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About sushi

"Sushi" is one of most famous Japanese foods.
It is the food made of vinegared rice and fish or other ingredients.

Originally Japanese people had pickled fish to preserve from spoiling.
But in the 17th century, vinegar came to be used in the preparation, and they were put together with boiled rice for eating.
Then, since the 19th century, sushi was made by laying slices of raw fish on rice and rolling it by hand, in Edo (current Tokyo). Because Tokyo citizen disliked being slow and weren't able to wait until fish pickle is completed.
A lot of fresh fish had always been caught in Tokyo Bay in front of the city of Edo.
So the sushi born in Edo has been called "Edomae-zushi".

The Edomae-zushi is known throughout the world as Japanese sushi.
But, throughout Japan, there are many different kinds of sushi shaping a region's food culture.


Types of sushi


 "Nigiri-zushi" is the most typical form of sushi. "Nigiri" means "gripping".
The sushi chef presses half handful vinegared rice between the palm of his hands, and covers it with a ingredient applied a bit of wasabi.
If the ingredient is hard to hold the rice, he binds them with a thin band of nori.
Nigiri-zushi is often serves in pairs when we ordered one favorite ingredient in sushi restaurant.

The ingredients of nigiri-zushi are basically fresh raw fish, and are same as sashimi.

Japanese people's favorite fish for sushi is maguro (tuna).
Nearly everybody in sushi restaurants eat the sushi of maguro.

In a tuna, the fattest part is called "toro", and it is the envy of all sushi-eater.
Especially, the best part is called "Oo-toro" (Great toro), and the other toro is called "Chu-toro" (Common toro).
And other than toro is called "Akami" (Red flesh).
Of course, toro is more expensive than Akami.

Prawn or octopus are boiled, and anago and eel are cooked as kabayaki.
Also there are a ingredient of egg in the form of slightly sweet, layered omelette.

Oo-toro Chu-toro Akami Hamachi (Yellowtail)
Tai (Red sea bream) Salmon Anago (Conger eel) Ika (Squid)
Tako (Octopus) Ebi (Prawn) Hotate (Scallop) Tamago / Gyoku (Omelette)


"Gunkan-maki" is made by making a hand-formed clump of vinegared rice, wrapping around its perimeter with a strip of nori, and filling in with topping.
The toppings are mainly ikra (salmon roe), Uni (sea urchin), or Negitoro (minced tuna), which are pulpy or loose ingredients.
"Gunkan" means "warship". This is named in that form.

Ikra (Salmon roe)
Uni (Sea urchin)


"Maki-zushi" means "rolled sushi".
A maki-zushi is made by putting a sheet of nori on a bamboo mat, spreading vinegared rice and ingredients on it, rolling it with the help of a bamboo mat.
Usually it is served after cutting into several pieces.

There are some typical maki-zushi.

"Tekka-maki" is filled with raw tuna.
"Kappa-maki" is filled with cucumber.
"Futo-maki" is 4 to 5 cm in diameter and are often made with three or four fillings such as kanpyo, cucumber, omelette.

"California Roll" was invented by a Japanese sushi chef in Los Angels in 1963.
Contrary to traditional maki-zushi, the outside of California Roll is rice, and nori is within the roll. And Raw fish and wasabi aren't used, and avocado, cucumber, boiled crab meat etc. are used with mayonnaise, generally.
It is popular in America, but few sushi restaurants in Japan serve the roll. Some Kaiten-zushi restaurants served it as a sushi menu.
Probably, most Japanese people think that California Roll is a unique rice food different from traditional sushi.

Tekka-maki Kappa-maki Futo-maki


"Oshi-zushi" means pressed sushi, and it is a block-shaped piece formed using a wooden mold.
The cook puts the toppings of the sushi on the bottom of the mold with the toppings, and covers them with vinegared rice.
Then presses the lid of the mold down to create a compact sushi block.
The completed block is removed from the mold, and then it is cut into bite-sized pieces.

Oshi-zushi has developed in western Japan rather than Tokyo.
When you travel around western Japan, you can find various oshi-zushi.

Saba (Mackerel)
Anago (Conger eel)
Masu-no-sushi in Toyama (Trout)
Beautiful Oshi-zushi


 "Inari-zushi" is a pouch of abura-age filled with vinegared rice.
As the abura-age is boiled in the soup of shoyu and sugar in advance, this has salty-sweet taste.
General sushi restaurants don't serve inari-zushi, but we can buy it at supermarket or convenient store.
This is sometimes made in home.
Inari-zushi has been the sushi for common people.



"Chirashi-zushi" is made by scattering various nice ingredients on vinegared rice in a bowl.
Because it is easy to make and looks gorgeous, it is commonly made in home on happy occasions.
In most sushi restaurants, the chirashi-zushi topped with some kinds of raw fish is served as lunch.

Chirashi-zushi of sushi restaurant
Homemade Chirashi-zushi

How to enjoy sushi

Of course, you are free to eat sushi with any method.
But many sushi chefs give you advice to enjoy sushi.

Where do you sit in sushi restaurant?

Generally there are a bar and some tables in a sushi restaurant.
Of course, you should sit at the bar.
The chef may be at a loss about how to talk with you. But he is supposed to serve you with a glad heart.
I hope you learn some Japanese words about sushi for smoother communication, before you come to Japan.

How to order

Sushi bar You have only to order the sushi which you want to eat by name of the fish.
Please say in a distinct voice. Then the chefs repeat your order cheerly.
A chef immediately makes the sushi for you, and he puts it in front of you.

Please eat sushi of your favorite ingredients.
But it's unadvisable to keep eating same fish. Please enjoy various sushi.
Many chefs say "First plain, and gradually richer. Maki-zushi in the end".
This is better method to enjoy each taste of ingredients.

Set of Nigiri But you need not keep this advice.
You can look into the chilled showcase showing all ingredients in front of you.
Please order what you want to eat.

If you can't know how to order, you can leave it to the chef.
He is supposed to serve the best choice to you.

The easiest method is to order a lunch menu.
The menu commonly says "Nigiri".
A nigiri menu is a set of about 10 nigiri-zushi of variant popular ingredients.
It is also very reasonable.

How to eat

When eating a sushi, we pinch it with our fingers, and dip the ingredient side of the sushi in shoyu.
Then put it into your mouth with keeping ingredient side down.
(If you dip the rice side in shoyu, the sushi may break.)

Of course, you can use chopsticks.
But you may break the served sushi, and it isn't easy to hold a sushi with your shopsticks unexpectedly.

If you have no confidence, please eat with your hand.
Eating with bare hand is the allowed manner in any sushi restaurant.
In addition, you must not "soak" a sushi in shoyu. It is enough to dip a little.

The chefs cook with raw fish.
Therefore if you want to eat sashimi, please order from them.

Gari and green tea

Gari and Green tea When you sit a bar, the chef serves "gari" on your table.
Or when you order a nigiri menu, gari is put at the side of the plate.

Gari is sweet pickled ginger. It has been thin-sliced.
It makes your mouth refresh, so please eat while waiting for your next sushi.

Hot green tea is certainly served at sushi restaurant. This also makes your mouth refresh.
Of course, you can drink beer or sake. Then hot green tea is served at the end of dinner.

You can't find a list of price in sushi restaurant.

Understand that the sushi at sushi restaurant are expensive.
You can find a price list of lunch menu, but can't find the price list of sushi of each ingredient.
The price of sushi is at market value. So costly ingredient is very expensive.

If you eat your favorite sushi at a bar, the price is probably estimated at 3 to 4 times of the highest price of lunch menu at the restaurant.
Individually one order of ingredient has the price of 300 to 2000 yen.

If you want to eat sushi as much as you can at sushi restaurant, you have to expect that you pay a large fee as expensive as a classy restaurant.


"Kaiten-zushi" is a sushi restaurant where the plates with the sushi are placed on a rotating convayor belt and they wind through the restaurant.
You can eat cheaper sushi than normal sushi restaurant.
Of course, the quality of the ingredients don't come up to ones of normal sushi restaurant. But it satisfies us successfully.

After you sit in a seat, please pick up the plates with your favorite sushi on the rotating convayor. And eat them after another as you like.
Probably, you can find the plates with fruits, desserts and other foods are placed.

Gari is in a case on the table. Eat as you like.
You can find some tea bags, so make yourself a cup of green tea with it on your table.

Beer, miso soup and other special dishes can be ordered from the attendants.
If you can't find your desired sushi on the convayor belt, order it from the chefs.

The bill is calculated by counting the number and type of plate of the consumed sushi.
Plates with different color, pattern, or shape have different prices.
Usually, the range of price is from 100 yen to 500 yen per a plate. That is very cheaper than normal sushi restaurant.

Moving convayor Hamachi on a plate You pay based on the plates you picked.

You may taste different sushi in your country.

Probably, there are several sushi restaurants in your country.
I hear that many chefs of overseas sushi restaurants are not Japanese.

Basically, they haven't learned the sushi cooking in Japan enough. Some have no training.
They create the sushi by the knowledge from book or internet.

Now, sushi has been a world-wide food.
The self-educated chefs in your country have created unique sushi.
And some of them became a popular sushi restaurant.

In Japan, there are only a few restaurant which serve unique sushi.
Because, Japanese people have fixed concept about sushi, and they think that sushi chef must serve tasty "traditional sushi".
So if a chef creates very unique and tasty sushi but can't make orthodox sushi, he isn't called as "real sushi chef".
Japanese people is really conservative about sushi.

When you visit Japan and enter any sushi restaurant, you can see and eat real traditional sushi.
Please, enjoy real Japanese sushi in Japan.

Tokyo Sushi Academy : Sushi School in Tokyo for professional sushi chef course and for sushi workshop.
The Sushi World Guide : A guide to Japanese restaurants outside Japan. We can find over 4,700 restaurants in the world.

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