|Japanese chopstick and raw fish|
For the Japanese, eating is a broad sensory experience. Thus, they try to ensure that all senses are satisfied when it comes to preparation and eating.
If you are not Asian and do not know how to use chopsticks, you may have some difficulty eating Japanese food. To the Japanese, chopsticks, or hashi as they call it, are important utensils used for picking, catching, supporting, scooping, breaking and dividing food.
A meal usually includes sashimi, raw fish sliced in small pieces of varying shapes. It is dipped in a sauce made of soy sauce, wasabi (Japanese horseradish) and shisonomi (herb buds). The degree of spiciness depends on the amount of wasabi used.
Sushi is probably the most well-known Japanese dish. It comes in oblong-shaped patties of cold boiled rice accompanied by a piece of raw fish. A side dish served with sushi is gari, or slivers of ginger.
The main dish can be sukiyaki, which is basically composed of thin slices of tender filleted beef sauteed together with vegetables. There's also shabu-shabu, a do-it-yourself meal of boiled paper-thin slices of beef cooked in chicken stock where cabbage, carrots, spinach, mushrooms and tofu (bean curd) are added.
The prime cut of beef grilled on a hot plate on the table is known as teppanyaki. It is often accompanied by tofu, which can be served boiled, baked, fried, steamed, marinated, dried, frozen or fresh.
To complete the meal, the traditional alcoholic drink known as sake is recommended. It is usually drunk warm, although it is also consumed cold in summer as a refresher. The best quality sake may be drunk anytime of the year.