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Dirty Dining exposes dirty secret of sushi industry

Posted: 4:56 PM, Feb 27, 2019
Updated: 2019-02-28 08:09:34-05
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LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — In tonight's Dirty Dining, 13 Chief Investigator Darcy Spears returns for the fifth time to a shopping center near Summerlin where she exposes a dirty secret of the sushi industry.

What you see on a sushi menu may always not be what you get.

Hanabi in the Village Square shopping center on Sahara and Fort Apache got a 37-demerit C grade on February 12.

One of its many violations? A sushi swindle: food misrepresented on the menu with escolar being sold as super white tuna.

"You can find super white tuna all over the sushi restaurants that's all escolar," said Hanabi Owner and Chef Andy Kim.

Escolar is not tuna. It's a kind of snake mackerel -- a deep sea bottom-feeder that can be bought on the cheap and sold more expensively when it's called super white tuna.

Kim says the misnomer is more like a nickname but when the Health District brought up the misrepresentation, he took it off the menu.

"I don't have to take the risk to sell it," Kim said.

Escolar does carry a real risk.

It's commonly referred to as "Ex-Lax fish" due to the severe gastrointestinal problems it can cause.

The FDA does not explicitly ban escolar but advises against distributing the fish. It is banned in other countries like Italy and Japan.

"Everything's poisonous," said Andy Kim. "Everything. Even grass, even vegetables too. Tomatoes. Everything."

Speaking of tomatoes, inspectors found black growth on whole tomatoes in the Hanabi fridge and a cut tomato sitting on a dirty shelf.

Kim says inspectors came before the restaurant opened while staff was still cleaning up from the night before.

"It was going to be removed anyway. We don't use those. Every time I tell my employees if you can feed your family, you can feed the customers. We don't serve anything you don't serve your family."

Inspectors fond mussels next to an open soap bucket and Teflon peeling inside the rice cooker.

There was dried food debris on knives, bowls, scoops, strainers and cutting boards; mold in the ice machine and excess greasy, dirty buildup throughout the kitchen on equipment and floors.

"They (health inspectors) were here for five hours and I thought they were trying to find something," said Kim.

Along with the C grade on February 12, Hanabi was ordered to clean up within 48 hours or face shut down.

Andy: I didn't sleep for three nights.

Darcy Spears: You took it personally.

Andy: Yeah.

His restaurant recovered and was back to a zero-demerit A grade on February 19.

"I really don't know what I did wrong," said Kim.

Kim thinks health inspectors need to better understand cultural differences in food preparation.

Kim thinks health inspectors need to better understand cultural differences in food preparation.

"Everything's different. Procedure is different too."

The same grade and same number of demerits fit two restaurants this week.

Mon Ami Gabi in the Paris hotel casino on the strip also got a 37-demerit C on February 11 for the cold line in the kitchen.

Inspectors documented multiple handwashing violations including a food handler who used his cell phone with gloved hands, then removed food from the fridge and removed the plastic wrap without changing gloves or washing.

There was a black-spotted tomato and slimy cucumber slice in the skewer container in the walk-in refrigerator and a piece of plastic in cooling mushroom soup.

Shallot reduction, duck confit, cooked clams and andouille hash were all expired.

Food that had to be thrown out due to unsafe temperatures included whipped butter, bowls of cut melons, bowls of salad, oatmeal and cooked pork.

Food was stored uncovered beneath disintegrating, dirty, rusty shelves.

Inspectors found mold and a hair in one jar of food.

A food handler wiped a cutting board with a dirty, dry cloth.

The granite counter top was dirty with food debris and the mandolin slicer stored as clean had residual food debris on it.

Mon Ami Gabi sent the following statement:

"On February 11, 2019, The Southern Nevada Health District conducted a routine inspection at Mon Ami Gabi. The restaurant relies on its work with the health department to maintain a safe environment for guests and employees, and we value the expertise and feedback provided during inspections.

"During this inspection, it was determined that some of our food temperatures could not be verified because of procedural recording issues. Immediate action was taken to address this and all of the issues discussed at the time of the inspection. We took the opportunity to work with staff and put controls in place to ensure these infractions are not repeated.

"Upon re-inspection on February 21, Mon Ami Gabi passed with "0" demerits and our "A" grade was reinstated."

Health report for Hanabi Sushi

Health report for Mon Ami Gabi