Over the years, Japanese food has evolved from being an acquired taste to a widely appreciated and popular cuisine. This may also the reason why Japanese restaurants continue to appear in different parts of the world, even in the midst of the warm desert of the United Arab Emirates.
Aside from being a crowd favourite, authentic Japanese food has also become quite popular among couples. Their multi-layered-yet-simple meals offer a unique experience that is best enjoyed with your significant other.
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If you’re planning to bring your date to a Japanese restaurant, these delectable dishes will definitely help you leave a good impression:
1. Sushi and Sashimi
Nothing says Japanese quite better than these platter-served helpings of pure Oriental goodness. Typically made with raw seafood and rice, sushi has become popular across the globe, even in the Western hemisphere. In fact, Americans have even crafted their own version of this mouthwatering appetizer known as the “California roll”.
Authentic Japanese sushi comes in several different variants based on the seafood enveloped inside it. If you’re looking to impress, you should offer your date sushi made from salmon roe, tuna, seabass, yellowtail, snow crab, salmon, or scallop.
Sashimi, on the other hand, is a version of sushi that removes the rice from the equation. Since it is basically small portions of raw fish meat, sashimi is best served fresh. Dip it in wasabi-spiced soy sauce before offering it to your date; do remember to go light since wasabi is as hot can ever be.
Gyoza is a form of pan-fried dumpling originally made by the Chinese but has since been improved by the unique Japanese palate. It has a crunchy exterior and is considered a great appetizer for a Japanese full-course meal. Inside, you’ll find a rich mixture of shredded cabbage, chives, garlic and ground pork, with all the savoury juices intact.
3. Shabu Shabu
Shabu-shabu is a Japanese hotpot dish mainly composed of boiled vegetables and an assortment of meat that is sliced thinly. It is known as a great sukiyaki alternative, especially if you’re still getting used to the richness of Japanese cuisine, because of its lighter broth.
Some restaurants serve shabu-shabu with additional ingredients like seaweed, mushroom, cabbage, and onions, with a cup of rice on the side.
4. Miso Soup
Your Japanese cuisine date wouldn’t be complete without a comforting bowl of miso soup. This light and soothing broth contain a combination of silken tofu, miso paste, dashi stock (made from fish and kelp), seaweed, and some additional toppings like spring onions and meat. This soup also comes in a vegetarian variant, with the dashi stock replaced with vegetable stock and the meat with tofu.
5. Japanese Vegetable Curry
While the term “curry” is more popularly associated with Indian cuisine, the Japanese are also known to be expert curry chefs. However, unlike the original lamb curry created by the British or the different meaty curries of the Indians, Japanese curry is made from vegetables.
Japanese vegetable curry often contains tofu, carrots, taro, and zucchini and is sometimes paired with fried garlic and mushroom. This particular type of curry is often mixed up to accommodate vegetables that are in season and can provide more vitamins, minerals, and protein to diners.
6. Japanese Noodles
Another signature dish that is commonly associated with Japanese cuisine involves noodles. In Japanese culture, ramen reigns supreme. This dish made from Chinese-style noodles has become quite popular because it is inexpensive but tasty and is readily available to eat no matter where you are.
Of course, Japanese noodles aren’t limited to just ramen. You and your date should also try the Nagasaki prefecture pride— Sara udon or the so-called “plate noodles” with fried vegetables, seafood, or meat toppings. Or better yet, try a bite or two each of the following:
- Tensoba (wheat noodles and tempura dish)
- Yaki Udon (stir-fried thick white udon noodles in soy sauce)
- Yakisoba (stir-fried wheat noodles in oyster sauce)
7. Grilled Fish and Meat
If you’re a big fan of steaks but already tried everything in your favorite steakhouse’s menu, it may be high time that you try Japanese grilled dishes.
Rather than limiting your date to the classic red meat steak, you should try a scrumptious helping of grilled sea bass and spicy yakitori (grilled chicken) that is crispy outside and juicy on the inside.
Go Japanese to Impress Your Date
Japanese cuisine offers you a wide variety of meals to choose from. From classic native dishes to various fusions of the original, you can never go wrong with this cuisine, especially if you’re putting your best foot forward in a quest to make a good impression with someone you like.
Jenene Bronwin Batts is the Senior Marketing Coordinator at Saadiyat Beach Club. She oversees website maintenance, PR requests, marketing initiatives and all general guests’ inquiries for the company’s destinations, including KOI Restaurant & Lounge and Boa Steakhouse in Abu Dhabi.