100 Surprising Facts About Sushi - #2. Sushi was a Fast Food
(woodprint by Hiroshige Utagawa, 1837「東都名所 高輪 甘六夜待遊興之図」)
In the beginning, it was a street fast food served at a sushi stand, just like hot dog stand. We see the remaining of the original stand as a sushi bar at sushi restaurants. This woodprint by Hiroshige Utagawa shows the scene from busy Edo(Tokyo) street in 1837, sushi stand/kiosk pictured on the right side where the sign says "寿し". The style of sushi as we know is said to be popularized by Hanaya Yohei in Edo (old name for Tokyo) around early 1800. Edo supplied many varieties of fish from Tokyo bay such as shrimp, Kohada and Abalone. Due to lack of refrigeration, sushi chefs must “treat” fish by searing it, marinating in either soy sauce or vinegar before they are served. Tuna was not so popular at that time. Because the business was booming in Edo, many people moved from other areas, especially craftsman. Edo was full of single men and starting to create new lifestyle and culture. Food stands serving Soba noodle and tempura became popular among those who seek fast and easy meal. Sushi was also one of the popular food stand items.