The state’s new restaurant rating program is helping to keep our eateries on their toes, but sushi chefs say it's their hands that are caught holding the burden.
Torae Torae in Mo'ili'ili has been serving up sushi for six months.
Since opening, its been trying to roll pass the growing pains of doing business. There's been progress, but now employees say they can't get their hands free from yet another restraint: latex gloves.
It’s very difficult as a sushi chef because being able to feel the texture of the fish, the product, the vegetables is very, very important,” said Hide Yoshimoto, Torae Torae Chef.
“Sometimes I might catch a bone. With the glove, it’s like an extra layer of skin, so I can’t really feel the texture of the product,” added Yoshimoto.
Under the state’s new placard program, workers that handle prepared food have to use gloves, but that doesn't sit well with Japanese tradition where bare hands are barely noticed by safety officials. It's the norm.
“If it was to happen in Japan, there would be a lot of angry chefs,” said Yoshimoto.
Customers we spoke with say some of the state’s new rules shouldn't apply to some sushi restaurants.
“I think sushi joints should be an exception because I go to Japan all the time and I eat sushi and they’re bare hand preparing the sushi and it’s fine. If it’s fine there, as long as they’re washing their hands, I’m fine with that,” said Chihye Sano, a Torae Torae Customer.
Workers at Torae Torae say they'd like to see the new glove rule taken off their hands for good.
“Especially with sushi, we have to keep very clean and wash the rag, wash our hands. I think it’s the same thing with the glove,” said Yoshimoto.
We talked with two other sushi chefs at different locations. One of those businesses said they applied for an exemption through the health department that would allow its chefs to continue to use their bare hands while handling food.
The other business we spoke with said that exemption takes a lot of documentation and is almost not worth the time. Like Torae Torae, that business wants the new rule to change completely.