Without doubt, much Japanese cuisine boasts truly irresistible presentation.
From kawaii-infused sushi to a simple vegetable-noodle dish, Japanese chefs bring unparalleled visual beauty to their culinary creations. While some of us may be guilty of simply piling as much food on our plates as possible, without paying due consideration to the aesthetics, Japanese cooking seeks to make every dish as appetizing as possible.
Let’s take a closer look at the Japanese art of presentation …
Whetting the Appetite
Eating is an intensely sensual experience: you smell food; you touch food; you taste food; you see food.
Sadly, this latter point may be overlooked in favor of the others, especially if diners are expected to gorge immediately. However, the trick is to remember that you eat with our eyes before that first morsel even touches your tongue.
Arranging the food on a plate or in a bowl must be done with care, to ensure the appetite is whetted before eating, heightening the pleasure.
Appealing to All the Senses
The beauty of Japanese food leads to a more mindful, self-aware dining experience. Rather than staring at a bowl of beige food and wolfing it down without any real interest in its creation, Japanese foods typically encourage you to slow down and admire its design.
Sushi, in particular, is usually prepared so lovingly, and presented so stunningly, that it’s hard to devour without admiring it first. Given that sushi can be eaten either with fingers or chopsticks, it’s an incredibly delicate process requiring time (and a little dexterity for chopstick-novices).
Slowing down and taking in your food’s aesthetics makes you more likely to understand its varied ingredients, as well as slowing you down. Eating slower can help you recognize when you’re full faster, reducing your risk of uncomfortable overeating.
Choosing Colors Wisely
Color plays a massive part in Japanese food’s presentation. Red, green, and yellow are common touches you’ll see again and again, while triangle-based layouts feature heavily.
Working a variety of colors into a dish may be easier in some cases than in others, depending on the ingredients required, but a diverse arrangement makes all the difference to the eye. A number of different colors also indicates a number of different flavors, too, making for a more dynamic taste.
You should also aim to leave a little space on your serving plate. Overloading the plate is more likely to make diners feel full, or intimidated, before they’ve even taken a bite. This can affect their appetite and, in turn, their overall dining experience.
Different elements of a meal should be arranged artistically. Pay attention to the amount of space between them, and their proximity to the edges. Think about how powerful blank space can be in a painting or on a page of text – not only does it make those filled areas appear more prominent and powerful, it adds a sense of cleanliness too.
Of course, mastering the art of Japanese presentation requires practice and the right equipment. Keeping your kitchen stocked with the best Japanese kitchen knives, ingredients, dishes, and more helps to make sure every meal is all it can be.