A celebration of Japanese cuisine at Wegmans in Chestnut Hill, Mass. is back, bringing the excitement of Tokyo’s famed Tsukiji fish market straight to customers in the store. On Friday, Mar. 31 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday, April 1 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., a large space within the Market Café ordinarily dedicated to self-serve prepared food bars will be transformed by ice tables filled with stunning displays of exotic fresh fish flown in overnight from around the world (while supplies last). Some shoppers are known to travel nearly 100 miles and wait in line outside Wegmans for this popular event, which offers unique cuts of fish prepared by Wegmans’ premier sushi chefs in partnership with Japan’s top fishmonger, Uoriki.
The ringing of a brass bell signals the start of the main attraction: A Maguro no Kaitai show at 12 p.m. on Friday, and 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Saturday. In the time-honored Tsukiji tradition, the show will feature whole, farm-raised Bluefin tuna, sourced from Kindai University and Takuyo in Japan, masterfully taken apart with a 6-foot knife and filleted in front of the crowd. The tuna is portioned and the final cuts are made into sashimi-style pieces called saku blocks, which are then packaged and carried out on trays for customers to purchase.
A crowd-sized game of “rock-paper-scissors” played in Japanese offers a coveted award to the final players: a free package of nakaochi, a highly-prized scrape of tuna from the bone. There’s also an auction of toro, the valuable fatty tuna belly known for its melt-in-your-mouth flavor and tender texture.
The rare and highly-coveted Bluefin tuna is renowned for its rich, refreshing flavor, clean finish, and fine texture. No antibiotics or growth hormones are used in the farming process. Wegmans’ Executive Chefs John Emerson, Takahiro Hachiya, Tadao Mikami, Satoshi Yamaguchi, Loi Pham, and Dan Tartaglia will work alongside master fish-cutters from Uoriki Japan during the breakdown of each tuna and sushi preparation.
“The Tsukiji market is the largest fish market in the world and it’s been an impressive cultural landmark for more than 80 years,” said Emerson. “We’re proud to honor the spirit of the market at this special cultural celebration for our customers.”
Cut fish orders are taken with the help of Japanese translators from Uoriki, as well as several fluent Wegmans employees. Among the varieties of sashimi to order are octopus from Tsukiji, scallops from Hokkaido, uni (sea urchin) from California, and Kampachi (similar to yellowtail Hamachi) from Hawaii.
“Planning and hosting this event gives us the chance to highlight our exceptional chefs and the best fresh ingredients, while creating a culinary experience our customers won’t find anywhere else,” said Wegmans Chestnut Hill Store Manager Rich Boscia.
Additional food offerings during Sushi Fest include miso-marinated fish, a Shabu-shabu station, Yose Nabe hot pots with clams, shrimp, ponzu sauce, fresh ginger, and Meiji Chocorooms cookies. Tastings of Japanese tea, Ramune sodas, a variety of craft sake, and Suntory Japanese whiskey provide refreshment during the event. A vivid array of orchids will add color to the festivities.