Category Archives: Did You Know?

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.

What is Inari?

The world of sushi is one of many nuances and surprises, even for the experienced diner. If you think you’ve tried every roll and every nigiri in the book, come on down to our Issaquah Japanese restaurant to try some inari.

Inari, or inarizushi, is a curious golden-brown item that may not look like a piece of sushi at first glance. One of the simpler varieties of sushi, it consists of a small brick of sushi rice wrapped up in a coat of tofu and fried.. The end result is quite delicious, and is a popular choice for many Japanese children. It often goes under the nickname of “brown bag sushi” or “football sushi”, describing its distinctive shape. Come and give it a try at Aji Sushi and Grill!

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.

What Does it Take to Prepare Sashimi?

Many people don’t think that there is much to sashimi. After all, isn’t it just a small, uncooked piece of fish? It may seem like anyone could prepare such a dish, but the art of making sashimi is one that itamae need to practice for a long time before they can do it properly.

The challenge with sashimi is that it needs to be cut with exact precision. It’s simple enough to cut a normal-sized fish fillet, but the tender fish flesh can break easily on a smaller scale. It takes a lot of training for an itamae to apply a knife with the delicate touch it takes to cut the fish in a visually-appealing fashion.

On top of this, it takes training for an itamae to select a proper cut of fish for the sashimi, and know how to best bring out its flavor. For example, certain parts of the tuna fish are best cut in thick pieces, while the more powerful tuna belly should generally be cut thinner.

If you would like to experience the subtle art of sashimi for yourself, come and visit us at Aji Sushi in Issaquah. We have a long list of sashimi favorites to choose from!

Will Miso Raise My Blood Pressure?

Japan’s distinctive miso boasts a long list of health benefits. The country’s heavy consumption of the dish may play a big part in much of their strong health record. The only real drawback in many people’s minds is the high levels of sodium found in this fermented soy product. A single teaspoon of miso could have between 200 and 300 milligrams of this element, known to raise blood pressure and increase one’s risk of heart disease. So, should you avoid miso?

Surprisingly enough, it would seem that miso does not have the effect on your health that its high sodium levels would indicate. In a study, researchers gave miso to one group of test animals, feeding another group an amount of salt with an equal concentration of sodium. It was found that the animals that ate the miso did not exhibit an increase in blood pressure. Later studies on humans demonstrated a similar effect, finding that people who regularly consume miso actually enjoy superior cardiovascular health.

It’s hard to know why this is the case, but the results cannot be argued with. Come and try some of our miso at our sushi restaurant in Issaquah today!