Sushi: How to Eat, History & Cost | japan-guide.com


Sushi is a symbol of Japan and is one of the
most popular Japanese dishes around the world. But what is sushi? For starters, sushi consists of vinegared
rice combined with different toppings, usually seafood, and comes in different forms such
as Nigirizushi, Makizushi, Gunkanzushi, Oshizushi, Temakizushi, Chirashizushi and Inarizushi. Sushi can be enjoyed at a wide range of establishments:
from high-end restaurants where one sushi can cost more than 1000 yen a piece, to cheap
on-the-go kaitenzushi restaurants that serve sushi for 50 yen a piece on a conveyor belt. Before we go into more details about this
delicacy, let’s take a quick glance at the history of sushi. In ancient times, raw fish was prepared for
nobility mostly during celebrations and festivals, and in order to preserve it, it was fermented
with rice. After the fermentation process, the rice was
discarded and only the fish was eaten. This traditional version of sushi can actually
be found and is still eaten in Shiga Prefecture and is called Funazushi . In the 15th Century, people started to eat the rice used in the fermentation of
the fish before it would turn into a paste. Two centuries later, the biggest shift in
sushi history happened when rice was replaced by vinegar as the fermentation agent. This way it wasn’t necessary to wait several
months for the process to end and the fish could be consumed sooner. The second big shift in sushi history happened
during the Edo Period. At the time sushi was still expensive and
mostly made for special occasions, until an employee at a famous sushi shop in Edo (now
Tokyo) decided to make cheap, delicious and quickly prepared sushi for everyone. During the Edo Period, because many people
often worked outside, street-food stands known as yatai were the number one choice when it
came to grabbing a quick lunch on the go. Sushi were sold there and earned the nickname
of はや寿司 (or “quick sushi”) because of how fast they were made. This marked the birth of nigirizushi. At that time, sushi pieces were considerably
bigger: almost three times the size of modern sushi. However, things changed after WWII,
when Japan suffered from a shortage of food. A union of sushi chefs decided to create a
service that would allow people to supply their own rice and pay a small fee for a chef
to make a set of 10 sushi which were smaller than pre-war sushi. This became the standard size for modern sushi. Because of the scarcity of ingredients during
the post-war years, sushi using vegetables, such as cucumbers (kappa-zushi) were invented. Finally, in 1950, the first conveyor belt
sushi restaurant opened in Osaka. The birth of kaitenzushi restaurants helped
make sushi a more accessible and on the go dish like it use to be back in the Edo Period. Although kaitenzushi continues to be popular today, gourmet restaurant options are still widely available. How to eat sushi A piece of sushi consists of vinegared rice
called Shari and a topping called Neta. Some popular Neta include: tuna, salmon, shrimp,
eel, scallops, sea urchin, and many more… When you are facing a spread of sushi which
features many different neta, there is no specific order in which you ought to eat the
different sushi pieces. However some people recommend starting with
a lighter Neta, for example seabream, and making your way to the stronger ones like
Anago which is already coated in a thick sauce, and ending the meal with the lightly sweetened
egg. But, really any order is fine! Sushi can be eaten using either your hands
or chopsticks. First, dip it in the soy sauce. The proper way to do so is to dip the neta
rather than the rice. For that, flip the sushi to the side and only
dip a small portion of it, or otherwise the soy sauce would overpower the delicate taste
of the fish. When you are eating Gunkan, use the Ginger
(called Gari in Japanese) to dip in the soy sauce and dribble it on top of the gunkan. Pieces already marinated or seasoned do not
need to be dipped in soy sauce. Ginger is also eaten in between pieces to
help cleanse your palette and appreciate the next piece better It’s good manners to eat the sushi in one
bite. But do NOT bite half of the sushi or try to split it into multiple pieces then put it back on your plate, since this is considered bad manners. Also it’s important not to separate the
fish from the rice. Although many people do it, we do not recommend
adding wasabi into your soy sauce. In Japan wasabi is directly put inside appropriate
pieces of sushi by the chef, in between the Shari and the Neta. Although we recommend trying it with the wasabi,
you can ask for Wasabi-nuki (without wasabi). Another reason to not add wasabi into your
soy sauce is that some pieces of sushi are better enjoyed with seasonings other than
wasabi, such as grated ginger. If you are eating at a counter, the sushi
chef will display the sushi one by one in front of you on a serving board called a geta. The name geta actually comes from its resemblance
to a wooden Japanese shoe of the same name. Don’t move the geta from its original position,
instead take the sushi with your hand or chopsticks and eat it directly. When eating at a kaiten-zushi restaurant,
sushi is prepared and served on plates (not geta) that go around the restaurant on a conveyor
belt and there are usually more than one piece per plate. At places like this, you just grab the sushi
you want from the belt, keep the plate on your table, and at the end of the meal the
waiter will count your plates to determine the bill. The price for each plate varies depending
on its color, and a detailed board not far away will show the prices clearly. Some kaitenzushi also allow you to order via
an interactive, multi-language touch-screen, and receive your food via automatic delivery. Finally, if you are dining at a high-end sushi
restaurant, it’s good manners to avoid wearing strong fragrances, as it might interfere with
the taste of the sushi for the people around you as well as yourself. Now that you know a little bit more about
how to eat sushi, let’s talk about budget. The cost of sushi can vary wildly depending
on where you go. Most restaurants will offer sets or sushi by the piece with prices ranging from 50 yen a piece at cheaper places to more than 1000 yen at high end restaurants. In some local restaurants, the price for each
sushi is not set but is decided by the chef day to day depending on the quality of the
fish being used. If you have a limited budget, we recommend
trying a kaitenzushi restaurant. Although sushi is a dish with a long history,
it has continued to evolve throughout the years, with new sushi inventions such as the
California roll which keep pushing the boundaries of
sushi creativity further and further. Who knows what type of sushi will be invented
years from now? In the meantime, we hope this video will allow
you to appreciate and enjoy your own sushi experiences even more. If you are looking for more information about
Japan or to watch another video, click the links on the screen now,
or head over to Japan-Guide.com, your comprehensive, up to date travel guide, first hand from Japan. Gochisosama deshita!

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