It’s no secret that the art, beauty and delicious flavours of the Japanese cuisine is growing in popularity in Norwich. In its little hidden corners, there are many Japanese food establishments that you can easily find in the city. These restaurants serve more than just sushi, they serve the essence of Japan in a meal. From ramen and sashimi to bento sets, these restaurants offer a variety of dishes that celebrate the delicacies of Japan and tingles your gastronomic experience.
The beauty of Japanese food lies in its balance and harmony. The presentation of the dish needs to look pristine yet delicious, nothing too chaotic. The various ingredients of the dish itself needs to complement one another. It is more than just the taste and smell, it’s about the sensual experience one receives before indulging into the dish. As the Japanese strongly believes that you eat with your eyes, a true Japanese dish is one where the artistry of the chef is too beautiful for you to sink your chopsticks into. The beauty of a dish is what prides the Japanese and makes for an authentic Japanese dish.
Japanese cuisine, despite its amazing taste, is popularised for its nutritious meals that use fresh seasonal ingredients. Hence, seasons are very important in creating the perfect dish. In the spring when fish stocks are high, sashimi (thinly sliced raw fish) is often a common dish served in local establishments, while in the winter, soup noodles such as ramen are served in big bowls to feed the body and stay warm.
In Norwich itself, Japanese food establishments such as Shiki, Soyokaze, Matane and Ciscoe’s celebrates the Japanese cuisine by sharing it with us. Each of these restaurants bring a little bit of the Japanese culture to our doorstep. Soyokaze is a classic example of what a local Japanese food establishment would look like, cute and small with a minimalistic touch to the décor. On the other hand, Shiki is a contemporary version of a Japanese restaurant that brings traditional Japanese cooking to Norwich with its experienced chefs. Matane Sushi, a newly opened stall, is a typical example of the wide selection of food choices found in convenient stores such as 7-Eleven in Japan. Although Ciscoe’s is a pan Asian restaurant, the owner of the restaurant is truly inspired by the Japanese cuisine hence incorporating a large number of Japanese dishes into his menu. Despite being 9,290 kilometres away from Japan, Norwich is no stranger to the Japanese cuisine and culture.
The Japanese influence on food in Norwich has been increasing in popularity through recent years. Perhaps the establishment of the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Art and Culture in 1999 played a motivating role. By partnering with the various academic institutes and museums in the UK and Japan, the Sainsbury Institute provides an opportunity and encourages those who are interested in the Japanese culture to stay in Norwich to expand their work. It is possible that with the developing works around this institute as well as the University of East Anglia’s course on the Centre of Japanese Studies, the Japanese influence in Norwich continues to grow.
The one thing that brings people together is food. The Japanese cuisine travelled all the way from the Far East and made an outstanding reputation in the West, and in Norwich. There is no doubt that the love of the Japanese cuisine will only continue to ripple to others. It’s exquisite and authentic flavours are like no other.