Tag Archives: Issaquah Japanese Restaurant

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!

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.

Dried Gourd Sushi

Kanpyo, often written as “kampyo” in English, are the dried shavings of a type of gourd known as the calabash. After the gourd is harvested, the flesh is cut into strips of about three centimeters wide and three millimeters thick. These strips are then dried in the sun.

Kanpyo is a big part of traditional Edo-style cooking, commonly appearing as a main ingredient in sushi. You can try it for yourself at our Issaquah sushi restaurant in the form of our kampyo maki roll. Diners describe the dried gourd flesh as fibrous and mildly tangy, and a fascinating bit of variety to add to your usual sushi favorites.

Ocean Day

The hot months are upon us, which means that Japan is looking forward to Umi no Ni. This holiday, often translated to either “Ocean Day” or “Sea Day”, is observed on the third Monday of July. The Japanese government first named it a national holiday back in 1995 to honor the ocean and give thanks for its bounty. To the Japanese people, this is a time to beat the summer heat with a trip to the beach.

Though we may not celebrate Ocean Day here in the United States, there’s no reason you can’t honor the ocean in your own way with a quality seafood meal at our Issaquah sushi restaurant. Come and taste the best that the sea has to offer at Aji Sushi & Grill!

A History of Miso

Japanese miso traces its origins back to the preservation techniques of the ancient Chinese. Before the time of refrigeration, the Chinese would commonly ferment foods to prevent spoilage. These fermented foods were known as jiang. The creation of soybean jiang resulted in both the fermented tofu paste that came to be known as miso in Japan, and the predecessor to modern soy sauce.

In Japan’s feudal days, miso was a common meal for the samurai warriors, who favored it for its quick and easy supply of vital nutrients. You can partake of the same nutrients today with our Issaquah sushi restaurant.

The Perfect Balance of Bibimbap

A proper meal in many Asian traditions is rich in symbolism, preferably representing all five of the traditional colors. The Korean bibimbap is a good place to see all five colors in a single dish. These colors, and the directions and organs they stand for, are as follows:

  • Black: Black or dark-colored food, like shiitake mushrooms or dried nori, are representative of the kidneys and the North.
  • White: Rice and other white ingredients stand for the lungs and the West.
  • Red: Red or orange food, like gochujang pepper paste or carrots, stand for the heart and the South.
  • Green: Green foods, like cucumber or leafy vegetables, stand for the liver and the East.
  • Yellow: Yellow items, which including potato and the yolk of the egg found in dolsot bibimbap, stand for the the stomach and the Center.

You can enjoy bibimbap at our sushi restaurant in Issaquah. Come and enjoy a taste of perfect culinary balance today!