Many different words have been said. They said nothing would ever be the same again. Or that we won’t like it at all, because having eaten sushi in Poland, Europe or in the USA, Japan may be a shock. You already know we liked it very much. We loved it, we got addicted to it, we can eat sushi everyday. For breakfast, for lunch, for dinner. And if somebody tells you that Japanese sushi is worse than Polish, there can be only one reason: the person you’re talking to doesn’t like fish… 🙂
How is sushi in Japan? What can surprise us, Polish people, who come to Japan and want to eat as much sushi as possible? Read about a few things that surprised us/that we memorized! 🙂
1) FORGET ABOUT ROLLS
I don’t know about you, but in Poland we love all kinds of makis – futomakis, California makis, all makis stuffed with fish, vegetables, crispy cucumber, turnip, pumpkin seeds or chili pepper. We love it when sushi masters come up with their own flavors, when they surprise us. We love to order “something interesting with raw salmon”.
We already knew that rolls are almost never eaten in Japan! Almost everyone eats nigiri sushi – it’s just rice, wasabi, fish and that’s it! No sauces, no other ingredients, no experiments. It really is that way: you will see toooons of various kinds of nigiri sushi and maybe just a few rolls in their menus . The rolls that are offered are usually the ones we never order in Warsaw – hosomaki with one, maybe to ingredients. I will remember rolls with tuna and fresh wasabi! Awesome! But remember – they’re incredibely spicy! 🙂 The bigger rolls, which are supposed to taste a little more Polish, didn’t look good – a little stuffings, lots of rice. We had no other choice than to stick with NIGIRI!
Gunkan-maki is pretty popular too – with tuna Tatar, spawn, salmon and small fish. Simplicity – the key word!
2) FALL IN LOVE WITH NIGIRI
You want to eat sushi in Japan? Fall in love with nigiri! It’s everywhere, served in million ways. Sushi masters make nigiri as if they were robots – two hand moves and another piece lands on your plate. In our experience, in some sushi bars nigiri is sold per item and the price is also per item, but in others, you get two on every plate. Plates with nigiri are often passing in front of you on tapes, so you can choose whatever you like.
Do you get bored of nigiri in Japan? Never! The variety of fish and seafood is so big, that you can eat different things all the time! 🙂 You need to try mackerel nigiri!
3) TRY CHIRASHI
What is chirashi? Chirashi is sushi in a bowl. Rice at the bottom (moist, like for sushi), fish on top. Raw fish. One kind or more kinds. Delicious thing, but I guess in Poland we don’t have it? Or maybe I just never paid attention to it. If you know where in Warsaw you can get it, let us know! 🙂 I think that Shoku bowls in Shoku come closest, but they add vegetables or guacamole to it, so it’s not really the chirashi I’m looking for 🙂
4) DON’T MIX WASABI WITH SOY SAUCE UNLESS YOU EAT CHIRASHI
When we eat sushi in Poland, we usually mix soy sauce with wasabi and this is what we dip our sushi in. Łukasz is very radical – his sauce is usually thick, green suspenion made of wasabi and soy sauce. MISTAKE. In Japan, you dip sushi in soy sauce, unless you order chirashi. This is when you can mix soy sauce with wasabi and pour it all over it.
5) THE CHEAPEST PLATE WILL COST YOU A FEW ZLOTYS
You’re afraid that you won’t be able to afford sushi in Japan? There’s no need! I already wrote it in another post, but I’ll say it again – sushi in Japan is way cheaper than in Poland. The cheapest plates are 100 yens, which is less than 4 zlotys – it’s usually nigiri with tamago omelette or vegetables rolls, but rolls with salmon are just a little bit more expensive – 2 pieces with salmon are about 7 zlotys. In Poland, I have never seen them for less than 12-14 zlotys! Of course, there are a lot of more expensive options, but eating EVERYTHING we felt like eating – sophisticated fish, shrimps and everything you can imagine – we didn’t pay more than 250-300 zlotys for our three. In Warsaw we’d pay a few times more or… we wouldn’t at all, because no one would have fish of that quality (like toro tuna).
Of course, kids enjoyed taking plates of nigiri off the tape the most. They fought for the best position 🙂
6) MOVING FISH MIGHT END UP ON YOUR PLATE…
You may be surprised sometimes – Łukasz, apart from tons of nigiri, ordered fresh sashimi in our favorite bar in Kyoto (Chojiro – we highly recommend it!). For us, sashimi is usually associated just with pieces of raw fish with no rice. What did Łukasz get in Kyoto? Of course, there were pieces of raw fish, but there was also… moving fish…
7) OU’LL MAKE YOUR TEA YOURSELF – THERE’S A WATER TAP AT THE TABLE
It’s one of my favorite tricks. There’s usually a hot water tap and a box with green powder at your table. It’s matcha powder – Japanese green tea that I wrote about HERE. You take cups and make yourself some tea. As much as you like 🙂
8) YOU CAN ASK FOR NIGIRI WITH OR WITHOUT WASABI
Apart from rice and fish, nigiri usually comes with a little bit of wasabi. There’s rice, wasabi and fish. You can order some without wasabi, though – if you don’t like it or wanna give it to your kid who thinks it’s too spicy. In bars where you order through pieces of paper, where you check what you want, or through tablets, you usally can find the option WITHOUT WASABI.
9) YOU CAN ORDER ON YOUR TABLET IN MOST PLACES
Modernity is Japan’s second name. There are usually tables next to tables, where you can check out the menu and make your order. In some places your order comes to you on an express lane and you barely speak to the stuff (look for a sushi bar by train station in Himeji, where sushi comes to you by Shinkansen).
Another surprise is when you ask for a bill. In Poland, there are several plates on your table, and when the waitress comes, she writes things down, counts and counts. What about Japan? Waiters come to you with a small something that looks like a payment terminal, put it above your table and they already know how much you have to pay.
10) IN CHILDREN’S SETS, RAW FISH COMES WITH FRENCH FRIES 🙂
They say Polish children’s sets are too average – it’s always chicken broth with nuggets and french fries. Turns out Japanese children love french fries too, because you can order them with nigiri 🙂 As you can see, some things stay the same no matter where you are 🙂 Nigiri with salmon wins every battle with fries and chocolate when it comes to us, though.
11) ŁSALMON IS NOT ALWAYS THE SAME!
FISH is what’s amazing about Japanese sushi. Not only is it high quality and various, but it’s also so good that you will probably not find it in Poland. In Poland, salmon is salmon, tuna is tuna. You need to try fatty salmon and fatty tuna – they’re the best versions of fish known in Japan 🙂
12) SOMETIMES IT’S DIFFICULT TO FIND A SUSHI BAR!
You thought sushi is eaten everywhere in Japan? So did we 🙂 It’s not necessarily true. Sometimes we had to spend a lot of time trying to find good sushi. Sometimes we had to spend a lot of time trying to find anything – like Nagoi! We have some friends, who told us that during their first trip to Japan, they wanted to eat sushi and it wasn’t easay. You will find more places with noodle soups everywhere, though. In Tokyo, a lot of sushi bars can be found by Tsukiji market – it’s nice for a fish breakfast. We booked a hotel with no breakfasts on purpose, so that was where we spent our two last mornings in Japan. In the picture, Maks is eating his breakfast salmon nigiri – in Sushizanmai by Tsukiji 🙂
13) SOMETIMES YOU MAY BE SURPRISED…
I remember when we got to Nara, it was raining, and everyone, including kids, wanted sushi. We used the Internet to look for some nice places and we went out, full of hope. The place may have been recommended, but not in the category we were hoping for. In Nara, persimmon leaf sushi is eaten. It also goes by name no ha sushi. What is persimmon? Khaki – have you heard of it? It’s this orange fruit that can be bought in some stores in Poland. Its leaves are antibacterial, which is why sushi is covered in these leaves. This kind of sushi can last even a few days! Is it nice? We found it worse than regular sushi, but if you want to try something interesting in Japan – try this! 🙂
So? Want some sushi in Japan? 🙂 Or maybe you remember something else from your trip?