The Tuna Bar in Old City in Philly Sushi-making Class

The Tuna Bar in Old City in Philly Sushi-making Class

Photos: Amaris Pollock

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Philadelphia, PAPhillyBite Tuna Bar Philly - Going out for sushi now takes on a whole new meaning at The Tuna Bar in Old City in Philly. Starting on June 18th, which is also International Sushi Day—Executive Chef and Owner Ken Sze is bestowing his sushi-making skills to the public.

As a fan of sushi, I dived into the invitation to participate in the inaugural sushi-making class. I have always been curious how the delicate and delectable rolls are made, and so this was a great opportunity. Which if you are interested in it, the classes will be held once a month and taught by the Owner and Executive Chef, Ken Sze.

Chef Ken SzeChef Ken SzeThe small and personable class was a lot of fun, and an enriching experience that we all enjoyed. What is even better is you get to take home the mat you used during class, along with a Tuna Bar t-shirt to wear proudly! If you are curious to know what to expect, here is what we had the pleasure to enjoy:

First, Chef Ken Sze explained how to properly filet his sushi-grade fish, during which he also spoke about choosing proper knifes. While demonstrating how to filet the fish, he also showed us how to use the imperative culinary device in the correct manner.

After-wards we were taught how to correctly make sushi rice, the amount of rice to use per roll, and how to spread it on the seaweed wraps. There’s a trick to everything that goes into making a sushi roll, including an old adage “less is more.” Unfortunately, I didn’t pay enough attention to that tip and subsequently the first roll I made had salmon that spilled out the sides.

At each step, we learned another crucial tip. Our next step, we learned that there’s a proper side to apply the rice to; the seaweed has a rough side and a shiny side, but I will let Chef Sze teach you which one is correct. Then a tip that I missed—twice—was to flip the seaweed so the roll is rice-side-down. Since I was too overly-anxious I ended up with 2 perfectly edible (but inside-out) rolls before I added the fillings I wanted.

Once you’ve placed the protein and veggies of your choice, that is when you begin to roll. This was a perfect time to interact with your fellow classmates, and also find the humor in doing this for the first time. You’ll quickly learn why there’s even a specific way to make sushi rolls, taking care to not roll the mat into the inner part of the sushi, or to use too much pressure. Trust me, this was an amusing part of the class.

After some comedic rolling, we brought our imperfect but lovingly made rolls over to our Chef-turned-teacher so he could guide us on the correct slicing of the roll. And if you have not caught on to the theme here, there is also a technique for slicing them into bite-sized morsels.

Once everyone had completed their creations, we gathered around the table to indulge in our hand-made treats. And while we did, the friendly and smiling servers poured a sake pairing along with two other surprises presented for the table to share.

“If you have a curiosity and an appreciation for sushi, this class is for you. Sushi Making Class was created to promote education and experimentation around the art of sushi, technique, tastes and types of ingredients used in the process,” said Chef Sze. “Cooking has the ability to connect people in a fun, interactive way and that’s exactly what we want our ‘students’ to take away from their experience at Tuna Bar.”

Chef Ken Sze was correct in that summation. I had a lot of fun taking his class, as did the rest of my fellow students, even building a new friendship amongst the group. I highly recommend taking it with a friend, or for a fun date night. If you are interested in attending one of Chef Sze’s classes, you can reserve your spot by visiting, Due to the small class sizes, spots are limited and available first come first serve.


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