Category Archives: Did You Know?

The Hearty Freshwater Eel of Japan

The Japanese word “unagi” refers to freshwater eels, specifically the anguilla japonica variety native to the country. You can find this eel on the unagi nigiri and the “eel bowl” at our Issaquah Japanese restaurant. This is one of the more traditional varieties of sushi that you will commonly see with cooked meat, representing a popular choice for native diners and American sushi lovers alike.

In Japan, it’s not uncommon for a restaurant to specialize entirely in unagi-based food. Such restaurants are often easy to spot, making use of a picture of an eel to represent the Japanese character for “u-”. The meat is well loved on sushi and in “unagi-don” rice bowls.

Unagi meat is high in protein, calcium, and vitamin A. This has given the eel a reputation as a strong source of stamina. During the summer, unagi is traditionally eaten during the Day of the Ox in midsummer, when people hope to harness its stamina-boosting to help them through the hot summer days. Try some for yourself today at Aji Sushi and Grill!

The Benefits of Fish Eggs

Have you ever eaten fish eggs? Fish eggs, or roe, is a common sight in our Japanese restaurant in Issaquah. Whether they’re sprinkled across a roll or piled onto a piece of nigiri, it’s a delicious addition to any sushi. Many Americans need to work their way up to trying roe, but they’re generally glad that they did. After all, not only does roe taste great, it’s also surprisingly healthy.

As you likely already know, seafood is a great source of essential omega-3 fatty acids. These highly beneficial fats help maintain a healthy heart and circulatory system, offering a slew of important benefits. You can get a good dose of omega-3 from fatty fish like salmon and tuna, but the absolute greatest source of omega-3 is fish eggs. A minimal consumption of roe, in particular salmon roe, can easily give you your recommended serving of fatty acids. Come and make roe a bigger part of your diet at Aji Sushi today!

The Forgotten Rules of Sushi

Are you making any mistakes in your sushi-eating routine?  The answer may surprise you.  Even if you’re a veteran of the sushi menu at our Issaquah Japanese restaurant, try reading through this list of simple sushi-eating pointers to see if there’s some way to enhance your dining experience:

  • Sushi is a finger-food!  A lot of people feel more comfortable using chopsticks or even a fork, particularly with some of the messier fusion-style rolls, but it’s perfectly okay to eat sushi with your hands.

  • It’s best to eat an entire piece of sushi in one bite.  This is a good way to enjoy the full combination of flavors in the sushi, and also a good way to keep the sushi from falling apart in your hands.

  • Sushi generally comes with a side of thinly sliced ginger.  Some make the mistake of using this as a condiment, but it is actually there to cleanse the palate between sushi.

  • If you’re eating nigiri sushi, put it into your mouth upside-down so that your tongue is touching the fish instead of the rice.

  • Go easy on the soy sauce!  This can dissolve the sushi rice that is holding your sushi together, and it can also be seen as an insult to your chef.  If you’re eating nigiri sushi, remember to dip the fish in the sauce, and not the rice.

  • Be careful with your wasabi!  It can easily overpower the rest of the sushi.

The History of the California Roll

If you’ve heard of sushi, you’re probably aware of the California roll. You can find it all over, including our Issaquah Japanese restaurant. You’re probably familiar enough with this simple sushi favorite, but did you know that it represents a significant chapter in sushi history?

The first California roll first made its appearance in Los Angeles in the 1970’s. Japanese sushi chefs were still trying to find a market for their craft in the United States, so they combined imitation crab with avocado and rolled it up in a layer of rice. The taste of the imitation crab and the texture of the avocado proved to be a great way to simulate the experience of eating raw fish, and served as a stepping stone for many Americans into the world of sushi. And thus, the phenomenon of “American-style” fusion sushi was born.

The California roll represents several sushi firsts. This was the first time avocado had been used in sushi, representing a pioneer of non-Japanese ingredients to be used in the craft. Also, it was the introduction of sushi rolls that contained more than one main ingredient, as well as the advent of the “inside-out” roll, with the rice rolled around the nori. It’s exciting to see how far the sushi craft has come today, and more exciting still to consider how it might advance in the world of tomorrow.

Health Benefits of Shellfish

Do you like shellfish? You can find all of your favorites at our Japanese restaurant in Issaquah! Not only are these dishes a delicious part of any Japanese meal, they also feature a broad range of impressive health benefits.

Shellfish is more than just a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, like most fish. Shellfish are all also rich in chromium and selenium, both of which have a powerful impact on your body. Chromium helps insulin to metabolize sugar, making it a highly recommended nutrient for diabetics or people at risk of diabetes. Selenium is an antioxidant that battles a lot of deadly carcinogens, like cadmium, arsenic, and even mercury. Keep shellfish in your diet, and keep cancer out!

What is Uni?

When you visit our Issaquah sushi restaurant, you have the opportunity of trying the fine delicacy that the Japanese know as uni sushi. This is a type of nigiri sushi made from the edible part of the sea urchin. Fans of this sushi love its creamy consistency and the light, sweet taste, which has made uni a high-demand dish throughout the globe.

The meat on uni sushi is often identified as the sea urchin’s roe, or eggs. However, it is actually the organs that produce the eggs or milt. Because of this, some people consider uni sushi to be an aphrodisiac. Though there may not be much scientific support for this claim, it stands that uni is a rare and delightful treat for the avid sushi lover. Try it out for yourself at Aji Sushi!

The Difference Between Sushi and Sashimi

Do you know the difference between sushi and sashimi? If you’re dining at our Issaquah sushi restaurant, this is an important distinction to make. We offer both a sushi and sashimi section on our menu, and failing to know the difference between the two could very well end up with you getting a dish that you were not expecting.

In simple terms, “sushi” always contains rice and “sashimi” always contains fish. Indeed, contrary to a popular misconception, sushi does not necessarily contain fish. This is because the word “sushi” describes the particular style of vinegared rice that always goes into the dish, so anything that becomes paired with this rice goes under the name. Sashimi, on the other hand, is generally nothing but a piece of raw fish.

Japan’s “Rule of Five”

In Japan, the number five is a very important one. The next time you dine at our Issaquah Japanese restaurant, take a good look at your surroundings and the food that you are served. If you look carefully, you might notice how the tradition of five is brought out in five different ways in an authentic Japanese meal.

The Five Senses: You don’t just experience a meal with your tongue and your nose. Your food should be presented well to be pleasing to the eye. Your utensils and dishes should feel good to the touch. The restaurant should have a pleasing sound and ambiance. When all five senses are happy, you’re enjoying an excellent meal.
The Five Colors: White, black, green, red, and yellow are Japan’s five elemental colors, Just like artists and architects have aspired to feature in balance of these colors within their work, chefs try to work all five into a perfect meal. This also lends itself to a healthy balance of nutrition.
The Five Preparations: Raw, simmered, fried, steamed, and roasted or grilled are the five common ways Japanese food is prepared. Working your way through a complete dining experience in this way is a great way to add complexity and nuance to your dining experience.
The Five Tastes: We’re all familiar with bitter, sour, salt, and sweet as the four tastes. To this, Japan adds something they call umami, which might be translated to “savory”.
The Five Attitudes: Buddhist tradition provides Japan with a philosophical approach to eating, which comes in the form of these five phrases:
I reflect on the work that went into preparing this food for me.
I reflect on my shortcomings, and ponder whether or not I deserve this food.
Allow my mind to be free from prejudice and greed.
I take this food to maintain good bodily health.
I accept this food to further my pursuit of enlightenment.

Japanese Drinking Etiquette

You can enjoy a good selection of wines and beers at our Issaquah Japanese restaurant. Drinking socially is as big a part of Japanese culture as it is of American culture and, as is the case with much of Japanese culture, this is a practice that is rich with tradition and rules. If you want to try properly immersing yourself in your Japanese experience, or if you’re playing host to some friends from across the Pacific, try keeping the following in mind:

First of all, never pour your own drink at a Japanese table. Wait for someone else to fill your glass for you, meanwhile keeping an eye out for someone who needs you to fill his or her glass. If somebody offers to refill your drink, finish off what’s in your glass quickly and hold your glass out to him or her. It can be considered rude to decline a refill, particularly from a senior! This can lead to over-drinking if you’re not careful, so try to keep a semi-full glass in hand if you’re reaching your limit.

Drinking does not start until after everyone at the table is served. At this point, a toast is made. Raise your glasses and say “kampai”, much as you would offer a toast. Now you are drinking in the Japanese tradition!

How to Know Nigiri Sushi

How well do you know your sushi? When you see a sushi roll, you probably know enough to refer to it as a “roll”, but would you know how to identify a piece of sushi that doesn’t come in “roll” form?

At our Issaquah Japanese restaurant, the more traditional variety of sushi is the nigirizushi (literally, “hand-formed sushi”). Often called “nigiri sushi”, or simply “nigiri” in English speaking countries, these are the pieces of sushi with that classic Edo-style shape. They consist of an elongated clump of sushi rice, which is usually mixed with a touch of wasabi. This rice is then topped with a strip of sashimi, tomago, or some other variety of topping, often held in place with a band of nori seaweed.

When a nigiri sushi is topped with a cluster of fish eggs or some other type of loose topping, a thick strip of nori will be wrapped around the rice to create a bowl-like structure on top and hold this topping in place. When this happens, it is called gunkan-maki (“warship roll”), named for the vaguely boat-like appearance created by the nori.