Japanese food abroad: How would you react?


During my business trips in Pacific Rim or US from time to time I am exposed to Japanese cooking abroad. Usually I try to avoid the experience, because usually the food is not so impressive. This time, I felt I will be in for a special treat, because the Japanese food festival at the Sheraton in Surabaya Indonesia was promoted as a traditional Japanese flair with the master chef from the Westin Tokyo (Saito Masahiko). Having flown in a “celebrity master chef” as promoted I was looking forward to the feeling of home while being in Indonesia.
To be honest the flavors were very interesting, but I would not consider it similar to the Japanese tastes I have eaten in Japan. All of the dishes provided I have tasted in Japan, but it seems to me presented taste was for me very unusual. As the meals were created by a Japanese master chef, plus promoted as the real deal, I wondered whether I shall talk to the chef. Sadly the chef was already gone, because I would have enjoyed talking to him.
At the same time, I am wondering now whether in general I should give feedback about the Japanese cooking while abroad. In general when I see that Chinese or Mexican mainly cook the dishes – what I have seen mostly in the US – I don’t comment about the flavor, but keep an open mind of new trends in fusion cuisine. But this time it was different.

For sure I am looking forward to your feedback and please feel free to add any comments below as well.

Brought to you by Sibylle Ito (伊藤シビル)

7 thoughts on “Japanese food abroad: How would you react?

  1. See, I cannot be the judge because I am not Japanese, have never lived in Japan, and have only tried a few traditional Japanese recipes given to me by friends studying for Ph.D.s here in the U.S. I regret your disappointment at having non-representative Japanese cuisine served by an advertised “Japanese master chef” in Indonesia. I think you are just a little embarrassed, weren’t you?

    • Dear Granbee,

      thanks a lot for your comment. To be honest with you I felt fooled and not embarrased. Simply, because the meal was presented as created according to Japanese traditional cuisine, I expected that I can recognize the taste. The flavors felt rather strange to me, but I might be coming from a different time period and the goods were created based on a very, very old recipe 😉 Or maybe I was embarrassed that I trusted the advertisement.

      All the best,

      Sibylle

  2. As you know, there are many kinds of restaurants in Tokyo.
    They are Italian, French, Indian, Turkish, Greek, Chinese and traditional Japanese food.I like all of them because the taste was a bit changed from original taste for adapting Japanese sense of taste.
    Japanese people are good at borrowing other countries culture from the ancient times. It’s not about only food.

    • Dear Cocomino,

      you are correct that many cuisines borrow from other regions to create interesting fusion cuisine. I do not mind fusion cuisine at all, contrary it can be very interesting.
      Honest I was disappointed, that a Japanese master chef promoting traditional Japanese cuisine is using different flavors than in Japan.

      Thanks for your constant support for this blog,

      Sibylle

    • Dear John,

      thanks for your feedback.
      You are raising a very good question. In general I would say that Italian and French restaurants tend to have a really high quality in Japan and the taste does not seem to me so different. Of course, there are several Japanese/Italian and Japanese/French places available, where the taste is Japanised. I think for me the difference this time was that I expected Japanese taste with a Japanese chef.

      For sure I am curious about the outcome of this poll.

      All the best,

      Sibylle

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