Thursday, August 21, 2008

JJNN Thursday: Culture - 04

Welcome again to JJNN for Thursday August 21st, 2008. Today we will be taking about my favorite Japanese food.

There are a lot of different foods in Japan. Not only are their Japanese takes on foreign foods like curry (Japanese curry is not really curry), but there is food that is original to Japan. One of my favorite Japanese foods is sushi. In this day an age I think that everyone knows what sushi is. It has become very popular in even the most rural parts of America (AKA where I am from) and I assume that it has really taken off in almost every other country.

There are two types of sushi restaurants in Japan. The first type (and the most inexpensive) is the rotating sushi restaurant. I guess with a name like that it sounds like the restaurant itself is spinning around, but only the sushi really is actually doing the spinning. You can see an example of one of these restaurants below:

If only those little subtitles actually spun around with the sushi! Sometimes you get a little surprise because a lot of the cuts of fish can look a lot alike. so, here is how one of these restaurants actually works. You go and sit down at the counter and watch all the sushi file by. When you see something that catches your eye you take it off the belt (be sure to take the plate!).

After you are done eating the sushi pile up your empty plates. You will notice that the different types of sushi are on different plates. That is because the color and design of the plates represent how expensive the sushi is. When you are done eating and ask for the check the waitress will come over and make a note of how many of each type of plate you have. That will be your bill.

I love this type of sushi restaurant because it is simple and fast. You can grab the sushi off the conveyor belt or just order what you want from the menu. I usually go to this type of restaurant once a week. This week I think I ended up going 3 times. When you find a good thing it is hard to give it up, right?

The second type of sushi restaurant is a sushi bar. This type of restaurant can get very expensive, but the sushi is of a better quality and the service is usually wonderful. It is a "special occasion" type of place to eat. Below is a Japanese comedy show about eating at a sushi bar. Keep in mind that most of it are jokes, and enjoy.

Oh to to to to...

Ma ma ma ma ma...

By the way, the salt that is left outside the door of the sushi bar (it is not left in all places) is actually from an old Japanese superstition that says salt purifies and keeps out the bad spirits. I wouldn't recommend eating of it unless you want to make the owner of the building mad.

Any way, it is now time for the word of the day. Today's word is 握り(にぎり). It is pronounced nigiri and means nigiri. Nigiri is one of the 3 major types of sushi. Nigiri has a big cut of fish (or something) on top of rice that has been formed into a specific shape. The other two types of sushi are maki and gunkan. Maki means the nori (seaweed) is wrapped along the outside to make a long thin roll that is usually cut into 6 pieces. Gunkan is hard to explain so I will just show a picture.

There is also te-maki in which the maki sushi is rolled loosely by hand (I don't consider this a major group of sushi)

That's it for today. See you next time at JJNN.

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