Suddenly, Japanese food has become a style statement. From raw fish to Udon noodles, Japanese dishes have acquired a cult following.
And with sushi becoming popular, Japanese food is on the top today and the whole world is discovering that there is more to a Japanese table than just raw fish.
This worldwide wave has also reached India and today, many Indians can speak knowledgeably about the distinction between nigiri and maki, or sansho and shichimi, thanks to the Japanese restaurant serving Japanese cuisine in its entirety.
The Japanese have taught the world the art of eating raw fish and turned it into a unique cultural experience. Sashimi is the ‘crowning glory’ of a formal Japanese meal, though it is served early, unlike sushi, when the palate is still pure enough to appreciate the nuances.
But diners are also finding out there’s more to Japanese food than Sushi and Sashimi such delectable dishes like Kake Udon, Tori Teriyaki, Shake Batta Yaki, Tempura, Moriawase, Age Dashi Tofu to name a few.
The most striking aspect of Japanese cuisine is the remarkable diversity of aromas and flavours and way of cooking that it brings to the table -- raw to simmered to deep fried.
Japanese cuisine is famous for its meticulous preparation and refinement in presentation.
The food is served in small carefully arranged portions with emphasis on visual appeal -- the interplay of colours, textures, shapes and over all design. The basic set up of a traditional Japanese meal is deceptively simple.
It starts with a soup, followed by raw fish, then the entrée (grilled, steamed, simmered, or fried fish, chicken or vegetables) and ends with rice and pickles, with perhaps some fresh fruit for dessert and a cup of green tea.
Indeed the colour, texture almost every thing about this cuisine is very unique. The ample choice of seaweed and seafood makes the menu vast and extensive. It is well known that seafood is the best as it has Omega 3 fatty acids, minerals, vitamins etc.
Moreover, Japan being one among few countries which bases its cuisine on all four seasons gives ample choice to vegetarians. In fact, the Japanese believe that eating the first produce of the season adds 75 days to one’s life.
The writer is Master Chef at Sakura, The Metropolitan Hotel