Japanese food is unlike anything I can fine in the USA. I often crave it's flavor when I am at home. Trust me people, Japanese restaurants in the states don't even come close to matching the wonderful flavor of true Japanese food. Some of the dishes I have eaten, I never knew could taste so good. Top left photo (for example) is eggplant and tastes like heaven. Same goes for the photo under it, which is octopus (one of my favorites). Meals can range from 5 course feasts to just a bowl of noodles. But weather it is 5 plates of something or one bowl of something, it is always satisfying and filling. It surprises me how easy some Japanese food is to make. In the past I haven't been a big fan of curry, but here there is an easy curry dish I was taught how to make and i got to say it is pretty good for how little effort is spent making it. Oil a pan, fill the pan up with large cabbage leaves, fry for 30 seconds, add curry powder of your liking, mix and serve. How many calories? I don't know but a lot less than a hamburger and tastes a lot better too. Although, don't get me wrong, I still enjoy a good hamburger and do make them while I'm here.
Japanese food is definitely one of my favorite parts of being in Japan. For those of you wondering, I am well practiced in the art of eating with chopsticks. I wouldn't call myself a chopstick grand master but I can pretty much do as I please with them.
So what is Japanese food? How is it different from Chinese eats? Japanese food emphasizes freshness. I worked in a restaurant a few years and when I say fresh I don't just mean never been frozen or canned, although that is a good start with describing the food here. I also mean the overall feeling and flavor you get when you eat fish, rice, cabbage, or whatever it is a straight up, unveiled flavor. It is hard to explain if you ave never eaten this food. Think about this. Have you ever eaten a tomato right off the vine, still warm? you get an unveiled flavor. You taste many things: water, acids, all the chemistry that makes up that fresh all in inclusive flavor. When you eat Japanese food you are tasting the fish. If there is a sauce, it isn't hiding the fish's flavor.
As far as flavor, what is "Japanese". From my experience Japanese flavor is Miso, Wasabi, Radish, Cabbage, Buckwheat, Egg, sea weed, rice, curry, green onions, leeks, and any kind of ocean creature. Things taste more tangy than sweet, but not salty.
Japanese restaurants have no problem serving you raw ingredients that you cook right in front of you on a HOT dangerous hot plate. Pretty cool right? Totally. Here people aren't stupid and burn themselves. Kids even do it. In the 2 above photos we are eating at an Okonimiyaki restaurant, where we cook our own food with the ingredients we choose. Okonimiyaki is basically a Japanese pancake where the batter is made of egg, cabbage, pickled ginger, green onions, and then whatever meet, cheese, and vegies you would like to have in it. I have heard Okonomiyaki has the meaning to the effect of "As You Like It". Just as good as the Shakespearean play. If you aren't a fan of Shakespeare, don't worry it still tastes pretty good. Okonomiyaki is one of those things that I have never been able to find in the USA so if you want to try some you'll probably have to look up online how to make it or visit Japan. Okonomiyaki just like Cajan can be found in the North but it is really a Southern dish hailing from Osaka.
Green Tea is pretty much the national flavor when it comes to sweets. Green tea ice cream, green tea tarts, and green tea gummy treats. Fresh fruit and mint is popular. I'll wright an entire post about Japanese sweets. Right now I have other things I would like to wright about more and I don't have enough pictures of Japanese sweets yet. Please subscribe and keep a look out for new installments of my blog.