5@5 - Five things you might not know about Japanese cuisine
August 18th, 2011
05:00 PM ET
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UPDATE: From your keyboard to our ears! We pay attention to commenters, we really do. So - when we noticed a lot of you took issue with the statement that there’s no mayo in Japanese cooking, we reached out to Reika for clarification as to what she actually meant.

"A clarification on the use of mayo in Japan: in saying we do not use mayonnaise, I was specifically referring to on sushi in Japan. As many commenters stated, mayonnaise is commonly used in Japan, and my comment was not pertaining to all food in Japan, but intended as an elaboration on sushi only."

5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.

EN Japanese Brasserie owner Reika Yo Alexander, whose family owns more than 40 restaurants in Japan, moved to the United States from Tokyo in 2000.

When she arrived stateside, the majority of what she found branded as authentic Japanese was a far cry from the culinary traditions she grew up - and yep, we're looking at you, Philadelphia roll.

Five Things Most People Don't Know About Japanese Cuisine: Reika Yo Alexander

1. People think sushi is eaten daily in Japan; this is not true
"I was just in Japan for three weeks and didn't have sushi even once - it didn't even cross my mind, and I know quite a few Japanese people who never eat sushi. It's probably easier to find good fried chicken in Tokyo than sushi.

Instead, in our home we ate fried chicken, grilled fish, curry, ramen and tons of cooked vegetables.

On that note, California rolls and Dragon rolls are purely American dishes. I moved to New York in 2000 and tried these rolls for the first time, as they don't exist in Japan. Avocado and mayonnaise are featured in each of these rolls; avocado does not grow in Japan and mayonnaise is never used there."

2. Beef up your knowledge
"Japan has delicious marbled Wagyu beef. Kobe is a place, not a type of cow, and Mishima and Matsuzaka are also provinces that are well-regarded for their beef.

Japan was isolated for two centuries and it was an American named Matthew Perry who initiated significant commercial trade between the United States and Japan, bringing cows with him to Japan.

Initially, we thought those cows were for working, not eating, and didn't start eating beef in small quantities until the mid-1800s. Beef was uncommon as everyday food until the mid-twentieth century, after the war."

3. Toro was once cat food
"While toro is now known as a fancy fish to eat, this was not common until after the war. In the Edo era (1603-1868), toro was given to cats and sardines were treated as an expensive fish to eat."

4. In restaurants, we don't have servers, runners or bussers
"There is a much different style of running the restaurant and serving customers than in the U.S. In Japan, floor staffers take the orders, run the food and clear tables. Or, we have restaurants with only a kitchen counter.

The people who cook in the kitchen actually take orders, run the food and clear the tables and everything there. It's all about team work."

5. Do you think Japanese people drink lots of sake?
"While we definitely drink a lot of sake, we drink more shochu. This is a Japanese distilled liquor, like vodka. You can enjoy shochu straight up, with water, tea or juice. And it does not matter how much you drink, you won't be hungover the next day! (That's what people say anyways.)"

Previously - Five Misconceptions About Asian Food

Is there someone you'd like to see in the hot seat? Let us know in the comments below and if we agree, we'll do our best to chase 'em down.

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Filed under: 5@5 • Asian • Bite • Cuisines • Feature • Japan Eats • Japanese • Think


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soundoff (103 Responses)
  1. Maggiec

    I don't remember mayo in Japan and I was stationed there for 2 years. Ate in Tokyo as often as I could. Still don't remember it..

    November 30, 2011 at 7:31 pm |
  2. scruffy1

    Okonomiyaki can be a very tasty snack, often you can prepare it together with friends with any goodies you choose to be in it right there at your table. Its the Japanese teen favorite by far HOWEVER it almost always is ruined with the addition of mayonnaise plus Bulldog sauce desguised as Okonomiyaki garnish or Tonkatsu sauce.

    August 24, 2011 at 7:52 am |
  3. SH1 U.S.N.

    I think that this artical is a little off base I have lived in japan for 13yrs and iam married to a native Japanese woman. And i can tell you that sushi is eatin maybe not all the time but a friggin lot. And as for sochu yeah it drunken alott but tea is where it is at for most japanese and Iam talking no sugar tea. My wife often complains the the food in the states is too sweet or too salty. Japanese food is very simple not really bland but simple. I have traveled all over the middle east and asia tried everything from sting ray to half incubated chick eggs and by far my favorite is japanese food.

    August 21, 2011 at 7:39 pm |
  4. Lros

    I dont mean to be rude CNN, but this article has been up for a few days. Are you telling me that after as many people that have commenting saying how inaccurate this is you're still leaving it up?
    I've never lived in japan, but i've gone there on vacation 3 times. My FAVORITE food there is Sake (Salmon on rice sushi) with onion and mayo on top. So yes mayo is used, and yes mayo is used on sushi, A LOT!

    As a new organization I understand that you might get some facts wrong sometimes, it's bound to happen. But the ability to retract your inaccurate articles should be as high on your priority list, if not higher, than the ability to actually print said article. All you're doing is pissing off 90% of the people who read this article as this information is no inaccurate almost everyone is able to refute it.

    August 21, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
    • Momiji

      Oh I looooove samon-mayo! (That's what I've always heard that particular nigiri called) I'm so glad to find out I'm not the only one.

      August 29, 2011 at 11:19 am |
    • youdontknowjacque

      My entire family on my Mother's side is from Tokyo, I was born there and moved the States as a child. My father has a flat there and London, so I visit all the time... and we eat sushi all the time. I suppose it's a matter of taste. My mother has never made fried chicken... I order sake from time to time, and mine NEVER comes with mayo. I'm not saying it's never done, but perhaps the chef is catering to an American? The rolls that contain mayo, cream cheese... is completely Americanized, and often is the only "sushi" americans eat... It wouldn't be unheard of if they were trying to be polite.

      August 29, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
      • inakagaijin

        I lived in a small town in Japan for 2 years where white people still evoke stares and whispers. Menus were never in English- they were definitely not catering to foreigners.

        At the kaiten sushi place near my house, they had several types of of sushi that contained mayo on their menu- these were some of the most popular plates. Traditional? No. Do Japanese people eat sushi with mayo? Yes and they love it.

        November 30, 2011 at 7:17 pm |
  5. Chris

    Nothing has ever been less true than the statement "mayonnaise is never used there."'

    so so so wrong

    August 20, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
  6. jon

    This makes me feel better. After coming home from my two-week vacation in Tokyo, my friends and family criticized me for not trying sushi even once. Now that I know it's not a daily dish in Japan like some people naturally assume, I feel better. Of course I had my share of authentic ramen during my stay.

    August 19, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
  7. Donovan

    Well ...
    the asian population DOES have a lacking of alcohol dehydrogenase.

    They SHOULD get drunk fairly quickly and probably suffer more in the morning.

    August 19, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
  8. Jacob

    Where does CNN find these writers. "Mayo is never used there." Are you kidding? The Japanese love mayo. No California Rolls? Wrong again. They might have originated in the US, but they definitely have them in Japan. More fried chicken than sushi? Really? The author's family might own more than 40 restaurants in Japan, but the author seems quite out of touch.

    August 19, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
    • Lola

      That is exactly what I thought! No mayonnaise? Are they kidding? My local Japanese market has a whole aisle dedicated to mayonnaise. A whole aisle!

      They put mayonnaise on everything.

      August 19, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
    • Carrie

      This was my first thought, too!! I've lived in Japan for almost 3 years, had all kinds of cuisine and can't tell you how many times I've ended up choking on mayo. They LOVE them some mayo!

      August 19, 2011 at 7:39 pm |
  9. Ruth

    I LOVE KEWPIE – I really like the squeeze dispenser and dual tip for squishing a thin line or fancy star peaks. YUM!

    August 19, 2011 at 11:58 am |
  10. scott

    They put mayo on pizza.

    August 19, 2011 at 9:52 am |
    • Daniel-son @Scott

      I think I just threw up a little in my mouth Mr. Miyagi

      August 19, 2011 at 9:57 am |
  11. Sensei

    I lived in Japan for 5 years and I ate sushi once...In the Soho's grocery department. Food like Tonkatsu, Katsudon, Yaki-niku, Yakisoba, soup soba and the bento boxes you get everywhere...even at the 7-11 are examples of everyday food your every day japanese people eat. There's a whole lot more but those items are just naming a few. The same applies to Italy...having lived there and eating authentic italian food...what we have here is a cheap knock off. You know the saying "when in Rome, do like the Romans"...that applies anywhere you go. Follow the locals, shop where the locals shop and eat where the locals eat and you will really see what authentic food is.

    August 19, 2011 at 9:51 am |
    • Danielsan

      EAT, PRAY, LOVE... been every where dude!

      August 19, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
  12. Sybaris

    6. Rice is rice.
    Sorry gaijin, Uncle Bens sucks

    August 19, 2011 at 8:55 am |
    • CaptCancun

      Uncle Ben's rice is processed rice, for better or worse. The California Roll was created by the great Hidekazu Tojo as an option for some Western business guests to try Japanese sushi. Where he did it doesn't matter; California rolls are widely available in Japan and worldwide right now and since they are extremely nutritious, why not we all go get some and eat to our health, best freshest ingredients makes better, fresher tasting California rolls.

      August 19, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
  13. nkrdl

    Hello, have any of those rushing to comment "but of course, EVERYONE uses mayo in Japan" stopped to think that maybe the reference was only about mayo in sushi, and not about eating mayo in general? Look at the article in context, before getting all self-righteous about knowing Japanese food!

    August 19, 2011 at 6:56 am |
    • AGeek

      Some of us did read it in context and still call bullsh-t on it. And by "some of us", I mean those of us *living* in Japan, eating at local places, not tourist joints. This article is largely tripe.

      August 19, 2011 at 7:08 am |
      • twocentsforyou

        I totally agree. I lived in Tokyo for two years. There is mayo everywhere and MANY different kinds. They put mayo on lots of sushi and not just tourist joints. Japanese people have mayo in their homes even. They come in huge squeeze bottles. "No mayo"-my ass.

        August 19, 2011 at 8:35 am |
      • Brian

        I lived in Fussa just outside of Tokyo for two years and not once did I find mayo in a local dish. That being said there are some places that cater to the american air base there that do use mayo if requested.

        August 19, 2011 at 9:41 am |
      • FlyGuyInSJ

        Absolutely. I lived in Japan for 8 years and really ate like a local and lived like a local (well, mostly; I draw the line at corn-mayo-tuna pizza. That's just wrong. The broccoli-mayo pizza with the broccoli stood up like little trees is out there, too, but squid pizza is pretty good). Mayo is not only used on and is tons of stuff, Japanese mayo tastes better than American mayo, by far. I'm not usually a mayo fan, but I liked it there.

        August 19, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
  14. The educated bumette

    I definitely do. I lived there and my sole purpose for being in other countries is to eat. Not only do I know the food, but I can cook it. I know how to prepare okonomiyaki from different regions, I know the 3 basic broths of authentic ramen noodles, I love takoyaki and find traditional japanese bean paste or sweet potato sweets to be a bit boring - though momiji manju when prepared fresh tastes great. I lived in the Hiroshima prefecture in Saijou but traveled around to Fukuyoka, Kyouto, Sapporo(visited the brewery) and a few small towns. My favorite thing to try is the Japanese take on foreign food such as Italian, American, and I loved the Euro style bakeries that reminded me of my childhood. I remember every isle of the local Youme town and Fuji Grand and miss dropping by Mister Donuts for a spicy ramen soup combo with donuts and coffee. The food tradition is even reflected in something as simple as a convenient store - delicious bentou lunches, a huge variety of onigiri and yakisoba sandwiches. If I had had the money I would have come back from Japan fat instead of weighing 102 pounds. You think they don't drink a lot of sake? I think the Saijou sake festival makes up for all the sake they don't drink the rest of the year. I honestly think that many of us who have actually had to live and survive, experience, love, loathe and wonder in such a country would have been able to produce a much more accurate and thorough article.
    Oh, and you can buy beer, cigarettes and yes, we all know about the panties from vending machines. Oh, and pornography at the game center.

    August 19, 2011 at 5:26 am |
    • FlyGuyInSJ

      Well said. I only ever once saw a panty vending machine, but I loved the beer vending machines; didn't even have to get home from the train station to enjoy a cold one on a hot summer night. Near my house (yes, a house, not an apartment) in Kawasaki there was a somewhat shielded from view bank of vending machines that sold porn and various, ah, related devices and toys, but I only ever once saw a panty machine in 8 years, somewhere in Chiba-ken.

      A lot of people eat sushi more often than the author of the article; you can even get it in any convenience store, and contrary to what she says, it's easier to find sushi than good fried chicken in Tokyo. A street vendor near Shibuya-station had really good chicken for 500 yen a cup, though. What great memories!

      August 19, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
    • Mark

      Small world. My wife's from Saijou. When I met her parents, many years ago, it was a small country town and I got the gaijin treatment from the little kids. Now it's home to Hiroshima Daigaku and nobody bats an eye at a foreigner.

      On topic, Japan might have more foreign food than any place on earth. It's all good, the competition is tough.

      August 19, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
  15. Naomi

    The Japanese food is less salty and always consumed in modest quantity as everything is expensive – the reason for the longevity of life, nothing else really.

    August 19, 2011 at 3:50 am |
  16. Naomi

    The Japanese are better than other Asians in that they don't eat dogs. But what can cure young Japanese couples from killing their own children? A national disease.

    August 19, 2011 at 3:47 am |
    • todaypost

      Naomi,

      Ask a japanese what is "sengsu (tongseng asu), sate jamu, and kambing balap" or do a google.

      August 19, 2011 at 8:31 am |
    • kasey

      Uhm, those aren't Japanese dishes...

      August 19, 2011 at 10:07 am |
    • FlyGuyInSJ

      What's wrong with eating dogs? I don't partake myself (I think it's gross) but there's nothing wrong with it if you don't think it's gross.

      August 19, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
  17. jdoe

    Don't know why Americans are so enamored with Japanese food, at least in its Americanized format. It's probably one of the more bland and simplistic cuisines out of Asia. Slap some raw seafood, make sure the plating look nice and fancy, and charge a bundle. Other Asian cuisines, even the food people eat every day, are far more complex and sophisticated, requiring hours of preparation and cooking to achieve the right taste.

    August 19, 2011 at 2:16 am |
    • AGeek

      You have an incredible misconception about Japanese food. Oh well, more for me!

      August 19, 2011 at 7:05 am |
    • seraphim0

      Hours of prep and cooking... hrm.. Ever tried making REAL ramen (not the packaged tripe most college students eat). There's hours of work. Or, or even something as simple as rice balls for bentos. Depending on the amount, you can pour an entire evening into making those... etc etc.

      Way to generalize.

      I'd rather have gyu don over bolgogi anyday.

      August 19, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • Ronco

      I have never been to Japan, I do not know if they eat Mayo or Sushi- I do know I love Hibachi, and if loving Hibachi is wrong? I don't wanna be right!

      August 19, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
    • dankos

      Bland? I'd say subtle. Remove the loads of salt, sugar, and fat in the foods most Americans eat and you'd have something worse than bland. Sushi is more expensive because the fish are more expensive, not because someone is trying to rip you off. Anyway, Japanese cuisine is not just sushi. Japanese have the longest life-spans in the world mainly because of their healthy diet, which is one of the reasons it's become popular with many Americans.

      August 19, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
    • youdontknowjacque

      the preparation of sushi, or for any dish for that matter in Japan, is an art form, and done so with much pride. Obviously this is a concept many Americans could never understand. Their virtues exude to every part of them, even when they're just "slapping raw seafood on a pretty plate." Furthermore, if you understood anything about Japanese culture, simple is very Japanese. Bland? It's sushi, not buffalo wings.

      I'll never understand when someone doesn't understand another's liking of something, they just make negative statements about it, especially when they don't fully understand it? Whether you're a snob or a hater, it only limits you.

      August 29, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
  18. mary campbell

    The Japanese love mayo and use it all the time. I was first introduced to the upside down squeeze bottle of mayonnaise there. "Shochu" gives you incredible hangovers, if you actually chose to drink it. I think what he means is it tastes like a mild mannered drink. The Japanese drink A LOT of beer, it is still the drink of choice.
    I'm sorry to say that this article is not well researched, it is based on the writers own predjudiices and assumptions. Not good journalism. It's basically an unformed, unresearched story.

    August 19, 2011 at 12:53 am |
  19. Heather

    "Mayonnaise is never used there"?!?! I live in Tokyo, and the Japanese put mayonnaise on EVERYTHING. They think of it as an American condiment, so they are always shocked when I ask for some dish without mayonnaise. But I do have to insist on that, or there will be mayo on pretty much everything that comes my way.

    August 19, 2011 at 12:02 am |
  20. Paul

    This article is partially correct. Mayo is one of the most popular toppings in Japan, used commonly on hotdogrolls, pizza and on eggs, (but yes its not US mayo, its BETTER). California rolls with Avocado are known and eaten in Japan (but not Dragon Rolls) so its partially right there and partially wrong.
    Many people in Japan get hungover, they just keep working and its fun to watch them (and work with them). For those who drink, beer is more popular than Chuhai, Shochu or Sake.
    In restaurants in Japan there ARE servers. You just don't tip them, if they give a customer bad service they are fired, and servers get higher salaries than US servers. And sometimes you do have people busing as well in a place like La Boheme, Gonpachi, or Zest. Even in kaiten sushi there is usually a server to ask if you want miso and will bring it to you. If you go to a fast food place like KFC, than no, you won't get a server.
    The author is obviously one of those people who does not know much about Japanese food. ROFL!

    August 18, 2011 at 10:59 pm |
  21. JoHo.

    Who wrote this? I see numerous errors. When I lived in Japan, I saw Japanese people eating mayonnaise on many different food items. Also Matsuzaka and Mishima are not prefectures (provinces). In my years there, I ate lots of avocados, and so did my Japanese wife. Can anyone write these short Internet articles?

    August 18, 2011 at 10:58 pm |
  22. NReptilian

    In US, there are many kinds of sushi roles. Some of people believe that sushi role is healthier than a steak. However, if you see the ingredients of sushi role, you can always find mayo in it. Therefore, you are eating Mayo Rice wtih high cholesterol.

    August 18, 2011 at 10:48 pm |
  23. Hari Kari

    I prefer Miracle Whip anyway.

    August 18, 2011 at 10:31 pm |
  24. Morizou

    I'm glad folks have pointed out the misconception about mayonnaise (yes, it's definitely used in Japan). I'll point out, also, that Matsusaka (not Matsuzaka–even though people who aren't from there often [incorrectly] pronounce it that way) is a city, not a province. And Mishima is an island. And some restaurants certainly have wait staff (folks who take orders, clear tables, and the like without actually cooking in the kitchens). And avocados don't grow in Okinawa?

    August 18, 2011 at 10:27 pm |
  25. AGeek

    I'm calling bullsh-t on some of this. Mayo, as many others have mentioned. Avocado; no, they don't grow in Japan, but in 2000 alone, Japan imported over 14,200 TONS of them (http://www.fao.org/DOCREP/004/Y1669E/y1669e0b.htm). The part about sushi not being eaten daily is accurate. Sake vs shochu consumption is regional. This article needed better fact-checking.

    August 18, 2011 at 10:18 pm |
  26. Adrienne

    Japanese mayo is very different from American mayo, so they might now consider it to be the same. Ours is very thick and made from mostly eggs, where there's uses more oil and is very silky and light.
    Definitely gotta try this shochu, I'm a big vodka fan!

    August 18, 2011 at 9:56 pm |
  27. NReptilian

    I have been living in US for such a long time, but still I have allergy against American food such as hot dog, burger and sandwitch. It is amazing for me that people can eat those kinds of food every day. I am sorry to tell you that people in US have really low IQ for food. There is no value to pay even $5 for just a sandwitch. I usually go to Chinese Buffet that usually cost $7 for lunch. They have so many kinds of food including sushi, chinese, salad and even sea food. Whenever I go to Chinese Buffet, I really appreciate the existence of Chinese people.

    August 18, 2011 at 9:37 pm |
    • kasey

      Most of the food at your wonderful $5 Chinese buffet is crap, and isn't what real Chinese food is like, it's the Americanized version.

      August 18, 2011 at 10:02 pm |
      • todaypost

        Real chinese food will cost you less and taste better. more fresh veggies and less MSG.

        August 19, 2011 at 8:37 am |
      • Multi-Tasking @ Work

        I agree with Kasey...the Buffets are crap! the food tastes like it comes out of 5 gallon buckets that have been sitting under warmers forever....*ugh, can I say "pave the way to the bathroom...eeewwwwwwwww

        August 19, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
    • EmptySkull

      Most Chinese avoid the $7 Chinese buffets

      August 19, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
  28. horuko

    Very odd article – mayonnaise is a favorite in Japan and is used in a million ways, often mixed with corn. As the poster above said, it's a very popular. as a pizza topping and also as a filling in sweet rolls.

    August 18, 2011 at 9:11 pm |
    • Jdizzle McHammerpants (Yes)

      Hmm. I also understand Southern US people like circumcision by having their sister kicked in the jaw. Is this also true? I read it on het internets, so I assume it is.

      August 18, 2011 at 9:18 pm |
      • STFU Numbnuts

        The best part of you ran down your Momma's leg.

        August 18, 2011 at 9:40 pm |
      • Evil Grin

        Hey JDizz, how you been?

        August 19, 2011 at 9:24 am |
    • NReptilian

      I really hate American mayonnaise.

      August 18, 2011 at 9:40 pm |
    • AGeek

      I have to agree. There's plenty of mayo used in Japan and it's nothing like American mayo. Kewpie FTW!

      August 18, 2011 at 10:09 pm |
  29. GMak

    Why is this surprising to anyone? Anyone who actually thinks the majority of the "foreign food" served in this country is actually served in that foreign country hasn't set foot outside THIS country. Anyone who eats in a restaurant that advertises "Chinese Food" isn't eating Chinese food. Mexican? Come on! Only the gringos eat the stuff purported to be "Mexican" in this country which most Mexicans have never even heard of.

    To be fair, after living for 20 years in Asia, 15 of which in Japan, what THEY think of as "American" food (or Italian, or Chinese) suffers from the same problem as almost everywhere without discerning standards: localization. It happens everywhere. The big difference though, is that most American don't know that there IS a difference. But we have an advantage for those who REALLY want authentic food (unless you're living in like, Montana or Wyoming or Maine) in that we have many large immigrant communities, that sustain an authentic cuisine in their communities.

    So the best way to really enjoy AUTHENTIC cuisine is to find a restaurant where you are the only guy/gal of your ethnic persuasion in there and everybody else is seeking a foreign language and looks like they just got off the boat. Chances are, THAT will be REAL food, not localized American.

    Anyway,the next time some American dude says "Oh, I love sushi! I know this great sushi place..." chances are that's the ONLy place they know and you know they don't know sushi from sashimi...

    August 18, 2011 at 8:51 pm |
    • kasey

      You're right about Americans knowing food. My husband is Chinese, and real Chinese food is not what you get when you go to an all-you-can-eat buffet. As for the menu they keep at the side of the cash register. It's the real food. As for foreign countries getting their American food mixed up, that's too true. I lived in Siberia for a time, and what passed for Pizza was what we get here as the cheapie frozen pizza (I'm talking the Totino's 99 cents a pizza stuff). But while there, you just go where the townsfolk go. That's where you get the real stuff.

      August 18, 2011 at 10:07 pm |
      • kasey

        Oops. Meant "ask" for the menu they keep at the side of the cash register.

        August 18, 2011 at 10:07 pm |
      • GMak

        (Meant "speaking" not "seeking")
        You're right about the "menu on the side of the register." And if you can speak even basic Chinese, there is a "whole 'nuther" set off the menu options... I get some of my favorite sichuan dishes that way...

        August 18, 2011 at 10:45 pm |
      • kasey

        You're right, GMak. If you're caucasian and you can speak enough Chinese to order, they're quite kind and It irks my husband that I can order a pound of char shu (in chinese) and get 1.5 or more pounds out of it, but when he orders he only gets the pound. :-)

        August 18, 2011 at 11:14 pm |
    • Noxious Sunshine

      Lol it cracks me up when typical american ppl are like "omg! I found this -aamazing- authentic mexican place!" .. The only real authentic joints around here are the vans, the places that sell tacos inside the carniceria or "restaurants" that double as the owners' home with the grill in a van outside.

      August 19, 2011 at 11:00 am |
      • kasey

        You CAN find authentic places, but it's not going to be El Chico... It's going to be some little hole in the wall in a strip mall that most people would ignore, with a little old lady in the back standing over a pot. I do love street vendors, though. You know, the guys that pull up stakes and run when the cops drive by...

        August 19, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
    • EmptySkull

      Good food is what you like, not its authenticity. It is nice to be able to distinguish the origins of the dishes you are eating, but that is not what distinguish good dishes from bad ones.

      August 19, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
    • Adam

      and you my friend don't know the difference between Sushi and Nigiri

      August 19, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
  30. Terrible Article

    Sushi may not be eaten everyday, but it is available everywhere. Sushi is in any convenience store at any time of day and is quite fresh. Beef is also relatively prevalent and is served in many restaurants, though is is not served like we have it has a huge slab of meat on a plate. I find it more interesting that they don't have anything resembling what we would call a "Japanese Steakhouse" over there. Nobody is flipping spatulas and catapulting shrimp in your mouth. That kind of thing is considered pretty rude over there.

    August 18, 2011 at 8:49 pm |
    • NReptilian

      Before Japanese entrepreneurs started business in US, they studied the brain structure of American people. They have found out that people here love Ninja Circus and tricks like a little kid. The more they play tricks for kids, the more money they can earn in US.

      August 18, 2011 at 9:55 pm |
      • GMak

        I am sure you are making a point – just not sure what it is....

        August 18, 2011 at 10:31 pm |
    • kasey

      I don't think we're so ignorant that we think Kobe is a species of cattle, as the author suggests.

      August 18, 2011 at 10:09 pm |
      • Me

        I thought kobe was a basketball player that raped white girls in colorado hotels. stupid me. :(

        August 20, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
  31. Bluemoondrop

    Shochu doesn't cause as bad of a hangover because it doesn’t have as much acetaldehyde as beer, and unlike wine, it doesn't have sulfites- if anyone was curious. It’s also distilled and fermented, w/ roughly 25-37% alcohol content. Try one made from sweet potatoes ^_^

    August 18, 2011 at 8:43 pm |
  32. Ever been to Japan

    Mayo is served on everything. From burgers, to pizza, to okonomyaki, to tacoyaki (fried octopus balls). They eat mayo like we eat ketchup. Yes it is served on sushi. Though their worst sushi is better than anything we get stateside. Avocados are in Japan, It is not like you can't find them in any grocery store. They do drink a lot of sake and shochu, but they really love their own whiskey. I would say they probably have a more prevalent drinking culture as well. Everybody and their mom drinks out there.

    August 18, 2011 at 8:32 pm |
    • quizibo

      What you said is more true than anything I read on here. I have lived in Japan for five years now and the only thing that I agree with in this article is that Japanese people dont eat sushi everyday. Everything else is B.S.

      August 18, 2011 at 8:42 pm |
    • kasey

      Thanks to you both. Obvisouly the author was ignorant about the subject and only assumed his facts.

      August 18, 2011 at 10:11 pm |
  33. Doug Smith

    Um, I lived in Japan for 4 years and people ate mayo on things all the time. The thing that should never be present in sushi is cream cheese. Only Americans would come up with a way to make something as healthy as sushi unhealthy by adding this ingredient. As for avocado my friend used it all the time with her homemade sushi.

    August 18, 2011 at 8:30 pm |
  34. Josh

    I love shochu. My buddy also has a Japanese wife and his in-laws send a few bottles occasionally, they are from kagoshima which has good sweet potato shochu. My in-laws don't send anything, lol.

    August 18, 2011 at 8:29 pm |
    • FlyGuyInSJ

      Kagoshima, huh? My ex is from there. Ever drink Satsuma Shiranami?

      August 19, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
  35. Du

    Wow. I wish I could go back in time and eat all the "cat food".

    August 18, 2011 at 8:27 pm |
    • AGeek

      No kidding. I'd *kill* to be eating that kind of cat food!

      August 18, 2011 at 10:11 pm |
  36. Zack Davisson

    "mayonnaise is never used there." Huh? Japanese people love mayonnaise, and mayonnaise on sushi.

    August 18, 2011 at 8:26 pm |
  37. Fujiko

    My uncle has owned a restaurant in Tokyo for the past 40 years and they regularly use mayonnaise as a dip for their salad.

    August 18, 2011 at 8:25 pm |
  38. NuclearCuisine

    Did you know that Since the 3 meltdowns at Fukushima the FDA and USDA is not testing imported Japanese food for radiation? Did you know Tokyo has the worlds largest fish market, The Tsukiji fish market? Did you know that a good % of our quality and rare fish are imported from this very same fish market. Not a very happy thought considering the data on Fairewinds.com Do your self and family a favor, avoid Japanese food and the Japanese region all together unless you like breathing and eating Hot Radioactive Particles, and being showered in Black rain This is a very serious issue being the Japanese are still pumping Tons of Radioactive water into the surrounding area daily

    August 18, 2011 at 8:17 pm |
    • kasey

      Did you know that you are completely incorrect? Did you know the FDA has been testing fish imported from Japan since the meltdowns and continues to do so today? To date they've tested over 1000 samples and have found no radiation. Before you publish your little scare posts, you might want to actually check out your facts.

      August 18, 2011 at 10:15 pm |
    • lives in Japan

      You do know that the powerplants are 100 miles from tokyo right, and the govenment of Japan doesn't let any food come out of that area which is mostly rice and beef. There is a fishing ban along the coast there too even thought all the water is being pumped into tanks not the ocean. And last of all black rain would be a fall out of a nuclear bombing. Japan is safe to live in and visit.
      As for this writer, way off is all I have to say.

      December 1, 2011 at 3:08 am |
  39. In Japan right now.

    Mayonaise on pizza is a staple in Japan. Tokyo is not exactly know for its food culture. Osaka and Kyoto are much more well known as cities known for their food. Yes, sushi is a treat. Once or twice a month is not unusual. Shirmp, avocado, onion, mayo on rice is a popular combo at conveyor sushi shop all over the country. Beef has become the favorite among young people.

    August 18, 2011 at 8:12 pm |
  40. Tim

    Mayo is used in sushi in Japan notably in "aburi salmon" or "tuna mayo". Avacado is not as common, but it can be found in "kaiten sushi" places. California rolls may originate from the US (albeit from a Japanese chef), but they are also popular in Japan.

    August 18, 2011 at 7:51 pm |
    • The educated bumette

      Oh man, I love that one.

      August 19, 2011 at 5:31 am |
  41. Cole

    I knew 3/5. Didn't have a clue about the toro and shochu. Seems unbelievable that the fatty part of the fish would be pet food. I've had sake, but don't recall ever trying shochu.

    August 18, 2011 at 6:56 pm |
  42. Louis

    Sorry to be a stick in the mud, but mayonnaise is used in Japan ie, Kewpie- delicious stuff!

    August 18, 2011 at 6:52 pm |
  43. Chet Campbell

    So when you say "mayonnaise is never used there" I hope you're talking only about sushi. Because when I lived in Japan in the late 1990s I found mayonnaise is some pretty odd places ... like as a pizza topping!!

    August 18, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
  44. Joe tanaka

    Japanese eat mayonnaise, cupie is a famous brand. Okanamiyaki is covered in mayo and sometimes ketchup. They don't use on sushi for sure, but I've noticed they eat a lot of their own mayo. It tastes better than American mayo.

    August 18, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
    • GMak

      (okonomiyaki)

      August 18, 2011 at 8:43 pm |
    • ST

      It's good that you cleared up that they (WE) "don't use mayo on sushi for sure". I and the others here must be imagining all of the salmon-mayo, tuna-mayo, shrimp-mayo, etc. sushi rolls and "gunkan maki" I've had, including a couple of days ago. Thanks for the ongoing education about Japan, from those of us who live here.

      Easily the most ridiculously inaccurate article I have seen on CNNGo, and many of the comments are successfully lowering the bar even further. Kudos, CNN.

      August 18, 2011 at 11:40 pm |
  45. jillmarie

    This was a very informative article- the next time I go for Japanese, I will share these tidbits in conversation. It makes sense that California and Philadelphia rolls are American- look at the names! I had no idea Avacados did not grow in Japan. I never understood mayo in sushi, either. I'll be on the lookout for shochu as well!

    August 18, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
    • Gav

      Please do not relay these "facts" to anyone! Much of this is patently untrue as many above had noted. I can only assume that the author has never actually been to Japan or is making wild generalizations based solely on her family. Sushi is everywhere and eaten often by many people, though not daily is correct. The American style sushi rolls exist in some sushi restaurants for sure. As many have said, mayo is EVERYWHERE in Japan and is used on many traditional dishes. Kobe beef and Matsuzaka beef are how beef from these areas are commonly referred to by Japanese people. #3, I have never heard before so I can not say if it is true or not. #4 is true, although I never found it to be particularly strange or shocking. As for shochu, it is a very popular drink along with beer, whiskey, and sake (actually known as nihonshu, not sake which actually just means alcohol.) Shochu can be made from many things including sweet potatoes and barley.

      August 18, 2011 at 9:27 pm |
      • Gav

        Oh, and avocado is a popular food is can be found in any major grocery store. I really do not know where this author got these "facts" here.

        August 18, 2011 at 9:31 pm |
      • Jdizzle McJillMariepants

        You should come full force before slapping someone's post around. "I don't know", "for sure" (with no backup evidential links), "I assume", "nor can I say is true or not", "I have never heard", and "I'm unsure" makes for a weak post for someone trying to sound angry with factual basis. Get bent, bitch-ass. I mean that respectfully to the editors. Feel free to edit and leave for this douche.

        August 18, 2011 at 9:35 pm |
    • Evil Grin

      Well, actually, it is true that a lot of the sushi we eat here is strictly American. Or at least was created here in the US, and made its way back. I do actually have a friend or two from Japan. They seem to be well acquainted with sushi, and have told me many times that they'd not eat much sushi stateside because they can't find fresh enough fish here.

      As for the rest, though, I don't know. The friends I know did not come from Tokyo, so their way of doing things may be a lot different. And I haven't necessarily asked them about Toro.

      August 19, 2011 at 9:19 am |
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