The concept is so simple it should have been obvious, but Fusion, a new sushi chain in one of the states you would least expect to see it happen is changing the way people look at sushi. The way it works is just like Chipotle. You choose between seaweed, white rice or brown sushi rice and add a protein, which can be traditional sushi ingredients such as tuna or salmon, or more regionalized choices like steak or chicken. Then you add in some veggies, and top it off with a sauce of your own choice. You can get it customized how you like it and they make it right before your eyes.
This is not sushi as an art form, and it is a very different experience to sitting in front of a sushi chef who has trained his or her entire life. This is a modern approach to sushi, complete with online ordering and a complete description of exactly how many calories, fat, sodium, carbs, fiber and protein you are getting in your roll. This allows health conscious consumers to choose low calorie sushi options. It is efficient, quick, and ideal for people on the go. Fusian is what happens when social media, time crunched millennials and a nation wide craze for sushi combine together to create something delicious and novel. The ingredients are made to fit local tastes, which explains the availability of sauces like sweet chili and sriracha and the fact that you can get cream cheese in your roll (which is ironically labelled as a vegetable on their website!).
Here is a screenshot of their menu (notice the last item on the vegetable list!). I had to get a picture before they changed it. Reminds me of when senators were trying to call pizza a vegetable.
Maybe you are skeptical. How can sushi be any good when you’re in Ohio? Won’t the fish be less fresh, and the ingredients of poor quality, especially when it’s served at fast food prices?
Fusian’s popularity would answer that question. With nine stores in Ohio, the build your own sushi chain is thriving. Half of the battle for Fusian is education people and getting them to try new things, and the founder has made it his mission to explain the way that restaurants purchase seafood. The secret is in the way that the entire sushi distribution chain works. Massive seafood suppliers dominate the market so unilaterally that Fusian in Ohio is buying their ingredients from the exact same distributors as restaurants in New York, and almost all of the restaurants in the United States for that matter, explains founder Zach Weprin. He claims that because his chain saves cost on staff and training compared to traditional sushi restaurants, he is able to provide top tier ingredients at more economical prices.
One small niggling detail that does not quite seem to hold up in the comparison between a New York sushi restaurant and Fusian is that sushi is incredibly popular in New York compared to Ohio. This means that large quantities of seafood are imported daily, leading to a very efficient infrastructure, and consumers are eating it up at a staggering rate. How is it possible that a restaurant in Ohio can have the same freshness as a top tier sushi restaurant in New York? This worry is countered by the strict laws and standards that are required for serving raw fish (and ingredients such as steak and chicken). There are stringent requirements which Fusian had to meet before being allowed to operate. The fact that there are already nine Fusian restaurants speaks to the chain’s ability to grow and negotiate with suppliers and distributors from a place of strength, and should set minds at ease that the seafood is not fresh.
How does Fusion do on sustainability?
Fusian uses plant-based food packaging, drinkware, and flatware. They have recycling stations in store and are committed to sourcing from responsible and credible suppliers. The last part is a little unclear. Fusian does not say how their suppliers are considered responsible, for example if they have achieved sustainability certification such as MSC. We wish Fusian would be a little more in depth on their website in regards to sustainability. It’s so important for consumers to be able to make educated choices.
Fusian looks like the perfect lunch to get in the middle of a busy workday. Simple, customized, and quick, with fresh ingredients and a modern look. I wish it would spread to where I live!