Understanding Japanese Cuisine

By: Craft Jere

Japanese cuisine is highly popular all over the world. This has led to a sharp rise in the number of restaurants specialising in this unique style of food all over Australia. Despite its popularity, very few people have a proper understanding of Japanese cuisine. For those who are not adventurous eaters, menus covered in unfamiliar phrases can be extremely off putting. This is very unfortunate, as they are missing out on some great food!

Below is a brief explanation of some of the most commonly found food in Japanese restaurants. Whether you just want to learn more about Japanese food, or you would like to find out what you are eating before you order, this guide is for you.


Sashimi in Japan is traditionally served as a first course, as they believe it is best to appreciate its subtle flavours before eating richer foods in later courses. This dish consists of very thinly sliced raw fish, squid or octopus, served over a garnish and accompanied by a dipping sauce - usually soy sauce.

At the thought of raw fish, many people are instantly put off - but they are really missing out! There is nothing dangerous about eating raw fish at all and especially when good quality cuts are used, there is no overpowering 'fishy' taste or smell. Even if you are a bit apprehensive, next time you are at a Japanese restaurant at least give sashimi a chance!


Sushi is by far the most commonly found Japanese food and the one that people in Australia are likely to be most familiar with. This dish is characterised by rice cooked with vinegar, combined with a variety of other ingredients. Generally, most people think of sushi as being wrapped in a sheet of seaweed, however not all sushi includes this ingredient.

The vinegared rice is generally combined with some kind of fish or meat, although vegetarian options are available. This meat can be raw, but most eateries in Australia cater to western tastes by offering many forms of sushi that incorporate cooked ingredients. Sushi is usually served with soy sauce and wasabi. Wasabi is a paste made from horseradish and can be a bit strong for some people - so be careful!


Tempura is also a very common Japanese dish, which can be found in restaurants all over the country. It is simple, however it is this simplicity which brings out the flavours of the food. This dish consists of portions of meat, seafood or vegetables fried in a very light batter. This batter gives the food a unique crisp texture.

This dish can be served on its own with a variety of dipping sauces and a garnish, or it can also be commonly found as an accompaniment to other main dishes.

Get Out And Try It!

There is no need to be scared of Japanese cuisine just because you do not understand some of the names! Japanese food is delicious and if you have any doubts at all, you can always ask a friendly waiter or waitress to explain a dish to you.

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Searching for fresh, contemporary Japanese cuisine at affordable prices? Kinya is one of Melbourne's most enviably located Japanese restaurants. Visit their website kinya.com.au for additional details.

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