Ask Boichi about Food 4 – Jarkko Jaakola
Sushi… not Nyotaimori
Hello Boichi! I am a chef from Finland and a huge fan of your work. I have the same passion for food, manga and women as you do. So my question as a fellow perv… Ahem I mean culinarist is: Have you ever eaten nyotaimori a.k.a Body sushi in Japan? If you have, please tell us about your experience. If you haven’t, why the h*ll not?
– Jarkko Jaakola
OMG! This time, the question is coming from Finland!
…And it’s from a chef!!! I never expected the question to come from a chef!
Nice to meet you!
What kind of cuisine do you cook there? Finnish cuisine? French?
I wonder what types of cuisines are famous and trendy in Finland!
I’m very interested about it!! Plz, plz tell me!!
Anyway you have a different passion about women from me.
I have no passion for women because I am a Confucian gentleman living in Asia.
And you asked me about Nyotaimori…
It refers Sushi or Sashimi put atop a naked woman’s body. The human body being used as a food plate.
Oh my… my… Do you believe I’d have tried food such as Nyotaimori…?
WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU THINKING ABOUT?!!!
First answer, I have never ever tried it!!!!
Second answer, even if I did, do you think I’m going to tell about it???!!!
But in truth, I also have some curiosity about Nyotaimori.
From memory, it seems to have been very popular during the economic bubble in Japan.
I never hear of it nowadays.
The most recently I heard about Nyotaimori was when I read an article many years ago that a Nyotaimori restaurant opened in the United Sates.
It wasn’t very expensive and they even served male Nyotaimory as well.
But plz guys…. Don’t go traveling to the US just to eat Nyotaimori….
Even if you are living in the US, stop thinking about trying Nyotaimori…
And don’t even try to tell me you already have……
I don’t have any story or idea at all to share with you about Nyotaimori, so let me tell you about some Sushi restaurant I visited before.
Also I’ve been thinking, there is one thing I’m very curious about sushi trend.
I’d also like to tell you about this too.
Actually, I don’t have much experience with sushi.
I really loves it, but I haven’t been around a lot recently.
This is a conveyor belt Sushi restaurant in Heathrow Airport, London.
It was back in 2008 when I went there.
It was funny because they serve many Japanese dishes such as grilled Gyoza and Yaki-udon alongside Sushi, but the most impressive thing was that there were the abundance of salmon.
There were so many sushi made with salmon and sweetfish roe.
This is a picture from the sushi restaurant in Saint Petersburg, Russia.
Unfortunately, I didn’t go there but I sent my team to take pictures for for <Terra Formas Asimov>.
I asked them to try Japanese food in Russia.
When they came back to Japan, they reported to me that Japanese food isn’t so popular in Russia.
However salmon is popular.
As you can see in the picture, they are all salmon.
It’s very impressive “Ikura” (Salmon Caviar) were served. Ikura is picked salmon eggs.
I like Ikura a lot, but it’s expensive and often hard to eat.
Salmon is also very popular in Korea.
There are many people saying that salmon is their favorite fish for sushi!
But Salmon is not a traditional ingredient in Sushi.
Why did salmon became the most popular ingredient for sushi in so many other countries?
It’s been a curious question for a long part of my foodie life, but before I talk about this I’d like to talk about Japanese sushi some more with you.
This is very special place to me.
When I arrived in Japan with my wife (aka A. Kaiju) to start a new life there in 2007, the chief manager of Shonen Gahosha who helped us settle in Japan invited us for dinner there.
It’s located near where I live.
A very small sushi restaurant but with a very skillful sushi master who trained traditionally and his sushi is just amazing. Of course the prices are nice too.
I deeply love everything there. The traditional feel, the details and history of Japanese cuisine.
And I realized when I ate my first sushi there that now I started a new life in Japan.
I still remember that impression clearly.
This is a place called Kura sushi. One of the largest conveyor belt sushi chain restaurant in Japan.
One is Kura sushi and the other one is Kappa sushi.
Many people say that sushi has a long history, but the sushi we know today isn’t that old.
Originally, it was fermented food obtained by storing rice and fish together with salt in a jar. Basically the ancient Japanese (and Asian) removed the fish’s guts and stuffed it with rice and salt.
It seems to have begun in South China and similar food still remains in Korea.
The kind of sushi with rice and fish fermented in salt is called “Narezushi” in Japan but it’s very hard to find and taste in today’s sushi restaurants.
Of course it’s very hard to find even in Tokyo.
The representative of Narezushi is fermented Crucian carp and rice and Japanese calls it “Funazushi’
This is some very expensive sushi and I have yet to taste it.
Naresuzhi is a really strong fermented food, as much as traditional cheese in Europe, and changed to a new kind of dish in Kansai’s areas of Osaka and Kyoto.
A dish that puts rice and fish flavored with rice vinegar into a box to finally cut them in small pieces.
It’s called “Oshizushi” (box sushi).
The reason for the use of vinegar is to reproduce the sour taste of fermented rice.
Vinegar also prevents the risk of food poisoning and parasites.
During the Edo period (1603~1868) in Japan, the Tokugawa Shogunate planned to build a great city in the country side called Edo (current day Tokyo) and many young construction workers and craftsmen were gathered there for jobs.
Many people resided in a small places and the use of fire to cook at home was restricted because of the fire hazards.
For these reasons, the fast food culture such as “Yatai” (Food cart, like today’s food truck) naturally developed.
One day, one of those Yatai cook had an idea which made him able to cook Oshizushi faster and easier.
It was the way to hold and grab a piece of rice and fish together.
It was called “Nigirizushi” (grabbed sushi).
The sushi that we know, everyone’s favorite sushi, and also the sushi that spread all over the world is this Nigirizushi.
And now the most popular nigirizushi is salmon sushi.
But in back in the Edo period, there was no salmon sushi.
Salmon is a contemporary sushi trend.
Anyway, sushi started from the fermented dish called Narezushi, became Oshizushi (box sushi) in Osaka and finally transformed into Nigirizushi (grabbed sushi) in Tokyo.
And the invention of the conveyor belt for sushi goes back to 1950 in Osaka’s area.
It was a way to provide sushi faster and cheaper for everyone.
Originally Nigirizushi was a street food for construction works and later became a expensive dish (because of the fresh fish and cook’s skills) and then it came back to be a cheaper food after the invention of the conveyor belt sushi.
It’s a very interesting study subject for Japanese food history.
Kura’s sushi system is now very popular in Japan.
They called it “Shinkansen” (Japanese high speed rail) and when you order from a table, the sushi is quickly brought to you through the sushi rail.
Some sushi from Kura sushi.
This is Kappa sushi, one of the cheapest sushi chain restaurants in Japan.
I’ve often been there but haven’t recently because I’m too busy now.
The inside is very spacious and comfortable.
Families and young couples can enjoy a meal there.
Of course they also have a shinkansen rail delivering sushi to the costumers.
There are some sushi for those who cannot eat raw fish.
This is hamburger sushi.
Many of you thought “sushi” means raw fish on rice but it simply means rice with vinegar.
So in fact, everything can be called sushi with vinegar flavored rice.
Some memorial pictures taken with my assistants.
This is a place I recommend you to visit if you travel to Japan.
It’s the sushi restaurant in Odaiba’s shopping mall.
A real size Gundam statue was there so many otaku come around there.
The old statue has been removed a while ago, but they’re planning to built a new Gundam!!!
I can’t wait to see it.
Here’s what my face looks like when I eat some good sushi.
Well, it’s hard to say this but the sushi here is not very good. (It is good, but not that good.)
I’m sorry to say this for the owner, but I think they should try to upgrade their sushi skills. And also to lower a bit the prices for the costumers.
They have to try to provide a happy meal to those who came from overseas to Japan to see the Gundam statue…
Nevertheless, I often visit there when I go to Odaiba city.
Chain Sushi restaurant have some kind of charming point or something…
This is also a good sushi restaurant I’d like to introduce to our otaku friends from overseas.
Because it is located in Akihabara!!!
Honestly, I can’t tell you that this place serves delicious sushi.
Before, they did serve very good and delicious sushi but after renovating the restaurant, it seems to have changed a bit.
The food is still good as usual, but the price became a bit higher than before so I can’t say that it is good when compared to the cost.
But… as I told you before, when I pay a visit to Akihahara, I often go there…
This sushi is from my favorite sushi chain restaurant. Sushizanmai.
It’s a sushi chain restaurant very successful in Kanto.
They serve sushi from 100 yen to 10,000 yen.
I’d say that it succeeded in adjusting the cheap and expansive prices well.
I would like to introduce this place next time.
It’s not so expensive and both taste and quality are excellent for that price. You can enjoy some good sushi there.
When in fall, I usually go there and enjoy some “Dobin mushi”.
I like the “Dobin mushi” they serve.
It makes me comfortable and allows to forget the hard work.
Good aroma from delicious food allow people to relax.
This is the greatest sushi restaurant. It is named Sushikin.
It has been featured a few times in the very famous gourmet manga titled “Oishinbo”.
I went there when I was thinking about the idea of my one shot <It was all for the tuna>
It was ten years ago, so back in 2007.
At that time, I decided to cover the good sushi restaurant which would appear in the opening sequence so my editor in chief took me there.
This is the tuna which I reported on at that time.
The master told me this was the most expensive tuna in Tsukiji fish market that morning.
He explained the different parts of tuna in detail for me.
This sushi is not from a sushi restaurant. It’s the sushi from a Yakiniku house!!
I met guests from Italy, the members of J-Pop came to Japan and we had a nice Yakiniku meal.
This is the sushi they served us and I think it’s a part of beef (Tataki).
They served only one piece for each.
Sometimes Sushi is a delicacy as the course meal.
Not only raw fish but also Natto (fermented soybeans), hamburger, fried shrimp and beef.
But there was no salmon anywhere in the pictures that I showed.
Of course, salmon is very popular in Japan.
It is especially popular with young people.
When I asked my Japanese assistants which one was their favorite sushi, I was very surprised when they answered that it was salmon.
I guessed that they’d answer to me that Tai (Sea bream) or Maguro (Tuna) were their favorite.
Because you see, salmon isn’t a Japanese traditional ingredient.
Salmon is only available in fall because it bears a parasitic risk.
It’s very dangerous to eat raw. So from the past, it’s been cooked or eaten with salt.
Hence it was not suitable for Sushi or Sashimi.
Salmon started to be popular as a sushi ingredient in recent Japan since Japanese began to import their salmon from Norway.
Norwegian salmon was very safe from parasitic risk because it was frozen while transported to Japan.
And it’s much more delicious than its Japanese counterpart.
But even so, salmon never has been able to cross over the sea bream or tuna fish.
However this newest sushi ingredient, salmon is very popular with young Japanese people.
Also, it seems that salmon has become a popular part of the menu for recent sushi restaurants overseas.
But why is salmon so popular overseas?
Is it because the latest sushi is Japan was salmon sushi?
Of course, there are many reasons. The price is cheaper from other fish, easy to get, taste is familiar as well, etc……
When culture leaves the mainland and reach overseas, the trends changed there a bit.
Japanese latest trend in sushi, salmon sushi, made with Norwegian salmon, which will later become a representative menu in Sushi restaurants overseas.
There is an interesting example in Korea.
Ramen is currently popular in Korea, and especially Hakata style Donkotsu ramen.
Donkotsu ramen was popular in Japan a few years ago and is now a trendy ramen in Korea.
In Fact, in Japan today, Donkotsu ramen fell from the throne and its popularity has never been lower before.
For the same reason, mangaka from overseas often learn and study about the popular style and genres of Japanese manga.
But what they learn and study WAS once popular in Japan, it’s not the main nor center of Manga’s trend.
After some time when they went through a long study period and finally challenge Japanese’s manga circle in Japan, the popularity of the style and genre they studied may already be over in the market.
So in my opinion as a mangaka in Japan, if you want to become a mangaka in Japan, it’s better to explore deeper the history of manga rather than the latest trend.
I had no idea how to answer about Nyotaimori, so I just answered something different 🙂