Category Archives: Did You Know?

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 Terrific Bluefin Tuna

A Million Dollar Fish: Pacific Bluefin Tuna

The terrific bluefin tuna is an apex predator from the moment of hatching, feeding on salmon, mackerel, swordfish, saury, sharks, squid, anchovies and other tunas as well. Built for speed and agility, adult bluefins are just too big and fast for killer whales and sharks to catch; bursting at 30mph speed. They roam the Pacific Ocean from East Asia over to the Northwest coast of the U.S., actually thriving in temperate zones, being somewhat warm-blooded. They can regulate their body temperatures to suit the surrounding waters, hence, they are far-reaching and can survive in both cold and warm open seas. Hunting by sight, they have one of the sharpest vision of any bony fish.

The Pacific bluefin is large and torpedo-shaped with retractable side fins, many reaching 10 feet and weighing 1,000 pounds. Considered mature at 5 years of age, some can live 25 years but averaging 15. They spawn in the area near the south of Japan and the Philippines from April to June, and commercially fished from May to October. They migrate over 6,000 nautical miles to the eastern Pacific, eventually returning to their birth waters to spawn. Highly prized for their meat, about 80% of Pacific bluefins caught worldwide is destined for the sushi restaurants of Japan.

Eaten raw, the bluefin is very tasty due to its high fat content. However, it is not advisable to cook it as it leaves a fishy taste and odor. There is no canned tuna, except for albacore and yellowfin tuna as all bluefin tunas are mainly caught for the sashimi and sushi market. Annually, at auction markets, bigtime restaurateurs pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for the first catch of the season, for publicity and good luck.

Prime Sashimi or Sushi Bluefin in Issaquah

You will love our fresh and delicious bluefin tuna – as only our esteemed chef can prepare for you. Visit us at Aji Sushi, your Issaquah sushi restaurant, and experience true Japanese classics in casual atmosphere.

Facts You Probably didn’t know about Japanese Food

Japanese etiquette, chopsticks, and more…

The popularity of Japanese dishes embraces the whole known world and the cuisine is not only praised for its beautiful presentations, but also its unique flavors and tastes. A few exciting facts about Japanese food make for great conversation at the table. Aji Sushi spills a few for your delights.

Ever heard of the Japanese slurping their food while dining? It’s not bad manners to them at all. It’s a sign that you appreciate the food served to you, if you slurp. Besides, you want to cool down some hot foods before you start eating them. Another similar tidbit is this: do not leave your chopsticks straight and upright in your rice bowl. It’s not good manners. They only do that if it is in memory of a deceased loved one or is a sign of impending doom.

Did you know that you’ll find the world’s most expensive fish in Japan? Almost 80% of bluefin tuna caught in the world is used in sushi and sashimi, especially in exotic dishes. Someone paid a hefty $1.7million for the first catch of the season last 2013, the highest ever. Now as far as seafoods go, Japan is the world’s largest market for fresh, frozen, and processed seafood selling over 700,000 tonnes of seafood each year. Topping it all, the country’s food has been adjudged as one of the Top 3 best cuisines in the world by the United Nations cultural organization. The principles of preparation and eating of Japanese dishes have proved vital to the survival of Japan’s traditional culture and holistic way of life.

Sushi and Sashimi Cravings in Issaquah

When you come visit our Issaquah sushi restaurant, know that we only serve some of the finest and authentic Japanese delicacies this side of Washington. We keep tradition well amid a casual, comfortable setting, one of the best ways to enjoy sushi and sashimi is Issaquah.

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!