When one country’s cuisine finds its way overseas, things are often lost in translation, either due to the limited availability of certain ingredients or because of differences in local tastes. Japan is just as guilty as any country for offering “foreign” foods that would never be found in the countries they originated from, but Japanese food has not escaped the same type of butchering, as the likes of sushi and ramen gain popularity around the world.

Just as any American is likely to be surprised by some of the things Denny’s and McDonald’s in Japan have on offer, one of RocketNews24’s Japanese writers got a bit of a surprise when he checked the menu at a sushi restaurant in the Netherlands.

Ask anyone what comes to their mind when they think of Japanese food, and sushi is likely to be at the top of the list. Japanese restaurants have seen a rather large boom in the west in recent years, with sushi in particular gaining most of the popularity. But most of the sushi you’re likely to find are things the Japanese people would never even recognize as sushi, like those creative inside-out caterpillar or California rolls you may be so fond of.

During a recent visit to the Netherlands, RocketNews24’s writer Yuichirou braved a foreign sushi restaurant to try their fare, and was quite baffled at what showed up on the menu.

Tofu sushi? He read the words again. Yes, this really was sushi with a topping, or neta, not of fish, vegetables, or even rolled egg, but bean curd. Yuichirou was seriously weirded out by the very thought of such a creation.

Tofu has been widely available in western grocery markets for years, and is either known as that life-saving flavor-chameleon meat replacer, or that bland white squishy blob of stuff, depending largely on how you were first introduced to it. While sushi can appear in many forms, in Japan the type most commonly found is nigirizushi, which is simply a slice of raw fish resting atop a bite-sized mound of rice.

▼Not fond of raw? You can also find things like broiled salmon or sweet omelet


So, when Yuichirou found tofu sushi on the menu, he had visions of a sliver of some bland, white bean curd served on top of sushi rice. Still, for the sake of investigative journalism, he ordered a plate and waited for it to arrive. How pleasantly surprised he was, then, when it arrived and he saw that “tofu sushi” was in fact a type of sushi he was rather familiar with after all. Sushi lovers, can you guess what it is?

It was, in fact…


inarizushi! Although served a bit differently than it is normally, the combination of vinegary sushi rice and the sweetened pockets of aburaage, or fried tofu skins, was the same.

▼You’ll typically find the rice stuffed inside the the tofu skins.


Among the choices the restaurant offered were inside-out rolls that westerners are probably more familiar with…

▼The “beef roll”, though sprinkled with shichimi spice, is still mild enough for the average Japanese palette.


▼The “deep fried shrimp”, wrapped with avocado and covered on the outside with tobikko, or flying fish roe.


▼A spicy tuna roll. That sauce definitely marks it as a foreign creation!


▼The “Sumo roll”, aptly named for its size, is somewhat reminiscent of the Japanese futomaki roll


▼Though you’d be very hard pressed to find cream cheese making an appearance in any sushi in Japan, our Yuichirou was rather fond of this “salmon cream cheese” roll. Having lived in the Northwestern United States and eaten my fair share of Seattle rolls, I can personally vouch for their deliciousness as well.


But our man also found that the restaurant served a healthy selection of the more traditional fare that the Japanese think of when it comes to sushi.

▼”We likes it rrrraw, and wrrrriggling!”


▼During the restaurant’s lunchtime hours, you can eat your fill for 18.5 euros (USD$20.60)


Delicious eats aside, probably the best part of Yuichirou’s foreign sushi experience was the fact that he got to enjoy some inari – a slang term that can be used to refer to a man’s testes – in the town of Scheveningen, which, due to the phonetic limitations of the Japanese language, often gets mispronounced as “Sukebeningen” (スケベニンゲン), meaning “perverted person”. Doesn’t get more grade school than that!

Restaurant details

Sumo Sushi & Grill Restaurant
Address: Palacestraat 8, 2586 HX Scheveningen, Netherlands
Hours: 12pm – 10pm

Photos © RocketNews24
[ Read in Japanese ]