I think eel sounds pretty exotic, but an eel and cucumber or eel and avocado roll is fairly tame on the tongue.
I also think that with some of the "spicy" rolls, you can't really tell what you're eating anyway. Spicy shrimp is probably not very intimidating.
If you want really tame, a California roll is about as pedestrian as it gets. Imitation crab (it's really fish), so there's nothing "dangerous" about it. And if you're a sushi virgin, it lets you start slow and maybe figure out the condiments (e.g. wasabi, soy sauce, and ginger). And if you really want baby steps, you can go from California roll to California roll rolled in roe.
I'd throw soft-shell crab rolls in there for a sushi-wary person. It's crab, and it's cooked.
Oh, and those tempura-battered rolls? Those are cooked and fried, usually with salmon inside. That's pretty tame, too.
Ironic, given your moniker (and yes, I know it's a euphamism). Regular shrimp rolls or shrimp tempura rolls use cooked shrimp, so it's an easy intro. Unagi (fresh water eel) may be a good option for your second visit, but for those that have never tried it: TRY IT! It's absolutely yummy. A bit of a funky texture (squishy yet crunchy in parts), but it's sweet with the sauce they drizzle on it. Personally I love salmon. If you do as well you might try it. If you've had lox I'm pretty sure you'd be okay. California rolls are always a good starter since they don't incorporate raw fish.
Originally Posted by FishMonger
If you like what you taste, maybe go for some white tuna. Albacore, yellowtail, and as white trash as it may be a philly roll (salmon and cream cheese) is a guilty pleasure of mine.
Funkiest stuff I've ever had was sweet shrimp (hated the texture!) and perhaps uni.
The first time I ever had sushi I went with my brother and his then-girlfriend-now-wife and basically ate whatever they put in front of me. I loved everything I had even though I had no idea what I was eating. Probably, if you're lucky you won't like it. If you do, well, you can kiss thousands of dollars over your lifetime away as you'll forever be searching for your next sushi fix.
Forget the soy sauce, get the eel sauce!
california roll is indeed a good way to start the sushi diet.
there are sushi names that can greatly confuse a newcomer:
ebi is shrimp cooked while amaebi is sweet shrimp uncooked. amaebi has a bit of a sticky texture.
unagi is freshwater eel, cooked and tastes salty which is ironic. most places serve it with some sauce on top. anago is sea eel and I'm not sure if it's cooked since I've only had it once.
uni is totally bland. you may or may not like this one, the amaebi or the anago.
there are a few other names that I can't think of at the moment. most sushi bars will have a pictorial guideline in the menu on what each items would look like, which would be very helpful to a beginner.