sushi

Secrets of the sushi shops: 10 tips and tricks the chain restaurants don’t want you to know

Secrets of the sushi shops: 10 tips and tricks the chain restaurants don’t want you to know

With major restaurant chains hit by food safety scares, and a factory worker jailed last month for lacing frozen foods with pesticides, consumer confidence in the food industry in Japan is at an all-time low. Writer and food safety campaigner Hirokazu Kawagishi’s latest book is a timely contribution to this renewed skepticism about the food we eat, where it comes from, and whether it is what it claims to be. In Gaishoku no uragawa (literally, “the other side of dining out”), Kawagishi reveals the secrets behind Japan’s restaurant trade.

In an extract published in Toyo Keizai this week, Kawagishi lifts the lid on Japan’s kaitenzushi (conveyor belt sushi) with 10 pro tips to help you decide which restaurants are worth your time — and which to avoid.

Let’s take a look at what he recommends, including why you should always take a closer look at the squid; the secret significance of the hole in the soy-sauce pourer, and more tips to make sure you don’t get scammed at the sushi counter.

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What your favorite sushi says about your income

What your favorite sushi says about your income

There are so many things you can learn about someone simply by observing them. You don’t have reach out of your comfort zone and ask them directly because so much can be learned by their fashion, their posture, their body language and the way they cut their nails. This is especially handy in Japanese society when being direct can be seen as extremely rude.

So how do you find out about really personal things? Certainly the best way to acquire hidden information is by asking innocuous questions that reveal way more than they should! Take the latest tip from an elite business man, who says you can guess about how much a man earns in Japan by asking him one simple question: “What kind of sushi do you like?

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Horsemeat sushi: For when you’re tired of spicy tuna and California rolls

Horsemeat sushi: For when you’re tired of spicy tuna and California rolls

Although “sushi” is often thought to mean raw fish, that’s not actually what the word means. The name actually refers to vinegared rice, and some varieties of sushi don’t contain any fish at all.

Kappa maki, for example, are rolls of seaweed, rice, and cucumber, while inarizushi is made with rice and fried tofu. On the other end of the spectrum, if you’re in the mood for non-seafood sushi but also don’t want to go vegetarian, you can try horse sushi, like we recently did.

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Our Japanese correspondent tries sushi in San Diego and falls in love with the authentic flavor

Our Japanese correspondent tries sushi in San Diego and falls in love with the authentic flavor

During our Japanese correspondent Yoshios recent trip to San Diego’s Comic-Con, he was struck by an insatiable craving to eat some quality sushi. From what he’d previously heard, while most American sushi restaurants offer western-inspired uramaki ‘inside-out’ rolls such as the California roll, it would be harder to find nigirizushi (the kind with a topping over a block of rice) on the menu. So what’s a hungry guy far from home to do?

After asking several Japanese people living in the area, Yoshio headed over to the highly recommended Sushi Ota. He went in with some reservations about the authenticity of the sushi, being outside of Japan and all, but left after a mind-blowing experience–in fact, he now considers Sushi Ota to be in the top three sushi restaurants he’s ever been to!

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More than meets the eye, sushi in disguise! Check out these transforming sushi toys!

More than meets the eye, sushi in disguise! Check out these transforming sushi toys!

Your mother probably scolded you for playing with your food at the dinner table, but here’s one of the few times you’ll be able to get away with it! Introducing transforming sushi toys from Takara Tomy. Now, instead of playing with a floppy piece of asparagus (how’s that supposed to stand up to the forces of evil anyway?), you can play with these pieces of super robot fighting sushi. Just don’t try to take a bite out of them!

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Do you really know how to eat sushi? Probably not!

Do you really know how to eat sushi? Probably not!

Did you know that you’ve probably been eating sushi wrong this whole time? Check out this video from a pro sushi chef to see how you should be doing it if you want to be a real sushi gourmet.

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What’s better than sushi? Ramen sushi!

What’s better than sushi? Ramen sushi!

If you look closely at the photo above, you’ll see that inside this sushi roll there’s no rice. Instead, it’s filled with the goodness of instant noodles!

The lifeblood of students, singles and people who just don’t have time to cook, the humble noodle has been used in many ways over the years and now it’s seeing a new dawn, wrapped in a roll and plated up as sushi. And did I mention this baby is wrapped in bacon?

We’ll give you the easy, step-by-step recipe after the jump, but purists be warned: the following images may disturb. Everybody else: come on in and take a seat!

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Wrap your feet in raw fish fashion with a pair of sushi socks!

Wrap your feet in raw fish fashion with a pair of sushi socks!

What better way to stand out from the crowd than in a pair of sushi socks! Featuring all the firm favourites, from tuna to egg roll, this unique range of legwear is gearing up to be one of the most sought-after products on the Japanese market this summer. Not only do they look great on your feet, they look even better rolled up because that’s when they actually resemble the real thing! Check out the entire collection and see which ones you’d like to have in your bedroom drawers.

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A collection of 20 creative ‘sushi’ rolls that were invented outside of Japan

A collection of 20 creative ‘sushi’ rolls that were invented outside of Japan

Love it or hate it, every country has their own take on sushi. While some of the creations, such as the California roll, are fairly tame and are now accepted as part of a normal sushi menu, we’ve also seen some of the odder versions out there, such as Hong Kong’s ‘killer sushi’, Nutella sushi in France, and my personal favorite–the absolutely adorable but sadly inedible cat sushi!

The quintessential component of sushi is vinegared rice, so while these creations can’t technically be called sushi, they’ve definitely taken a stylistic cue from the rolled shape of makizushi. And we have to admit, some of those fillings do look tasty…

Which of the following creations do you find most intriguing?

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Sushi-inspired wooden building blocks & other stylish, whimsical toys even parents would want!

Sushi-inspired wooden building blocks & other stylish, whimsical toys even parents would want!

In an increasingly digital world where toddlers and pets alike develop their hand-eye coordination with Fruit Ninja and Ant Crusher, it’s undeniably important to let kids experience the pleasure of tactile toys and natural materials. I still have the tsumiki (wooden building block) set that my brother and I used to play with; now worn around the edges but with the same nostalgic smell, the pieces still make a delightful and distinct clacking sound when they hit each other.

And so, after coming across a unique build-a-sushi set that has been garnering attention in Japan for its sleek minimalistic design, we rounded up a few timber toys from Asia that not only would spark children’s imagination, but would also look right at home at Anthropologie or the MoMA gift shop. With their chic sensibilities and innate warmth, even adults would love to have these playful objets d’art in their home!

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Survey picks Japan’s top 12 cheap chain restaurants

Survey picks Japan’s top 12 cheap chain restaurants

In Japan, the common thinking is that if you want the absolute best-tasting food, you have to go to an independently run restaurant, generally with a long wait for tables and/or high prices on the menu. But what about those times when you’re hungry, but not in the mood to spend a large chunk of either your free time or disposable income on a meal?

That’s when you turn to one of Japan’s national chains, and if you can’t decide which, maybe this survey on the top 12 chain restaurants in Japan can help you.

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Try not to eat your fingers while wearing these realistic sushi nails

Try not to eat your fingers while wearing these realistic sushi nails

We’ve seen a lot of cute and especially strange nail art from Japan, but we’ve never seen any that looked this delicious! Ebi, tamago, sake, and many more of our favorite sushi toppings grace the tops of this young woman’s nails, in what will probably make it even harder for chronic nail biters to kick the habit.

More up-close pictures and even more kinds of sushi nails after the jump!

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We ask an Itamae how to order sushi like a pro

We ask an Itamae how to order sushi like a pro

Japan’s sushi restaurants range from some of the finest cuisine in the world, to cheerful conveyer-belt gigs where everything is 100 yen (oh, alright then, 108 yen) and comes with a free toy. For those of us accustomed to the “sushi-go-round” that is kaiten-zushi, visiting a “proper” sushi restaurant in Japan where there’s no rotating belt of plates to choose from can be a daunting experience.

When there’s no menu, and you’re alone at the counter, quivering under the watchful eye of an intimidating chef armed with giant swishy blades, how do you order with confidence? Who better to ask than a sushi itamae, a high-end chef of Japanese cuisine. One of our intrepid Japanese reporters went to ask one of these top sushi chaps, who gave us his best three tips for sounding like you know what you’re doing at the counter.

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Japanese netizens lament over the long, but sad life of sea urchins

Japanese netizens lament over the long, but sad life of sea urchins

Although the spiny, horrifying outside may scare you off, the insides of a sea urchin are one of the most delicious things to come out of the ocean. In Japan, sea urchin, or uni in Japanese, can be enjoyed with sushi, on top of rice or just own its own. Sea urchins are a treat for any seafood fan, but recently a group of Japanese netizens found out a little bit more about the life of the sea creature and began a deep discussion about the spiny little critters.

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Don’t mistakenly eat these sushi characters, they might just save the world!【Video】

Don’t mistakenly eat these sushi characters, they might just save the world!【Video】

When you think of Japan, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Perhaps, it’s “sushi”, the delicious combination of rice and various aquatic delicacies. Or maybe you think of “ninja”, those fierce warriors of the past that devastated more than a few rulers in their prime. Of course, it might be “anime”. After all, many people become interested in Japan because they want to see and know more about these big-eyed animated characters. If you thought of any of those words, you have to check out the newest anime from Daisuki TV, titled Sushi Ninja!

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Turn the baggage claim carousel into a sushi train with these new sushi luggage covers!

Turn the baggage claim carousel into a sushi train with these new sushi luggage covers!

Sushi was once a strange delicacy confined to the shores of Japan. Thanks to its health benefits, the humble sushi has since travelled the world, popping up in all sorts of remote and obscure locations from Iceland to the Middle East.

Now sushi is on the move again, this time coming with you on your travels and hugging your luggage in the form of clever suitcase covers. With four designs to choose from, baggage claim carousels are set to look like giant sushi train conveyor belts this summer!

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Hungry? Travelers pick Japan’s 30 best restaurants

Hungry? Travelers pick Japan’s 30 best restaurants

Travel website Trip Advisor recently released its annual list of the 30 best sightseeing spots in Japan. Featuring centuries-old shrines, futuristic cityscapes, and no fewer than four whale sharks, it’s an impressive collection of much of what makes Japan such a unique and awesome country.

Honestly, if you had the time, we wouldn’t try to talk you out of an itinerary that hits all 30 places. Of course, with that much sightseeing, you’re bound to work up an appetite. Thankfully, Trip Advisor is back again with its top 30 restaurants in Japan.

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Yea or nay? Japanese netizens get the nori rolling as they weigh in on the all new dragon-maki

Yea or nay? Japanese netizens get the nori rolling as they weigh in on the all new dragon-maki

The now ubiquitous California roll first made its debut at a Los Angeles restaurant in the 1960s. Developed by chef Ichirō Mashita, it was perfect for the not-yet-adventurous as it contained no raw fish, and the ura-maki (reverse roll) technique kept the nori hidden from view (this was cleverly cooked up by another chef after he saw American patrons peeling the black stuff off).

Before long, the world was overflowing with innovative creations like the rainbow roll, spider roll, Alaska, Vegas, monkey, Godzilla… what were we talking about again? Right, sushi! And as you can imagine, many of these unique maki-zushi have become popular reverse imports since the advent of the first American-born roll.

But how does the general public in Japan feel about these flamboyant works of fusion? Is sushi still a revered art form with tried-and-true traditions, or a limitless playground? To explore this the RN24 way, let’s consider the dragon roll above since it has been garnering lots of attention as of late. Read on for a look at Japanese netizens’ varied and entertaining responses!

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“A Taste of Japan”: Mouth-watering video of one man’s incredible gourmet trip 【Video】

“A Taste of Japan”: Mouth-watering video of one man’s incredible gourmet trip 【Video】

A filmmaker based in Los Cabos, Mexico, is attracting attention online in Japan with his stunningly beautiful food video. Entitled “A Taste of Japan”, Mike Arce’s video features the food he fell in love with on a trip to the Land of the Rising Sun. In an impressively expansive gourmet tour, Arce sampled everything from Kyoto speciality tofu cuisine to delicious hot-plate favourites like okonomiyaki and sukiyaki, even squeezing in a trip to Sukiyabashi Jiro in Roppongi for some high-class sushi, too.

If you didn’t already want to go to Japan really, really badly, you will after you watch this!

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Love sushi? Now you can date it, with this romance simulator available in English!

Love sushi? Now you can date it, with this romance simulator available in English!

Since most sushi is served raw, the flavor can vary wildly depending on the freshness of the fish and even the season in which you eat it. Granted, most of what’s available in Japan is reasonably tasty, but when all the factors line up just right, the mix of surprise, joy, and satisfaction that come from popping a really good piece of sushi into your mouth can be a borderline emotional experience, almost like falling in love.

If you’re a sushi-loving lady looking to take your relationship with the dish to an even deeper level, there’s now a dating simulator that lets you romance handsome anthropomorphized pieces of sushi.

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