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Food Culture: Japan

Food Culture - Japan - Fall 2018

From sizzling skewers of yakitori to exotic sushi platters, it comes as no surprise that Japanese cuisine has found its way into the hearts of American diners. The cuisine has encapsulated crowds looking for an evening filled with amazing food and a side of cultural ambiance. Take a closer look at some of the most popular Japanese dishes served right here in America.

Sushi: Arguably the most world-renowned Japanese dish, sushi begins with expertly prepared sushi rice, seasoned with vinegar and warmed to an optimal temperature. Sushi can be made with raw fish, smoked fish or vegetables and is often paired with soy sauce, wasabi, and pickled ginger.

Hibachi: Translating to ‘fire bowl,’ a hibachi is an open-hearth grill. These grills often sit over burning wood or charcoal but can also be electric. Hibachi dishes consist of thinly sliced meats and seafood or vegetables.

Yakitori: Unlike many other grilled foods, yakitori does not use marinades or rubs to flavor the meat. Rather, the meat is skewered and dipped several times in sauce throughout the cooking process. The result is a tasty grilled kebab that makes for excellent finger food.

Northern New Jersey is home to some of the most vibrant Japanese establishments on the East Coast. Try one of these acclaimed Japanese restaurants…

Food Culture Japan - Kaname - Fall 2018

Kaname Japanese Restaurant – Cliffside Park

KANAME {783 Palisade Avenue, Cliffside Park; 201.886.0080} Taking pride in his Japanese heritage, owner George Matsumura has brought a taste of Japan to Cliffside Park with Kaname. Established in 1985, the pub-style restaurant has been a source of pristine cuts of sushi and yakitori for over three decades. Settle in at one of their cozy booths or take to the sushi counter for rolls crafted by longtime sushi chef Shin Kubota. First-time visitor? Matsumura recommends the Ishiyaki: a cut of filet mignon or an aged prime sirloin steak, cooked on a sizzling hot stone, right at the table.

AKAI LOUNGE {11 North Dean Street, Englewood; 201.541.0086; akailounge.com} With modern, Japanese-inspired décor, Akai Lounge offers contemporary Japanese cuisine without forgetting the classics. With fresh fish delivered daily, a popular dish includes the Chilean Sea Bass marinated in a sake and miso mixture. The full bar—stocked with a wide variety of spirits, wines, and sakes—is an added bonus.

KIKU {365 NJ-17, Paramus; 201.265.7200} A vibrant hibachi restaurant, Kiku offers a variety of Japanese cuisine. Request a table in the hibachi section where servers cook up fried rice, meats, and seafood over a sizzling grill. To satiate sushi cravings, Kiku showcases an excellent selection of rolls and sashimi at the sushi counter.

KOMEGASHI TOO {99 Town Square Place, Jersey City; 201.533.8888} On par with scenic views of the Manhattan skyline, Komegashi Too has an impressive lineup of stunning eats. Pristine cuts of fresh fish are featured in the Sushi & Sashimi Combo, served with seven pieces of sashimi and seven pieces of sushi. Complete the experience with a few cocktails or sip on a rare whisky imported from Japan.

MT. FUJI JAPANESE STEAKHOUSE {193 NJ-17, Hasbrouck Heights; 201.288.2800; mtfujirestaurants.com} Husband and wife team, Tokuaki and Kazue Fujitia had a vision of owning their own restaurant. Working their way through various positions in the restaurant industry—including dishwasher and waitress—the couple founded their first business in 1968, Mr. Fujiyama. Envisioning something greater, the duo created Mt. Fuji Japanese Steakhouse. Over the years, the chain has become a leading example of Asian cuisine in the tri-state area. Serving as a premier destination for Japanese hibachi cuisine, this New Jersey favorite is here to stay.

Food Culture Japan - Shumi - Fall 2018

Shumi – Ridgewood, NJ

SHUMI {70 East Ridgewood Avenue, Ridgewood; 201.345.0808; shumiomakase.com} Centering this hip, modish restaurant sits a 14-seater sushi bar where master chef Kunihiko Aikasa and chef Kevin Ohn prepare the art of sushi. Adventurous eater? Opt for the omakase experience. Translating to “I will leave it to you,” the menu consists of chef-selected dishes crafted from the day’s catch.

SUSHI LOUNGE {200 Hudson Street, Hoboken, 201.386.1117; 12 Schuyler Place, Morristown, 973.539.1135; sushiloungenj.com} With locations in both Morristown and Hoboken, Sushi Lounge is a vibrant place to eat, drink, and socialize in style. Nibbles include the Shichimi Katsu, an appetizer made with seared big eye tuna, seasoned with shichimi pepper and panko breadcrumbs. Pair it with a house crafted cocktail like the Dirty Sumo (a twist on a classic dirty martini) or chilled sake. With DJs spinning on the weekend and a large outdoor terrace, Sushi Lounge knows how to keep it lively.

CHAKRA {West 144 NJ-4, Paramus; 201.556.1530; chakrarestaurant.com} Winner of the OpenTable Diner’s Choice Award in 2016, this modern American restaurant infuses a litany of Asian-inspired flavors. Unique sushi rolls include the Parma Ham Roll with spicy tuna and wild arugula and the Pink Granny Roll with Atlantic salmon and slices of smoked Granny Smith apples. Complement any meal with a side of Wilted Bok Choy, seasoned with garlic, ginger, and sesame.

Want More? Check Out These Restaurants That Also Serve Some Top-Notch Japanese Specialties

HONSHU {95 Greene Street, Jersey City; 201.324.2788; honshulounge.com} This contemporary Japanese restaurant has dine-in as well as take-out options.

YAKITORI 39 {254 Degraw Avenue, Teaneck; 201.692.0700; yakitori39.com} With specials changing daily, Yakitori 39 serves grilled chicken thigh and meatball, as well as a few offal selections including gizzard and heart.

THE RIVER PALM TERRACE {1416 River Road, Edgewater; 201.224.2013; riverpalm.com} The River Palm Terrace may be a steakhouse, but the sushi prepared by Chef Andy Lin is a knockout. Read more about The River Palm Terrace on pg 30. (or online).

PIER 115 {115 River Road, Edgewater; 201.313.2155; pierbarandgrill.com} This waterfront American gastropub serves up impressive sushi rolls.

DONG BANG GRILL {1616 Palisade Avenue, Fort Lee; 201.242.4485; dongbanggrill.com} This traditional Korean barbecue restaurant houses a sushi chef who serves rolls and sashimi platters.

AYAME HIBACHI & SUSHI {526 Washington Street, Hoboken; 201.222.8148; ayamehoboken.com} With separate areas for sushi and hibachi, plus an outdoor terrace, visitors will have plenty of dining choices at this popular Hoboken establishment.

By Melissa Sorge

Cafasso's Fairway Market - Fort Lee, NJ