London Hotels Articles

March 30, 2010

Comparing Japanese food and East

Japanese Cuisine and the East End A Raven’s Eye View

Whether it’s Sushi, Bento, Tempura or Sashimi, lots of Londoners are waking up to cuisine from the Land of the Rising Sun. It’s virtually impossible to walk around the backstreets of Covent Garden or the business districts of Bishopsgate or Holborn without passing a Japanese restaurant or eatery of some description. I, like many good food connoisseurs with an adventurous palette, fell in love with Japanese food years ago. And now the food we love is abundant throughout the capital.

The attitudes of many people towards Japanese food are surprising. Mention Sushi, for example, at any social gathering and you will be sure that, for every fellow connoisseur, there will be two critics of this particular style of cuisine – People who say things like “Isn’t it just raw fish?” and grimace at the thought of it, despite having probably never tried it. Yes, there are some types of Japanese cuisine which do contain raw fish Mainly sashimi, and not sushi, as is the common misconception and anybody who is put off by eating raw fish should try one of the many other varieties of sushi. In fact, more and more varieties are being developed all the time.

As the influx of Japanese food into London primarily came with the Japanese companies setting up offices in the capital, it has remained a predominantly middle-class affair; Japanese restaurants and sushi bars often setting the scene for many a business lunch. The reactions to this were mixed: To some, sushi became “poncy”, as it was seen to be eaten only by businessmen and the like, and others like myself became intrigued by it. However, I was always more intrigued by the fact that there are no such places around the area I live in. (For those of you who are unfamiliar with London, Bethnal Green is a predominantly working-class area of Tower Hamlets). Chinese restaurants and takeaways are commonplace in East London and seem to be popular the world over (there is even one in the Outer Hebrides). Unfortunately, there are still many people about (my family included), who are blatantly ignorant when it comes to other cultures (Chinese, Japanese, it’s all the same, etc). Food-wise, they couldn’t be further from the truth. But the more I learned about Japanese culture, particularly the food, the more I realised that it bore a striking similarity to my own. Let me briefly compare the two.

As Japan is an island, fish is a staple part of the diet and seafood forms

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