Photo:jen on Flickr

Let's Take a Look at Modern Sushi in Japan

Sushi is the world's most popular Japanese cuisine. When we say the word “sushi”, people usually have an image of raw fish or some other seafood on top of small hand-formed rice. That’s the typical style of sushi which originated in 16th century Japan and has grown popular all over the world even today. It’s interesting to see how Japanese people can still make a food as popular now as it was back then.

Ordinary sushi can be found everywhere in Japan. However, one may notice that many restaurants gradually create new and creative styles of their own. They tend to combine sushi with other foods, for example, fried chicken, hamburger steak, shrimp and mayonnaise, or even chocolate banana! Although some Japanese people might feel that those are not authentic, I think that those are sushi breakthroughs. Instead of limiting to only raw fish, having a variety of sushi is good for many foreigners visiting Japan who are not so familiar with raw food and the parents who are concerned about their kids eating raw food. Moreover, the kids themselves can be happy to have more eating choices too! And we know what picky eaters kids can be.

boy picking up sushi with chopsticks
Photo: Norihiro Kataoka on Flickr

Sushi is not the only thing that has been developed, but also the restaurant’s atmosphere has changed to be more like a family restaurant. In a typical sushi restaurant, the customers will sit in front of the chef and follow the rules he gives for eating the sushi served. However, many sushi restaurants nowadays are making their restaurant in a more relaxed atmosphere so that the people will be more comfortable to come in with their family and enjoy their meals together. Consequently, these restaurants have become exponentially more popular especially among families. In these restaurants, both ordinary and creative styles of sushi are provided so that people of all ages can choose any one based on their tastes.

One of my favorite sushi restaurants is “Kura Sushi”. This is one of the popular conveyer-belt sushi restaurants (kaiten-zushi) that has nearly 400 chain branches around Japan. A good point of this restaurant is that they continually create many interesting sushi dishes. Besides, their restaurant’s atmosphere is very suitable for people who want to relax and have fun with their meals.

Kura Zushi sushi restaurant exterior, above a Lawson convenience store
Photo: CC0 by Tokumeigakarinoaoshima via Wikimedia Commons

The sushi dishes at Kura Sushi are a parade of different foods on top of rice. They also regularly release the campaigns for special sushi dishes in which premium ingredients are used. In addition to the vast variety of dishes available, Kura Sushi's prices on almost all dishes is ¥100 which is pretty cheap when you see how good their quality is. With this kind of restaurant, sushi is definitely the food that everyone can reach; from original to new style, from kids to adults, and from low to high income houses!

Here are some examples of sushi dishes at Kura Sushi ascending from traditional to modern styles.

1. Ordinary Sushi

tuna nigiri sushi
shrimp nigiri sushi
scallops nigiri sushi
Scallops (hotate)
squid nigiri sushi
salmon roe
Salmon roe (ikura)
salmon nigiri sushi

2. Creative Sushi

boiled egg
Boiled egg
grilled chicken sushi
Grilled chicken
shrimp and mayo sushi
Shrimp mixed with mayonnaise
grilled pork and cheese sushi
Grilled pork topped with cheese
chicken katsu sushi
Chicken katsu
hamburger steak sushi
Hamburger steak

From the examples above, you can see how sushi dishes have been developed from the ordinary to out-of-this-world creative. The ordinary style is very unique and strongly shows the identity of Japanese cuisine, while the creative style showcases the Japanese concept of generating new ideas and creating something extraordinary from simple ingredients! From my viewpoint, as a foreigner, I think this kind of creativity is a uniqueness of Japan which is the main reason that Japan is so attractive to many foreigners. I believe that the ordinary-style sushi will continue to be served for many generations, and at the same time, the new-style sushi will be created as the time goes by. Of course, sushi will always be a dish that everyone can enjoy.

Last but not least, if you are interested in trying Kura Sushi in any styles of your preferences, please check out their official website to see more details about the menu and the store locations.

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