I am a great admirer of Japanese food. The finesse, the culture and the taste are all based on thousands of years practice. The Japanese food is all so pure and well balanced.
Wherever I have the possibility I will visit a Japanese restaurant for lunch or dinner. To visit a Japanese restaurant is always a big feast and it may sounds stupid but after the meal it is like I feel healthier than before. I think it is only a silly excuse to come back because I love the Japanese food so much.
Tokyo is once again the city with the most Michelin starred restaurants in the world. Actually Tokyo has 11 three stars restaurants. I think that says enough. The biggest problem will be to get a reservation in on of these superb restaurants.
Making reservations for restaurants in Japan is difficult! Good restaurants are often fully-booked. Certainly the Michelin ranked restaurants and they have their official websites in Japanese! In addition, most restaurants only accept reservations by phone and the language barrier is a big problem for visitors. So I give you a link to TABLEALL. They are very professional and they have the best restaurant reservation service in Japan.
Tableall has a very handy site concerning the Etiquettes Japanese Restaurants. This will help you to navigate the Japanese dining-etiquette and they give some helpful tips for you to remember.
When most of us think about Japanese food, we automatically think about sushi or Sashimi. However, the truth is that Japan has an amazing, unique and varied cuisine that goes beyond just fish and rice.
the rules of 5
Did you know that the Japanese food is based on the rules of five. Traditional Japanese cooking or washoku, emphasizes variety and balance. Washoku means ” the harmony of food”
- five colors (black, white, red, yellow, and green)
- five cooking techniques (raw food, grilling, steaming, boiling, and frying)
- five flavors (sweet, salty, sour, bitter and spicy )
- Five senses: smell, taste, sound, touch (mouth feel) and si
explanation of the 5 colors
The use of five colors in meal preparation has existed for thousands of years. This practice was first recorded in the I-Ching and is connected to the spread of Buddhism from India to China and later from China to the rest of East and Southeast Asia. Buddhist monks and the I-Ching discouraged people facing the challenges from trying to seek out large quantities of food to eat. Instead they promoted among others eating the five colors at each meal, so that even though the meal might not be large, it would be as nutritious and healthy as possible.
Black: Soy sauce, dark leafy greens like kale, eggplants, black sesame seeds, shitake mushrooms, blueberries, blackberries, etc.
Red: Red meat, fruits like strawberries, cherries and ruby red grapefruit, and naturally-tinted umeboshi pickles, which uses the natural red of the shiso leaf to change the green plum to a pinkish red
Green: Green also includes hues of blue such as mackerel fish, green beans, peas, soybeans, spinach, cucumbers, etc.
Yellow: Grains such as corn, squash, oranges, eggs, nuts, and pumpkin
in the next picture you will see that all the 5 colors are combined in one single plate
explanation of the 5 cooking techniques
explanation of the 5 flavors
Sweetness is not just for desserts. Sweetness balances sour, bitter, and spice, so if you have dishes or ingredients that have any of these flavor profiles, add a bit of sweetness to create something even more interesting.
umami, is less well-known but just as prevalent. Umami, a word that literally translates as “delicious,” has been part of the Japanese culinary lexicon for thousands of years.
Sour also balances spice and sweetness. This is why a dollop of yogurt is perfect for a spicy curry or stew. It helps to counteract that heat, creating a new balance of flavour.
Bitter, typically you don’t want to add bitter to your meals, but if you do, you should use it to balance out salty or sweet flavors.
Spice balances sour and sweet. Honestly, if you like a bit of spice in your food, just add spice. Be very careful, never over spicy your dish, it will kill all other flavors.
explanation of the 5 senses
Japanese food has its own distinct aromas that are powerful enough to make anyone hungry. From the sea-like smell of dashi broth to the smell of fish broiling in the oven, Japanese foods are loaded with their own unique aromas.
When you go to a sushi restaurant, you will immediately notice the attention to detail that goes into each dish; from the cuts of the vegetables and fish to the way the rolls are wrapped. Japanese food is designed to appeal to the eye, which includes the way the food is cooked to the way its presented and served and watch the 5 colors.
Most foods have taste, but Japanese food has a specific word for taste umami which is unique to Japanese culture and cuisine. This taste most commonly originates from Dashi stock, and it’s often used a sort of special sauce that adds to a great amount of delicious flavor to foods. Umami is also another reason why Japanese food tastes amazing.
The Japanese make full use of the textures that food offers to make each plate a unique experience. Sushi in itself is an exploration in the world of texture. For example, you have soft rice wrapped around crunchier nori and seafood sprinkled with bits of sesame. Additionally, broth-based soups boast chunks of vegetables and softened seaweed, and noodle bowls are often paired with crisp strips of vegetables.
In reading Japanese cookbooks, you often find that food is named after the sound it makes when it’s cooking.
It is called onomatopoeias:
Puri-puri describes that feeling of snapping into a fresh shrimp
Mochi-mochi is the most meta of the onomatopoeia, as it comes from one food in particular: mochi. If you’re not familiar with Japanese food, that’s sticky rice pounded into a stretchy, chewy, glutinous ball.
Mochi-mochi isn’t just limited to the ice cream-filled sweet, though it can also describe a particularly dense, doughy bread
How about some ramen? You’ll want the noodles to be both tsuru-tsuru (slippery) and shiko-shiko (al dente). If they are, you are sure to gobble them up with a loud zuru-zuru (slurp), unless you’re a woman, in which case you might go churu-churu (a more feminine slurp)
All types of Sushi & Sashimi
how to eat Sushi and Sashimi!
Chopsticks (preferably not the throwaway kind) are used to eat sashimi, meanwhile, most types of sushi are actually meant to be eaten with the fingers.
Nigiri, in particular, should be eaten with the fingers. Trying to bite a piece in half while holding it with chopsticks usually doesn’t go well. If soy sauce is applied, flip the piece of nigiri upside down so that only the fish is dunked, allowing the rice to remain intact. You shouldn’t leave a mess in your soy sauce bowl.
Uramaki, the style of sushi roll with rice or sesame seeds on the outside, is largely a Western creation. Due to its messy nature, people usually opt to eat it with chopsticks.
All you need to know about Chopsticks
In the beginning eating with Chopsticks was not that easy for me but as always practice makes perfect.
Below I will explain how you must use it.
Chopsticks originated in China supposedly as early as the Shang dynasty (1766-1122 BC) and are named in English after the Chinese Pidgin English word “Chop Chop”, which means quickly.
Japanese chopsticks tend to be a little different to chopsticks that you might find in China, or other parts of East and South Asia. They are usually a rounded square shape with a tapered end that finishes in a sharp tip, perfect for precise tasks such as picking bones out of fish or grabbing that last grain of rice. They are commonly made from wood which are infinitely easier to use than their slippery plastic cousins, but some high end chopsticks can be made from precious jewels, bone or even gold plate.
How to Use Chopsticks in Japan!
1. Hold one chopstick
Hold one chopstick between your thumb and middle finger. Position the chopstick so that it lies at the base of your thumb (on the joint) and on the lower joint of the third finger. This chopstick shouldn’t touch the forefinger.
2. Place the other chopstick
Place the other chopstick between your thumb and forefinger. Hold the upper chopstick as if it were a pencil, held between your middle finger and forefinger, and use the tips of the thumb to keep it in place.
3. Hold the food
Make sure the tips of the chopsticks are always even, and the same length. Keep the first chopstick stationary as you practice moving the second chopstick toward the stationary one. Use this technique to hold the food firmly as you lift it toward your mouth.
Use your chopsticks correctly.
1) Do not rub your chopsticks together
Rubbing your chopsticks together is seen as an insult in Japan. If you rub your chopsticks together it implies you’re trying to get rid of splinters because they’re cheap.
2) Do not stick chopsticks into your food
If you stick your chopsticks upright in your food in any establishment, it is seen as a lack of respect because it’s traditionally done at funerals.
3) Do not pass food to another pair of chopsticks
It can be seen as rude to pass food from your chopsticks to someone else’s. Put the food down on a plate or bowl so the other person can pick it up.
4) Do not use one chopstick
Don’t stab your food with one chopstick. Two chopsticks should be used at all times.
5) Do not leave your chopsticks crossed on your bowl or the table
If you need to put your chopsticks down place them neatly side by side next to your plate or bowl.
6) Do not point with your chopsticks
Pointing with your chopsticks is considered very rude
7) Do not take food from a sharing place using the chopsticks you’ve eaten with
If you can, find another pair of chopsticks to take food from a sharing plate. If not, use the clean, fat end of your chopsticks.
8) Do not wave your chopsticks over dishes
It is also considered impolite to hover your chopsticks in the air indecisively above all of the dishes in front of you.
What you must know about Japanese soup
Soups have a special place among Japanese cuisines.
From home-cooked meals to teishoku sets (multi-course meals served all at once) offered at restaurants, the Japanese people follow their time-honored tradition known as ichiju issai (“one soup, one side”) and ichiju sansai (“one soup, three sides”), which is based on the principles of balanced eating.
In food preparation, this is translated to the Japanese standard meal structure where there should be a bowl of rice, a soup to add flavor to the rice, and either 1 or 3 small side dishes laid out on the table in order to achieve the greatest nutritional balance.
Top 10 MOST POPULAR JAPANESE SOUPS
# 10 Chazuke
Chazuke is a simple dish made by pouring hot green tea over rice and numerous toppings. The usual toppings include a variety of pickled vegetables and seaweed. In some places, salmon, bonito, or grilled eel are used as toppings, the grilled eel topping version being a specialty of Shizuoka prefecture.
Chazuke is consumed at any time of day in Japan, be it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. It is considered the ultimate comfort food that is easy to prepare.
# 09 Okinawa soba
Okinawa Soba is a hot noodle soup consisting of a specific type of chewy noodles made with flour, water, and egg. The soup is a combination of pork broth and katsuo dashi, filled with stewed pork belly slices, a few slices of fish cake, chopped green onion, and red pickled ginger. It’s actually quite simple in taste and appearance, as well as cooking process.
# 08 Sūpu karē
Sūpu karē or soup curry is a watery, brothy curry sauce that is usually served with big pieces of meat such as chicken legs and coarsely cut, chunky vegetables.
The most common bases for the soup are based on tomatoes, seafood, or chicken. The dish is traditionally served with a side of rice, which can be white or yellow. Most of the restaurants serve lassi as an accompanying drink, clearly signifying the influence of Indian cuisine on sūpu karē.
#07 Shio ramen
Distinguished by the use of salt as the main seasoning in the broth, shio ramen is one of the four main flavor-based ramen categories. Like other ramen varieties, it combines three crucial elements: flavorful broth, noodles, and various toppings.
Although pork is occasionally added, most versions employ seafood-based or chicken-based broths, which yield a light, clear soup with a strong, salty taste. The broth is usually paired with straight, thin noodles, and comes topped with Japanese-style pork belly known as chashu, scallions, hard boiled eggs, and wakame seaweed.
# 06 Champon
Champon is a Japanese noodle dish and a Nagasaki specialty made by frying pork, seafood, and various vegetables in lard, then adding a chicken-pork bone soup and boiling the noodles in the combination. The dish is based on Chinese cooking and takes its inspiration from a dish originating from the Chinese province of Fujian.
Its name, champon, comes from the Fujian word shapon, meaning to eat a meal.
# 05 Miso ramen
Miso ramen is a flavorful dish made by cooking the miso base, broth, and vegetables in a wok. The concoction is then topped with bean sprouts, chopped pork, garlic, sweet corn, and (sometimes) local seafood such as crabs, scallops, and squids.
# 04 Shoyu ramen
The soy sauce based shoyu ramen is one of the four major groups of ramen – noodle dishes praised for their exquisite flavors. Noodles, broth, and various toppings are the three essential elements in every bowl of ramen. The dark and salty soup is what distinguishes shoyu from other varieties.
It usually employs meat or seafood broth, which is mixed with a fragrant combination of kombu stock and soy sauce. Fresh curly wheat noodles are typically used in shoyu ramen. Cooked separately, they are served in a bowl and doused in the rich broth.
# 03 Hakata ramen
Hakata ramen is typically served with ultra-thin, straight, and firm wheat noodles. Thin slices of chashu pork and chopped green onions are the most common, other typical additions to the broth include spicy mustard greens, ramen eggs, wood ear mushrooms, beni shōga (pickled ginger root), garlic, bean sprouts, mayu, and crushed sesame seeds.
# 02 Dashi
One of the fundamental ingredients in Japanese cuisine, dashi is a type of soup and cooking stock often used as the base for different miso and noodle soups, donburi or rice bowl dishes, stews and many other kinds of nimono or simmered dishes.
Dashi is typically made from kombu (dried kelp), katsuobushi (dried and smoked skipjack tuna), iriko or niboshi (anchovies or sardines), or a combination of these ingredients, all of which are naturally rich in glutamates and thus deliver an intense umami flavor to a number of Japanese dishes.
# 01 Miso Soup
Miso soup is a traditional Japanese soy-based soup made from a stock called dashi, miso paste, and various additional ingredients such as seaweed or tofu. It is estimated that more than 70% of Japenese people consume the soup for breakfast, although it is commonly available at any time of the day.