by Adam Snelling


    Japanese style restaurants are becoming an increasingly popular dining option for North Americans, who seek them out for the distinctive dining experience as well as the unique cuisine. The great thing about Japanese dining is how varied the restaurants can be, ranging from the casual and fun Izakayas to the more formal and exclusive dining establishments, varied from cold and raw to the hot and spicy—Japanese dining has most niches covered.

    If you want to see what all the excitement is about in Japanese cuisine, you might want to familiarize yourself with these terms:

    • Sashimi – the cutting of fish raw or cooked, often served with soy sauce and wasabi (Japanese horse radish).
    • Nigiri/Edo Sushi – the cutting of seafood placed on a rice ball, often served with soy sauce, wasabi, and pickled ginger.
    • Makimono/Sushi Rolls – rice and nori (seaweed) with ingredients on the inside and sometimes on the outside. Rolls can have rice or nori on the outside. A fun fact—in most restaurants, you can substitute seaweed for rice paper if the green stuff doesn’t quite tickle your fancy.
    • Kushi Yaki – grilled proteins on skewers, very much like a small kabob.
    • Agemono – fried dishes, usually battered in tempura, cornstarch, or panko.
    • Nimono – braised dishes, usually served in a bowl with some sauce.
    • Ramen – noodles served in a broth, usually with protein, dried seaweed, and onions.

    Even though sushi is almost always the first association made by people when discussing Japanese dining, the reality is that there is quite a lot more to the menu. Along with the blanket categorization of Japanese restaurants as “sushi joints,” the food is often thought of as served cold or raw, which leaves out the vast delectable variety of noodles, soups, and grilled dishes to be tasted.
    Our advice for a slightly more authentic experience is to start off with cold choices and make your way towards the hot dishes. Since communal eating is not only part of Japanese culture, but also part of their dining habits, sharing is a great way to try out a number of different dishes and keep the energy of the table in flow.

    A service on which we pride ourselves on at Ki is our tasting menus, which can really assist in dealing with the sometimes overwhelming number of unfamiliar dishes found on the menu. The tasting menu option allows the wait staff to take control of ordering, armed with the knowledge and preferences provided by the clientele. Each surprise course is intentionally picked and personalized to the group or individual, which allows you to sit back and relax, yet still be bold! Let us take care of you.

    How to Use Hashi or Chopsticks

    Chopsticks are the primary utensil in Japanese dining. If you are new to them, it does take some practice getting into the swing of things, but before you know it, you will be able to call yourself a Hashi-aficionado. Look at the pictures attached to see how to hold them properly. Don’t let yourself get too frustrated at the length of time it takes to become comfortable with them since you were most likely raised on forks and knives.

    Some important notes on Hashi/Chopstick etiquette: it is important to note that Hashi/Chopsticks vary depending on the region or the purpose of the utensil. In Japan, they often come double-sided (pointed at both ends), which makes them ideal for sharing food but not passing germs. The one-sided chopsticks we use in North America signify that they are designed to be shared, and it is customary to divvy up the different plates before proceeding with the feast.

    Our advice for a slightly more authentic experience is to start off with cold choices and make your way towards the hot dishes.

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