The Japanese are noted for cuisine that has a distinctive flavor and texture, primarily due to the raw preparation of seafood. However, many eateries offering far eastern cuisine also serve palatable desserts in the most unusual flavors, as well as meat options that many Americans are unaccustomed to. To expand one’s culinary horizons and experience the latest foreign food trends, dining at these establishments is a good option. Here are four uncommon choices to try while dining out Asian-style.
The name may seem unfamiliar when glancing at a Japanese restaurant menu, but in actuality, the dish refers to horsemeat, Asian style. Another name for this exotic dish is cherry blossom meat, as it tends to show a pale pink color. The meat is made flavorful and tender due to a process known as dry aging.
This procedure typically takes several weeks to complete, although some chefs will age it further for added tenderness. It may be marinated with soy sauce or served over noodles or rice. The meat is rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals, making it a prime choice for athletes or active individuals. Alternatively, some prefer the taste of basashi, a raw horsemeat sliced extra thin and often dipped in a spicy ginger sauce or topped with grated garlic.
Another exotic dish often found on Japanese restaurant menus is unagi. This is a fish entree made with river eel and typically prepared on a grill, barbecue style. It should be noted that unagi is only available at specific times throughout the year, typically from late spring through early fall.
For those who prefer a dish prepared with ingredients that are somewhat more familiar to the American palate, tonkatsu is created using a standard cut of pork. Inspired by Western culture’s love of deep fried foods, tonkatsu looks strikingly similar to a standard pork chop. Before the chop is fried, it is hand-dipped in a mixture of eggs and flour, and then rolled in bread crumbs to form a crispy coating. There are various ways to serve this entree, although most prefer it topped with a mild soy sauce. Tonkatsu may also be served with ramen noodles.
Those who love rice dishes often enjoy this specialty at a Japanese restaurant. To prepare this dish, a wad of rice is rolled into a ball, then lightly seasoned. Inside, it is filled with seafood and vegetables. Salmon is most commonly used, although fresh tuna may be substituted. Onigiri may be served as a main entree or a side dish.
5. Matcha Ice Cream
More commonly known as green tea ice cream, matcha ice cream is a Japanese restaurant dessert favorite. Chefs prepare this sweet dessert using matcha powder as the main ingredient. Matcha is green tea in powdered form. At first glance, matcha looks similar to mint or pistachio flavors, but matcha is more nutritional than most standard ice cream flavors, as the tea leaves provide antioxidants.