We have an award winning chef who is a genius at Oriental cuisine. He lived in Japan and speaks flawless Japanese, and the food you eat at the OJ Restaurant in KR Puram is not just Japanese food - it's the authentic experience of a Japanese meal.
Today, I'm going to share with you, online, the kind of Japanese food experience that we provide guests when they eat here at the OJ Restaurant. We take you through the menu, explaining each dish, what are the ingredients, how it's made, and how to eat it like the Japanese.
1. Sushi / sashimi: This is the food that most of us identify Japan with - sushi and sashimi. Sushi is known all over the world. It is rice seasoned with a rice vinegar mix (made with sugar and salt) mixed with different ingredients - variety of fishes, vegetables, nori (seaweed), etc. You grab the pieces of sushi with chopsticks and dip them into soy sauce or wasabi, or both. It will give you a mix of flavors in your mouth! Sushi can be Nigiri sushi, Maki sushi, Oshi sushi, Temaki sushi, etc. depending on the shape of ingredients that are used.
2. Ramen Ramen: Noodles are the most popular option when you are looking for a place to eat Oriental food. It is a wheat noodles bowl served in a soy sauce or miso soup mixed with many kinds of ingredients. The most typical ones are slices of pork, green onion, seaweed and egg. I can't compare the flavor of this dish with anything I have tasted before. The most important part of this dish is the soup. It is the most tasty flavor, and strong depending on where do you order it. The way the pork is cooked makes it so soft that sometimes it crumbles into pieces as soon as you grab it with your chopsticks. With one order of ramen and a side dish of rice, you can be sure that you will be satisfied when you finish your meal... If you can...
3. Tempura Tempura: Japanese fried snack made mostly from seafood and vegetables, and can be made using almost all vegetables. But we can find tempura made also from fowl and fish, seasoned with a sauce made with soy sauce, ginger and sugar previously. The size of the piece must be enough to be eaten in one bite. Even when it is fried, you must be careful to make sure it's not oily. Tempura is served with Tetsuyu sauce that it is a mix of consomme, sweet sake, soy sauce, ginger, radish and spices.
4. Kare raisu (rice with curry): Also a very popular, simple and delicious dish that we can find in Japan. Kare raisu is just rice with curry, but the taste is different. To make this Japanese curry, we make use of a variety of meats and vegetables. The basic vegetables needed are onions, carrots and sweet potatoes, and the meats used are chicken, pork, beef and sometimes duck. There are different levels of hot and spicy - soft, regular and hot are the most common. Which one would you chose??
5. Okonomiyaki: It is a mix made with flour, yam and egg, but you can add also anything you like. The most common ones are green onion, beef, shrimp, squid, vegetables, mochi and cheese. It is cooked in a griddle. In some restaurants, the chef goes to the table and makes it there with the customers who also help in the process adding the ingredients. Because the preparation has to be cooked from both sides, by the time it has to be turned, it is a stressful and also funny moment, especially when it is your first time doing it!!
6. Shabu shabu: It is the Japanese hot pot. This dish needs many kinds of meats and seafood, mostly the soft ones, and sides of vegetables, tofu and sometimes noodles. The way it works is that you grab a piece of meat (you can also pick some of veggies) and immerse it in the pot with hot water or consomme. Once it is cooked, you dip it in a sesame sauce with some rice as a side dish. Very delicious!
7. Miso soup: It is served as a side dish in mostly every meal and with almost every dish. It is a soup made from a miso paste (fermented soybeans) and dashi (the consomme). Inside this kind of base soup, you will find pieces of tofu, onion wakane seaweed, and sometimes vegetables like sweet potatoes, carrots and radish. It is never served as a main dish. It always comes with a bowl of rice and one or 2 more dishes.
8. Yakitori: It is the Japanese brochette. At the beginning, the meat used was chicken (tori=bird), but nowadays it is also made with pork, beef and fish. So, this brochette is a mix of vegetables and meat cooked in a grill and dipped in teriyaki sauce. It is also a very typical kind of fast food in Japanese style. It has a occidental flavor, so if you are not sure about what to taste first or you find out that Japanese flavors are not your thing but you still want to try, I would recommend you to start with Yakitori so you can feel something familiar.
9. Onigiri: This is the most popular snack in Japan. No matter what time is it, or where you are, if you are hungry and you don't have time, you can just get an onigiri. Onigiris are rice balls seasoned in many kinds of ways. Some of them have fillings like chicken, vegetables, fish, and pork, but they can also be covered with a seaweed or with a slice of egg. Some of them they have just the rice mixed with some sauce, vegetables, beans, furikake, etc. As you can see, you can find a huge variety of flavors for all the tastes. It is also cheap and you can buy it in any convenience store or supermarket, and you may also find some shops that only sell onigiris.
10. Udon Udon: A thick noodle made from wheat flour. It is commonly served in a consomme with soy sauce and mirin. Most of the times it comes with negi (onion). The shape and the size depends on the prefecture it comes from. Udon can be eaten cold or hot. Soba and Udon are very popular in Japan. It is a common dish for black-coated workers and students when they have lunch time and they need to eat something fast. There are Udon shops everywhere and don't be surprised if it is always crowded, but don't worry, you won't have to wait long to take a seat.
11. Soba Soba: Noodles made by buckwheat flour which gives it the colour. Also known as fast food in Japan because they are cheap and popular. Soba noodles are thin (Udon noodles are thick) and they can be eaten cold or hot. There are shops in Japan that only cook soba, maybe with some simple side dish as tempura. At the supermarket, you can find the fresh noodles to cook at home. These noodles can be also eaten just with a mentsuyu sauce to make the preparation easy.
12. Gyudon Gyudon: It is basically a bowl of rice with beef on the top seasoned with different ingredients and spices. The most famous place to eat gyudon is Sukiya. Besides the simplicity, it is a very delicious dish, and more importantly, also very cheap. In most of the places, you can order it in a set that comes with a small salad and miso soup, and also flavoured sweets.
As a bonus, here's a brief overview of Japanese green tea.
13. Green Tea: Can't leave you without sharing how ceremonious an authentic Japanese tea house serves you the most common of beverages. Green tea in Japan is the most famous drink. It is related to history, to Geishas. The Tea Houses are always harmonious and quiet places where you can enjoy a peaceful time through the most typical drink in Japan. Green tea is never alone. Tea in Japan has to be also accompanied with sweets, Japanese sweets. The most common sweets in Japan are made with beans or sometimes with matcha. Japan has the tastiest sweets and the most beautiful shapes and colours in the world.