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Japanese are more subtle and more sensitive. Whereas a strong chocolate will please Parisians, more of then than not, it will be too strong for Japanese.

17 Comments

Nicolas Cloiseau, master chef of La Maison du Chocolat, located in Roppongi Hills. (Tokyo Weekender)

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LOL - yet another guy who fell for the classic Japanese tactic of portraying themselves as delicate and sensitive. They eat Kusaya for god's sake ;-) Taste is certainly something that is partly acquired by growing up in a certain food culture, but has little to do with being subtle.

8 ( +13 / -5 )

As for chocolate and other westernforeign foods, the Japanese palate is largely affected by the postwar era, when imported ingredients were expensive or scarce and consumers didn't have much money. So the foodmakers reduced the content of these ingredients and would either substitute them with cheaper, blander filler or sell the products in very small portions.

The formulations creating these diluted flavors havent changed much, as people have become accustomed to them and they ARE profitable for the foodmakers. Viola, you have your "subtle." Still, the growing presence of Indians and Thais opening restaurants in Japan is gradually having an effect.

Anyway, a dollop of wasabi on sashimi? yeah, the firestorm that rips thru the sinuses is really "subtle," isn't it.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

LOL - yet another guy who fell for the classic Japanese tactic of portraying themselves as delicate and sensitive. They eat Kusaya for god's sake ;-) Taste is certainly something that is partly acquired by growing up in a certain food culture, but has little to do with being subtle.

So true.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

This isn't limited to Japan. The pasta I had in Brooklyn, NY was drowned in sauce and tasted nothing like the stuff I had in Italy - for all purposes it was a completely different dish, and the curry I had in London had peas in it for goodness sakes, and there was a hilarious incident in St. Petersburg many years ago where I ordered a pizza and got a slice of bread with pasta sauce and cheese on top with a single slice of sausage...

Chefs always "adjust" dishes to meet local expectations and tastes. At dinner parties in Japan I've served up some stuff that was either too sweet for my Japanese guests or contained herbs and spices they weren't familiar with. I've learnt to tone down the flavors of some dishes a bit, or to serve the herbs and spices on the side as sauces when I have Japanese visitors so they can add as much as they like.

-2 ( +6 / -8 )

I am glad I wasn't born with such a narrow set of taste buds LOL!! I feel sorry for those who cant appreciate a wide range of tastes!

0 ( +3 / -3 )

There's nothing many Japanese like more than being told by outsiders that their tastes are more subtle. I don't think this guy has fallen for anything. I'd make the same comment if I was flogging chocolate in Japan.

4 ( +9 / -5 )

This guy's no fool. He could just as well have said that Parisians are more discriminating and demand chocolate with a full-bodied flavor which infuses the pallet with distinctive profiles of the region from which the cocoa was grown but he knows that in this market you always boost up the Japanese sense of being sensitive and unique at the expense of some other group. Posters here do it all the time too. Heaven forbid we talk about Japanese beauty without slagging off "the fat, unfeminine nags from the West". We can't mention the relative safety of Japan without making the States seem like a place where you dare not leave your home for fear of being shot. Japan has an interesting cultural history which seems to make many posters conclude that other places don't. Yes, Chef Cloiseau has learned well how to appeal to the local market. Perhaps he reads this site in his spare time.

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

Here in my neck of the provebial, some of the most popular selling chocolates for years are the stronger more "full bodied" chocolates. The cacao percentage is prominent on the labels and is a key factor in the marketing. Talking with friends, it appears that 70% is popular for the necesary "hit". I used to buy the 90% ones for a while but decided it was too strong for me. Recently I haven't seen the 80~90% range in my local shops so much, but the others certainly are everywhere.

And dark bitter chocolate also is common on the shelves, so as often is the case in Japan, the French master should not be talking about Japan, but rather Tokyoites or in particular Roppongians feckle tastes.

For someone to suggest Japanese palates are not conducive to stronger flavours, actually has experienced little of broader regional cuisine imo.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Loving these comments!

Of course, point out to Japanese people that their food, both natural and processed, is incredibly salty (which it is the unitiated, admit it), and they'll insist that it's just the "umami" and our crude foreign palates aren't sensitive enough to appreciate it.

And what about the way they have deep-fry everything in breadcrumbs, and then slather worcester sauce all over it? I just can't stand the smell of that stuff, it's gotten to the stage that I have to avoid my local supermarket on certain days, because of the nasty smell of old cooking oil lingering in the air. It's disgusting.

And don't you love the way your side-salad always comes smothered with garish-looking dressing? Because heaven forbid we should be allowed to appreciate vegetables in their natural state.

Fish, beans, rice, and nasty-smelling sauces. Japanese cuisine is probably the most overrrated cuisine in the world. Someone at UNESCO is living high on the hog right now!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Jeff nailed it. I remember in the 80s and trying to find wine and cheese here - hardly existed. Reason? Oh it was too strong for the "delicate" Japanese palate or some such excuse. 30 years later and wallah! Many here love nothing better than a fine wine with dinner and cheese sells quite well, too. Even blue cheese!

Nah, this guess needs to praise the locals to make business that's all. A shame that many here fall for it, too.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

All human beings have taste buds that are different and plays a role in how we taste food. Race has nothing to do with whether you like strong chocolate or not. It is a individual thing. People who are sensitive to strong flavors are called supertasters and can have twice as many taste buds. People are either a non-taster, supertaster or medium taster. Taste isn't only down to our taste buds but it depends on how our brain reads the signals from our tongues. The ability of a person to smell and taste depends on around 100 genes. It is these genes that makes some of us like some foods while the same foods make others want to vomit. In the end every person is thought to have different genes switched on and off, leading to the presence of different receptors for different flavors in every person.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

"Japanese are more subtle and more sensitive"

Compared to who?

."La Maison du Chocolat, located in Roppongi Hills"

I'll bet everything there is ridiculously expensive..

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Asians are much more likely to be supertasters than caucasians, thus the dislike of very sweet chocolate.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

kickboard: Asians are much more likely to be supertasters than caucasians,

So are women, South Americans and Africans so you've got at least 50 percent of any population right there.

thus the dislike of very sweet chocolate.

First off, strong chocolate means dark chocolate which is typically much less sweet than lighter chocolates. Second, chocolate isn't a food that is associated with a negative taste for supertasters.

Whether you're a non-taster or a supertaster or somewhere in-between depends on your sensitivity to a bitter chemical called 6-n-propylthiouracil (PROP). Non-tasters can't taste the bitterness of PROP at all. Medium tasters sense the bitterness but don't mind it, while supertasters find the taste of PROP revolting.

PROP tasters and non-tasters showed the same hedonic response to sweetened caffeine solutions and did not differ in their sensory responses to chocolate. Genetic taste markers may have only a minor impact on the consumption of such foods as sweetened coffee or chocolate.

http://connection.ebscohost.com/c/articles/5373664/prop-6-n-propylthiouracil-tasting-sensory-responses-caffeine-sucrose-neohesperidin-dihydrochalcone-chocolate

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Anyway, a dollop of wasabi on sashimi? yeah, the firestorm that rips thru the sinuses is really "subtle," isn't it.

Or kare raisu. The Japanese manage to make it gloppy and heavy without the subtle spices you get in Indian curry.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

What an incredibly sweeping statement, even if it were true. If we're going to be speaking so generally I will state that from a European point of taste, Japanese cakes and desserts are a sickly sweet imitation of the European originals

0 ( +0 / -0 )

and the curry I had in London had peas in it for goodness sakes

Sorry to correct you Frungy but this is quite normal in Indian food! Mattar dishes are pea dishes (aloo mattar, paneer mattar etc.)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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