So what's with the egg (Tamago) sushi on the menu at sushi restaurants? Does anyone ever order it? Is it merely reserved for sushi beginners who are afraid to try raw fish?
There's actually a very specific reason why sushi chefs offer egg sushi. In Japan, many sushi purists judge the quality of a sushi restaurant not by the quality or freshness of the fish, but by the effort and care that goes into making these egg omelets. Purists will order the egg first, and decide if they will ultimately finish their meal or simply walk out.
These egg omelets are traditionally made with eggs, dashi (a bonito and kelp broth), mirin (sweet cooking wine), and sugar. The omelet is mostly sweet, but has a slight savory aftertaste from the dashi. The texture is also something that chefs take pride in. There's a certain firmness and jiggle point that needs to be achieved.
As a kid growing up in Japan, I always liked egg sushi because it simply tasted good. I think the logic behind the purists' thinking is that any chef who puts so much care and effort into something that most people don't typically order is probably a very meticulous and thoughtful chef. I can see that in Japan where fresh fish is abundant, one would need something other than the freshness of fish to judge a good restaurant. Next time you're at a sushi restaurant, order the egg sushi first.