California Roll, not real sushi? WHAT?

California (background) Tempura California Roll (foreground) at

My reaction exactly. That is, until I studied abroad for two months during the summer of 2011 at Kyushu University in Fukuoka, Japan and experienced the real deal. There, my eyes and palette (literally!) were opened to a whole new world of Japanese cuisine. Whether it be something as delicious as fresh (and raw, of course!) seafood, as slimy as natto, or as elegant as the tiny cakes displayed behind the shop window… each dish is delicately arranged to tell a story, and I am here to tell it to you.

When we think about Japanese cuisine, sushi is almost immediately to come up, although curry rice is a close second. And let’s not forget about ramen. Japanese cuisine is truly special, quite unlike any of the other East Asian cuisine out there. Maybe that is why there is a certain exotic air that accompanies Japanese restaurants in America–from the traditional or Japanese pop music to the bamboo mats or hanging decoration to the unique sushi bars where patrons can speak with the sushi chefs as they prepare sushi for the evening.

But let’s face it, Japanese food, such as sushi, is just not the same in America as it is in Japan. Not only are the taste and palette different, but dishes and rolls are watered down, reinvented, and in some cases, let’s be honest, are bastardized (you know you are thinking it too! cream cheese and rice and fish? As a foreigner (外人), I absolutely love it, but nevertheless, it does not sound like the ideal combination).

What does this say about Japanese cuisine in Japan though? Nothing. Because we haven’t eaten what is across the Pacific Ocean. Out there, there is a whole ‘nother palette, bursts of flavor you wouldn’t expect, meats and vegetables you wouldn’t even dream of eating, years of culture and tradition hidden behind those delicately arranged dishes… And you are about to see.

That’s right. It’s about more than raw fish.

About Amy

"Dance like nobody's watching; love like you've never been hurt. Sing like nobody's listening; live like it's heaven on earth."
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6 Responses to Welcome!

  1. iloveerika12 says:

    I love Sushi, especiallyyyyyyy California Rolls! I’d love to explore Japanese food, outside of America ofcourse. I feel like we get only half of the great exploration of different cultures by living in America so I’d love to continue to study abroad and witness firsthand experiences of different cultures, such as the food types! Great post!

    • Amy says:

      Hey Erika! Thanks for commenting! I love California Rolls too, but did you know that they actually don’t really eat California Rolls in Japan? They still make it, but it’s “Americanized sushi” so it’s “exotic”-ish haha. I hope you enjoy the rest of the blog, and that it meets your expectations for learning about a different culture! 🙂

  2. Ashley says:

    I have yet to try sushi, but after seeing the pictures and reading it I am really excited to try it!! I went to China last summer and I completely agree with how foods from different cultures are “Americanized” when they arrive here. I wish that wasn’t the case because I discovered how a dish I had here was completely different than how is should taste originally. Hopefully I have the opportunity some day to travel to Japan to try “real sushi”.

    • Amy says:

      Ohmygosh!! You need to try sushi! It really is a unique experience, especially the raw fish in Japan is so incredibly fresh and delicious (you wouldn’t expect it, right). But it’s great that you have at least been able to taste authentic Chinese food! Isn’t it amazing? It really is crazy how in “Americanizing” these dishes, how the taste and ingredients can change so dramatically. Like, cream cheese and rice? How does that work?! Well, it does… sometimes… I do hope you get to go to Japan one day! It is definitely worth it!

  3. Cory Roberts says:

    I feel that Japanese food was bastardized in the best possible way. Chinese American has its place, but it ended up being a battle of who could make the cheapest food. Japanese food at least kept the quality. I would love to try some real Japanese sushi, you should tell me what they put in it! My fiance makes good sushi.

    • Amy says:

      Hm that’s true. But then again it’s all relative. I’m glad that even though all these crazy Alaskan or Las Vegas are being invented that they still taste relatively amazing. And definitely! I’ll have a week of different kinds of sushi in the future, keep an eye out for it! And let’s have a dinner party sometime soon when you and your fiancee (!!!!) come by Ann Arbor next time so Lulu can make some amazing sushi! 🙂

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