The Ottumwa Courier

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October 22, 2007

Sushi's raw deal

Chef: Many never try this healthy dish, thinking it's only served uncooked

JOPLIN, Mo. — Milk, eggs, bread and sushi.

Local grocery lists will never be the same after a trip to the Joplin PriceCutter store that’s turning a Japanese delicacy into food for the common man.

Since 2005, the local PriceCutter has been offering fresh, handmade sushi in its deli through a partnership with South Carolina-based company Sushi With Gusto. Hein Zaw Han is a sushi chef originally from Myanmar and makes all of PriceCutter’s sushi products.

While he’s made sushi in California, Memphis, Chicago and Oklahoma City, Zaw Han said the Joplin sushi market is one of the best he’s worked in. He has some regular customers who’ve been coming to eat his food for the past 21/2 years.

But business could always be better, Zaw Han said, and he hopes others will fall in love with the same Japanese food he has.

He thinks people are often turned off by the term “sushi” because it is associated with raw fish, but he said many variations are cooked or don’t involve meat. The only thing sushi has to contain to still be considered sushi is rice and seaweed. Some of the filling choices include cucumber, avocado, carrots, cream cheese, cooked crab meat or raw tuna.

“When I first got here I thought, ‘Oh no,’ because I didn’t see anyone that looked like a sushi eater, but more people eat it here than you would think,” Zaw Han said. “People always think it’s raw meat, but it’s not all raw. There are people in this town who would like it, but have never tried it.”

However it’s prepared, Zaw Han said sushi is relatively healthy and can serve as a snack, hors d’oeuvres or a meal.

“It’s not fried, and there’s no grease,” he said.

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