The sushi experience

Benjamin Barrett gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM
Sat Sep 3 19:26:34 UTC 2011

In 2000, an episode of Friends ( has Ross claiming he has "unagi," a special awareness, and Rachel says she thinks that's sushi (perhaps says it's eel). Although it might be hard to draw a line, a number of sushi dishes are well known in English by their Japanese names as this Friends episode demonstrate, and people use the Japanese when discussing sushi.

The OED has maguro and toro, though the AHD has neither.

The entire list at probably ought not to be added, but surely at least the following are common enough among softcore eaters as to merit consideration (I checked the OED for the more popular of these, but not all):

unagi - freshwater eel
anago - saltwater eel
uni - sea urchin gonads

tai - seabream snapper
sake ('sah keh)/shake ('shah keh) - salmon

otoro (ootoro) - the fattiest part of the toro
chutoro (chuutoro) - the next most fatty part of the toro

ebi - shrimp
amaebi - sweet shrimp (which should probably be added as well); Pandalus borealis served raw, often served with the cooked head

tako - octopus (which perhaps deserves an entry as pulpo from Spanish)
ika - cuttlefish

ikura (from Russian икра/ikra) - salmon roe
tobiko - flying fish roe

gobo (goboo - 牛蒡) - burdock root

tamago - a sort of egg omelette similar to tamago-yaki, but sweeter and probably containing dashi
umeboshi - pickled ume (a fruit which should probably be entered as a separate entry), often called a "pickled plum"

agari - hot green tea served after the meal
atsukan - hot sake

nigiri/onigiri - a single piece of sushi formed with rice and something on top
temaki - a hand roll
maki sushi - a roll. The OED has "maki zushi," but do English speakers really voice the "s" voiced as in Japanese?

kaiten sushi/kaitenzushi - the sort of sushi shop where the sushi comes around on a conveyor belt - I don't think I've heard non-Japanese people use this word, but what do they call it? Wikipedia ( says "conveyor belt sushi," "sushi go-round" and "sushi train" (Aus).

sushi boat - a boat-like dish used for serving sushi

American sushi ( (the OED has California roll as a draft addition that appears slated to not be an independent entry):
Philadelphia roll - with cream cheese
spicy tuna roll - not on the Wiki page, but this seems to be common, made sometimes or always with Vietnamese fish sauce
spider roll - with soft-shell crab

kudasai - please give me. Questionable because its use represents speaking Japanese, but perhaps worthwhile along the lines of "buon appetito" or "s’il vous plaît."

hashi (common in Hawai'i)/ohashi - chopsticks

Aloha from Maui
Benjamin Barrett

The American Dialect Society -

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