Enjoy Japanese cuisine with a fresh perspective.
Gum takes 7 years to digest.
Eating carrots will improve your vision.
Do the above sentences sound familiar? Maybe you heard one from a parent or friend and accepted it as a fact. Good news: They’re food myths. It turns out these are widespread and often limiting. Just think of all that time you spent fretting that swallowed piece of gum or forcing yourself to eat carrots.
Nowhere is this type of mythology more common than with foreign cuisines like, for example, Japanese. These false ideas can limit your culinary experiences at home or beyond at authentic Japanese restaurants.
We’re here to debunk myths about our favorite cuisine, so you can spread some food truths and enjoy the world’s finest dishes with a new perspective.
Debunking Myths About Japanese Food
Sushi is the most common food in Japan.
According to one study analyzing the popularity of sushi based on Google searches, Canada is home to some very sushi-obsessed people. In fact, Vancouver and Montreal ranked amongst the most “sushi-crazed cities” in the world. The abundance of sushi restaurants around you might convince you that sushi is a staple at authentic Japanese restaurants.
While there’s no denying that it’s an iconic dish, it’s considered more of a special occasion food in Japan. You might compare it to going to a fancy steakhouse or french bistro to celebrate an occasion. However, there are cheaper variations (like bento box sushi) that are enjoyed more regularly.
Other popular dishes include karaage (Japanese fried chicken), yakitori , ramen, soba, and tempura. If you’re obsessed with sushi, we get it, but there’s a wide world of Japanese cuisine out there calling to your taste buds.
Umami is just a synonym for salty.
Umami is the fifth taste group (the others being sweet, sour, bitter, and salty). It translates to “pleasant savory taste”, and is often described as having a “meaty” flavor. More than simple saltiness, umami has been described as causing salivation and a furry feeling on the tongue. All this might sound a little strange but if you’ve experienced it, you know how satisfying and long-lasting umami can be. In general, umami foods and condiments– like soy sauce, mushrooms, and miso soup– contain high levels of amino acids which deliver the umami flavor.
While it’s true that umami is a key component of Japanese cuisine, it’s not the only flavor profile that you’ll find. Many Japanese dishes are quite light and refreshing, with a delicate balance of flavors. For example, many authentic Japanese restaurants will use the tart flavor of citrus to cut through the umami richness of a dish like tempura or karaage. Be sure to squeeze out those lemon wedges you get with your dish, and enjoy the complex flavor journey.
Miso soup is an appetizer.
We know what you’re thinking– you go to a Japanese restaurant and they serve you a salad and miso soup to start. It’s a familiar and delicious experience, but a little misleading. Traditionally, miso is served either as part of the main meal (and then mixed with other ingredients like vegetables and meat) or as a snack with sake.
Although it has a history of being a luxury consumed by Japan’s wealthy nobles and samurais, today it’s a daily staple for most Japanese people. It might surprise you to hear that some even have it for breakfast; honestly, a warm cup of umami seems like just the thing on a chilly morning. To experiment with miso, stop by your local grocer and pick up some miso paste, tofu, and nori. Better yet, stop by Torisho and let us serve you a cup.
The culinary world has many myths that lead to strange rules about what you should eat; it can also lead to misconceptions about foreign cuisines. Our advice? Ditch the myths, expand your palate, and create your own rules. Have a miso soup for breakfast, branch out beyond sushi, and welcome the joy of new experiences.
Get Your Umami Fix at Torisho Beach
We’ve got all the savory goodness you’re craving at Torisho Beach. Karaage, katsu chicken sandwiches, tempura green beans, miso soup– you can call us umami artists. Come visit our authentic Japanese restaurant in the Beaches neighborhood of Toronto.
Experience the joy of fried chicken, and tag us in your meals @torisho.ca