ooking to know the best types of sushi to try when visiting Japan? Check out here to find out the yummiest and various kinds of sushi in Japan that you’d love.
I’m not going to lie. The first time I ever heard of sushi, I wasn’t particularly fond of the idea of eating raw fish. I was very apprehensive about taking the first bite of this fantastic Japanese delicacy.
Cut to a few years later and now sushi happens to be one of my favourite dishes. So much so that I took a sushi class and learned how to make sushi at home!
What is sushi?
Sushi is probably the most famous Japanese dish. It is made with slices of fish or other seafood and vinegar flavoured white rice. As opposed to common belief, the main part of the sushi is actually the white rice that is flavoured with vinegar.
Sushi is served in many different ways and some of the more common forms are nigiri (sushi that is shaped by hand), maki (rolled sushi), and chirashi (rice is served in a bowl and topped with different sushi toppings) sushi.
Out of these, nigiri is the most common and consists of “shari” which is rice pressed into a rectangular shape and topped with “neta” which is a topping of fish or other ingredients. This kind of sushi can be found anywhere in Japan, from high end restaurants to simple convenience stores.
What are the different types of sushi to try when visiting Japan?
- Nigiri Sushi
- Maki Sushi
- Chirashi Sushi
- Temaki Sushi
Nowadays you can find sushi with a Western twist to it. Some common western style sushi rolls are spicy tuna rolls, shrimp tempura roll, and the California roll. While delicious, these must not be mistaken for Japanese classics.
Sushi was a pretty big deal back in the day. Over the years, sushi has changed and evolved. Standard sushi which comes from the city of Edo (former Tokyo) was actually considered to be a type of fast food.
Then in later years, after the Second World War, sushi became a high-end cuisine that was considered a luxury. This lasted till the 1980s, when sushi was made available as takeaway and conveyor belt sushi restaurants started becoming well known. Now, sushi has become easy to find and can be found on shelves in supermarkets as well.
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If you’re visiting Japan, trying sushi should be a must on your itinerary. Here are some of the best types of sushi for you to try on your trip to Japan.
Best Types of Sushi to Try When Visiting Japan
Nigiri sushi is perhaps the most common type of sushi in Japan. It is identified by the hand pressed rice that is topped with neta (that is usually fish or other seafood). It’s the best types of sushi to try when visiting Japan.
The rice is flavoured with vinegar and shaped by hand to form a bed for the topping. Common options for the neta are tuna, salmon, eel, octopus, and squid. Nigiri is served with soy sauce, pickled ginger, and wasabi.
Maki sushi is another popular type of sushi. For this, the chef rolls fish and vegetables with vinegar rice in nori sheets.
This is then cut into bite sized slices. They are similar to sushi rolls. Common types of maki sushi include tekka maki, kappa maki, and futomaki. Maki sushi is definitely amongst the best types of sushi to try when visiting Japan!
This is perhaps my favourite type of sushi. Chirashi sushi is served in a bowl. It’s almost like deconstructed sushi. Ushi rice is placed at the bottom of the bowl and the other ingredients (most popularlu sashimi) is placed on the top.
Common ingredients that go into a sushi bowl besides the rice are green beens, bamboo shoots, fish cakes, and avocado. Do try out this as it’s one of the best types of sushi to try when visiting Japan.
Narezushi is one of the oldest forms of sushi. What started off as a way of preserving rice has now become a delicacy. Narezushi is one of the best types of sushi to try when visiting Japan because of it’s rich flavours.
This traditional style of sushi features whole fish covered in a yogurt-like sauce served on a bed of vinegar rice. It is an acquired taste that requires some courage. So you either love it or don’t get past the first bite.
Oshizushi is also called box sushi or pressed sushi and is another old form of sushi. It comes tightly packed in takeout boxes and is made of sushi rice and mackerel. It’s one of the best types of sushi to try when visiting Japan, for sure.
It may not look like your traditional sushi, but temaki sushi is a treat for the palette and eyes. For this type of sushi, the ingredients (which are usually sushi rice, cucumber, avocado, and fish) are wrapped in nori to make a cone.
Because they are best eaten by hand, they are also referred to as sushi hand rolls. It’s amongst the best types of sushi to try when visiting Japan for it’s shape.
Different toppings to put on your sushi:
Sushi has evolved a lot since it first originated. So have the toppings that go on it. When it first came to the table, sushi came in very few varieties.
However, after years of experimenting and numerous chefs improvising, sushi is now available in a number of different styles and diners have a whole range of toppings to choose from. So now that you know about the best types of sushi to try when visiting Japan, let’s find out some good toppings:
Salmon is probably the most common topping on sushi. However, you would be surprised to know that it isn’t a traditional topping for sushi though. If it’s your first time trying sushi, salmon is your safest option.
It has a mild flavour and slight softness to it that makes it perfect for a beginner. It goes well with soy sauce and wasabi.
Tuna is another popular topping choice for sushi. The fish often varies in size and so the texture and flavour of the topping depend on which part of the fish is being used.
Akami refers to the reddish purple meat. The cut is lean and has a subtle meat-like flavour. It can be enjoyed plain or with condiments like soy sauce.
Chutoro is the semi-fatty part of tuna. It is sliced from the belly region of the fish. It has a high fat content that gives it a soft texture and rich flavour.
Otoro is most fatty part of the tuna. It is taken from the front part of the belly. It has a very delicate texture and is a highly prized cut. It makes for the perfect nigiri topping.
Scallops, also known as hotate, are favourite among toppings for sushi. Scallops have a sweet flavour and a smooth texture. For nigiri, the scallops are sliced and pressed into the shari. Scallops are usually paired with a little bit of citrus.
Uni or sea urchin is one of Japan’s prized delicacies. They have a rich creamy texture and are usually a bright orange colour. It is often paired with a small dab of wasabi.
No, not what Ross meant. Unagi is a freshwater eel. It has a rich flavour to it and is usually served grilled with tare sauce (a sweet soy based sauce).
Ebi is prawns and is one of the most common toppings for sushi. They are peeled and served with the tail intact. Nowadays they are also served as tempura-fried prawns on sushi.
Tako or octopus is a popular topping for sushi, especially among children. Raw octopus is actually quite bland. So they are often blanched to release a mild sweetness and chewy texture.
- Shime Saba
Saba or mackerel is very popular in Japan since it is cheap and easily available. Mackerel is pickled using salt and vinegar. This helps in the preservation of the fish without losing the raw flavour. This pickled mackerel is known as shime saba and is used as a topping for sushi. It has a unique taste that may take some getting used to.
Tips to Remember When Eating the Best Types of Sushi to Try When Visiting Japan:
- Hands or chopsticks- What do you use?
When I ate sushi for the first time, I didn’t know if I should use my hands or chopsticks. I later learned that they are both okay. I suggest that if you don’t know how to use chopsticks, use your hands. You can pick up the sushi by holding the rice part with your thumb, index finger and middle finger.
- How do you use soy sauce?
Do not dip the sushi into the soy sauce. Doing this will soak the rice and in turn the flavour of the sushi. It also will result in the sushi falling apart. Instead, add a few drops to the topping.
- Do you eat sushi in one bite?
Believe it or not, eating sushi in smaller bites is actually considered to be mannerless and disrespectful. It is always best to eat sushi in one bite so that you can savour all aspects.
Best Types Of Sushi To Try When Visiting Japan: FAQs:
What is the most popular kind of sushi in Japan?
Nigiri is perhaps the most popular kind of sushi in Japan. Some common nigiri sushi include maguro nigiri, ika nigiri, and sake nigiri.
Is sushi in Japan expensive?
This depends on where you order the sushi. Japan has high end restaurants that serve expensive plates of sushi as well as budget friendly options like conveyor belt sushi restaurants. You can even purchase sushi at supermarkets and convenience stores for a low price.
What is the best kind of sushi for beginners?
The best kinds of sushi for beginners to try include the Philadelphia roll, the king crab roll, the spicy tuna roll, the California roll, and the Boston roll.