Never has a food drawn gasps of delighted “Oooohhs” and disgusted “Urghhhhs” in equal measure more than the humble sushi.
It’s simple fare in its birthplace of Japan, as common as bread and butter is to Brits. But its arrival to Sunderland’s shores has caused quite a stir.
Nudo in Market Square is the first dedicated sushi place to open in the city.
Prior to the Newcastle-based chain taking over the former dry cleaners opposite the station, sushi-lovers like me had to traipse through to the Toon to get a fix.
I’m not alone in my passion for the dish: there’s been a buzz of excitement on social media for weeks about sushi finally being available here.
But, on the other side of the culinary coin, there’s those that seem almost repulsed by it. “Urgghhh, raw fish” people have said to me when asked if they’ll be trying this new eatery. Here’s where the confusion lies: sushi isn’t just raw fish.
Sushi is actually the sticky rice used in the dish which is filled with as many cooked meat and vegetable options, as there are raw fish options.
Of course, raw fish on its own - or sashimi to give it its correct name - is available here. But there’s a whole host of other options to tickle your tastebuds.
The shop itself is a clean and modern affair with basic, sleek interiors.
Takeaway boxes and cartons in fridges are lined up along one wall for you to choose from, as a takeaway option or to eat at one of the sprinkling of tables upstairs.
Boxed sets of sushi start from £3 for a basic avocado and cucumber set to £5.20 for a more exotic salmon and tuna sashimi set. Sushi’s often written off as an expensive choice for food and while I’ve eaten in over-priced sushi chains, this one offers some of the cheapest options I’ve seen - for a higher quality of food.
There’s a kaleidoscope of colourful choices here, but it was the salmon sakura set (£4.80) featuring salmon sushi on rice and seafood rolls with avocado that caught my eye.
It was filling, but not sickeningly so, and is a far healthier option that my usual lunch choice of a supermarket sandwich. To add extra flavour, each set comes with soya sauce and wasabi paste sachets for you to dunk your morsels into. Just go easy on the wasabi - it’s eye-watering stuff.
There’s also a good range of noodle soups, such as meatballs with noodles (£4.95), which staff top up with boiling water at the counter, as well as vegetable cartons for snacking, such as edamame beans for £1.80.
What’s also great about the arrival of this food is that it’s brought with it an Asian approach to convenience. Unlike other eateries in The Bridges, it’s open until 9pm every night.
My only quibble with what’s become my new favourite spot to eat is that they charge you for chopsticks (8p) and a fork (5p). It’s only pennies, but you shouldn’t have to pay to pick up your purchase.