Gil Asakawa's Nikkei View | food & dining
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sushi-istockphoto-72dpi Recently a Seattle sushi restaurant, Mashiko, posted an open letter on its website saying that people who criticize the restaurant for having non-Japanese employees sushi are bigots. “Stop being an ignorant racist,” the letter said, after noting that the restaurant is Japanese-owned and there are Japanese as well as non-Japanese staff. The letter also defends one of the restaurant’s most popular chefs, a Caucasian woman, who’s worked there for 12 years and has a loyal and devoted following. “Should you refuse her fare based on her gender or race, you are an absolute fool,” the letter states. I feel for the staff and owners of Mashiko, and I’m surprised that diners in such a great foodie town as Seattle would be so unsophisticated that they’d make decisions on food quality just on a racial basis. Still, I think this is a much more complicated discussion than just bigotry (though that's part of it, for sure).

karamiForget Pace Picante Sauce, which used to make a big deal of being made in San Antonio instead of phony salsas made in New York City. Forget San Antonio as well as New York City. Look no further than Pueblo and Boulder, Colorado. Boulder-based entrepreneur Kei Izawa and his partner, Jason Takaki, are launching a new product this weekend that really isn't new at all. Karami is a Japanese American twist on salsa that tastes pretty great on a lot of food including chips, meats and fish, but its origins are as a Japanese side dish, the kind you might see served next to rice. Karami, which means "beautiful heat," has a salty, savory vegetable base that's enhanced with a subtly sweet flavor and a mildly spicy kick. You can't put a finger on one overarching taste, which makes it a perfect example of the Japanese word, "umami," which translates as "pleasant savory taste" and is considered one of the five basic tastes following sweet, sour, bitter and salty. It's a Japanese concept that's perfectly embodied in a spoonful of Karami. What makes it Japanese American, not Japanese?

Jennifer 8 Lee, a NYT reporter who wrote a wonderful book about the origins of Chinese food (specifically the fortune cookie, which is Japanese, not Chinese) called "The Fortune Cookie Chronicles," wrote a HuffingtonPost piece about the way Asian cuisines fuse with American tastes. The essay is worth a read, and the 16-minute video about Chinese food is definitely worth...

Pretty cool: Domino's Pizza goes all in on mobile tech wizardry -- at least for its Japanese market -- with a new app featuring Hatsune Miku, a Vocaloid, synthetic/anime J-pop persona that's entirely digital. According to a new video that has Domino's Japan CEO Scott Oelkers introducing the app, Domino's staff came up with songs for the app, and the...

I don't drink, but it's not because of moral objections or religion or prudishness. Like many Asians, I'm allergic to alcohol. Specifically, I get the familiar "Asian Flush" after just a few sips of even beer. I drank when I was younger, but I felt self-conscious about my face turning red, my eyes glowing in the dark and my body...

[caption id="attachment_4911" align="aligncenter" width="520"] Jiro Ono (left) and his son, Yoshikazu.[/caption]For the past year, people have been telling us to watch "Jiro Dreams of Sushi," the 2011 documentary by David Gelb about Jiro Ono, the 85-year-old artisan sushi chef who operates a Michelin 3-star restaurant, Sukibayashi Jiro, tucked into a Tokyo underground station. We finally saw it, and it's a charming...