential parasites. Since sushi has a short shelf-life, your equipment must perform at peak, with easy-to-read temperature displays. Commercial refrigeration is tantamount to your sushi success, so it's a good idea to make time with a professional who can explain all of your options and eventually, provide training on the new items.
Although these raw fish rolls have their roots in Japanese tradition, you can, as a trendy restaurateur, concoct your own recipes, based on local favorites and/or your own creative genius. You might even shape your sushi for special occasions, such as hearts on Valentine's Day or spooky sushi for Halloween.
The spices involved, from Gari (pickled ginger) to Sriracha Sauce, present you with a world of wonderful combinations you can experiment with until you find a signature sushi that'll have your customer base in a tizzy and see the restaurant's reputation reaching new heights.
A Sushi Menu
It's important that you include your new dish on your menu, but it's also important to notify customers — especially pregnant women — of the possible dangers of consuming raw fish. Make your menu semi-permanent, so you can add new recipes as you create them or depending on the availability and price of the different ingredients.
An Advertising Blitz
Be sure to include advertising in your plans to let everyone know what's in store. Carefully calculate the amount of raw fish you purchase to coordinate with advertised specials and to avoid having to dispose of expensive seafood because it wasn't used in time. Employ word-of-mouth advertising and definitely offer a few free samples to your "regulars" to tantalize them into ordering and letting everyone they know how amazing the newest addition to your menu is.
Sushi rocks, and when your restaurant is rolling it, your bottom line could soar. While sushi is really easy to enjoy, though, it's not so easy to store and prepare. Talk to a commercial refrigeration service, get yourself and your staff ready, then give the call for all hands on deck because your place should be hopping.