With its stunning natural landscape and strong cultural identity, Japan is a once-in-a-lifetime holiday destination. The East Asian island is also home to some deliciously fresh cuisine.
Put simply, sushi is raw fish served on rice seasoned lightly with vinegar. It’s in the variety of flavours and textures – like tangy, creamyuni (sea urchin roe) and plump, juicy, ama-ebi(sweet shrimp) – that things get interesting. Despite sushi’s lofty image, it has a humble origin: street food.
Soba – long, thin buckwheat noodles – has long been a staple of Japanese cuisine, particularly in the mountainous regions where hardy buckwheat fares better than rice. The noodles are served in either a hot, soy sauce-flavoured broth or at room temperature on a bamboo mat with broth on the side for dipping. Purists, who bemoan soup-logged noodles, prefer the latter.
Tonkatsu, breaded and deep-fried pork cutlet, dates to the late 19th Century when Japan threw open its doors to Western influence. But never mind the European origin: the ingredients and attention to detail are thoroughly Japanese. Tonkatsu – especially when it’skuro-buta(Berkshire pork) from Kagoshima – is melt-in-your-mouth tender, served with a side of miso soup and a mountain of shredded cabbage.