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Japanese restaurants are springing up all over the world - most of them fake

117 Comments

You don’t have to know Japanese food, or Japanese, to know “washoku.” Thirteen months have passed since UNESCO designated it an Intangible Cultural Heritage. Traditional Japanese cuisine now belongs to the world – for better and for worse, says Spa! (Dec 30 – Jan 6).

The positive aspects are easy enough to identify. Applause is always encouraging, and Japan, feeling unsure of itself ever since its economy stalled 20 years ago, needs some. If it’s on a global scale, so much the better. The UNESCO brand boosts tourism, the restaurant business, agricultural exports, respect, self-respect. What can be bad?

Rising litter levels on Mount Fuji since that iconic peak was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in June 2013 suggest the answer. Washoku is not fast food. What’s best in it demands expert workmanship and seasoned appreciation. Once a thing makes it onto everybody’s list-of-things-to-experience, it is no longer assured of getting either.

Chocolate sushi, mango sushi, cheese-and-raisin miso soup, Kobe beef grilled to the texture of leather and served on French bread – these are among the enormities cited by Spa! as it scans “Japanese” restaurants around the world. The quotation marks are called for. Pseudo-Japanese establishments abound, says Spa! – run by Chinese and Korean entrepreneurs who use their own import networks to lay in cheap substitutes for Japanese ingredients and undercut their legitimate Japanese competitors. Overseas, who knows the difference? Many do, of course – but many more don’t.

Genuine washoku calls for choice ingredients, grown in Japanese soil, nurtured with Japanese care and costing Japanese prices – high to begin with, higher still when import costs are factored in. An additional problem is tightened European Union restrictions on Japanese food imports since radiation levels soared after the March 2011 nuclear power plant meltdowns.

Substitutes often have to do, with Japanese restaurateurs more conscious of authenticity and less conscious of cost – alleges Spa! – than their non-Japanese competitors. Even in places where Japanese dining is long-established, as in London’s Finchley district, cut-rate competition is moving in and – again, the allegation is Spa!’s – putting washoku to shame.

Is the situation hopeless? Is washoku doomed to languish abroad for want of standards? Fortunately – no. One entrepreneur who might be pointing the way forward is Maki Sano, who opened the washoku restaurant Suzu in London eight years ago.

Things have changed since then, she says. “Unlike when I first started, there are very few people in London who have never eaten Japanese food. People know the difference between authentic and fake. We even have people phoning before they come to make sure the owner is Japanese.”

So spreading knowledge and connoisseurship is one strategy, and to that end, Sano has written a book, “Sushi Slim,” which has been translated into 11 languages. Another is collaborating with unexpected partners – in Sano’s case, a video game company; together they come up with menu items that appear in the games and on Suzu tables.

© Japan Today

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

117 Comments
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Saying they are "fake" is a fairly loaded word. By the same rationale the multitude of Japanese-run, Italian restaurants in Tokyo serving food seasoned to a Japanese taste are "fake".

46 ( +56 / -10 )

It's refreshing to see something those of us who like (crave) Washoku know to be different from what sadly passes for "Japanese" food. I'm in San Antonio (yes, I know we're too close to Mexico to dig our way out of that cuisine and get some real Washoku here...), and there are only one or two restaurants that have Japanese food that would rise to the level of maybe 3~4 out of 10 on their best day, and that's only in the sushi area. The causes/problems are too numerous to comment on: non-Japanese owned, competition, the fast food complex most Americans suffer from, crazy ingredients (including putting sesame seeds on Everything, which makes it "Japanese" of course, lack of knowledge of Washoku, etc., etc. Disagree, however, with, "...grown in Japanese soil, nurtured with Japanese care and costing Japanese prices...". I would challenge one to taste an ingredient grown in say, Japan, California, Mississippi, Spain, or Belize, and say they can taste the difference. It's not where they're grown or the cost that makes a difference --- it's how they're then prepared/processed into the difference dishes. I do be missin' Washoku ~~~ sitting down for an hour and a half or two hours and having a wonderful dining experience, not fast food-sit your butt down-eat-get out. Is it too much to hope for here ... (eyes looking upward, pleading...)

9 ( +12 / -3 )

Here's a good rule of thumb that serves me well. If you are going to visit a Chinese/Thai/Japanese/Indian restaurant check it out at a busy time before you go. If it has a large number of Chinese/Thais/Japanese/Indians inside then the food is pretty good.

And just on another note as the article seems to be about Japanese food overseas not being really Japanese - look closer to home to see what Japanese have done with pizzas. The Brits love their curry with chips rather than rice. It's about taking a foreign product and putting a local spin on it.

12 ( +14 / -2 )

The novelty items are just for fun. A few examples of similar things found in Japan are 'kalbi sushi' and to 'nan (bread) taco's' People sell what customer's buy. Not much info, but these places hardly sound like fine dining places. And how are they actually calling the genre of food. For example in Hawaii there are Japanese fusion restaurants reflecting the mixed heritage of local people. Here in Japan there are 'Asian' restaurants selling a mix of Southeast Asian foods and adding regional speciality foods as a original dish.

I am sure these places leave much to be desired, but tell me about the taste not just where the people running them come from. There is not one word here about customer experience or food taste. I don't feel it is fair saying someone's blood is the only reason they can sell a certain food. There are plenty of Japanese here in Japan selling Korean and Chinese food (and American, Italian, French, Mexican, etc. you get the point) And there are plenty of 'fast food' Japanese food in Japan.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

look closer to home to see what Japanese have done with pizzas.

But you can't really compare the two can you? The Consortio de la Pizza Italiano (if such a thing even exists) hasn't sent in the appropriate application form along with a cheque made payable to UNESCO.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Probably we can say looking at the growth of the industrial food industry in Japan over the past few decades, Japanese restaurants here, most of which use imported and highly processed or semi-processed ingredients to cut costs are also "fake".

6 ( +10 / -4 )

Inane, jingoistic, badly written clickbait.

26 ( +30 / -4 )

If more Japanese "chefs" would venture out into the world perhaps "authentic" washoku would not be such a problem. Sadly, they would rather stay in Japan and surf internet menus and boo hoo about "fake" washoku. Afraid I have little sympathy for overly pampered miso soup cooks.

"Genuine washoku calls for choice ingredients, grown in Japanese soil, nurtured with Japanese care and costing Japanese prices."

That is fairly jingoistic. I do not believe Japanese soil is so uniquely unique as to produce anything that could be distinguished as being grown elsewhere. Just another example of Sakura Syndrome.

"So spreading knowledge..."

Beginning a paragraph as a supposed professional is quite poor by even low journalistic standards. Even Yahoo News editors would edit this.

"Japanese restaurants are springing up all over the world - most of them fake"

That does fit the definition of classic click bait. The "news feature" failed to deliver what the headline screeched.

"Another is collaborating with unexpected partners – in Sano’s case, a video game company; together they come up with menu items that appear in the games and on Suzu tables."

That is very inane.

There Blvtzpk, I gave you hand before heading to work.

15 ( +19 / -4 )

Saying they are "fake" is a fairly loaded word. By the same rationale the multitude of Japanese-run, Italian restaurants in Tokyo serving food seasoned to a Japanese taste are "fake".

Ah, but the difference is that they don't try to tell you that they are italian!

Go to any major US mall food court and you'll see the usual Chinese restaurant (Panda Express etc), and across the food court, 'Fuji Japanese Cuisine' or 'Umi of Japan', 'Sakura' etc that are practically the same Chinese foods (relabeled 'teriyaki' instead of Kung Pau) run by Chinese people, but pushed as 'Authentic Japanese' food. Any sushi place in the US, if no one there is Japanese, I'm gone. I've eaten hideous supposedly Japanese food too many times. The one time I didn't abide by my own rule ('Kaneyama' 'Authentic Japanese food'), stayed and ordered a lobster maki, I got a monstrosity of a sushi roll with a hunk of deep-fried lobster, hot as hell, in the middle of a standard sushi roll. Believe me, the hot oil mixing with the vinegar sushi rice, and the ensuing goo was something I'll never forget, nor ever want to eat again. Of course, malls just want to fill up the spaces and don't really care.

8 ( +14 / -6 )

First off, if a Japanese chef creates fabulous French food with imported ingredients from somewhere other than France, does that make it anything less than great French food? Second, do you think that Japanese chefs who cook washoku never experiment outside of what's considered "traditional"?

16 ( +16 / -0 )

Genuine washoku calls for choice ingredients, grown in Japanese soil, nurtured with Japanese care and costing Japanese prices

I wish people would stop this myth that Japanese people do things so amazingly well and better than anyone else the way this implies. One old toothless Japanese farmer doing everything by hand is time-consuming and a waste of the subsidies we give them in taxes.

Also, why don't they use this philosophy in regards to Japanese-owned Italian/French/Mexican/etc restaurants in Japan? I'd love to be charged "mexican prices" for mexican food here.

23 ( +28 / -6 )

It's true - there should be some kind of policy against this! Jokes aside, the Japanese food outlets back home (in Australia) are mostly Chinese / Korean owned. You know, the funny thing is, everything is 'teriyaki' abroad, right? Yet, I've only seen actual 'teriyaki' here once or twice. To be fair though, I can't recall ever having a truly mind-blowing pizza here, either. All base & no toppings, mostly. We could do without the corn & mayonnaise too, thanks.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

There should be some kind of brand control, or both consumers and restaurant owners would be losers.

Not every wine in the world may be labeled "Bordeaux", unless the grape is grown in Bordeaux.

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

"Genuine washoku calls for choice ingredients, grown in Japanese soil, nurtured with Japanese care and costing Japanese prices"

Probie: The ulterior motive here is to suggest your meal will never taste good without higher priced Japanese sourced ingredients, and by the way, supporting the Japanese farming industry, of course.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Many decades ago, I ate "tachi-gui sushi" at a counter in the basement of the Mitopa department store in Seoul. The sushi (or whatever it was called in Korean, I've forgotten), made on the spot by female chefs, tasted pretty much what I was used to eating in Japan, except the color of the wasabi was yellowish rather than green. I suppose part of the legacy of Japan's 35-year annexation of Korea was imports of certain foods. (The invention of Edomae-zushi is attributed to one Hanaya Yohei circa 1824.) Cooking is not rocket science and anyway I have come to prefer Japanese pizza to most other varieties. Go and figure.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@paulinusa

Wake me up when you find an acceptable source of dried Bonito flake and Konbu OUTSIDE of JAPAN. With out the two you can't make authentic Japanese cuisine no matter how you try to spin it.

-4 ( +8 / -12 )

Japanese food was treated as special and unique and all that when everybody thought the Japanese economy (and by proxy the Japanese people) was some kind of magic voodo.

Now that it's crashing like everybody else, Japanese "uniqueness" has kind of lost its magic.

Nobody can be a food snob when everybody's broke.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

I agree this is typical tabloid fare. biased, poorly researched and written. Having said that, i have been all over the world with Japanese partners and friends and almost unfailingly they critiscise the local Japanese restaurants - even the high end ones in big cities - as not being as good as Tokyo or as not cooking proper Japanese food.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Sure there are people out there making bad Japanese food but the Japanese are hardly innocent in that regard. The number of terrible Italian, Indian, Thai etc meals I've had to endure in Japan are too numerous to count and always overpriced.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

Samurai: You can cherry pick ingredients but I'll bet a majority of washoku (rice for instance) can substituted with quality foreign imports.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

@paulinusa

Try again, the two ingredients I mentioned are basis for most all Japanese dishes.

You can't have a bowl of miso soup never mind a bowl of soba or udon without it.

0 ( +7 / -7 )

Maybe when I stop getting corn in my caesar salad or clam chowder on my pizza I will consider siding with the author of this clickbait. Is washoku the only food in the world being bastardized overseas? Maybe there is a reason why "true" washoku isn't popular overseas: because after all the "Japanese nurtured care", the majority of it is blandly flavoured compared to other Western foods. This article makes it sound like there are plenty of non-Japanese out there trying their hardest to make a bad name for washoku, when all they are trying to do is sell food that their target customers will enjoy.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

@kyushubill What is "Sakura Syndrome?"

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Well in the end the business owner can do what they want, in the case of food it's up to the consumer to know the difference

3 ( +3 / -0 )

They might not be fake, but they are not Japanese-owned in a sense that you will not get the same customer service or attention to detail. Ask customers in the Northern Virginia area where most sushi restaurants are either Chinese or Korean owned. Some are even mix of Thai food with sushi. For Japanese, this is an aberration. There is one in Springfield whose name is Rawr Sushi. Now that is a name.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

"Wake me up when you find an acceptable source of dried Bonito flake and Konbu OUTSIDE of JAPAN. With out the two you can't make authentic Japanese cuisine no matter how you try to spin it."

Wake up ad go to any Asian food store in the US. My Japanese wife had no trouble finding either in all places Baltimore which has a fairly small Asian community. Also there is this new invention called the internet and you can find both on Rakuten, Yahoo Shopping, and even Aeon's web page. And they even deliver all over the world by gasp air plane. Ain't technology cool.

Sakura Syndrome: Seeing everything associated with Japan as uniquely unique when in fact it is common to many if not all cultures.

11 ( +13 / -2 )

kyushubill

ALL produced in JAPAN might I add.

-7 ( +3 / -10 )

In my experience with Chinese cuisine, it changes much across the world depending on which country (and also withing China). Down the track I do not expect Japanese cuisine to shift from that pattern.

I am reminded of a comment by Anthony Bourdain ('No Reservations', on Travel Channel etc.) somewhere in Asia trying something Italian-style which tasted 'a little different', probably because, he explained, that years before some homesick GI from New Jersey missed his mother's meatballs or canelloni or whatever and went to some local food store in that place in Asia, described what he remembered and the local chef who then tried to make what he understood to have heard using local produce, something which came out different from the GI's mother's kitchen, which also had probably evolved into something different from what it had evolved from in Palermo.

Oishimbo, the manga, also deal with the issue of washoku, and often the atmosphere (fuinki) or the way it is served, what type of plates etc. being appropriate, as being as important as the flavours and ingredients.

Or a comment in a lecture in Nagasaki about Nagasaki champon from the local restaurant chain, Ringer Hut: Chinese noodle dishes made from Japanese ingredients and tonkotsu soup offered by an originally British-owned company with an American-sounding name in buildings with local northern Kyushu faux Dutch architecture exteriors but whose interiors look like diners from any US TV show or movie.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

These are the same hypocritical people that rave about "French" cuisine made with kyo-yasai or other Japanese produce.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

NO, wrong, Chinese Bonito flakes as the Chinese also use it, nor the Vietnamese Knobu as it is in some Vietnamese dishes. Hate to break this to you but many ingredients considered solely the domain of the Japanese are used in other cuisines in Asia - you know like Soy Sauce, carrots, green onion, radish, lettuce, soy paste, tofu ...

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Got to say to a degree I agree with the article.

From personal experiences and being taken by business associates and family to authentic Japanese restaurants. At times there was not one Japanese dish on the menu or some very weird transmutations of Japanese cuisine.

We are NOT talking about flavour or ingredient adjusted j-dishes, like Japanese version of Pizza or similar.

What makes a California Roll into Sushi, I still don't get.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Bad food is bad food.

Foreigners in their home countries don't really think anything is real or authentic. If they have no experience with the foods of other nations and regions how can they tell?

The only thing that matters is quality. Fajitas at College Station, Texas may not be "Mexican" but they blow the doors off any Taco Bell anywhere. What these concerns really should focus on is specific branding with tested quality standards.

As this concept has been discussed before, the idea of "Japanese" should be supported the same way Zagat, Michelin, Pudlo, Gurunavi, GoJapanGo offer ratings and guides. That would require a significant investment in grading and establishing Japanese culinary marketing. Surly a roving school-seminar effort could also contribute and establish a public knowledge base helpful in promoting Japan as a destination and a global grading system identity.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

What makes a California Roll into Sushi, I still don't get.

Besides the fact that a JAPANESE sushi chef invented it for the local market? The fact that is has vinegar rice, the key feature of the word 'sushi'

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Justbcusisay.

And he that to adjust ingredients and made it into a ura-maki so that the nori was on the inside as the customers didn't like it outside.

Never seen one of those offered in Japan either. ;)

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Japanese restaurants have been all over the world for years. In larger and more cosmopolitan cities many of them are Japanese owned and run and make food that is authentically Japanese. In smaller towns and less welcoming countries they are often owned by people from other Asian countries and serve all sorts of Asian food mixed up. Those can be pretty dire....... and in many cases the food is adapted to local palate and likes. although i guess "so what" is the obvious question. The idea that "washoku" is something sacred is anyway ridiculous.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

I never said it was authentic. It follows the principle of the word 'sushi' and was made by an authentic sushi chef, therefore it is sushi. And, considering he found avocado to be a good substitute for toro, it sounds like a great idea since the source of real toro is now in threat of extinction.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

I've never been into the only "Japanese" restaurant in my town back in England. Mostly because the menu in the window is in English and Chinese. Something not quite authentic there....

2 ( +3 / -1 )

"...run by Chinese and Korean entrepreneurs who use their own import networks to lay in cheap substitutes for Japanese ingredients and undercut their legitimate Japanese competitors."

'LEGITIMATE' Japanese competitors, eh? Sorry, but if Japan wants their food eaten and showcased overseas, they have to give up all this nonsensical thinking that it MUST be prepared by a Japanese chef and in Japan or it is not 'real', and not 'worthy'. I've got news for the sorry people who think that way -- I know foreigners in Japan who can make Japanese food better than any Japanese I've ever met, because they are professional chefs. I know people in foreign nations, non-Japanese (and no, not 'foreigners' because in their home countries they are not) who likewise can make Japanese food better than most Japanese because they have the talent and knack for cooking. Some people think that a homemaker or kid doing a part-time job in the kitchen here can automatically cook better just because they were born here. It's rubbish! I find it comical that some people here will pat themselves on the back and praise themselves until the cows come home that washoku has UNESCO world heritage statues, but they themselves work in an office, have never grown anything, and admit they can barely fry an egg and can't even make 'curry' from roux cubes!

On top of that, saying that Japanese food is not Japanese food if made by others or not 'ingredients ground from the ground and with techniques that require expertise' is more rubbish -- most restaurants in this nation cost-cut when it comes to ingredients, there's mislabeling because of poor quality and lax standards, there's a HUGE number of fast-food places that serve Japanese dishes, and people seem to totally forget about this concept of belonging and 'real' and 'fake' when it comes to Italian, French, Indian, Viet Namese, and other nations' foods. There's an Italian restaurant just down the street from me, with a French name, that serves Hamburgers with squid ink sauce. And I won't even get into the pizza combinations they have here. Does the world send 'pizza police' over to discredit the restaurants and tell Japanese people who they can or cannot eat their food? And I know a WHOLE lot of Japanese who cannot tell the difference between what this article claims is 'authentic' and what's not. Just look at the food scandals and the people who for YEARS were going to expensive, high class, wagyu Matsuzuka beef restaurants in Osaka when it was revealed the beef was not as advertised. Never stopped them from pausing dramatically and saying, "Umai!"

SamuraiBlue: "Try again, the two ingredients I mentioned are basis for most all Japanese dishes. You can't have a bowl of miso soup never mind a bowl of soba or udon without it."

Ah, you mean the soba made from imported buckwheat? Was it not grown in the ground because it was not in Japan? Is it less Japanese food?

"Applause is always encouraging, and Japan, feeling unsure of itself ever since its economy stalled 20 years ago, needs some."

This part of the article is definitely 100% true, and that sets the stage for all the crap that follows.

3 ( +9 / -6 )

Who cares whether its authentic or not. If it's good food, and the business is run well, the restaurant will survive. If the food is bad, or the business is not run well, the restaurant will fail. The key point here is that the quality of the food will determine whether or not the restaurant survives.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I ordere an o igiri in San Fran one time with Shake inside.

The guy gave me nigiri sushi with salmon on top. I asked him in Japanese a few questions. Got the dumb look, so switched to English.

His response to me was, "No man, I am American, and if you want real Japanese food, go to Japan."

Smiles

2 ( +8 / -6 )

The type of fusion cuisine found in California (home of its eponymous roll) is awesome. Throw in a dozen Asian cultures, add a large dash of entrepreneurialism, and the result is something never seen anywhere else in the world. For example, the now-closed Newport Pier Grill & Sushi was run by a zainichi (Korean-Japanese) who had moved to the US and offered mixes of Korean and Japanese food with a good dose of Mexican.

"Washoko" is a lot like a Japanese supermarket: You might get quality but never, ever variety.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Correction to my post

I never said it was authentic. It follows the principle of the word 'sushi' and was made by an authentic sushi chef, therefore it is sushi.

I meant to say 'I never said it was traditional'

1 ( +1 / -0 )

JapanGal: "I asked him in Japanese a few questions."

What's your point? If he can't speak Japanese it can't be REAL Japanese food? Ridiculous! Do you go to a bakery in Japan and speak French to the staff when buying a baguette? Is it not an Italian dish if you make a traditional Italian dish but the tomatoes -- a plant not native to Japan -- were grown in Japan?

10 ( +14 / -4 )

Laguna - that was kind of the point I was getting at. Food doesn't need to be authentic to be good. For example, I've had pizza from my home country, and real Italian pizza, and while my home country is not authentic, I'd take it over Italian pizza any day.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Let/s begin with... the best pizza in the world is in NYC (according to a friend of mine), for me in in Chicago... but well.

The problem in here is that "Wahoshoku" (note that is not Japanese food but washoku, there is a difference) has being approved by UNESCO as Intangible Cultural Heritage, so for some dish to be labeled as Washoku it MUST comply with some requisites, the same as for Gruyere Cheese, Champagne Wine, Pisco, etc.

It is a matter of nomenclature and norms... if Italian food has some sets of rules (as like Certificate au Origin or UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage), surely it should most of Italian/French/Spain, etc. -style restaurants and "trattories" in Japan will need a careful revision (and also all over the world). But as far as I know there is no such thing for most the international cuisine. Also, the thing is that most restaurants in here use the -style (-fu) cuisine.

Finally, most people who cook food around the world changes the dressing for the dishes according to the likes and taste of the country there are in, I see no crime in there.

As a final note, the Spa magazine tend to be a bit yellow on their reports, so people should not take it THAT seriously.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Can't believe the number of posters with the simple-minded logic that goes "because Japanese-run restaurants routinely ruin the dishes of various other countries - in Japan, for the Japanese consumer, its totally OK for nationals of two certain Japan hating countries to immigrate to third countries and support themselves but passing off third rate slop as Japanese food."

This might be a point that actually warranted comparison if the world was as full of bad Japanese-run pizza shops as it is of revolting "Japanese cuisine" served up by Koreans.

-9 ( +2 / -11 )

Throw in a dozen Asian cultures, add a large dash of entrepreneurialism

Nothing says "timeless splendor of the Orient" like squeeze-bottle condiments.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

@smithinjapan I understand your point and in fact I agree with you.... but, at this certain moment I doubt there are so many non-Japanese Ryourinin of Washoku around the world.

So if a restaurant outside Japan is right now saying that it serves "Washoku", what JapanGal states becomes kind of true for the moment... non-Japanese that serves Washoku will almost certainty speak Japanese, because they should have trained and studied in Japan.

In a midterm future, hopefuly, her statement maybe will become obsolete and wrong.. though

4 ( +4 / -0 )

If demanding purity, Japanese had better eliminate ramen, soy sauce, tofu, gyoza, tea, rice from their menus as the origins were Chinese.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

It's not uncommon for the Japanese media to solicit free meals in return for coverage. One cannot imagine a publication like Spa! to carry much clout, though. The poor selection of eateries their budget-less hacks could visit in London thus reinforced their Nihonjinron cognitive dissonance with an emphatic Yappari!

I notice no mention of Simon Woodroffe's ghastly yet ubiquitous (29 outlets in London alone) YO! Sushi chain, a visit to which would have them cringe like an Italian at Pizza Hut. But then, Woodroffe isn't Chinese or Korean.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I find it comical that some people here will pat themselves on the back and praise themselves until the cows come home that washoku has UNESCO world heritage statues, but they themselves work in an office, have never grown anything, and admit they can barely fry an egg and can't even make 'curry' from roux cubes!

Smith,

Nicely spouted LOL! Glad I wasn't drinking coffee when I read that haha!

8 ( +9 / -1 )

I went to a sushi shop in American and started talking to the chef in Japanese as I assumed he was Japanese. He spoke back in very good Japanese that I thought was just a bit off, but I thought maybe it was a dialect or something. Turns out he was Taiwanese, and his response to my inquiries about the sushi being a bit odd was that the restaurant was catering to supposed American tastes. And he very nicely told me that the owners were not Japanese and there was a real Japanese sushi place down the street. I say real only because it was traditional and typical Japanese sushi.

Another time I took a girl to a Japanese restaurant that I quickly realized was run by Chinese. I suggested Tonkatsu for her. Boy was I ever embarrassed! That was the most horrible attempt at tonkatsu I could have ever imagined!

And I am not saying non-Japanese can't make good Japanese food. I am just saying that is my experience. My belief is that many of these owners are simply not inclined to make good Japanese food, but just trying to make money off the label of Japanese and their reputation for good food. Thinking of it that way, its no surprise there are a lot of pretenders out there. And since most customers know nothing of decent Japanese food, they don't bother to do it right.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Been to a few here in the UK....No Japanese staff....

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The title of this article reminds me of a Japanese Show I watched last month. There was a chef in Africa who put cold spaghetti pasta on a plate and added soy sauce on top. He called it Japanese Ramen. I wanted to push my chair over backwards like an anime cartoon when I saw that.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Daniel Neagari: "non-Japanese that serves Washoku will almost certainty speak Japanese, because they should have trained and studied in Japan."

Not at all. A long, long time ago, perhaps, but there is zero reason why that need be the case now. Maybe they studied in another nation under a Japanese chef who spoke their language. Or more likely they trained from someone else who has studied washoku. The idea even that 'a foreigner can do it if they've come here and learned REAL washoku' is ridiculous in this day and age. Someone who is a good chef is a good chef, and even if not a chef but just a good cook or a person with natural talent for making food, they could still learn and make wonderful washoku (or simply Japanese food) without ever having set foot here, using vegetables or other ingredients produced here, or knowing a modicum of Japanese. Heck you could learn it on YouTube if you wanted -- you don't need to study under that racist misogynist sushi shop owner in Tokyo, for example.

This is just the usual diseased way of thinking that "naturally a Japanese person knows more about Japanese culture and/or can do things from Japanese culture better than anyone else", or else they can be a SLIGHT step down if they have lived in/studied under (people in) Japan, and if the praise it enough, etc. It's the same kind of thinking that gets Japanese furious if a foreigner plays the part of a geisha in a Hollywood movie, or the little old men crying about how judo is not 'judou' anymore and other countries can't do it right, etc. Baseball is not a Japanese sport, and even though most Japanese professionals and youth still aspire to go to 'the big leagues' in the US, a lot of professionals here are as good or better than their counterparts playing in the US. You're not going to tell me, though, that they can't POSSIBLY claim to play proper baseball unless they've lived in the US or Canada, have trained there, and speak fluent English, are you? Same rationale. In this day and age with media and travel being what it is, it doesn't take generations for someone in the world to do something traditionally done elsewhere -- and do it right.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Smith.

This isn't about who can do it or who does it better.

Those Chinese, Korean, etc owned restaurants CLAIM to serve washoku or Japanese dishes but don't. Watch the travel programmes on TV where they visit 'Japanese' restaurants overseas and see what they serve and what those locals consider to be Japanese foods but aren't.

I have seen sushi rolls made with bread instead of rice and way worse.

Most of those places are easily identified by their fake Japanese names.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

It"S ME: "Those Chinese, Korean, etc owned restaurants CLAIM to serve washoku or Japanese dishes but don't. "

No, it's about people who think that it can't be Japanese dishes (or 'washoku') because it was not made by Japanese or people who have trained in Japan, and doesn't use 'kyo-sai' or other grown-in-Japan ingredients. YES, there are fusion restaurants overseas that claim something is 'Japanese' when it is not what a stickler who is insecure and needs some sort of praise for something they cannot do themselves calls 'Japanese', both good and bad, but that's not the point of this article or what many people here believe. It could be as 'authentic' as anything produced outside Tsukiji market, but so long as it's a Chinese or Korean making it Japanese will gripe and say it's not 'real'. There are lots of horrible shops here that claim to serve Japanese food as well, but it's garbage, and yet no one would question its authenticity simply because of location or who made it. Why would anyone feel the need, and be so desperately insecure, that they have to go around to a restaurant that advertises Japanese food and say, "This is not REAL Japanese food! It's owned by a Chinese. PLEASE don't think it's the food of my country!", etc.? I don't stand outside an Outback Steakhouse needing to tell strangers it's "not an Australian company -- it's American food!" or similar crap; if people like it, they like it. They shouldn't decide if it's good or not before they walk in the door based on the nationality or ethnic background of the owners.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

Smith.

You are wrong. They restaurant owners themselves saus that they are cashing in on a trend. Most of them never learned any Japanese cooking, have no interest to go to Japan, etc.

Imagine you walk into a burger shop order a burger and you get served a falafel.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

that is so true, in America I learned from experience to only eat at "Sushi" restaurants where the owners/cooks speak Japanese. otherwise there is a good chance they don't even know the meanings of sushi and sashimi which will translate into the so called food they foist on you..

American "oriental and chinese" restaurants are famous for being a mess.

but only those of us who have returned stateside after having been where you can have real food know the difference and it is sad what is accepted in America.

I am often sorry I came back

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Ah, but the difference is that they don't try to tell you that they are italian!

If this is the case then why put ITALIAN restaurant on the sign in front of the place? Sure there are some "fake" one's but there are plenty of "fake" French, Italian, Chinese, and other restaurants that serve some pretty damn good food.

I see no problem with a foreigner running or operating a Japanese restaurant if they try to keep to the "washoku" standards.

In a manner of speaking this is just another extension of the us vs them mentality the permeates quite a bit of society here. No way a "foreigner" could make "washoku" they don't have the "Japanese" in them to do it!

BS, if the food tastes good, the customers appreciate it, then hooray for the spread of "washoku" fakes. Japanese need to learn that they are not all "that" special when it comes to being copy-cats.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

"Can't believe the number of posters with the simple-minded logic that goes "because Japanese-run restaurants routinely ruin the dishes of various other countries - in Japan, for the Japanese consumer, " And in the end all of the restaurants overseas serving mutations of washoku are in their respective countries and serving their respective country's consumers.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

So the article mentioned for the ridiculous things found

Chocolate sushi, mango sushi

Wonder how the writer would feel about this:

http://blog.livedoor.jp/fun_takedatake/archives/54840801.html

Pictures of 'carmel banana' sushi and on the menu there is also an option for 'carmel corn mayonnaise' sushi

Oh, it is a chain in JAPAN. better go check the owners passports.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I guess Pizza-La's corn/mayo pizza doesnt count as "Italian" now.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Recently was in a French restaurant where the chefs and the owners were Japanese. So it must have been a fake French restaurant. Also went to a pizza shop selling fake pizzas, also owned by Japanese, where not one Italian was found anywhere in the shop - that shop must have been fake too. Then why don't Japanese practice what they preach? Don't sell fake foods of other nationalities, if they don't want other nationalities to make Japanese food. Japan has got to be the most xenophobic and close minded society I've ever traveled to.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

Fake I don't care but 99% of self-titled Japanese restaurants I see in Europe are yucky, authentically yucky or unjapanesely yucky, it's not edible. Seriously, avoid them. Macdo is still better. And well, that's not only about sushi joints, the quality is going downward in general. In Japan, I have been to dozens of "inauthentic" European restaurants and except the cheapest chains, they all provided excellent dishes made from good ingredients, I recommend them.

If it's good food, and the business is run well, the restaurant will survive.

No. The worst food sells the best. It's a global trend. Oh the answer is in your statement. Business "run well" is about cutting corners, suppressing wastes due to spoilage by serving mostly long shelf-life industrial dishes reheated/thawed by unqualified low wage staff.

If more Japanese "chefs" would venture out into the world

Japanese cooks are certainly those that go to work abroad the most. But there, they are hired to make what local eatery owners decide.

No, it's about people who think that it can't be Japanese dishes (or 'washoku') because it was not made by Japanese or people who have trained in Japan, and doesn't use 'kyo-sai' or other grown-in-Japan ingredients

Well, if you have never been trained in Japan, never tasted the Japanese food and don't have the ingredients... what is left ?

they could still learn and make wonderful washoku (or simply Japanese food) without ever having set foot here,

Overseas, they can learn where ? There are good French, Italian and Chinese cooking schools in many countries, but for Japanese cuisine, please name one. And I'm not fussy, I'd accept something like Le Cordon Bleu. But you won't even find that. You have courses taught by the chefs that are currently making calimaki with blocks of watery mochi rice, unripe avocado, neon colored smoked salmon and sriracha. They could very well go to learn in Japan, no need to go to extreme and do the grand-pa sushi apprenticeship. Hiring an interpreter is expensive for one, but for a class of 30, during 3 months, they could get a deal. They are just not interested in knowing more.

Heck you could learn it on YouTube if you wanted

Sure, you can taste the food on the video, the texture of cooked rice... surely.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Bought some nigiri sushi from a small shop on Paddington station which so was serving Indian curry. My son and I ate it on the train and I can say that it was great!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

This is such Bull. I know Mexican cooks who make better Japanese food than Japanese housewives. By their logic, if I cooked Chicken in Mole, whilst in Tokyo, is it FAKE Mexican food ?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

If it has a large number of Chinese/Thais/Japanese/Indians inside then the food is pretty good.

That is not a reliable barometer where I live..it more likely means the place is cheap.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Those Chinese, Korean, etc owned restaurants CLAIM to serve washoku or Japanese dishes but don't. Watch the travel programmes on TV where they visit 'Japanese' restaurants overseas and see what they serve and what those locals consider to be Japanese foods but aren't.

I have seen sushi rolls made with bread instead of rice and way worse.

Most of those places are easily identified by their fake Japanese names.

Exactly. What is funny and pathetic is that they even PRETEND to be Japanese by doing their fake "irrashaimase" like in this one "Japanese" sushi shop in San Francisco I went to. Tried speaking in simple Japanese to them, just got a "huh?" look. Turns out they're Korean, like so many other fake wannabe Japanese joints. What's the matter, got no Korean pride or confidence in your own cuisine? Or worse, have to create a pseudo-Japanese sushi shop complete with Japanese-styled interior, and pretend to be Japanese to fool Americans who don't know any better?

Yet another manifestation of Korean insecurity towards Japan and Japanese. Pathetic.

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

The only time I ever had food poisoning was from eating at a Sushi restaurant in Japan. I later found out that the business was failing and they could not afford to always keep their fish fresh. It was a "mom and pop" place. When you consider Japan's declining population... you really need to be careful where you stop for Sushi. The other point... people are relatively smart... if the Japanese food is continually bad... the restaurant, no matter where it is, will fail.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Meh.

Japan has more than its fair share of gaijin-inspired food that is anything but. I like it for what it is worth. Some of it is really good: Curry hotdog pan!

Japanese, of course, take an extra-ordinary pride in 'their' food. Which has good and bad results. The good: food in Japan is great. The bad: silly food nationalism. Maybe these are two sides of the same coin...

In the Bay Area, where I live, there are many Japanese-inspired restaurants. Lets call them Japanese™ restaurants, because they are selling a brand more than an actual food. Some are pretty good. Most are bad -- at lease to my taste. And taste really is a personal thing.

Few are what I consider Japanese food. Spider Rolls, California Rolls, are fine, just not what I eat in Japan. And even the Japanese restaurants are not as good as the food in Japan. With one great exception. And the ramen shops...Don't get me started!!

:(

Anyways, Yelp -- a crowd-sourced reviews about local businesses -- is kinda usefull. Mainly for for the pictures. I can get a good idea whether its Japanese™ or Japanese.

Also for the laughs. A review of the One Great Exception complained:

"And no sushi?! What kind of Japanese restaurant doesn't serve sushi!!??"

1 ( +2 / -1 )

So "fake" = "not run by a Japanese"?

1 ( +3 / -2 )

genjuro said: ".... What's the matter, got no Korean pride or confidence in your own cuisine? Or worse, have to create a pseudo-Japanese sushi shop complete with Japanese-styled interior, and pretend to be Japanese to fool Americans who don't know any better? ...

Maybe the proprietor just LIKES Japanese food and culture? Or he thinks he'll make better money serving up fake Japanese interiors than fake Italian décor in the neighborhood? Or maybe he's just not any good at making Korean or any other kind of cuisine but Japanese. And of course, you turned it into yet another Korea-bashing rant opportunity. Pathetic.

-1 ( +7 / -8 )

this is ridiculous! there is no "fake" japanese food. You slap a label on it and call it japanese and it's japanese. Doesn't matter if it's made by a Mexican dishwasher and the sushi is stuffed with french fries and kimchi, if it's labeled japanese food, it's japanese food. Doesn't matter what's in it, who makes it or where it's made. It's just labeling.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

So Japanese people can make fake foods anytime they want, but non-Japanese can't?

In France, famous French chefs invite trainees from all over the world to train under their guidance. The French want their cuisines to transcend borders and cultures. They actively promote their cuisine by inviting participation from non-French. Anyone can enjoy cooking creating the constantly changing menus and innovative ideals that value unique ideals. The French have globalized their menus by being open, and they certainly don't have problems with Japanese chefs cooking French food for instance. The French don't look at the race or nationality of people who cook their food because they know it's the people who enjoy French cooking who bring and spreads the French cuisine to the world.

As for Japanese food, I don't get this ideal that Japanese food is so special that only Japanese people with Japanese DNA could prepare Japanese food. It doesn't take that much knowledge to put fresh raw cut up fish on top of rice, make it look good, and there's already the big chunk of Japanese food recipe. Just use fresh ingredients, since there's not much skill needed in making Japanese food because the menus and recipes never change. There's hardly any new innovation, new ideals, or attempts at creating something different out of new ingredients. If you do that, it's considered "fake Japanese food', and unacceptable. Sushi has always been sushi, tempura always tempura, Teriyaki has always been teriyaki. Nothing changes. Where are the bold new ingredients? How boring. It figures, since Japanese food itself uses very few ingredients in their cooking, like rice, seaweed, fish, soya sauce and soy bean paste. Terribly unimaginative and limiting. It also makes sense the closed off mentality of Japanese to think that Japanese food made by non-Japanese are fake Japanese food.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Yes with the Japanese staff greeting customers with "Aloha". Which has been pointed out by other posters complaining about foreign run washoku restaurants makes the cuisine "fake".

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Thailand proposed a Thai food tester http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/29/world/asia/bad-thai-food-enter-a-robot-taster.html to ensure the spices were accurate. Surprising that Japan, home to so much high-tech stuff, hasn't produced something like that already?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It's called fusian cuisine - a concept perhaps foreign to this writer who is evidently unfamiliar with Western multiculturalism and fusian cooking on the writer's own doorstep. Take the many bastardizations of pizza with octopus on it and mayonnaise, or German style bread sweetened with sweet beans. What about Japanese Curry Rice which tastes nothing like curry prepared in India? Most discerning tourists know these dishes are being played with and expect a good chef to do so.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Japanese curry rice is an imitation of British canned curry from about 100 years ago, not Indian curry.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

please reference: Burger King Japan Introduces Fondue Cheeseburger,

at http://www.japantoday.com/category/food/view/burger-king-japan-introduces-hamburger-cheese-fondue#comment_1891328

While in Gruyères, Switzerland we sat above the tranquil square and ordered fondue. What followed remains one of the most treasured moments of place, palate and perfection. The warm mist of aromas, cheese, wine, garlic and the magical environment of Gruyères cannot be erased or duplicated. That was "authentic", but even more, all of the experiences prior and since cannot recreate the simple beauty of such a seemingly simple food or kindness of the Swiss host.

And then there's Burger King Japan's Fondue Cheeseburger.

Part of the experience of Japanese cuisine is Japan itself; the environment, the attention to detail and food that is closer to art than just sustenance. That cannot be duplicated by adding the name 'Japanese' anywhere else in the world.

Again, a roving school-seminar effort might contribute to and establish a global knowledge base helpful in promoting Japan as a destination and appreciation for the best of Japanese culinary traditions.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Japanese real food like kontotsu- its tasteless without the heavy sauces- no matter which restaurant. Sushi is generally terrible- even ToshiMaru. Japanese chefs generally don't care about taste. There truly ghastly ramen shops. Gyoza is usually tasteless rubber even their specialty shops. I had better Japanese food in local restaurant in my home country. Japanese food is fast food.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Sushi is generally terrible- even ToshiMaru.

I eat a lot of sushi. Generally I eat at a cheap kaitenzushi place with my family - and it's quite good. But I also regularly take clients to expensive sushi places when they visit Japan, and the difference is huge. While taste in food is definitely a personal opinion, my own opinion is that the quality of sushi is usually proportional to the quality of restaurant in which it is being served.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

No more fake than most foreign food in Japan, which is so often "arranged for Japanese taste". Maybe the Chinese and Koreans do not use enough mayonnaise, the sweetened Japanese variety of course, to satisfy Japanese taste.

It should also be noted that vegetables grown in Japanese soil are not going to be fresh when they get to other countries.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

This ridiculous article reminds me of Tokyo's Isihara spending millions to send his son around the world to review Japanese restaurants. Only those restaurants that bought their ingredients from Japan got the special sticker to put in the window.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

The reason for non-Japanese (mostly Koreans and CHinese in the US) running Japanese restaurants is because of its greater profits. People pay more money for a three-piece sashimi than a combo plate of friend rice, egg rolls, crab rangoons, and pork strips. And if one wants to operate a small sushi joint, it won't even need a stove and a fryer but just a little counter with a toaster oven to heat up pre-cooked unagi and frozen tempura. In the US restaurant industry, Japanese cuisine still has brand power and means much higher sales per person. What business man can say no to that.

Japanese love and worship Italian, French, Chinese and other world cuisines (most chefs study and apprentice years in abroad) but I don't think majority of people care about the 'authenticity' of every carbonara and au gratin they eat. But that doesn't mean we don't appreciate and respect those culinary arts. Same thing can be said for Japanese cuisine overseas. Washoku has already established its own good reputation based on its refined technique and taste. So chill out, Japan...we all love ya.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Have have been very fortunate to find a very good Japanese restaurant/izakaya in my city. Owned and operated by transplanted Japanese.

Not only does the food taste good to my palate (very, very good in fact), but the literally hundreds of ex-pats and visiting Japanese businessmen swear by the place and its quality. They almost all say "it's true Japanese comfort food."

I'm no expert, but I do know it has now made it all but impossible for me to eat at 90% of the Asian restaurants in my city as they cannot compete with the quality.

It's also very cheap! I love that place!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

You don’t have to know Japanese food, or Japanese

Not all Japanese can speak and write Japanese if they were born and raised in oversea. Some non Japanese are more fluent in Japanese rather than real Japanese. There is the perception of Yamato clan can do anything better than others because it is their uniqueness. It is out of touch with the real world.

Many Vietnamese can bake tastier and better breads although they can not speak single word of French. As the consumer, my concern is taste and presentation rather than true Authentic dish or not. Wasabi can be yellow or green as far as it is hot.

It will be unrealistic for oversea Japanese restaurants for following the rigid and conservative rule of Japanese food preparation.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

In somewhere like London, outside of the city centre and a few other areas, the Japanese food on offer is pretty awful. Normally it appears to be made by a Chinese cook who has bought a Japanese cookbook. I have had taken, served without soup, katsudon made from fried chicken, served on plain long grain rice (pretty sure the cook had never tasted this dish before). The list of crimes is long.

You do not have to be Japanese to cook good Japanese food, but it does help to have had some training in preparing the cuisine. In my experience, this is obviously rare.

A neighbourhood japanese restaurant in japan surpasses these imitations.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Foreign countries have acknowledged that some Japanese chefs have become excellent French or Italian chefs. Surely, foreigners can also become excellent Japanese chefs.

I wonder how many of those cooking in izekaya are Chinese, Vietnamese or some other nationality. Has that lowered the standard of izekaya food?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Well you can't have the best of both worlds. You can't have Japanese food being famous and popular around the world without it being changed. On one hand, you can "localize" washoku to suit the taste buds of most locals, but I like it when some Japanese restaurants in America have 2 menus; a local one and a "washoku" one. BTW, I hate it when they bring you miso soup with a spoon immediately after you sit down at your table.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I went to a place in LA that was Japanese run and the yelp reviews said it was great and he was a fantastic sushi chef.

It turned out to be crap. He was just some old drunk salaryman from a Japanese trading company who was restructured while stationed in California. He stayed there.

I talked him about it (in Japanese because I didn't want to embarrass him too much in front of his customers - he was harmless, but a complete fraud) and he admitted that he had no idea what he was doing, but he was making a fortune and getting drunk every night while doing it.

I guess the lesson is that even Japanese are serving fake Japanese food...

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I'm in Vancouver.

There are 10,000's + japanese restaurants... some are legit run by Japanese people who moved to Canada..

There are very few Izakaya restaurants. "Guu" is the only one that i'm sure owners are Japanese. 6 locations in Vancouver and 1 in Toronto ^.^

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Ridiculous article, what do you mean by "fake"? You cannot have "fake" Japanese food. Just to even the score can you also run an article titled: "Italian, French, Vietnamese, Irish, British, Brazilian restaurants are springing up all over Japan - most of them fake".

0 ( +3 / -3 )

but... But... but I LOVE sushi with mango! It´s totemo oishii!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I would take ramen, okonomiyaki, Japanese curry rice over kaiseki anytime. As long the food is good, who cares which nationality made it. There's also plenty of chuka (chinese) restaurants in osaka, for example, 551 horai's nikuman. Those aren't made by Chinese are they?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

So Japanese curry is fake... Japanese pizza is fake... Japanese Kanji is fake (taken from the Chinese)... the list goes on

1 ( +3 / -2 )

has nothing to do with the people but the food. It gives Japanese food a bad name

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Just returned from a trip to Lisbon.

Went to a "Japanese" restaurant with my "legitimate Japanese" girlfriend.

Restaurant's name tried to sound Japanese; food had Japanese names and the staff wore a Chinese outfit they thought Portuguese people would not be able to distinguish from a Japanese kimono.

Utter rubbish, the entire experience!

The entire staff looked and spoke Chinese, yet tried to pass off as Japanese.

Yes, I repeat it, the LOOKED Chinese!

To cut a long story short, lots of Chinese and Koreans pretend to be Japanese as they know/think could make a quick buck at the back of a lot of the public's perceived "superiority" of Japanese cuisine.

This foreignerinjapan has serious pe@@ies envy issues!!!

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

"Can't believe the number of posters with the simple-minded logic that goes "because Japanese-run restaurants routinely ruin the dishes of various other countries - in Japan, for the Japanese consumer, " And in the end all of the restaurants overseas serving mutations of washoku are in their respective countries and serving their respective country's consumers.

Well said. A lot of knickers in a twist over non-Japanese people (particularly Koreans and Chinese) running Japanese style restaurants overseas. Hiilarious.

Yet another manifestation of Korean insecurity towards Japan and Japanese. Pathetic.

Koreans operating Japanese style restaurants is a manifestation of insecurity? Hahaha get over yourself.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

I'm thinking of the number of Chinese restaurants in Japan that are run by the Japanese. The Chinese food is not authentic, it is adapted to Japanese tastes. I generally only eat at Chinese restaurants run by Chinese people, as they are usually (but not always) more authentic, and more to my tastes. But I wouldn't call the Japanese-run restaurants fake, rather they are just catering to the preferences of their customer base - the Japanese. Japanese people usually prefer the Japanized-Chinese food over the authentic Chinese food.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Ha - even the local Chinese take-out - which is the type with the nice bright pictures on the wall, kid playing in the aisle while the parent cooks- is now selling SUSHI! and calls itself Japanese and Chinese Cuisine.

I'll bet that raw fish is not really sushi grade, but hey - what we westerners don't know won;'t ...... oh yeah it might kills us.....

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@ Strangeland

While I have nothing against non-Japanese running Japanese restaurants overseas, your example of Japanese running Chinese restaurant is quite irrevalent.

Those Chinese restaurants are owned and operated by Japanese in Japan adjusting tastes to its main guests' liking—Japanese. There is a mutual understanding that the food will likely be Chinese with J twists.

But many posters are talking about Japanese restaurants overseas run by Chinese and Koreans. As some posters mentioned above, I feel weird when I am greeted by a loud "irasshai mase~!!" with a bow only to find out the food is far from authentic and none of staff members shows a slight knowledge of Japanese cuisine. I understand it's all business, but it is also sad because it is 'fake' in a way.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Lots of Londoners are being put off Sushi, others saying it's crap!

Reason: they're buying it from Tesco!!!

I personally got some to have a go, but binned it after a nibble because it was simply too repugnant; both in texture and looks! Yet Tesco advertises them as "authentic" Japanese taste!!!

Plenty of Chinese and especially Korean individuals run "Japanese" places in London; that's a good thing.

They don't simply run them; they pretend to be Japanese as well, sometimes giving Japan a bad reputation. Now, that's bad!!!

Plenty times they are not even shy; you get authentic Chinese food under the Japanese label.

That's what at stake here, all you Japanese haters. Chinese and Koreans deliberately or otherwise giving Japan a bad name! I still have to see, read or hear the opposite being true.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

@Peeping_Tom

There are some Korean-owned sushi restaurants with a fun, political twist, too. Like, "Dokdo Sushi" in California and "East Sea Sushi" in New Jersey. I have seen some funky rolls named Dokdo maki, Tsushima maki, A-Bomb maki and such in the US. Not seen a Comfort Women roll, yet...

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

As much as I like Korean and Chinese (and other) cuisine I have to agree with the article. These entrepreneurs, as the article calls them, are ripping off and making money off a culture they know little about and often mock in other circumstances. Most people do not know the difference and that is because most people do not want to know the difference. After all, why go find something that makes it more costly, expensive and difficult to eat. Quality be damned. Otherwise, the information is there for the asking. Here I searched on the internet and sushi as an example is all here: http://www.alighaemi.com/wp/?p=1060

Controlling is another matter. A decade ago Japan actually tried to enact a cultural program for sushi and washoku to certify restaurants and it was impractical I guess. Never heard of it later

3 ( +4 / -1 )

These entrepreneurs, as the article calls them, are ripping off and making money off a culture they know little about and often mock in other circumstances. Most people do not know the difference and that is because most people do not want to know the difference. After all, why go find something that makes it more costly, expensive and difficult to eat. Quality be damned.

They are making a product, and the people who enjoy it are buying that product. If it satisfies their customers, then it's not a rip-off. There is no law that Japanese food has to be authentic. And I would bet that some people prefer the non-authentic food. I know most Japanese people prefer non-authentic, Japanified Chinese food over authentic Chinese food. The authentic flavors are too strong for most Japanese people. And that's ok, there is nothing wrong with that.

Any restaurant that makes food that appeals to the people who buy that food is ok. Anyone who doesn't like that food can go to a different restaurant, and that is ok too.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

In Vancouver there are many so-called "Japanese" restaurants run by Koreans or Chinese. By and large they are not very good.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

if a Japanese chef creates fabulous French food with imported ingredients from somewhere other than France, does that make it anything less than great French food?

Usually, the Japanese who would like to become French chefs go and study authentic French cuisine. If they would like to serve French-like food, they name it in Japanese as understood not authentic or call it 'Japanese style French food'. For example, 'Napolitan spaghetti' is popular in Japan but they never call it 'Spaghetti al Pomodoro e Basilico'.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Almost anything that is "Japanese" was originally from China, Korea, Dutch, or somewhere else. Let's gain a little perspective please. Most food in NYC is made by Mexicans anyways. Here I will play the world's smallest violin for you....

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

who is this food ayatollah to dare speak like this? not only Japanese people can cook Japanese. ingredients can be grown oustide japan. frack this bs

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

can't stand them. after coming back to Australia, to see places with the name "Mizuya" and "Tokyo Ramen" run completely by Chinese and Korean staff selling shit tasting rip off food like sweet and sour pork just wets my blanket. and hearing the worst "irasshaimase" makes it even worse...

Sad thing is, half the aussies in the shop wouldn't have a clue and would see themselves as being cultured....""oo we're having Japanese"......you couldn't find the food they're eating in Japan.....FACEPALM

4 ( +5 / -1 )

@Kipp My thoughts exactly. Big facepalm indeed.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Yes with the Japanese staff greeting customers with "Aloha". Which has been pointed out by other posters complaining about foreign run washoku restaurants makes the cuisine "fake".

Amazing the number of posters who cannot see the real issue here.

No one cares if there is an "Aloha" restaurant in Osaka run badly by the Japanese. No one cares if there is an "irrashaimase" restaurant in Seoul, run badly by the Koreans. This is normal.

This article is strictly talking about restaurants outside ones own home nation - created and run by third party nationals or third party immigrants.

Would you think it was dumb if there was an "Aloha authentic Hawaiian" restaurant in Kona selling bad knock off food made by Japanese staff pretending to be Hawaiian?

That's the situation you have with the thousands of korean run "Japanese" restaurants in North America. Truly pitiful.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

hindingout

These people know exactly that the issue at stake is Koreans and Chinese, not only running Japanese restaurants (nothing wrong with that, I must add), but also PRETENDING to be Japanese.

And cooking dreadful "Japanese" food in the process!

I have never see a Japanese person who wants to pretend to be Chinese, least of all Korean.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

I used to get incensed over this kind of thing (when I lived in Japan), but after sampling some of the "Japanese" restaurants in my home city, I agree. I will only go to a Chinese- or Korean-owned sushi restaurant when I don't want to go further afield (or pay the prime dollar) for the real thing. It's like eating gas station sushi... blah.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Japanese restaurants are springing up all over the world - most of them fake

Headline suggestion for a follow-up article: [French/Italian/Indian/Thai/Hawaiian/Other] Restaurants Are Springing Up all over Japan — Most of Them Fake

Joking aside, I don't necessarily mind if a restaurant is completely authentic, just so the ingredients are fresh and the food is good. In Japan I find that many chefs who are Japanese nationals put a refreshing and localized spin on food from other countries, resulting in some surprisingly adventurous and creative dishes.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I love eating fresh sushi in good Japanese restaurants near me.

https://places-to-eat-near-me.com/cuisine-food/japanese-restaurants/

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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