On Sunday, 20 students had the opportunity to go to AKA Sushi, a Japanese restaurant in Jackson, and take a three hour class on how to make sushi. The event was sponsored by Albion College’s Residential Life and the Asian Awareness Group (AAG).
Students signed up for the event one week in advance, and on Sunday they filed into Albion College vans for the fifteen minute drive to AKA Sushi.
AKA Sushi is not normally open on Sundays, but the owner agreed to teach this class to Albion students after Marcus Dawson, the Director of Residential Life, reached out to them. Dawson, who knows Duke Lee, the manager of AKA, thought this would be a fun opportunity for students.
Dawson then asked if the AAG was interested in cosponsoring the event alongside Residential Life. San Pham, a junior and the President of AAG, was happy to cosponsor the event.
In past years, AAG has sponsored events that allowed students to make sushi rolls on campus, but this is the first time that they have cosponsored an event on this larger scale.
“AAG originally wanted to only cater sushi for our meeting, but sushi class sounded interesting, so we just winged it,” Pham explained. “This is going to be, like, a test run to see if we can organize this event more often.”
The event itself was Dawson’s original idea. As a friend of Lee’s, he was able to set up the class for interested Albion students.
Dawson explained that part of the reason he wanted to put on this event was because he was a friend of AKA’s owner, but also because he goes to AKA at least twice a week.
“I’m a big sushi fan, and I know that others love sushi as well. I also wanted to give students an opportunity to get off campus and explore a new culture,” said Dawson. “San from AAG and A.J. Mattson, the [resident director] for Wesley Hall, were brought on board because they also share similar interests and wanted to do something special for our students.”
Dawson hopes that the event can be duplicated in the future.
“This was AKA’s first time doing a class so I’m sure it will only get better the next time they decide to do something like this,” said Dawson
Once students arrived at AKA, they found that the entire dining area had been opened up as a classroom. Tables were set and ready with ingredients for the students to make their rolls.
Students gathered around the table and watched Duke Lee, the manager at AKA, demonstrate how to make three different rolls, a California roll, with avocado and crab meat, a tuna negi roll with tuna and green onions and a hand roll with tuna and avocado. Students were promised they would be able to eat these rolls once the class finished.
Lee began the demonstration by showing students how to cut avocado with an extremely sharp sushi knife.
Lee explained that some believe that once you cut yourself with a knife for the first time, it is only then can you embrace that knife’s spirit and then is it truly yours. He then explained that he embraced the knives’ spirits at AKA many times in the year that he has been making sushi there.
Luckily, no students injured themselves while making the sushi, although some did embrace the practice of holding avocados in their hands to make better cuts during the cutting process. However, most decided to cut their ingredients on the safety of the table.
After this, Lee showed the class how to slice a cucumber so finely that it could be unrolled like a sheet of paper. To the amusement of a cheering class, several students attempted to slice the cucumbers themselves.
Then came the fun: Creating the rolls themselves. Students were shown how to roll up rice and spread it across nori sheets. Subsequently, they were told what ingredients to add before they wrapped each roll.
Once the three rolls were completed, the teachers brought out spicy mayo, wasabi and eel sauce for students to liberally spread on their rolls before eating them.
After the event, with a little time left over before they needed to return to campus, some students snuck next door to grab Starbucks for the drive back to Albion.
Overall, despite management saying that they felt their set up was a little “chaotic,” because it was the first time they had ever done something like this, students seemed to really enjoy the tutorial.
“I would definitely recommend this for future students,” said Meredith Nelson, a student who participated in the event. “Seeing how it was made and then making it ourselves was really satisfying.”
Many of participants took advantage of the opportunity to make extra rolls (using leftover ingredients) to bring them back to campus for dinner.