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Sushi Buyer Beware

Blowfish isn't the only potentially toxic thing on Sushi Zen's menu.

By Daniel Maurer

Food Network to Publish Magazine?; Food-Porn Photos for Sale

Hearst Publications is supposedly in talks with the Food Network to publish a new food magazine and has been stealing editors from Every Day With Rachael Ray for months. The only problem? The channel’s big stars don’t seem to be a part of the publication. [Mixed Media/Portfolio] Soto chef Sotohiro Kosugi responds to fears of too much mercury in tuna. “Eat with balance. Balance of meals is the key to a healthy life.” [Bottomless Dish/Citysearch] Related: Sushi Eaters Face Tuna Fears Neil Ferguson, Marco Pierre White, Gordon Ramsey, Jamie Oliver, and others are leading a full-on British culinary invasion on our shores. [Chicago Tribune]

Restaurants Feeling the Effects of Mercury Scare

Earlier today we showed you a letter Takahachi is giving its customers. It's not the only restaurant around town feeling the fallout. “We were very busy yesterday, but today is so quiet,” a sushi chef at Hatsuhana in midtown whispered the evening after the January 23 article was published. “Even customers that are coming in are asking for no tuna.” In the Village, celebrities usually wait patiently in line for a table at Japonica. “I don’t know whether it’s the article, the economy, or our customers are on vacation, but all of a sudden our business has fallen down 20 to 30 percent, and 15 percent of those who come in have changed their regular orders. It’s even worse for my friends who have restaurants in Westchester and Connecticut. There is a lot you can eat at sushi restaurants other than tuna,” said owner Shingo Yonezawa. “It’s a nightmare.” And not only Japanese restaurants are affected. “When we put tuna on the menu, it was such an easy sell,” said Danny Abrams, owner of The Mermaid Inn and others. “We were selling seventeen to twenty per night. After the article we were down to six or seven. Even our tuna tartare appetizer stopped selling. I was surprised it dropped as much as it did.” —Beth Landman

NYSRA Fights Calorie Law Again; Bovine Waterboarding Video Released

The New York State Restaurant Association filed another suit in federal district court yesterday to prevent a law requiring some restaurants to post calorie information on menus and signs from being enacted. [Grub Street] Was the Times guilty of scaremongering with its slew of mercury-in-tuna stories? [Slate] With the recent spate of wine bar openings, it’s worth considering what really constitutes a wine bar. A good wine list is a good start! [Mouthing Off/Food & Wine]

EPA Joins Mercury Craze; A ‘Seinfeld’–Inspired Food Study

The Environmental Protection Agency is beginning to examine the mercury levels in the twenty most commonly eaten fish in the New York City region. [NYT] Top Chef seductress/hostess Padma Lakshmi is moving into a full-floor loft in Alphabet City. [The Real Estate/NYO] The holy triumvirate of burgers, fries, and milk shakes continues to dominate the nation's culinary imagination. [NRN]

Huckabee Skips Sushi; Super Bowl Snacks Abound

Finally, the presidential candidates “respond” to the sushi crisis. Mike Huckabee’s stance? “Nowhere does the Bible mention sushi in the Garden of Eden.” [NYT] If you’ve ever dreamed of being a Michelin Guide inspector, consider first that in a year “each inspector evaluates 240 restaurants, spends 130 nights in hotels, carries out 800 inspections, writes 1,100 reports and drives 18,000 miles.” [Guardian] The international conservation group Oceana has issued a report saying that it found mercury levels in tuna sushi throughout the United States to be just as high as in New York’s supply. [Diner’s Journal/NYT]

Calories to Show Up on Menus Starting March 31; Mercury Levels Horrifically High in Tuna Sushi

The Board of Health decided yesterday in a unanimous vote to make all chain restaurants with fifteen or more outlets – approximately 10 percent of the city’s restaurants – post calorie info on their menus starting March 31. RIP, 1,230-calorie triple Whopper with cheese. [CNN] Laboratory tests run on sushi samples from twenty Manhattan stores and restaurants revealed shockingly high levels of mercury in bluefin tuna, so high that the FDA could technically take the fish off the market. And if you’ve got to have your tuna sushi, you’d best head to Fairway and avoid Blue Ribbon Sushi at all costs. [NYT] Gourmet editor-in-chief Ruth Reichl is “obsessed with” Momofuku Ssäm Bar, “like everyone else in New York,” according to her. [TONY]

Great American Chef Sick; New Yorkers Enjoy Too Much Mercury

Grant Achatz of Chicago’s Alinea, arguably the most acclaimed of all American chefs, has an advanced form of cancer but vows to beat it. [Chicago Sun-Times] A quarter of New Yorkers have elevated mercury levels in their bloodstreams. Especially those who eat fish. [NYP] It’s tough for Top Chef rivals Howie and Joey. When your life has turned into a paella whipped up by Philip K. Dick and Andrew Sullivan, it's time to move to the suburbs with a pair of chocolate Labs. [Amuse Biatch] Related: ‘Top Chef’’s Howie Tastes the Big Time, Briefly, at Gotham Bar and Grill ‘Top Chef’ Biases Finally Out on the Table