Bureaucrats Ruin Everything, Sushi Edition

government oppression comes in many forms (AP)

government oppression comes in many forms (AP)

If I’m ranking fine dining experiences, “perfectly prepared sushi” falls just a tiny hair below “perfectly prepared dry aged steaks.” And it might even be a tiny hair higher, given that I can grill steak at home but I can’t make sushi at home.

Of course, government bureaucrats in New York City want to ruin this for everyone, because government bureaucrats can’t stand it when they don’t have absolute control over everything. Scott Rosenberg, the owner of one of the finest sushi restaurants in Manhattan, has had enough:

I opened Sushi Yasuda so that I could eat delicious sushi whenever I wanted. But now the cuisine I love is in danger: A well-intended but totally nutty provision in the New York City health code bars food workers from using bare hands when preparing raw food. […]

But all sushi chefs — if they are any good — use bare hands. When a health inspector pops in, the chefs slip on a pair of gloves, to the dismay of the poor customers who suddenly have to eat a meal made with latex gloves (at least until the inspector leaves).

As Rosenberg notes, preparing sushi is a skill—they’re not frying up hamburger patties, they’re preparing raw fish—and forcing chefs to wear gloves greatly reduces their ability to use that skill. They can’t feel the oils, they can’t sense the knife strokes. Besides, the process by which sushi chefs make their food aids in the effort to fight contamination (I had no idea vinegar water served so many purposes!). These are all commonsense reasons why it’s idiotic to require sushi chefs to wear gloves.

The bureaucrat, like Hippocleides, doesn’t care. The bureaucrat has a fiefdom to maintain:

Last week, New York City’s Department of Health closed the popular, acclaimed East Village restaurant Sushi Dojo. The reasons, according to the official report and a statement provided by the DOH, were “a combination of bare hand contact and food out of temperature.” The following day, the restaurant’s Gansevoort Market offshoot, Sushi Dojo Express, was also closed. Somewhat surprisingly, in a statement provided to Eater, Dojo chef David Bouhadana — whose third restaurant, Dojo Izakaya, is still open — wrote that he was closed because of “BS rule, a rule I don’t stand by. Sushi is being ruined [by] gloves, freezing fish and more issues.”

I never used to be a “damn all the bureaucrats” sort of guy. But man. Between the effort to shut down Uber and the fight to keep tasty sushi out of your mouth (to say nothing of the efforts to require hundreds of hours of training in order to allow people to braid hair), I’m slowly being radicalized.