AKA Sushi Hosts Class for Albion College Students

The front desk at AKA Sushi, where the sushi-making event was held. On Sunday, Albion College students had the unique opportunity to learn how to make sushi rolls from professionals at AKA Sushi (Photo courtesy of Sunny Kim).

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. 

The front counter at AKA Sushi where customers can sit and watch their sushi be made. Albion College students, after arriving, would soon find out how to complete the sushi making process customers watch at the sushi bar (Photo by Kellie Brown).

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.

Duke Lee, a manager at AKA Sushi, demonstrates how to cut an avocado with ease in his hand. Students were more than a little unnerved by this idea (Photo by Kellie Brown).

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.

San Pham, a junior, cuts into tuna under instruction. Many students chose to cut their food on the table instead of in their hands, as they were told they could (Photo by Kellie Brown).

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.

Junior Hala Yazdani practices slicing cucumbers for the rolls. While the rest of the class cheered him on, Duke Lee demonstrated how to cut a cucumber thinly enough to put it in sushi before allowing students to try (Photo by Kellie Brown).

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.

Students at the AKA sushi class roll up their tuna negri roll. They then could move on to making their last roll (Photo by Kellie Brown).

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.

Senior Sunny Kim’s completed plate of sushi. After the class completed teaching students how to make these three rolls the way they would be in the restaurant, students were offered the chance to make more rolls (Photo by Kellie Brown).

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.

Senior Sunny Kim eats a piece of of her three finished sushi rolls. Students were given the chance to eat the rolls they had or bring them back to campus and make more (Photo by Kellie Brown).

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.

Sophomores Chrystelle Lopez and Alexis Robinson make extra sushi rolls to take back to school. Students were offered the opportunity to make more than three rolls once the class was officially finished (Photo by Kellie Brown).


About Kellie Brown 32 Articles
Kellie Brown is a senior English Professional Writing and History double major from Traverse City, Michigan.

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