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Japanese Food is All About Sushi (Or Not!)

on 18th Sep, 2018

What is Japanese Food?

This is the question on the lips of anyone looking for a Japanese restaurant in Dubai. Well, there is sushi which is one of the most loved foods in the world. However, Japan’s great cuisine does not start and end with sushi.

There is much more to Japanese food than just sushi, although it is the first thing that will come to most people’s mind when they hear the term ‘Japanese Food’. There are actually a fair few options to choose from in this cuisine. Japanese food is basically any ‘regional and traditional foods of Japan’. The way in which Japan has changed over the years has all gone to help shape the Japanese cuisine.

Many factors have had direct effects on not only the food that was eaten but the way that it was both cooked and served. Some of these factors were social and others tended to be more economical. It was one of these economical changes that led to the birth of that food that the Japanese are now known for all over the world – sushi. Now, Japanese restaurants Abu Dhabi and Dubai wide will be able to serve you up some great sushi or you can even enjoy the sushi Dubai delivery services will bring right to your door.
Before sushi shot to fame on menus across the globe, the Japanese diet had once consisted almost exclusively of vegetables and rice or soup dishes. Meat was a later addition to the Japanese dinner table as their earlier food choices were far more in line with seasonal produce and side dishes comprising of fish and vegetables that have been cooked in a broth.

It was with the modernisation of Japan in the 1880’s when meat first began to regularly appear on the Japanese menu. Since then, dishes based on meat such as Tonkatsu or Yakiniki have become favoured amongst Japanese diners. Other similar dishes are now found on the menu of any authentic Japanese restaurant Dubai has to offer. Even more recently, Japanese chefs have turned their hands to a number of other cuisines from across the world which can now be readily found in the streets of Japan. Now that Japan has a taste for other cuisines, they have also taken the lead away from France in the list of who has the most Michelin-starred restaurants.

What’s with the Sushi?

Sushi PlatterWell if there are so many different types of food on offer in the Japanese cuisine, why is it that we instantly think of Sushi and no other dish? Well there is a simple answer for this. To the Japanese, their cuisine was from the beginning based around the combination of a staple food such as rice which would then be coupled with various side or main dishes. At times, rice would be substituted for Udon noodles or another staple food but this was how the Japanese cuisine was made up. This was how they got all the necessary elements into their diet, the basics and the proteins.

It was this simple addition of protein to rice that gave the world what we would come to know and love as sushi. When the poorer working classes of an industrial Japan required a nutritious lunch that could be eaten on the go, street vendors in Edo Japan began to sell the perfect solution. A small piece of what was the cheapest form of protein available at the time (Fish) was rolled in a rice that had been soaked in vinegar and the whole thing was wrapped in seaweed and sliced into individual pieces. Elsewhere in Japan, the fish was placed atop a chunk of rice to be served as Sashimi. These dishes are served in the best Japanese restaurant in Dubai and the whole UAE.

Although it took a while for sushi to become a much-loved cuisine across the world, by the time the western world took notice of sushi, it became almost all that they saw when it came to Japanese cuisine. Born as a street food for the poor working classes of Japan, sushi soon became a standard fare for the rich and famous. Rarely has a food ever made such a jump in the social class that it was enjoyed by.

When it comes to sushi, Dubai is amongst one of the highest climbing cities in regards to popularity. One of the main reasons for this is that the Japanese cuisine is still fairly new in the UAE and this means that many are still yet to find out the many wonders of traditional Japanese food outside of sushi.

According to CNN, Sushi is ‘almost poetic in its simplicity. Good sushi relies on two things: the freshness of the ingredients and the knife skills of the chef.’ So it is easy then to see why it has caught on as a food type and why Sushi Counter supplies some of the best sushi in Dubai.

A Wealth of Other Foods

Okay, enough about Sushi for a moment. If Japanese food is so much more than just sushi, what else is there on offer? Well, if you head down to a Japanese restaurant Dubai Mall has to offer, then as long as it is an authentic Japanese restaurant (Dubai are known for having a fair few of these now), then you will find a lot more than just sushi on their menu. However, if you only know sushi then, the other choices may be fairly daunting and you might feel like just going for what you already know. Well don’t worry. Below is a list of some of the delicious choices on offer from an authentic Japanese menu and they are all described so you know what sounds perfect for you.

1. Spring and Summer Rolls

Salmon Spicy Summer TollOkay let’s start off easy with some other Japanese street food. This way, the concept behind the dish is not too dissimilar to that of sushi. The idea behind spring and summer rolls is pretty much the same as sushi with just a few small differences. Technically, they are still classed as sushi and you will no doubt find them placed at the bottom of the sushi section in one of the many Japanese restaurants Abu Dhabi and Dubai are now known for. This is a good move though if you want to branch out into the other sections of Japanese cuisine but don’t want to go too crazy.

The humble Summer Roll is basically a combination between the Vietnamese summer roll and Japanese sushi. It is made using fresh vegetables and crab meat or shrimp, but instead of rice and seaweed, it is wrapped in thin rice paper. Try Sushi Counter's Salmon Spicy Summer Roll which is made using salmon, spicy miso sauce, cool iceberg lettuce and cucumber wrapped in rice paper.

The spring roll on the other hand or harumaki as the Japanese might call them, are a crunchy rice paper wrapped around various vegetable and meat fillings. One great example is the vegetable rice spring roll from Sushi Counter. It contains carrots, lettuce, avocado, capsicum, blue flowers, takuan and white radish.

2. Sushi Burrito

Sushi BurritosStill easing you in to the world of Japanese foods outside of sushi, here is a new Japanese twist on a Mexican classic. Generally, the street food angle is where sushi gained its popularity at first and this is why sushi lends itself so well to fusion with other street food types. One such fusion is the sushi burrito which takes all the ‘good food on the go’ of both sushi and burritos and mashes them together in one dish. The sushi burrito carries on the long standing legacy attached to sushi itself and allows for yet another super tasty piece of Japanese street food.

For a great Sushi Burrito, try the chicken sushi burrito from Sushi Counter which wraps torikatsu, Japanese mayo and chicken in a thin layer of rice and seaweed to create a burrito like no other.

3. Sushi Burger

Tuna BurgerThis is another sushi-cross dish but remember that this fusion between sushi and other world cuisine definitely deserves a mention as it is not sushi in the traditional sense. In fact, sushi burger is far from it. It happens when you take a great filling and like a burger, you sandwich it between two buns. The buns in this case though are actually made from sushi rice dusted with crumbs. This new twist on the all-American classic takes the best of both worlds and serves it up in one glorious dish. Although the sushi burger may be a newer item on the Japanese menu, it seems to be one that is picking up the pace and will be here for a long time yet.

Taste the Tuna Burger at Sushi Counter if you want to see what can be done when you take fresh tuna, lettuce, Hijiki salad and put it between two mix rice buns dusted with Japanese seven spice to see for yourself how well the two go together.

4. Poke Bowls

Poke BowlNow we are starting to move further away from the type of Japanese foods that most sushi lovers will know. The poke bowl is a healthy alternative to some of the other take away foods on offer out there. Poke bowls were traditionally served as a form of healthy salad at the beginning of a meal but have since changed to become an adaptable dish that can be served for almost all occasions. Consisting of a wide variety of fillings, a poke bowl is generally a salad type mix of vegetables and proteins.

An amazing poke bowl example is the tuna poke from Sushi Counter which has edamame beans, pickled ginger, almond flakes, cucumber, black and white sesame seeds, tosazu, white radish, avocado, palm hearts, tempura flakes and cherry tomato in it.

5. Ceviche

Salmon CevicheAlthough the classic dish known as Ceviche will be most widely known by diners from Latin American countries, the dish has managed to find its way onto the Japanese menu. This is no doubt due to the large number of Japanese that live in Brazil amongst other countries. The fusion of Japanese flavours and ingredients and the type of cooking required to make Ceviche have resulted in an amazing dish.

Ceviche, which is Peru’s national dish is made using fresh raw fish which is cured using lemon or lime juice. The dish is then spiced using various peppers. This is the original Peruvian recipe but it has since had somewhat of a facelift. And now, examples of the Japanese influence can be seen in dishes like the Sushi Counter Sea Food Ceviche which brings together shrimp, octopus, scallop, cucumber, cherry tomato, onion, lime, mango, coriander leaves, and their special ceviche sauce.

6. Katsu Curry

Katsu CurryJust like when we think of Japanese food, we think of sushi. When we think of curry we generally think of Indian food. Well, Indian cuisine is not the only one with a great curry and this is the best Japan has to offer when it comes to curried dishes. This great dish combines rice with a curried sauce and the famed Tonkatsu or Chicken Katsu where it gets its name. The Katsu Curry has become a favourite amongst high street vendors and if it is made well, then it tastes amazing.

This dish is made using breaded chicken cutlets which are commonly referred to as Tonkatsu which can also be bought and enjoyed on their own as a side dish. There are only a few affordable Japanese restaurants Dubai can be proud of and one serves a great Katsu Curry. Sushi Counter’s katsu chicken curry is made using fresh coriander, panko, chicken breast, potato, carrot, spices, black and white sesame seeds.

7. Miso

Chicken Noodle Miso SoupHere is an item that not all Sushi lovers will have heard of as it is almost an entirely different way to eat. The Miso soup is one of the earlier and more traditional type of Japanese food. Its origins lay in those first broths filled with vegetables and the occasional piece of protein or later on, meat. This broth is flavourful and is authentically served with a thin noodle and vegetable mix and even an egg which is sliced and served in the broth.

The freshness of the vegetables and noodles served in a miso soup are what make it the amazing dish that it is. Try the Chicken Noodle Miso Soup from Sushi Counter to have a taste of this dish’ goodness.

Rice Box8. Meshi Box

The Meshi Box as it has become known is a great way to eat on the go. This box of brown rice is served with a number of delicious toppings. This mix of rice and salad is a traditional street food from Japan.

A great Meshi Box to try out is the Beef Meshi Box from Sushi Counter with Beef Brisket, Hijiki Salad, Edamame beans and Brown rice.

9. Edamame Beans

Edamame Beans

These delicious beans are not merely an ingredient in many of the different Japanese dishes that we have mentioned; they are also a star in their own right. These immature soybeans are prepared in the pod. They are boiled or steamed until they are soft and then served in salt.

Edamame beans are traditionally ordered as a type of palate cleanser or aperitif.


10. Chirashi

Salmon ChirashiTraditionally known as Chirashizushi or ‘scattered sushi’ by the Japanese, this dish is a way of serving the same ingredients that are found in most sushi dishes but in a whole new way. Basically rice is served in a bowl and topped with various fresh raw ingredients. There are different types of chirashi served in different parts of Japan and some see the ingredients mixed into the rice. Other places choose to serve the uncooked ingredients in a beautiful arrangement thus giving it the name scattered sushi.

One amazingly ingenious way that Chirashi has been served is the way that Sushi Counter serves it. With layers of fresh ingredients between layers of rice, the Chirashi from Sushi Counter is something to write home about. Try their Salmon Chirashi which sees Salmon Sashimi and nori served on a bed of Japanese rice.

There you have it then, a list of just some of the great options that Japanese cuisine has to offer that are not Sushi.
Now you know what to get, where should you get it from?

Knowing who to trust with your Japanese food experience is an important point. You should be sure to get your Japanese food from a traditional and authentic Japanese restaurant. From someone who takes their work seriously and is passionate about using the freshest available ingredients in order to make the most authentic Japanese dishes and all for an affordable price. Not many of the Japanese restaurants Dubai have will serve all of the dishes above and even fewer will make them properly.

There is then only one clear choice for the best Japanese restaurant Dubai has to offer and that is Sushi Counter. Why not place an order today and discover the other sides of Japanese cuisine for yourself.

Japanese Food is All About Sushi (Or Not!)

What is Japanese Food?This is the question on the lips of anyone looking for a Japanese restaurant in Dubai. Well, there is sushi which is one of the most loved foods in the world. However, Japan’s great cuisine does not start and end with sushi.There is much more...