Why Is Sushi So Expensive Here are 2 Very Good Reasons

Sushi is a Japanese dish consisting of raw fish served on rice. It has been around since the Edo period (1603-1867). Sushi is usually eaten as an appetizer or light meal.

There are different types of sushi depending on where it comes from. For example, California rolls are made with fresh tuna, avocado, cucumber, and mayonnaise. On the other hand, spicy tuna roll is made with spicy tuna, avocado, cucumbers, and mayonnaise.

Sushi is also known as nigiri because it is traditionally served on a piece of vinegared rice. The rice is placed on a plate and then topped with the ingredients. Have you ever had a strong desire for sushi but decided against it since a decent platter may be very costly? Don’t worry; almost everyone who isn’t a sushi chef believes that sushi is too costly. We’re talking about genuine, delicious sushi. We’re not talking about the knock-offs seen in supermarkets; they are within most people’s budgets. So, let’s have a look at why sushi is so costly!

Why is sushi so expensive?

The first reason is labor costs. Most restaurants charge high prices to cover their employees’ salaries. In fact, many chefs make more than $100 per hour.

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This means that if your restaurant serves 100 customers, each customer will pay approximately $10.00. If there are only 10 tables, this amount can go up to $200.00. However, some places offer discounts during lunch hours. You should check out these offers before making reservations.

Sushi is costly because a decent roll of sushi requires a high level of ability from the chef. Apart from that, sushi ingredients are frequently of high quality and must occasionally be imported.

A real, live person is rolling the sushi, preparing the rice and fish, and presenting it to you. Because it’s an ancient Japanese dish, expect the cooks to take considerable pleasure in their work. In fact, understanding the (brief) history of how sushi came to be can help us put things in context and comprehend things better.

History of sushi

In Japan, sushi was originally called "sushiman." This name refers to a man named Susumu Yamada who lived in Kyoto in the late 19th century. He invented what we now call sushi by combining two dishes: sashimi, which he ate every day, and kamaboko, which he used to wrap his mouth when eating sashimi.

In 1872, Yamada opened a shop selling both sashimi and kamaboko. His business grew quickly until one day while serving a customer, he noticed something unusual happening. A small shrimp rolled into a ball fell onto the table. When he picked it up, he discovered that it tasted like salmon roe. That discovery led him to create a new type of food – maki.

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The sushi we know and love today is derived from a dish known as narezushi, which dates back to the Bronze Age. It was prepared using raw fish and fermented rice. For weeks or months at a time, the rice would keep the fish alive. Meat preservation was critical in the absence of refrigerators. Only the fish was eaten in this rendition, not the rice. But that’s how the concept of sushi was born.

The recipe evolved through time to include vinegar-infused rice wrapped around thinly sliced raw fish. This eliminated the requirement for fermented rice, allowing the rice to be consumed as part of the meal.

Sushi became both tasty and convenient thanks to the use of vinegar, which ensured that the fish would not deteriorate for a few days or weeks (if properly stored).

The seaweed sheet became more of a decorative as time went on, rather than a required covering to keep everything contained. As a result of the chefs’ experiments, we now have uramaki (inside-out sushi), the California roll, rainbow sushi, salmon sushi, and so on. Let’s take a look at why sushi is so costly. We got a peek of it in this historic part, and you’ll see that both causes are inextricably linked.

Sushi requires an amazingly high skill

When I say skilled, I mean someone with years of experience under their belt. The average sushi chef has been working since they were 15 years old. They’ve learned all about cooking techniques, but also about presentation. And most importantly, they understand the art of balancing flavors.

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They’re constantly experimenting with different combinations of ingredients, trying to find the perfect balance between sweet, sour, salty, bitter, umami, etc.

When preparing sushi, a chef or cook must possess a variety of talents, all of which must be at a high level. From handling seafood to preparing rice, rolling and folding sushi properly, adding just enough wasabi, and determining which tastes go well, there’s a lot to learn. That’s no simple task, especially when you consider they have to be extremely accurate and have incredible knife skills. Have you ever seen a sushi chef slice fresh salmon that thinly? We couldn’t do much more than crudely chop it into cubes, much less slice it! What is this nonsense about ‘oh come on, cooking rice isn’t difficult? Boiling rice isn’t difficult at all.

It takes years of practice before even being able to make decent sushi. You can only imagine what goes into making good rolls.

There’s a reason why sushi restaurants charge such exorbitant prices. If you want to eat delicious sushi, then you need to pay top dollar.

The ingredients in sushi tend to be expensive

In addition to having to master many culinary arts, sushi chefs must source some very special ingredients. These items aren’t cheap:

  • nori, the seaweed sheet
  • sticky white sushi rice
  • rice vinegar
  • sugar
  • seafood
  • add-ins like cucumber, avocado, cream cheese
  • toppings like sesame, roe, fried onions
  • wasabi
  • pickled ginger
  • soy sauce, on the side
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For a variety of reasons, the components must frequently be imported. Even in Asian marketplaces, the appropriate sort of rice and nori may be difficult to come by outside of Japan.

And if you think your local grocery store sells any kind of sticky rice, you’d better believe me. It doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world except in Asia. In fact, the Japanese call it "koshihikari" because it originated from Hokkaido.

If you don’t live near a large city where specialty stores abound, you might never get to try these things. But once you start eating them regularly, you won’t care how hard it is to obtain them.

Not just seafood, premium seafood is used for sushi

You probably know that fish is one of the mainstays of sushi. However, not every type of fish makes sense for sushi. For example, tuna is great for nigiri, but its flesh tends to dry out quickly. Salmon is ideal for makizushi, but it’s too fatty for nigiri. Tuna is best suited for otoro, while mackerel is excellent for kaiware.

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But there’s another important consideration besides taste. A certain amount of fat is necessary to keep raw fish moist during preparation. This means that leaner types of fish will require additional marinating time. This is particularly true for eel, as it contains lots of gelatinous protein. Eels take longer to prepare than other kinds of fish, so they should always be ordered ahead of time.

But sometimes, we simply cannot afford to wait around for our food. And since most people prefer their sushi with little or no oil added, it would be wasteful to use extra amounts of olive oil. So, instead of using cheaper cuts of meat, we often opt for those that contain higher levels of fat. The result is that we end up paying more money for something that costs us nothing. Sushi chefs must also carefully select the right cut of meat. Some meats are perfect for nigiri, others for maki.

In any case, seafood is already rather costly. If you’ve ever gazed at a chunk of fresh salmon or scallops, you know what I’m talking about. Shrimp are the cheapest, and crabmeat can occasionally be seen in sushi.

Anything else will be costly, partially due to the fact that it is seafood, and partly due to the fact that it is really fresh and high-grade seafood. Take, for example, fresh tuna. Deep crimson in color (much like beef), with a slightly sweet and meaty flavor. Fresh salmon is equally delicious, but it’s nearly as costly as tuna. Sushi choices such as mackerel, halibut, squid, sea urchin, freshwater eel, jellyfish (really! ), and albacore may both entice and disgust you.

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How long does sushi last ?

Sushi has been enjoyed throughout history. Ancient Chinese records indicate that the practice was common among royalty. Today, however, many restaurants serve only pre-packaged items. They’re convenient, easy to eat on the go, and cheap.

However, this convenience comes at a price: quality. Most packaged foods have undergone some form of processing. That includes cooking, freezing, drying, salting, smoking, pickling, fermenting, etc. Sushi made with raw fish lasts around 24 hours, whereas cooked seafood sushi lasts just 3-4 days. If you’re preparing your own sushi, you should be aware that the vinegar in the rice is intended to keep the fish from spoiling. Sushi with fish on the inside will last longer since the fish will not deteriorate as quickly.

That being said, eating sushi right after you finish cooking is always a smart idea. Otherwise, the fish would lose its taste.

If you have a lot of food and need to keep it, make sure you use an airtight container. If necessary, wrap it with clingfilm, but make sure it’s airtight. Keep it in the refrigerator’s rear corner; don’t touch the back panel or it may freeze. You should check the ‘best by date on store-bought sushi rolls. It normally takes two weeks, however, we strongly advise you to consume the sushi much sooner. Keep sushi in the fridge at all times, whether it’s fresh or leftover!

If you have any other food-related questions, be sure to check out the linked articles below; we’re always adding more food facts to make your life simpler.


In conclusion, if you want to enjoy authentic Japanese cuisine without breaking the bank, then sushi might be worth considering. However, there are plenty of alternatives available. For instance, you could try sashimi, which is usually served sliced thinly across the grain.

Or, you could order tempura, which is fried battered vegetables and seafood. There are even vegetarian options available. Just remember that these dishes tend to cost less than traditional sushi. I hope this post helped you understand why sushi is so expensive and helped you with your food curiosities.

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