Sushi is the best known Japanese food. In the United States and Europe, sushi rolls are common, but in Japan, “nigiri sushi” made by sushi craftsmen in front of you is the mainstream. If you have a chance to visit Japan, why not try authentic sushi? This article guides you to know how to enjoy authentic sushi in Japan.
You enjoy sushi at the counter
The origin of nigiri sushi dates back to the late Edo period, about 200 years ago. Since there were many single men with no family with whom to share a meal at that time, food stands where you can eat quickly were very popular. When the "sushi stand" appeared, serving fresh seafood caught in the Edo Bay (now Tokyo Bay) on vinegared rice, it quickly became popular among the short-tempered men in Edo. It was called nigiri sushi and the street food of the time.
At that time, sushi craftsmen sat down to make sushi, and customers had sushi while standing. After eating a few with his hands, they washed the hands with the leftover tea and wiped them with a shop curtain. In modern times, craftsmen stand while customers sit, but the counter seats that are still seen at sushi restaurants are considered to be a remnant of the sushi stands.
In recent years, "sushi-go-around" which allows customers to freely select what they like by placing sushi on a conveyor belt and circulating it, has also gained popularity, especially among families. It is attractive that you can casually drop in and the price is reasonable.
However, why not try authentic sushi at the counter seats of top-class restaurants? Sushi with carefully selected fresh fish is not only delicious but also beautiful to the eye. It is also a privilege of the counter seats to be able to see the snappy movements of the sushi craftsmen. They are so skilled that make sushi without any unnecessary movements. It is worth enjoying authentic sushi slowly while feeling the traditional taste and hospitality.
Sushi topping & how to order
There are countless sushi toppings. Here is the recommendations that you should definitely try in Japan.
For the Japanese, tuna is the mainstream sushi topping. Depending on the part, you can enjoy various flavors such as lean meat (AKAMI) and fatty tuna (TORO).
Salmon roe (IKURA)
A salmon roe shines like a red pearl. When you take a bite, it pops and the rich umami (= the fifth taste) melts on your tongue.
Sea urchin (UNI)
Sea urchin in the golden color is one of the most luxury ingredients. It has a creamy texture and is characterized by the scent of rocky shore and a rich taste.
Sweet shrimp (AMAEBI)
It features a thick texture and sweetness. The beautiful red color is appetizing.
Sea bream (TAI)
King of white fish. You can enjoy the light taste and crunchy texture.
The conger eel, which is coated with a sweet sauce, has a rich taste and even just one bite satisfies your crave for tasty food.
It is said that the quality of tamago, a baked and rolled egg, represents the skill of sushi craftsmen, so that this is very important topping. You can also enjoy it like a dessert, so it's a good way to finish sushi meal.
How to order sushi
There are no particular rules, so feel free to order what you like. If you want to enjoy many taste, start with light-tasting white fish and move on to heavy-tasting toro and conger eel. If you are unsure about what to try, just ask for recommendations. You can also order by pointing at the fish lined up in the chilled case in front of you. It is also a privilege of the counter seats to enjoy conversations with sushi craftsmen.
Seating at the counter at a prestigious sushi restaurant may make you feel a little nervous. Let's take a look at basic etiquette so that you can relax.
If you plan to visit Japan, why not visit a sushi restaurant that is regarded as the top-notch. It is an experience to feel the richness of Japanese food culture through sushi. Enjoy the sushi that will make you feel the essence of Edo period at the lively counter seats of the sushi craftsmen!