Sushi has to be the most famous of Japanese foods, so most people are fairly familiar with it. Nigiri-zushi, or hand-shaped sushi, is what most people think of as ‘real sushi’. The base is a small handful of steamed white rice seasoned with vinegar, salt, and sugar. And placed on that is a “neta” (topping material) made mainly of raw fish. There’s usually wasabi between the rice and neta, but you can ask for no wasabi.
The kind of neta varies greatly, including prawns, tuna, cuttlefish, rolled egg, ikura (salmon roe) and so on. These days there are even things like yakiniku neta, which many sushi purists disagree with. Nigiri-zushi is usually eaten with chopsticks, and seasoned lightly with soy sauce by the diner, either sprinkled on top or by dipping in a small dish.
There are several different types of sushi, so lets discuss some distinctions.
Price per person:
¥1200 ~ ¥10000
- Where can I eat it? -
Sushi & sashimi are common, but not extremely cheap, dishes in Japan. You can order sushi in many types of restaurants and most izakaya too. Then there are specialist sushi restaurants of the varieties mentioned above, to suit all budgets.
Not all restaurants are set up to cater to non-Japanese speakers though, so you can try the suggestions in our restaurant guide to guarantee you'll have an easy, undertandable sushi experience. :) Click the link below to view our restaurant guide PDF.
Gunkanmaki is "battleship sushi". This type of sushi is wrapped in seaweed and with the sheers sides and the neta poking out the top resembles a battleship, hence the name.
The neta often consists of a seasoning or item with a malleable form such as salmon roe, sea urchin, icefish or tuna.
Sashimi is fresh raw seafood is sliced into thin pieces and eaten with soy sauce and wasabi or ginger. You might recognise sushi as the neta, or topping from nigirizushi. If white rice is pants, then sashimi is sushi that's naked from the waist down. :)
When artfully served on the fish from which the sashimi was taken, it is referred to as funamori because the head, tail and backbone of the fish resemble a boat. “Fune” means boat in Japanese.
Makizushi is a type of japanese cuisine prepared by placing a sheet of seaweed on a bamboo mat, spreading vinegared rice and placing other ingredients on top of that, and then shaping this into a roll. You might know it as "California roll" sushi, although I don't think Cali can truly lay claim to the recipe. ;)
Depending on the size, its called either a "hosomaki" (thin roll), "chumaki" (medium), or "futomaki" (large).
Chirashi-zushi is a simple type of sushi in which sushi rice (vinegared rice) is placed in a container and the topping (usually raw seaweed and other things) is sprinkled on top. To eat it, first season with a little soy, then dig in. Easy and quick to make, it’s popular to make at home and to put inside “bento” (lunch boxes).
Sometimes also called “oinari-san”, inarizushi is a type of sushi in which sweetened, vinegared rice is wrapped in a pocket made of deep-fried bean curd that was simmered in soy sauce, miring and sugar. The pocket is called “abura-age”. Inari-zushi is a specialty found in various locations in japan.
The rice and abura-age is already sweetly flavoured, so you eat it as is.
Kaiten sushi, sometimes called “sushi train” in the West, is a restaurant where customers pick sushi from a rotating conveyor belt. You can take any plate that is available or you can ask the sushi chef to prepare something especially for you. In many restaurants you can order directly from a touch panel at the table, but the menu is usually only in Japanese. The price of each plate may be the same, or vary depending on the color of the dish.
Price per person: ¥1,000 ~ ¥3,000
At an authentic-style sushi restaurant customers usually sit at an open counter table where the chefs can serve the sushi to you directly. In many cases the menu will be written in cursive Japanese script on wooden menu plates hanging on the wall, which makes it difficult to order if you can’t read Japanese. In some cases too, the price of sushi isn’t written anywhere because the owner buys the ingredients on a daily basis and the price varies. It’s possible to tell the owner about your budget beforehand, he will serve you a selection of items within your budget.
Visiting a restaurant with experience catering to foreigners will help make your visit easy, tasty & affordable.
Price per person: ¥4,000 ~ ¥10,000