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Have you tried 'box' sushi at this New West restaurant?

Salmon oshi, a pressed sushi served with sauce and spicy jalapenos, will have you saying arigato at the newly-opened Sanjo Sushi.
Salmon oshi is a bestseller at New West's Sanjo Sushi.

It’s not unusual to inhale a mountain of calories and blame your weighing scale around the holiday season. While there sure is an undeniable pleasure in digging your fork into something deep-fried, a certain restaurant in New West is here to defend the taste of something raw. 

The family-owned restaurant Sanjo Sushi (which opened on Oct. 12), formerly a franchise called Ton Ton Sushi, offers a dish that’s an ode to an age-old Japanese tradition of preserving raw fish. 

As far as the sushi lore goes, until the 15th century, only one kind of sushi was popular — one which took a year to make. According to the book The connoisseur’s guide to sushi by Dave Lowry, it was made by pressing a combination of rice and fish with a weight on top to let the combo ferment. 

A fast-food version of it, according to the book, was possible only by the 18th century, with the use of soy sauce as a seafood topping and vinegar to ferment rice — it’s the kind that you get today. 

If you are a sushi snob, you probably know that sushis are available in different forms. There is maki sushi that has all the sushi ingredients wrapped in dried seaweed, inari sushi that uses a fried tofu wrap, and then there is oshi sushi — the one that's in demand at Sanjo Sushi — which refers to any kind of sushi that’s pressed and packed tightly in wooden rectangular moulds, just like they did back in the day to let the fish and rice ferment. 

A taste of Osaka

Oshi sushi is a dish that was introduced in Osaka, Japan, said Nikki Ji of Sanjo Sushi. It’s called box or pressed sushi for a reason, and “is one of the oldest forms of sushi,” she added.  

“This dish is still trendy in Japan and also in North America.” 

Salmon oshi, the restaurant’s bestseller, is made with salmon sashimi (bite-sized raw fish), sushi rice, home-made sauce and jalapeños.

“The Salmon oshi is double-layered. The fish oil from searing and the creamy house sauce go well with the jalapeños,” said Ji.

It’s been a hit with the customers, as per Ji. “We've noticed that customers come back and order it again!”

They sell about 20 to 30 oshis on an average per day. 

The dish goes best with a side of the sushi ginger — a Japanese pickled ginger called gari; or you could order one of the several rolls like the dynamite roll (a Western-style sushi that may contain prawn tempura and roe) to go with it.  

With this dish, you can ease off being a calorie police and remind yourself that salmon is packed with Omega-3 fatty acids — good stuff for your heart and memory, as per Health. “Salmon is an excellent source of healthy proteins that enhance immunity and help recover from illness,” added Nikki.

“It is also a perfect introduction to raw fish if you are new to it because we lightly sear the top of the salmon before it's served,” she said. 

Sanjo Sushi, located at 546 Sixth St., is offering oshi (besides a few other menu items) at half the rate on Nov. 13. Those who want to wrap their hands around something hot this cold season, the restaurant also offers udon (noodle soup) with chicken, beef, tempura, or veggie.