Diners to go on enjoying their sushi, but ‘hold the sashimi’

PETALING JAYA: For some sushi fans, it’s still a case of “let’s dig in!”

“I will still go to Japanese restaurants whenever I get the cravings,” said engineer Albert Tey, 36.

He is not put off by the news that Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant began releasing treated radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean yesterday.

This has led to China banning seafood from Japan with immediate effect.

But Tey, who loves sushi, said he would be at ease indulging in omakase, a chef’s choice menu, saying that he had faith in the stringent requirements on freshness and safety.

Others, like copywriter Lai May Choon, have a more pragmatic view.

Lai, 38, plans to continue enjoying sushi as most of the salmon available in the Malaysian market is farm-raised rather than caught in the wild.

“Since farmed fish is taken care of in a more controlled environment, we need not be overly worried,” she said.

She also voiced confidence in Japan’s reputation for precision and discipline, saying that she believes the wastewater release would be closely monitored.

Property agent Stella Lau, 40, however, admitted that she would avoid consuming sashimi, at least temporarily.

But she has confidence in the safety of other sushi ingredients.

“Japanese restaurants offer a variety of choices. So I will opt for other types of seafood instead of air-flown seafood from Japan,” she added.

Kampachi Restaurants Sdn Bhd deputy general manager G. Balam said their outlets import products from Japan twice a week.

“Our products mainly come from the Kansai and Tokyo regions,” he said.

He explained that they had adopted a proactive approach by avoiding products from Fukushima and its surrounding areas.

“This practice has been in place for many years, since the earthquake in 2011 in Japan,” he said.

Kampachi has posted an advisory on its website to address concerns over the release of tainted water into the sea off the coast of Fukushima.

It said that its “suppliers have been strictly instructed not to source any seafood from that area”.

Sushi King Sdn Bhd’s head of marketing, Gan Phaik Hoon, said the restaurant chain was aware of the concerns about food safety.

“However, our seafood is not imported from Japan. Our fish, mainly salmon and saba, are sourced from Norway. Other seafood, like prawns, comes from Vietnam,” said Gan.

On its website, Sushi King also announced that its salmon and saba (mackerel) are from Norway.

Meanwhile, Kuala Lumpur Hoi Seong Fish Wholesale Association chairman Sing Kian Hock said most fresh seafood in the local market originates from countries such as Myanmar, Thailand, Indonesia and India, with no imports from Japan.“Some high-priced seafood items, like Hokkaido scallops and spider crabs, are imported only occasionally for specific needs and are not part of the regular supply.

“Salmon mainly originates from Norway,” he added.

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