What to Look For in An Authentic Japanese Restaurant

With Japanese food, you can never settle for second best. Settling for a fake Japanese restaurant is like saying no to one of the best gastronomic experiences that you’ll ever have in your life.

One way to spot an authentic Japanese restaurant is to look at the menu of the place. “Look at the menu. If it contains a section of Chinese or Korean food, it is a good sign that it is not a real Japanese restaurant. Exploitative minds cannot let go of any moneymaking opportunities. Since the cooks they have in their kitchens are likely to be Chinese or Korean, they don’t want their real skills to go to waste. They therefore cannot resist serving Chinese or Korean food such as Chicken Chow Mein, Sweet and Sour Pork, or General Tso’s Chicken. Give a healthy dose of skepticism to Japanese restaurants that have neon signs. Though this is not a definitive rule, neon signs are rarely seen for restaurants that serve traditional Japanese food in Japan. Most Japanese persons would find it distasteful,” wrote Dyske Suematsu of dyske.com in the article How to Tell a Real Japanese Restaurant

Jaime, who is always in search for authentic Japanese food in Singapore, has her own tell-tale signs of spotting a real Japanese find, “Authentic Japanese restaurants are always clean and tidy, from the utensils, to the lavatory, and the place itself. Just like how you picture Japan should be, always free of wastes, clutter, and dirt. Always artful and eye candy. Japanese people’s commendable value of maintaining good health and cleanliness translate even to the way they prepare their food. And this is also why Japanese food is one of the healthiest in the world.” Cleanliness is also one of the things mentioned by  writer Demitria Castanon in her article How to Spot an Authentic Japanese Restaurant for: Not all sushi is created equal for spoonuniversity.com  that a Japanese restaurant should be like, “Ever walked into a restaurant and immediately wanted to leave because the utensils haven’t been fully cleaned, or even worse… it smelled? This isn’t ever the case at a real sushi spot. The Japanese culture is known for its cleanliness and respecting each guest that enters their restaurants. Additionally, from their work spaces to their attire, the chefs are extremely polished. Heck, you should feel comfortable enough to eat your spicy tuna rolls off the floor.” She further said, “The food presentation is clean, and most likely on small plates. The portions may be smaller, but the quality of each bite is to-die-for. Another way you can spot the authenticity of your Japanese food is by looking at the color of the fish. If it’s bright and vibrant then you’ve got the good stuff.”

An authentic Japanese restaurant will never serve things like orange chicken or fries or even some Japanese sandwiches you’ve never heard of. And if you find that they don’t have chopsticks or green tea in the run! Be sceptical too of those Japanese places that have tacky neon signs saying Teriyaki Fiji, or something funny. The authentic ones look respectable even from the outside,” said Chef Jerry who has a Japanese yakitori place in Singapore.

Authentic Japanese restaurants can also be distinguished by the smell and the seasonal food they serve, “The Air Should Smell “Fresh”. If you smell the air and it smells fishy… well… something isn’t right. Sushi shouldn’t be “fishy,” and it certainly shouldn’t make the whole place smell fishy. This probably means the fish isn’t as fresh as it could be. Smell the air and turn around if it’s not ideal…Seasonal: There are a lot of items that should be served seasonally. While I won’t go into what’s served when, in general your chef shouldn’t give you anything seasonal that’s not available fresh during that particular season. One way to figure this out is to ask the chef what is offered seasonally right now or look for a “specials” board. This will take more experience to figure out, but this little hint will tell you about how important freshness is to them,” wrote Koichi in the article The 7 Immutable Laws of Identifying A Real Japanese Restaurant for tofugu.com.


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