Some Western culinary influences in Japan, including Portugal (tempura) and the Americas (teppanyaki), have been so integrated into Japanese cooking, it is difficult to differentiate them from more traditional Japanese cuisine like sushi and kaiseki. Standard Japanese meals usually include rice, soup, pickles and an entree, like fish or vegetables.
How to Eat
If you are not familiar with chopsticks, dining at Japanese or other Asian cuisine restaurants may present a challenge. But once mastered, eating with this simple instrument is a genuine pleasure, since you are not confronted with a variety of unfamiliar eating utensils.
An oshibori towel, in a wrapper or on a small tray, gives you a chance to wipe your hands (or even your face) before you begin the meal.
Except in Chinese restaurants that provide plastic chopsticks, you eat with wooden chopsticks that come in a paper wrapper. Take them out, split them in half, and hold the two halves in one hand with your thumb, forefinger and middle finger, as if holding two pencils. Then let the middle finger slip between the two sticks. One stick will rest between the forefinger and middle finger, the other between the middle and ring fingers. Watch how other people manipulate the sticks to figure out how to pick up pieces of food correctly.
To deal with soup, pick up the small bowl with one hand and sip from the edge of the bowl. You can dip your chopsticks into the soup to pick up small chunks of bean curd or thin slices of seaweed.
Noodles served on a wooden tray are simply picked up in bite-size portions. If served in a hot broth, alternate between picking them up and lifting the bowl to sip the broth. Slurping is a sign of a good appetite and eating with pleasure, and is in this instance, perfectly acceptable.
- Dining Out
- What to Eat
- How to Eat
- Menu Guide
- Alcoholic Beverages
- Where to Drink
- Drinking Etiquette
- Chicken Yakitori
- Eggplant Miso Soup
- Japanese Potstickers (Gyoza)
- Japanese-Style Salad Dressings
- Pan-Broiled Scallops
- Shabu Shabu
- Tori no Mizutaki
- Tuna Tataki
from Kate's Global Kitchen:
Japanese Cookbooks with Recipes
- At the Japanese Table by Lesley Downer
- Food Sake Tokyo by Yukari Sakamoto
- Izakaya: The Japanese Pub Cookbook by Mark Robinson
- The Book of Miso by William Shurtleff & Akiko Aoyagi
- The Breakaway Japanese Kitchen by Eric Gower
- Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art by Shizuo Tsuji
- Japanese Cooking by Miyoko Nishimoto Schinner
- Japanese Kitchen Knives by Hiromitsu Nozaki
- Nobu Miami: The Party Cookbook
by Nobu Matsuhisa and Thomas Buckley
- Sake by Beau Timken and Sara Deseran
- The Sushi Lover's Cookbook: Easy-to-Prepare Sushi for Every Occasion
by Yumi Umemura
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This page modified January 2007