Japanese cuisine is famous around the world, thanks to Sushi and a other exported delicacies- but anyone who has ever visited the country can testify that, when it comes to dining, it has a lot more to offer. My love of Japanese culture, in particular the food has been ongoing for many years- I love going out to my favourite spots for sushi! Here are 5 reasons why Japan is a top foodie destination:
Japanese cuisine is versatile, full of traditional recipes that can transform even an ordinary dining, into a ceremonial experience. No wonder, Japan is home to many culinary locations that every year attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors. Tokyo is, of course, one of them. Having the most Michelin starred restaurants for nearly a decade, the Japanese capital has held the record of being world’s best place to eat, leaping ahead of Paris.
If you are a dedicated food – lover, Japan is a place to visit. Below are five fabulous facts about Japanese cuisine that you might not know. If you want more information, you can find the longer version of this guide at Japan for foodies.
Five rules of the Japanese cooking game: There are few temperamental characteristics and physical features that can make a chef superior, diligence is one of them. Yet, finding an eager, patient cook is not an easy task, especially when dinners aren’t prepared to wait more than 20 minutes for a dish. But not in Japan, a country where diligence is recognised as an obligation rather than an inborn feature. In the Japanese language, there is even a special word to describe this type of commitment to work, that is called – ganbaru.
There’s a special set of rules to eliminate the tiniest bits of chaos from cooking. The traditional rule of five was invented to emphasise the balance and variety of the country’s delicious cuisine. This is usually achieved by blending five cooking techniques (raw, simmered, fried, steamed and roasted or grilled), five flavours (sweet, sour, bitter, salty, spicy) and five colours (white, black, red, green and yellow). Add to this attention to detail and aesthetics of arranging dishes and you will have an idea, how an average Japanese meal might taste and look!
Japanese street food can beat restaurants: The exquisite restaurants in Japan are known to exceed expectations even of the most sophisticated foodies but abandoning any prejudices and trying something out-of-the ordinary won’t disappoint you either.
Although street food culture is usually associated with other Asian countries like Thailand or Taiwan, a Tokyo street food tour is unmissable. Japan is one of the few places in the world serving hot dishes even at tube stations. And they are all delicious.
From tender, grilled squid on a stick (ikayaki), to the variety of sweets like coated bananas, or bite-sized, donut-like sponges ( imagawayaki), filled with cream or chocolate, Japanese food stalls are true sensory wonderlands. Contrary to what you might think, most street vendors offer high-quality, budget-friendly delicacies, that can’t be missed if you want to taste the original, Japanese cuisine.
Japan has the best seafood and fresh fish: With almost all major Japanese cities on the coast alongside the abundance of clear water streams across the country, Japan can’t complain when it comes to the supply of fresh fish and seafood including species such as ayu [sweetfish] and ugui [dace]. It is just one of the reasons why they are an indispensable element of traditional Japanese washoku cuisine, due to the amazing variety they can be enjoyed seasonally, and at a good price!
You can drink sake with your dish: This fermented rice wine (although some people think it should be called a beer) is best with light dishes such as sashimi and can be drunk both cold or warm. It also goes particularly well with all sorts of spicy food, as the refreshing, robust rice flavour nicely contrasts with intense spices. If you want to see how traditional sake is made, why not to visit the famous The Fushimi Sake District in Kyoto that is a home to nearly 40 sake breweries?
A charm of Japanese food etiquette: In Japan, everything, from meeting and greeting, to food preparation seems to be saturated with a respect to tradition. Eating habits are not an exception. There are plenty of grand rituals attached to brewing a tea, drinking sake, and of course eating your meal. Although like Western manners, the Japanese etiquette expects certain kinds of behaviour, be prepared to experience striking differences between these two codes of conduct. If you want to avoid looking disrespectful at the table, reviewing at least a chopstick etiquette might be a good idea.
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