Sushi has become very popular in Europe. In Belgium too, there are a lot of sushi bars (sushiya 寿司屋) and Japanese restaurants. But every time I get a bit suspicious about the sushi rolls they’re presenting. With their exotic names, western ingredients and colors they seem as Japanese as French fries are French (which are Belgian). Take a look at the following pictures. These are menus from Japanese restaurants in Belgium.
“Lady”, “dragon” and “sexy” seems very popular names to give your sushi roll. The both Lady Rolls and the Princess Roll are filled with fruit (apple or banana, strawberries). I’ve never eaten it before, so I don’t really know what the taste of this combination is. The Dragon Roll, with or without his sexy eyes, always contains salmon and has a deep-fried crust. A Japanese friend told me that, before coming to Europe, he had never seen deep-fried sushi before. I find them a bit too spicy. seaweed (nori 海苔) doesn’t seem very popular either. You can see that avocado it often used. This ingredient was added by the Japanese immigrants who started their own restaurant in the US. To make sushi popular, they adapted the ingredients to the American taste. The Californian Roll is the best well-know example of ‘American sushi’. It contains avocado, cucumber and crab stick. In the second menu you can see a variation on the Californian Roll: the Rainbow Roll. Egg (tamago 卵) is added and the whole package is wrapped in avocado and raw fish.
Of course, the restaurants name their sushi as they like it. You are never sure what will be exactly in your roll, that’s why it’s always explained on the menu. Apart from these colorful looking ones, you can also order the standard sushi, like nigirizushi 握り寿司(the sliced raw fish (sashimi 刺身) lies on top of the rice). I’ve only selected a part, the “special rolls”, from what these restaurants offer.
Now I will show you two pictures of Japanese restaurant menus.
The sushi looks a bit less colorful, and there is but one filling or topping used for each one. Most of them are nigirizushi, but there are makizushi 巻き寿司 (sushi rolls, with cucumber or tuna) and oshizushi 押し寿司 ( “pressed sushi”, in the form of a box, second menu, third line) as well. The sushi with egg on top of it I’ve never seen before in Europe. I also noticed that these sushi are overlapping the rice a big deal more than in Belgian restaurants.
Although the sushi we get on our plate has been strongly influenced by the western preferences, the basic idea of sushi is still Japanese. Besides, Japanese restaurants in Europe (and America I guess) offer a large choice, so you can decide according to your own taste. After all, “really Japanese” or “not so really Japanese” sushi, it still taste great. But don’t be disappointed if you can’t order a Dragon Sexy Eye Roll in Japan.
Facts for fun
– Sushi is not invented in Japan! People in South-East Asia started the sushi tradition in order tot conserve their raw fish. It was wrapped in fermented rice.
– Another amusing movie from the same producer as in the first blog: Sushi Don’t take it too serious.
– Sushi can be written with two different kanji (Chinese characters): 鮨 or 寿司. What’s the difference? 鮨 has the meaning of “fish” and “delicious”, while 寿司 is used phonetically.
– www. oversushi.nl
– Belgian menus: restaurants The Sushi Lounge, Leuven and Sushi Palace, Leuven
– I found the pictures of the Japanese menus by Googling.