International Sushi Day the Plant-Based Way

Earlier this month we celebrated World Oceans Day, providing you with the best plant-based seafood options at restaurants throughout the US and seafood alternatives for cooking over at Mylk Guys. We broke down many of the reasons why plant-based alternatives are necessary for the future of our oceans and our planet as a whole. 

Today on International Sushi Day we’re interviewing the lovely Kelseay Dukae, who’s taking over the sushi world with her plant-based sushi pop up, Kinoko, in New Orleans.

Are you plant-based, and if so, for how long?

I was strictly plant based for about two years while living in California. After moving back to New Orleans, I’ve been slipping up here and there, but I still try to stay on the plant-based track. 

When did you start Kinoko and what inspired you to do so?
 I began curating sushi pop ups in New Orleans about two years ago. I saw there was a niche to be filled and felt privileged to be one of the first plant based sushi chefs in the city.  At first, I called my sushi pop ups ‘Veganori.’  However, the deeper I got into plant-based sushi, the more I began to discover that mushrooms were my favorite ingredient to incorporate into my creations. As mushrooms have acted my main sushi muse, I recently changed my pop up name to ‘Kinoko’ which translates to mushroom in Japanese.  

Did you go through any formal training to become a sushi chef?
I started working at sushi restaurants at 14, as I became obsessed with the culture and culinary techniques after my first sushi experience. I even lied about my age to be able to work there and gain whatever experience and knowledge I could. All throughout high school and college I worked front of house for sushi restaurants, always wiggling to the back of the sushi bar to get a lesson or just to watch. I’ve been playing with it for 15 years now, but only seriously for the last five years, which were all self taught. YouTube University! 

There aren’t many female sushi chefs in the World, why do you think that is?

There are old Japanese wives tales that women have a higher internal temperature, so there hands are too warm to handle the raw fish. Another being, our menstrual cycle changes the way we taste, which will create an imbalance of flavors we taste. This is an ancient Japanese mindset that has kept women from becoming sushi masters.  However, stereotypes are diminishing and old traditional thinking is not upheld as it use to be. The Japanese / sushi world is behind on seeing women as equals in the kitchen, but it is flipping to a more progressive state. I’m excited for the future of women sushi masters and thrilled to be in the mix! 

What is your favorite roll to make and why?
My favorite roll to create is my signature roll, the ‘Ikigai Roll’ which is teriyaki shiitakes, tempura sweet potato, seasonal peppers, avocado topped with charred enoki mushrooms, spicy mayo and ‘faux-nagi’ sauce. Ikigai translates in Japanese to ‘one’s reason for being’ and mushrooms and sushi are my reason for being.   I also love making my spin on the traditional crunchy roll, using jackfruit ‘sneauxcrab’ instead; the likeness is insane. 

Where do you get inspiration for your creations?
While reading traditional sushi menus, I get inspired to create a plant based alternative that mirrors the same flavor profile and look.  Farmers’ Markets also give me inspiration. I’ll go feel out all the seasonal veggies and just get into a sushi roll zone. 

What do you hope to accomplish with Kinoko?
I hope to be the first vegan forward sushi restaurant in New Orleans, as I am currently looking for a restaurant space. I recently ran a sushi bar, where I curated the menu to be 70% plant based and 30% fish. This structure lent to meat eaters trying plant based sushi, who may of not been interested in going to a full fledged plant-based sushi bar. They would get the fish options and I would suggest a plant-based roll or two for them to try. More than not, by the end of their meal they enjoyed the plant based options more, with flavors and textures that were new and interesting to them! 

With Kinoko, I would love to incite the nonvegan to start to appreciate plant based food and see that veggies and mushrooms can be indulgent! I also want to bring more awareness to the deliciousness and power of the mushroom and the infinite health benefits they contain. 

Where are your favorite [plant-based] sushi spots in the US?
While living in New York I loved eating at Beyond Sushi, it was one of my first plant based sushi experiences! I also love Shizen in San Fransico, they have a Michelin Star, and are my ultimate sushi goal one day. 

Your advice for anyone who wants to start making their own sushi?
Get yo rice right! You can’t have good nigiri or maki if your rice isn’t dang near perfect. I studied rice almost everyday for a year, as if I was in sushi school, until I really started nailing it.  It’s all about the look and feel, one of those things that takes much trial and error. 

Recommended resources for making sushi at home? 

Recommended products for making sushi at home?

  • My favorite brand of rice is Tamanishiki Super Premium Short Grain Rice. You always want to use a short grain!

  • I usually make my own sushi vinegar, but I do like the brand Mizkan.

  • I always use a wooden spoon and shallow wooden bowl while mixing my rice. The wood soaks up the extra water moisture created by all the steam from the rice.

  • Always wrap your bamboo roller with plastic wrap, this allows the sushi rice to not stick to the roller.

Where can we enjoy your delicious creations?
You can find me popping up at various venues around New Orleans. Follow @kinokonola and @kelseay_dukae on Instagram to see where I’ll be and my latest sushi creations. However, I’m looking for an intimate restaurant space right now to open Kinoko within the next year. Look out for Kinoko, we are going to make a wave soon!

Thanks so much, Kelseay! We’re stoked to watch you grow with Kinoko and so grateful for all of your plant-based options!

The Greatest Plant-Based Sushi Spots in the US

We scoured the US, with the help of our City Leaders, to find the best plant-based sushi options for you to enjoy on International Sushi Day!


Hana Japanese Plant-based sushi

Sushi 101 Plant-based sushi


Beji Sushi 100% plant-based sushi

Crustacean Fine dining in Beverly Hills with vegan Crab Cakes, sushi rolls, wontons, and a variety of vegetable dishes
Shojin— multiple locations 100% plant-based menu with sushi rolls, ramen, and killer apps
The Vegan House 100% plant-based menu with sushi rolls, curries, noodles, and more

Blue Bird Sushi Plant-based sushi options

Wrench & Rodent Seabasstropub

NoW Sushi 100% plant-based menu featuring daily special sushi rolls, Impossible wraps, and the usual suspects

Shizen 100% plant-based menu with inventive sushi rolls, nigiri, mouthwatering ramen, and amazing apps
Tataki Get the Brussel Sprouts, Purple Rain sushi roll, and the spicy edamame
Indochine Vegan 100% plant-based menu with creative sushi rolls, nigiri, noodles, and more
Minako Organic Japanese Cuisine Fresh, organic-ish plant-based sushi

Sea Ranger Seafood Station Hot Cheeto Roll and SPAM Masubi… enough said

Kensho Vegan Sushi 100% plant-based sushi rolls


Bamboo Sushi Fresh plant-based sushi rolls and more
Blue Sushi Sake Grill Fresh plant-based sushi rolls and more


Sticky Rice Clearly marked vegan sushi, starters, noodles, and more


The Slippery Mermaid Sushi Bar Ask for vegan options 

Planta 100% plant-based sushi

Sushiko Plant-based sushi options


Tane Vegan Izakaya Sister restaurant to the wildly popular Shizen in San Francisco, offering 100% plant-based menu of sushi and Japanese eats
Choice Health Bar100% plant-based sushi bar


Dharma Sushi & Thai 100% plant-based sushi


Blue Sushi Sake Grill Fresh plant-based sushi rolls and more
Yuzu Sushi & Robata Grill 

Blue Sushi Sake Grill Fresh plant-based sushi rolls and more


Blue Sushi Sake Grill Fresh plant-based sushi rolls and more


Blue Sushi Sake Grill Fresh plant-based sushi rolls and more


Kinoko 100% plant-based sushi pop-up


Sticky Rice Clearly marked vegan sushi, starters, noodles, and more


Maru Sushi Sushi with plant-based options

Maru Sushi Sushi with plant-based options


BACHI Japanese & Filipino inspired menu with plant-based sushi & hibachi options


Blue Sushi Sake Grill Multiple locations - Fresh plant-based sushi rolls and more


Kyoto Sushi III Awesome plant-based sushi options


Chef Kenny’s Asian Vegan Restaurant 100% plant-based Asian-fusion with sushi
Zuma Fine dining, plant-based sushi options


Beyond Sushi— multiple locations
100% plant-based menu with seasonal sushi rolls, salads, dumplings, wraps, and more — As seen on  Shark Tank
Franchia 100% plant-based sushi & Asian fusion vegan dining
Catch Plant-based sushi options


Departure Fine-dining with extensive plant-based options including sushi, bibimbap, and you must get the tempeh buns
Bamboo Sushi—  multiple locations Fresh plant-based sushi rolls and more

Afuri Ramen & Izakaya with plant-based sushi options


Tomo Sushi & RamenPlant-based options


The Grange Plant-based options including Mock Eel & Tofu


Lucky Robot Plant-based sushi options, bowls, and more — ask your server for guidance on vegan options

Blue Sushi Sake Grill Multiple locations - Fresh plant-based sushi rolls and more

Blue Sushi Sake Grill Fresh plant-based sushi rolls and more


Kotobuki Clearly marked vegan sushi, starters, noodles, and more

Sticky Rice Clearly marked vegan sushi, starters, noodles, and more

What did we miss? We’d love to add it to our list!

Let us know in the comments 🤓

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