Tag Archives: Issaquah Japanese Restaurant

The Okinawan Diet: For Long Lifespans

The Secret to Longevity

Okinawa in Japan is known for the longevity of its residents. This is attributed to a diet of ‘major on vegetables, minor on meat’. Okinawan cuisine is distinctly different from that of mainland Japan, with some notable Taiwanese influences. While Okinawans also love to eat pork, most Okinawan ingredients include vegetables rarely seen on the Japanese mainland such as bitter melon or goya, purple yam, and tropical fruits including mango, papaya, pineapple, dragonfruit and the sour lime-like calamansi.

Vegetables in Okinawa get three to four times more sunshine than those grown in other prefectures, apart from thriving in rich soil and absorbing the mineral-rich ocean air. Thus, these vegetables contain more antioxidant components. Okinawans also have special, healthy cooking methods that they have been practicing since long ago. For example, with pork, they blanched it first to remove excess fat before cooking. To cut down on salt intake, bonito broth is used instead of salt.

Healthy Foods of Okinawa

There’s the shikuwasa citrus juice, packed with vitamin C. A bowl of traditional squid-ink soup is a viscous black broth filled with nutrient. A block of Okinawan tofu has three times the protein found in mainland tofu. Okinawan delicious breads and pastries are made with whole wheat flour, and free from eggs, dairy and preservatives.

Eating for longevity is about how you eat, as well as what you eat. The traditional approach in Okinawa is to major on vegetables, minor on meat and dine in moderation: “Eat until you are 80% full,” is the mantra. Elderly Okinawans are markedly active, socially and physically, so hence, food isn’t everything.

To illustrate this penchant for vegetable diet, there’s the Okinawa Daiichi Hotel in Naha founded in 1955. The very small, 5-room hotel is very famous among visitors and locals. It offers an exceptional yakuzen breakfast, worth the trip to Okinawa. Breakfast features dishes made from 50 different Okinawan-grown vegetables and wild plants. It can be enjoyed by both hotel guests and visitors alike. Favorites include the yushi (Okinawa-style) tofu soup, island carrot salad, boiled otani-watari (fern) and papaya stir fry. Each home-style dish is filled with nutritional benefits and with no meat or oil used, the entire breakfast comes in at less than 585 calories. This is a taste of Okinawan cuisine, considered to be the secret to longevity.

Enjoying Vegetables in Issaquah

We love veggies as well at AJI Sushi & Grill, your Japanese restaurant in Issaquah. Have vegetables in our salads, tempura, rolls and appetizers. It’s also our secret to long life.

Japanese Plating: Art of Pleasing Palate and Eye

Concepts that Guide Japanese Plating

The beauty of Japanese plating is a highly codified process, an interplay of cultural factors and accepted plating principles. Most important is the intention of Japanese cuisine to appeal to the taste, as well as to the eye. There are concepts when it comes to the art of Japanese plating.

There is balance in Japanese plating even as one appreciates that there seems to be no symmetry on a crafted Japanese dish. It is considered well harmonized when it feels peaceful to look at. It can look a somewhat off-kilter, but is tantalizing, engaging and pleasing to the eye. The same Japanese dish can hardly look predictable, hence, the absence of symmetry.

Japanese culture values asymmetry in numbers – 3, 5 and 7 are common in plating. Five is regarded as favorable and is reflected in many facets of Japanese cuisine because the five senses (sight, smell, taste, hearing, touch) are important in a balanced meal. Red, yellow, white, black, and blue (interpreted as green) are the 5 colors also represented in many dishes, as well as the five tastes – sweet, salty, savory, bitter, sour – key to balancing flavor. Contrast is also important to balance. That is why there is silky egg custard and briny roe, bitter greens and sweet rice, there’s black contrasting with orange.

Western restaurants and homes mostly dine on plain plates. In Japanese culture, it’s the opposite – there is enjoyment in the expression of a variety of vessels. Japanese receptacles come in different shapes, sizes and colors, are made from pottery, glass and lacquer, emblazoned with decorative patterns. In Japanese culture, plates, bowls and cups are chosen based on the dish to be presented, and often inspires it.

Seasonal Foods

Seasonal eating is important in Japan’s culture. Each season defines the type of food presented and eaten. There’s a complete change from season to season – from what’s on menus, cooked at dinner parties, in bento boxes, and at convenience stores. Plating showcases seasonal produce, as well as theming the colors of ingredients and serving ware. That’s why for spring- pink and green, reds and gold for autumn. Noodles are served in large bowls in winter and chilled on top of ice in bamboo baskets for summer. Even chopstick rests – they have a cherry blossom in spring and maple leaf in autumn.

Food arrangement on the plates is dictated by the rules of moritsuke, or serving arrangement. The styles draw on the ideas of balance and contrast, depending on seasonality. The most common is hiramori, the arrangement of food on a flat plane. Similar food sizes and colors are placed together in a slanted direction. Yama no katachi is a mounded, mountain-like arrangement. In sugimori, food is in a conical shape resembling a cedar (sugi) tree. Kasane-mori is vertically layered arrangement; Nagashi-mori is a mountain arrangement in a sunken vessel. Yosemori comprises two or three contrasting ingredients gathered centrally. Chirashimori is a ‘scattered’ arrangement, which relies on the ability of chef to balance aesthetics of random arrangements.

Shrimp: Little Nutritious Wonders of The Sea

Amazing Benefits in Shrimps

Shrimps belong to a broad classification of any one of hundreds of small crustaceans that inhabit all the oceans of the world. They are a widely consumed delicacy. Most shrimp species are small, approximately 1-3 cm long, but sometimes growing up to 25 cm long. Shrimp variety is huge but most species maintain a similar organic makeup, hence, provide very similar health benefits for those who add shrimp to their diet.

The meaty and tasty tail of shrimps is the main food source. There are cultures and cuisines that choose to eat other parts of the shrimp as well. This delicacy provides a wealth of nutrition when added to the diet.

If you are on a diet, shrimp is a popular option. If you want to eliminate excess carbohydrates from your daily meals, having shrimps is a great choice. They have zero carbs and very low calorie content. There’s approximately 1 calorie/1 gram of shrimp. They are packed with protein, high in water and with a small amount of fat.

These crustaceans have loads of vitamins and minerals. See that you have your daily requirements of these nutrients from shrimp – iron, calcium, sodium, phosphorus, zinc, magnesium, and potassium, along with vitamin A, vitamin E, and B6, and even vitamin B12. It also contains iodine, thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin.

What are health benefits in shrimps?

A shrimp diet improves bone and brain health, contributes to weight loss and a lowered risk of cardiovascular disease. Shrimp has anti-inflammatory, cancer preventative, and anti-aging properties that help to reduce the risk of various health issues.

Like in other forms of marine life, there are also health issues with shrimps. Firstly, the presence of trace amounts of mercury; you just have to be careful about where you source your shrimps. Shrimps have moderately high amounts of purine that can exacerbate gout, if you have it. If your uric acid levels are normal and you don’t have gout, surely you can enjoy shrimps. Finally, allergic reactions, which can be found in certain seafood, including shrimp.

Healthy Shrimp Indulgence in Issaquah

Enjoy fresh or cooked shrimp classics in out Issaquah Japanese restaurant. If you’re not allergic to shrimps and don’t have gout, you can always have shrimp indulgence at Aji Sushi here in Issaquah.

What is Inari?

Deep Friend Tofu Skin

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 sushi restaurant to try some inari.

Inari, or inarizushi, is a curious golden-brown deep fried tofu skin that may not look like a piece of sushi you normally see. One of the simpler varieties of sushi, it consists of a small brick of sushi rice wrapped up in a coat of the fried tofu skin. 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!

Agedashi Tofu: A Heartier Tofu!

Not a big fan of tofu? Think again.
In the West, we don’t have a terribly high regard for tofu. It has a reputation as a “diet food”, with great potential for health value but little little in the area of taste satisfaction. In Asia, on the other hand, the culinary practice of cooking tofu is old enough to have been honed as a cultural art form.

Japan brings us a wide range of tofu dishes, sure to tempt even the strictest carnivore. Therefore, if you’re looking for something more out of your tofu, our Issaquah Japanese restaurant invites you to give agedashi tofu a try.

The word “agedashi” translates to “deep-fried”. Agedashi tofu is a well-known recipe dating back hundreds of years. A cookbook from as early as 1782 shows us what may be the earliest depiction of the dish. This recipe traditionally calls for a square of tofu to be dusted in potato or corn starch and deep fried to a golden-brown color.

It is then topped with chopped onions and served with a hot sauce made with soup stock, rice wine, and soy sauce. The end result is so hearty and flavorful, you just might forget that you’re not eating meat! Try it out at Aji Sushi and Grill today.

The History of Rice

How much do you know about rice?

We tend to take rice for granted in the modern world, but have you ever thought about the history behind this remarkable grain? From ancient times to our Issaquah sushi restaurant, rice is undoubtedly the most important crop ever cultivated by humankind. It has been a primary source of sustenance for more people over a longer period of time than any other food, with a story going back thousands of years.

There are also numerous types of rice. Not just white rice or brown rice. There are long-grain, short-grain, jasmine, black rice, etc.

The earliest record ever uncovered of rice being farmed for food goes back to 2500 BC in ancient China. It spread throughout the world from there, its great versatility proving to be a boon everywhere it went. It could be grown in anything from deserts to wetlands, and its nutritional value made it a staple in Japan and throughout Asia and the Mediterranean area. Come get a taste of this ancient tradition with Aji Sushi in Issaquah!

Chopsticks from Across Asia

Have you ever looked closely at your chopsticks?

The next time you eat out, try seeing if you can spot how one restaurant’s sticks are different from another’s. The sticks we use at our Issaquah Japanese restaurant may not be the same as those at a Chinese place, or a Korean venue. You might find that there are distinct styles in the chopstick world. Indeed, though these sticks may seem as simple as utensils can get, it is actually possible to identify somebody’s country of origin based on the sticks they eat with:

  • Japan: (ha-shi) Traditional Japanese chopsticks are made of lacquered wood or bamboo. They tend to come in different lengths for men, women, and children, and they taper off with a thin, round tip at the end. Historically, Japanese nobles were fond of having their sticks made from jade or precious metals, particularly silver, as it was believed that silver would stain when it came into contact with poison.
  • China: (kuàizi) The birthplace of chopsticks, China is fond of longer sticks than the other countries. Chinese chopsticks are usually crafted from unfinished wood or bamboo, and have a thicker, blunter tip than those employed in Japan.
  • Korea: (jeok-ga-rak) Korea’s chopsticks are particularly distinctive, as theirs are the only ones commonly made out of steel, but you can still find wooden chopsticks. Such sticks are shaped with a flat, rectangular cross section that tapers off to a round, slender tip. Many Korean sticks are decorated with ornate designs along the broad sides of the grip.

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 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.