Raw knowledge: Learning how to roll at Benihana

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Last Thursday, I found myself at an open-air mall in Broomfield learning to roll sushi from a nice Hispanic sushi master named Beto. Yes, I was at Benihana's Sushi and Sake 101 instructional class, alongside about thirty other folks who'd doled out $35 to learn the basics of sushi rolling and sake tasting.

"Over the past few years, Benihana has introduced many new additions and upgrades to its menu, restaurants and offerings in order to better serve its guests," explained a Benihana representative. "The Sushi and Sake 101 classes, introduced a few years ago, is one way for Benihana to provide guests with the history of sushi and lessons in the art of ordering, rolling and eating it."

While the class was introduced a few years ago, this was the first time it had been offered in Colorado. Patrons were taught how to create a sushi roll, a hand roll and some simple nigiri. Along with this, each student got four tastes of sake, a cocktail and a sushi sampler -- not a bad deal, and a good first date activity, with lots of alcohol (if you so choose) and a chance to show your hand skills.

Our instructor told us about the origins of sake and sushi and, among other things, explained the importance of rice and which side of the nori (the seaweed) to put that rice on (the rough side!). The lesson was useful -- although occasionally hard to hear over the Benihana's birthday song serenading nearby customers.

Still, I went home with some new knowledge, a picture with the sushi master and a nice gift bag, complete with a Benihana's collared shirt.

This class was something of a trial run for Colorado, so if you're interested in attending the next one, keep your eye on the Benihana's website.

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