What is Sushi for the Japanese?
Sushi, Japanese food is already almost the symbol of Japanese cuisine or even more. More and more people love this Japanese food in the world. It is widely recognised as something new, healthy, suitable for diet food among the westerners.
Just ten years ago, I'd assume the concept of eating raw fish is simply not acceptable for most people in London. Now they're grabbing sushi lunch at the supermarket as if it's quite normal and have been doing so since many years ago.
The concept of sushi (i.e. eating fresh raw fish is simply good) has been widely accepted nowadays. At the same time, more and more people misunderstand this food. For example, how often do you think people eat sushi in Japan? Every day, or at least once a week? Sorry, neither of them are true!
Sushi is absolutely NOT every day's food in Japan. Simply because it's too expensive to eat it too often.
Most expensive sushi restaurants offer 'One chef serves one customer service'
So, obviously, such restaurants are very expensive.
Also, it's very rare to cook sushi at home in Japan. People normally eat outside or buy from shops as take away. Several reasons for it. Firstly, the best part of sushi is you can enjoy many different kinds of 'Neta' (meaning of sushi's fish). Preparing many kinds of fish (and use just a small part of each fish) is not suitable for home cooking at all.
Secondly, making sushi looks so easy. But actually, it's much more difficult to make 'tasty' sushi than it first appears. It is often said that it takes 10 years to become a master sushi chef in Japan. Also, Sushi is recognised as 'special' food in Japan and is often eaten for something celebration. Cooking at home is not necessarily matched with its image of sushi. Indeed, sushi is a meal you enjoy once in a while. That makes sushi special for the Japanese.
Where Japanese people eat sushi?
The Japanese use a simple distinction about sushi restaurant. 'Rolling' or 'Not-rolling'. Rolling one is cheap one and Not-rolling one is not (luxurious one).
'Kaiten-sushi' (回転寿司 means rolling sushi) often can be seen in low-end sushi chain stores. In here, sushi is served on a belt conveyor. Customers take a small plate from it and sushi there is not so fresh as you can easily imagine (you normally can always order chef to make a new one if you don't like ones on the belt conveyor)
In the UK, Yo-sushi restaurant has the same style. Today, Japanese Kaiten-sushi has been evolved further and your small private Shinkansen (bullet train) serves sushi you ordered directly to your table at this restaurant.
Bullet train runs on a separate 'high-speed-only' lane.
Non-rolling expensive sushi is called 'counter sushi'. You eat sushi over the counter. You can see how the chef makes sushi and enjoy talking with the chef as well (most common topic here is to ask today's special and what is the freshest fish they've got today).
The price of rolling sushi starts from 100 yen (70 pence / 1 USD), while the price of counter sushi varies and sometimes difficult to say how much per each sushi. This is because normally they sell it set price (omakase = leave it to chef's choice) or it's market price and price changes every day.
I know it's a bit scary to go there as you don't know how much it gonna be until you check the bill. These days, the most omakase set has fixed price starts from roughly 5,000 to 10,000 yen (35 pounds / 50 USD) and you can always check against your budget in advance.
Rolling one = Fast food sushi
Non-rolling one = Expensive & luxurious sushi
Top 3 Sushi in Japan
To be honest, there's a great difference between sushi in Japan and sushi outside Japan in terms of how many kinds of sushi they have. Most typical kinds of sushi outside Japan are tuna, salmon and so on.
Normally, a sushi restaurant in Japan has 30-50 different kinds of sushi, at least. That excludes non-seafood sushi, only fish and seashells. So, that's a lot. There's more to it. Actually, you can eat local sushi in each region of Japan and they're slightly different from each other. In most cases, when we say 'sushi' in Japan (and in foreign countries) that means 'Edomae' (江戸前) kind of sushi which is a local sushi in the east area of Tokyo. That is exactly sushi you've seen before.
In Japan, many more different kinds of sushi exist in each region and seasonally changes. Now you have no idea of what to eat at a sushi restaurant in Japan? Don't worry. TD Blog will let you know where to start with.
No. 3 Buri (Hamachi)
Buri (Hamachi is basically the same thing) is yellowtail fish and this is one of the most popular sushi among Japanese people.
The best point about this fish is its fat & oily meat. So, Buri is believed to be the best in winter (Kan-buri 寒ブリ means 'cold' Buri) as winter fish is the fattest to keep the body warm.
No. 2 Chu-Toro (Mid-class Tuna)
King of Sushi is ranked in No.2. Tuna (Maguro in Japanese) has many different kinds and ranks. You only have to remember three. Akami (Red Tuna) is the cheapest tuna kind (it's still tasty!)/. Chu-Toro (this one ranked No.2) is a medium level of tuna and Oo-toro is the highest quality. The higher the quality is, the fatter it is. I'd say Chu-Toro is well-balanced one in terms of price and taste!
No. 1 Salmon
Surprisingly, the most popular sushi in Japan is the same as outside of Japan! In Japan, salmon sushi is especially popular among women. Salmon sushi is often served with onion and mayo in Japan. More importantly, you can see this sushi at 'rolling' sushi shop, but it's extremely rare to see it at 'Non-rolling' restaurants. Salmon is not traditional Edomae-sushi fish, so an authentic restaurant normally do not serve salmon.
A sushi restaurant in Japan has more than 30 menus. You can't eat them all once. Please try as much as possible and find your favourite one. When you know what your favourite sushi is. Let's hit 'Non-rolling' one and enjoy a feast!
Thank you for reading.