The wife and I stopped by Ichiban Sushi in McLean the other day for lunch. It’s a homey, humble spot that serves standard-issue nigiri and hand rolls. It’d be a good restaurant to frequent if you lived in the neighborhood and had a hankering for raw fish. The only reason I’m singling out the place is because of a certain menu item that caught my attention—-the Utah roll.
It was such a strange name that I couldn’t help but ask the waitress about it. She had no doubt heard the question a 1,000 times before, but she still indulged my inquiry. The chefs, she said, really wanted a name that was, to use her words, “not usual.” They wanted a name that people would remember. So the Utah roll was born.
The Utah roll’s Americanized name is only too appropriate: It is stuffed with shrimp tempura and a water main’s worth of avocado, all topped with slices of mealy tuna. It is, in short, a big, sloppy round of fatty ingredients. It’s the Big Mac of hand rolls. Americans, the waitress indicates, love it.
They just can’t remember the name. They come in asking for the Washington roll or the Wyoming roll, she says. They know it has an odd handle, but they can’t somehow remember to equate Mormons with Japanese-American cuisine.