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Adopted Japanese dishes


tantan
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This topic is completely subjective, but I want to know which foods you think are done better in the Japanese style and which ones don't even come close to the originals. Japanese are famous for taking an idea and improving on it - I agree that some dishes are definately improvements, but sometimes I think they've just ruined the dish.

For me, dishes better in Japan are:

Mapo tofu - This is the dish I could eat every day of my life. I love it. I've eaten in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Australia, but I always prefer the Japanese version. In China it's too hot, not enough flavour or too soupy. In Taiwan it's too sweet.

But no matter where I eat mapo tofu in Japan I always love it. It has the right mix of spiciness, sweetness, fresh tofu and meat - and the sauce is that wonderful consistency so that after all the main part is gone you can put it over your rice and keep enjoying the flavour

Curry - Logically, I know the Indian versions should be better - they have a lot more variety, quality and fresh ingredients. But that can't compete with the taste and feeling of a nice hot plate of Japanese curry rice or katsu curry.

Original is better:

Gyouza There's nothing wrong with Japanese gyouza, but there just isn't enough variety in flavour, cooking styles and eating methods. China and Taiwan have the Japanese style pan fried "guo tie" - but they come in pork and vegetable, just vegetable, prawn and other stuff. You can get a plate of suigyouza on a plate - ordered individually and eat only that for lunch, or accompanied by a bowl of sour & hot soup. Or in winter you can have them in a bowl with soup, or soup and noodles. You can have them deep fried, or you can eat own of gyouza's delicous cousins - xiaolong bao, xiaolong tang bao. I LOVE Chinese dumplings!

I'll stop there for now. What do you think?

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For someone like me who is a native Japanese, Japanese versions are usually better than the originals. :biggrin:

Japanese-style pizza, which often has corn on it, Japanese-style spaghetti, made with salad oil, flavored with dashi and soy sauce, topped with bonito flakes and nori seaweed.

As for gyoza, don't forget the fact that there are now more varieties available besides the same old yaki gyoza. Also, in Japan, gyoza is usually eaten as an okazu (dish to go with plain white rice) or a sake no sakana (dish to go with alcohol) and those crispy, scorched skins of yaki gyoza are liked by many Japanese. Hm... got to have some good gyoza tomorrow, with beer! :biggrin:

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Sadly, I have yet to be able to afford to travel to Japan. But I can say that I don't really enjoy Chinese-American Gyoza. I don't like the fillng. And I am really speaking about Chinese American takeout food in my area. I think the meat is bad. The filling is often has too much onion. I often think this of filled wonton dumplings.

The dumplings I have had from several Japanese-American runned restaurants have been better. Although, I like the fried dishes more. In fact, I like them better than American frying techniques.

Panko provides such a lightness or rather delicate taste and feel to fried food. I hope that makes sense. I am a culinary novice. :unsure:

Edited by Lynn Shipp (log)
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I'd pick curry as well, but I think my area of favorites is convenient store snacks like potato chips (curry flavor), Baum Kuchen and of all things the Apple/Pear Juice. When I saw a colleague drinking it (he was chugging it) I thought it was warm milk. However, I tried some and was hooked.

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Gyouza There's nothing wrong with Japanese gyouza, but there just isn't enough variety in flavour, cooking styles and eating methods. China and Taiwan have the Japanese style pan fried "guo tie" - but they come in pork and vegetable, just vegetable, prawn and other stuff. You can get a plate of suigyouza on a plate - ordered individually and eat only that for lunch, or accompanied by a bowl of sour & hot soup. Or in winter you can have them in a bowl with soup, or soup and noodles. You can have them deep fried, or you can eat own of gyouza's delicous cousins - xiaolong bao, xiaolong tang bao. I LOVE Chinese dumplings!

Most of the gyoza cooking methods you mention are fairly common in Japan--including deep-frying (popular in kids bentos!), suigyouza and as wontons in soup (with or without noodles). As well, there are gyoza specialty restaurants with more filling variations than you can shake a stick at.

I've also had xiaolong bao and (I believe) xiaolong tang bao in Japan. Many Japanese are probably familiar with these, although I forget what they call them in Japan. Shanghai buns, I think?

Edited by sanrensho (log)
Baker of "impaired" cakes...
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I definitely have to agree with tonkatsu, I have had various breaed and fried/deep fried meat dishes and tonkatsu wins hands down. I also would have to vote for tempura and being one of the best batter fried dishes I have ever had.

My favorite mapodofu was at a restaurant in (middle of no where) Athens, Ohio. I still dream about it and when I try to recreate it at home, this is the style I make. I can't recall eating mapodofu on my trip to Hong Kong so I can't compare it to any Chinese versions...

I do not care for most Japanese tomato based pasta sauces. :hmmm:

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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When it comes right down to it, the Japanese have perfected tempura, adopted from the Portuguese original centuries ago.

I have to agree with Japanese curry and tonkatsu.

Many Japanese baked goods (French-style pastries, choux cream, baumkuchen) are improvements over -- or at least the epitome of the best examples of -- their forebearers, for their light and delicate touch.

Coffee jelly! :biggrin:

SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

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Ooh, interesting thread...my thoughts are:

Japanese do better western-style sweets and baked good for sure. The fluffiness is amazing, and they are not too sweet.

Mentaiko spaghetti with nori - my favorite pasta dish, even though I know a lot of western folks who hate it.

Pizza - a lot of people may not agree with me on this one, but I think Tokyo has better pizza than anywhere in the States (that being said, I've never been to Italy)

Burgers - I love Japanese burgers, they are so juicy. I also love the ones done Japanese-style with no bun, some grated daikon, maybe a little shredded shiso and ponsu (same with steak) - delicious!

I also think that tenpura is my favorite fritter-like food. And for some reason I always hated potatoes in the States but I love them here, no matter how they are prepared.

As for curry, I think of Japanese curry as just a different from Indian curry. For me, Indian curry and Japanese curry are separate cravings but one isn't better than the other. I love them both!

The only things that I like better in their original form are most Mexican dishes and hot dogs!

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I don't have a huge amount of experience with Japanese curries, but my impression is that there is way more depth of flavor in Indian curries. To those who prefer Japanese curries, what is it that you prefer about them?

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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I don't have a huge amount of experience with Japanese curries, but my impression is that there is way more depth of flavor in Indian curries. To those who prefer Japanese curries, what is it that you prefer about them?

India has a spice culture, while Japan has an umami culture, and curry was introduced into Japan via England. Thus, Japanese curries are a perfect blend of the two cultures and the Western culture.

That being said, I have to admit that the tastiness of Japanese curries derives from the amounts of lard and MSG used. :biggrin:

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Most of these things are just pale imitations. Japanese curry and mapo doufu, in particular, are so different that you could barely make the connection between them and the originals if you came later to the Japanese version. I think they are very far from improvements on the original, even if, at their best, they might be quite tasty in their own right.

Incidentally, mapo doufu in Hong Kong, or most places outside Sichuan for that matter, is no more authentic than Japanese. It's just a well-known Sichuan dish that's been bastardized for local tastes, and unsurprisingly come off the worse for it.

It's hardly even worth comparing Japanese and Indian curry. The term "curry" applied to Indian food covers such a wide variety of dishes and flavours as to be practically useless. Japanese curry resembles few if any of them. It's usually sweet, gluey and often suffers from the spices not being adequately cooked-in.

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I don't have a huge amount of experience with Japanese curries, but my impression is that there is way more depth of flavor in Indian curries. To those who prefer Japanese curries, what is it that you prefer about them?

India has a spice culture, while Japan has an umami culture, and curry was introduced into Japan via England. Thus, Japanese curries are a perfect blend of the two cultures and the Western culture.

That being said, I have to admit that the tastiness of Japanese curries derives from the amounts of lard and MSG used. :biggrin:

Yes, I guess the more accurate comparison would be of Japanese 'curry' and the old style British 'curry', using curry powder or paste (and which doesn't really resemble anything found in the subcontinent).

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I don't have a huge amount of experience with Japanese curries, but my impression is that there is way more depth of flavor in Indian curries. To those who prefer Japanese curries, what is it that you prefer about them?

I love Thai, Vietnamese, Jamaican, Indian, Indonesian and Malaysian curries...But Japanese curry is my starter or intro curry. To me, curry is like martial art. Every style has its own identity and advantage.

Leave the gun, take the canoli

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All this talk have curry has brought to mind something else the Japanese improved upon:

Beer.

(Okay - perhaps just lager)

To my mind, the Japanese have perfected this. Is there anything better than knocking back a cold, crisp Asahi or Kirin?

Like one of my friends once said, "Japanese beer is like angels pissing on your tongue".

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...

Like one of my friends once said, "Japanese beer is like angels pissing on your tongue".

ooh, how genteel! :smile::biggrin::laugh:

Sorry...I just don't think Japanese beer is like angel piss. True that the lagers from Karin, Sapporo and Asahi are clean, crisp and best served ultra cold. But what about the flavor and aroma? It is like drinking water (I am sure most of you will disagree with me). The best Japanese beers I think are from Hitachino Nest Beer from Kiuchi Brewery. Their White, Celebration and Red Rice ales are great.

http://kodawari.cc/engpage/kodawari/html/hitachino.htm

Cheers

Leave the gun, take the canoli

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(My friend's a real genteel sort of guy.)

I doubt I'll find those beers in my neck of the woods, but the next time I'm in Japan, I'll be sure to seek them out.

I was never a beer drinker before I came to Asia - maybe that's why the mild taste of those beers is appealing to me.

I used to sit up on my roof in Incheon, grill up some burgers and hot dogs, and drink cold Japanese beer from a kimchi-making tub full of ice, while watching the planes land and take off from Gimpo. Those are some good memories.

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In general I like Japanese food because it's not as heavy as Western food and has cleaner and lighter flavors. When these principles are used with Western foods, I think a lot of the time there's some great improvement, especially in things like fried foods, which are really, really greasy in the US, but their Japanese counterparts are light and crisp without being oily.

Some of my favorite "Japanized" things are:

Croquettes

Takoyaki with mochi and cheese (it's such a weird combination, but I really like it)

Japanese pastries, especially cream filled ones

Japanese canned coffee

As for the curry debate... I love Japanese curry. The flavors may not be authentic, or as complex as those of Indian curries, but keep in mind we're dealing with a boxed roux product here. If someone made a Japanese-style curry mix from scratch, it would probably taste a lot better. But as far as boxed or instant foods go, it's pretty damn good.

I also like the fact that it's sweet. I think again it's that Japanese touch. A lot of savory Japanese foods have some sweetness in them, and that's another thing I like about Japanese food. Japanese principles + curry flavors = good in my book!

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Now some adopted dishes I don't like...

Coffee jelly-natto-mayo sandwiches. The things the Japanese do with mayonnaise really weird me out. As someone who doesn't like mayo to begin with, the thought of it in some strange combination grosses me out even further.

Pizza. I know a couple of people already listed pizza as a good thing, but it some of the toppings totally weird me out. Chances are they probably would taste ok together, but bsaed on my own perceptions of stuff (i.e. mayo/corn/seafood), I can't imagine those things together.

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Now some adopted dishes I don't like...

Coffee jelly-natto-mayo sandwiches. The things the Japanese do with mayonnaise really weird me out. As someone who doesn't like mayo to begin with, the thought of it in some strange combination grosses me out even further.

Pizza. I know a couple of people already listed pizza as a good thing, but it some of the toppings totally weird me out. Chances are they probably would taste ok together, but bsaed on my own perceptions of stuff (i.e. mayo/corn/seafood), I can't imagine those things together.

This is a little off-topic, but Japanese mayo is a great improvement on the original.

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Now some adopted dishes I don't like...

Coffee jelly-natto-mayo sandwiches. The things the Japanese do with mayonnaise really weird me out. As someone who doesn't like mayo to begin with, the thought of it in some strange combination grosses me out even further.

You mean all three in the same dish??????? Thats's a new one on me!!!!

SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

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