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Wee Lai’s Japanese food encounter and a visit to the famous Daioh Wasabi Farm during her Japan trip in Winter 2007. Japanese cuisine is known for its emphasis on seasonality of food, quality of ingredients and presentation.

Nabemono (one pot “steamboat” cooking, 鍋物) – Sukiyaki, with thinly sliced beef and vegetables.

… with Japanese side dish.

Wow! Rows of Japanese hot pots, really warm up the cold winter!

A sumptuous Japanese lunch at Takayama.

Yakiniku – Japanese BBQ 焼き肉.

Daioh Wasabi Farm 大王わさび農場 – Wasabi (“Japanese horseradish”) crop. Wasabi root is used as a spice with extremely strong flavour. Its hotness is akin to that of a hot mustard, producing vapours that irritate the nasal passages more than the tongue. The plant grows naturally along stream beds in mountain river valleys in Japan.

Wasabi (山葵) sold in the form of a root (real wasabi) must be very finely grated before use. Once the paste is prepared, it should be covered until ready to serve in order to protect the flavor from evaporation. That’s why, Sushi chefs usually put the wasabi between the fish and the rice. Wasabi is often served with sushi or sashimi, accompanied with soy sauce.

So much about wasabi, but as a matter of fact, almost all sushi bars in America and Japan serve imitation wasabi! The reason is authentic wasabi is expensive; even in Japan, few people realise that most of the wasabi that they consume is an imitation! Local sushi chefs substitute horseradish in Japanese restaurants.

Real wasabi is know in Japan as hon-wasabi (本山葵), meaning original wasabi.

To obtain the best flavour, texture and heat of wasabi, the root must be ground into a fine paste. In Japan, the traditional method for grating wasabi uses a sharkskin grater or “oroshi”.

A Japanese store selling a wide range of nicely wrapped Japanese snacks.

A mixture of Japanese and imported drinks, with cups of Starbucks prominently stand out in the middle shelf.

Some must be thinking: Huh?! MacDonald’s again?! This is confirmed not Japanese food! It seems like many of us would like to find out how the taste and packaging of our most familiar fast-food chain are like in another country! Well, the meals are still almost the same. That’s the success of MacDonald’s franchising system.