I’m a sushi lover and for years, I’ve heard about the remarkable taste of fresh wasabi. Most restaurants use imitation wasabi that comes in a tube because fresh wasabi is very expensive. So I jumped at the chance to try it when I saw it on the menu at Mashiko in West Seattle.
It cost $3.00 for a quarter-sized dollop of fresh grated wasabi, and the server told me to put it on a piece of sashimi without any soy sauce to get the full effect of the pungent root.
My husband–an imitation wasabi fiend–was not a fan of the fresh stuff. “It tastes like dirt,” he said.
As for me, I was surprised that there wasn’t a total flavor disconnect (e.g. grape-flavored candy and fresh grapes) between imitiation and fresh wasabi. The fresh wasabi had a familiar sharpness and burn but wasn’t sinus-clearing (as I had feared). I liked how the rough texture of the grated root contrasted with the silken smoothness of the sashimi. However, I didn’t enjoy the overall effect. As my husband had observed, the fresh wasabi was gritty, and it had an unpleasant plastic aftertaste. It also did nothing to enhance the flavor of the fish.
My husband and I considered that maybe we weren’t experiencing first-rate fresh wasabi and maybe that’s why it was a disappointment. I’m not so eager to try it again, but I will still enjoy hot wasabi peas. Wasabi ice cream? That’s another story.