Know Your Food: Japanese Cuisine Explained - Know Your City - Burrp

Know Your Food: Japanese Cuisine Explained

Tanvi Juwale January 13, 2017





Japan is an abundance of gastronomical delights, not just Sushi you know?
What is the first thing that comes to your mind when someone says Japanese food? Sushi? No doubt it's one of the most famous dishes of the cuisine but there's more to the cuisine than just that. Simple, minimal, refined and vibrant are some adjectives we can associate with this cuisine which uses fresh ingredients, which the chefs and cooks do as little as they can in order to retain the original flavours and textures.
Sushi (Soo-shee)
Sushi Boat

Sushi Boat with Norimaki and Nigirizushi at Umame, Mumbai

You can’t talk about Japanese food and not mention Sushi. It’s amazing how this humble dish evolved from a mere method of preserving fish to being a symbol of Japanese cuisine, all across the planet.
Aromatic balls of sticky rice adorned with seaweed and sliced fish, this healthy dish is more diverse than what one can think. Traditionally, there are four types of sushi: Nigiri which is small balls of rice shrouded with fish, Gunkar is a cup-like sushi made of dried seaweed and rice, Norimaki is sticky rice and fish or vegetable rolled, and Temaki is hand-rolled sushi in a conical shape.
Relish an array of this delicacy in

Okonomiyaki (O-ko-nomi-yaa-ki)
A delectable mini meal: Okonomiyaki

A delectable mini meal: Okonomiyaki

Ever heard of Japanese pancakes? Yes, they’re real and delicious too! Okonomiyaki, literally translates to ‘what you liked grilled’ and it can safely be called the Japanese equivalent of a pancake.
A dish that originally started as a dessert made for Buddhist ceremonies , Funoyaki in the 1600s has come a long way to being a savoury pancake. Loaded with meat, veggies and seafood with a liberal use of sauces, it makes for a flavourful and filling mini-meal.
Chow down your Okonomiyaki in

Tempura (Tem-poo-ra)
An ensemble of textures: Tempura

An ensemble of textures: Tempura

If you say fried food is greasy, you should probably get your hands on a plate of Tempura - a fritter of meat or vegetables made in a light batter.
The finesse in making a plateful involves ensuring the correct temperature for the inside to be cooked well whilst the batter outside stays crispy. Light on the palate, a well-made Tempura is nothing like the greasy fried chicken you get at the fast food joints but it is just as delicious!
Bite into your crispy tempura at

Udon at Kofuku Image used for representational purpose only

Udon at Kofuku Image used for representational purpose only

What do you crave when it is cold and dark outside? A comforting bowl of broth with noodles that you swirl around your fork and slurp on. Udon is a thick wheat noodle usually served in a broth with Tempura is a Japanese favourite and it’s just as comforting in India too!
Savour a bowl of hearty Udon

Sashimi (Sa-see-me)
As decadent as it is stunning: Sashimi

As decadent as it is stunning: Sashimi

Does raw food make you cringe? Have a look at a well-made Sashimi plate and you’ll be in love with it. Sashimi is raw or blanched seafood thinly sliced and served with dipping sauces. The chefs who make Sashimi do so with great care to ensure no bones remain as the dish is served and there's nothing fishy about it!
Devour this delicacy in

Gyoza (Guh-yo-ja)
food festivals in Mumbai

Once tasted, you can’t have enough: Gyoza

Who says war only makes history? Sometimes, it also conceives good food; during the Sino-Japanese War, the Japanese soldiers during their occupation in Manchuria, adopted the Chinese Jioazi dumpling and brought it back home. That’s where the classic Japanese Gyoza hail from; usually filled with seasoned minced meat this bundle of goodness can be made three ways: Yaki Gyoza (pan-fried), Sui Gyoza (boiled/steamed) and Age Gyoza (deep fried).
Savour these in

Yakitori (Yak-ee-to-ree)

A delicious snack: Yakitori

Literally translates to grilled chicken on a stick, Yakitori is a bar favourite. Juicy succulent pieces of chicken are seasoned with salt, skewered and grilled. It isn’t only a delicious drinking snack, it doubles up as a snack on-the-go too!
Snack on some Yakitori as you sip on cold glass of beer or Sake in

Bento (Ben-toe)
A well balanced meal in a box: Bento Box

A well balanced meal in a box: Bento Box

With the passage of time Japanese food has evolved and for everybody who thinks lunch boxes are boring, you’ve probably never heard of a Bento Box. Healthy and delicious, it is a flavorful ensemble of meat, seafood, vegetables, rice and pickles. Covering almost all the food groups this isn’t only a nutritious meal, it is a visual treat too!
Enjoy a nutritious meal in

Teppanyaki (Te-panya-ki)
The word Teppanyaki literally translates to 'grilling on an iron plate', this may seem like a rather simple name but don't let that mislead you! Chefs exhibit their art in a live kitchen with a culinary-theatrical performance with staples such as Soba or Udon and meat. Just like Gyoza, Teppanyaki is a recent addition; just after World War II with the advent of Japanese Steakhouse.
Savour this performance

Tonkatsu (Ton-ka-tsu)
A snack-any-time plateful of delicious: Tonkatsu

A snack-any-time plateful of delicious: Tonkatsu

Just when you thought that you knew Japanese cuisine, you have another chapter to learn. Katsu is similar to a cutlet or a schnitzel. Thick cuts of meat, usually pork, breaded and deep fried. Served in a rice bowl (Katsudon), as a sandwich (Katsu Sudon) or with curry (Kare Katsu), but it can be savoured just as it is with coleslaw too!
Dig into a crispy Tonkatsu  in

With inputs from Husein Upletawala
Images for representational purposes only. 
Photo Credits: Cryselle D'souza

About the Author

Food is my favourite F-word! Master in Eatmylogy. Future food entrepreneur. Antevasin. Spaghettivore. Hates the casual use of the word 'foodie' and loves a well-cooked meal, snowflakes and the mountains! Follow me on Instagram: @MsFoodieTwoShoes Twitter: @pinchofsalt_23


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