Children learn ancient art of candy sushi rolling

Benihana, a sushi and Japanese steakhouse located in Las Colinas, hosted a sushi rolling event for kids at Valley Ranch Library on Saturday, Aug. 26.

Kids from ages 8 to eighteen learned about the history of sushi rolling and chopsticks and made their very own traditional and candy sushi.

The step by step hands-on project included two different types of sushi. The kids first made a traditional roll that included seaweed, sticky rice, crab meat, avocado, and wasabi with soy sauce. The second was a candy sushi consisting of a rice crispy treat wrapped with a fruit roll up topped with a candy Swedish fish.

“It was a unique experience we got to share with different cultures, and it was fantastic,” said Laura Escobar, mother of Isabelle Escobar. “I’ve never made sushi before, so I learned how the process works. The kids, including my daughter, really love sushi. Now she had the chance to experience it firsthand.”

The kids were given special chopsticks attached to the base to make them easier to use and a lesson on how to properly use them, including what not to do, rubbing them together, sticking them upright in a bowl of rice and crossing them on a table.

“I enjoyed eating the candy sushi, even though I didn’t get the chance to eat the real one, because we don’t eat meat,” said Isabelle Escobar (9). “When I get home I will make a vegetarian sushi.”

“We wanted to reach out to the community and get involved with the kids,” said Robert Meeker, Benihana’s general manager. “We want to make Benihana more available to kids and let them know that there’s more exciting things going on and the opportunity to eat sushi.

“I really enjoyed introducing them to the Japanese culture, teaching them about the chopsticks, proper etiquette, and getting them to try something that’s different or something that they may not have experienced at home. It’s having the opportunity to teach them something new that they probably haven’t seen before.”

Meeker explained that besides the candy rolling event they host once a year, the only time they offer candy sushi exclusively for kids at their restaurant is on Children’s Day on May 5. This Japanese national holiday celebrates children’s personalities and their happiness. 

“I loved how the kids were so excited about making sushi and how they wanted to come to Benihana for more,” said Manuel Rojas or Manny, Benihana’s head chef. “I am the chef that makes the hibachi and the sushi, so I am very lucky to be here.  

“We do this event every year. This is my first time doing this and I really enjoyed it. I have been working for Benihana for 16 years. Since my major job is doing hibachi this is a major change. I’m use to making sure the guests are being entertained and having fun by doing tricks, but I love being in front of people. I was really happy to be here today with all of the kids.”