The Most Common Sushi Rolls and Some Unique Alternatives

Fine cuisine is often a delicate balance between the traditional and the experimental, the old favorites and the new sensations, and it’s certainly true for sushi.

At Matsuhisa, we’d like to take the opportunity to examine some of the common sushi rolls that are known classics, and show off a new twist or two.

California Roll

This roll is the definitive example of a classic roll that was turned around into a new taste, which in turn became a classic in its own right. The story goes that a sushi chef in California was facing two problems: He was having a hard time getting fatty tuna (toro), and his customers complained about the nori wrapping’s texture. He solved the tuna problem by substituting avocado, which had a similar texture. As for the nori, he simply inverted the roll so the rice was on the outside and the nori hidden inside. Sometimes, it really is that simple.

Hamachi Roll

There’s a simplicity to a hamachi (yellowtail) roll that almost makes it the sushi equivalent of comfort food. The yellowtail, enhanced by scallions and given some salt and spice with soy sauce and wasabi, is something any sushi chef worth their knives should be able to make easily. But sometimes the basics are merely a steppingstone to new variations. The tiradito roll at Matsuhisa takes the basic style of a hamachi roll, but swaps out the yellowtail for white fish, then adds serrano pepper, cilantro,and anji panca, a Peruvian chili paste. Definitely a fiery take on an old favorite.

Las Vegas Roll

Chef Nobu has, on occasion, made an exception for customers that has turned out unexpectedly well. A very light pan sear on sashimi. Sea urchin tempura. These worked out so well we incorporated them into the menu. But one of the more common rolls in recent years is one you’re not likely to find at Matsuhisa.

A Las Vegas roll has all the ingredients of a really good, almost decadent, sushi roll. Salmon or crab (depending on where you go), avocado, eel sauce – so far so good. The tempura battering and deep frying, understandable, though not something we’d necessarily do. The cream cheese, though, is where the line is drawn. As Chef Nobu once remarked about cream cheese, “It’s not my food.”

There’s no harm in asking for a variation from time to time, particularly if there’s a new flavor sensation you’ve been hearing about. But we at Matsuhisa like to think we stay on top of the latest food trends, and we’d like to show off what we can do with our already incredible menu.


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