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It is rather strange yet completely true: there are two kinds of Japanese restaurants. One is for Japanese people; the other for ‘foreigners’. And there is hardly any overlap. It may not be about the taste of the food or the ingredients used, but other factors. Take sushi for instance. Because it has rice (carbohydrate) in it, a Japanese person would eat it right at the end of his meal, but a Westerner or an Indian would eat it as an appetiser. The Japanese have no hard and fast theory about how early or late in the meal sequence soup should be consumed, but they’re very clear that rice is the last part of the meal. Sometimes the Japanese don't even order sushi at all!
In contrast, no visit to Wasabi, Sakura, Megu or Eest is imaginable without a platter of sushi. However, even that is not the only difference. In Japanese restaurants like Tamura, Kyoto,Izu and Daikichi, you’ll seldom spot a non-Japanese diner there and you’ll find that the sushi on the menu is relegated to a bit-player as opposed to the star of the show that it is elsewhere. What does move to centre-stage is ramen noodle soup. As filling as a complete meal, it is usually made in a few varieties because it requires several hours to prepare the stock. Such restaurants also offer ‘donburi’ or a bowl of rice with a fried, grilled or stewed topping in the form of pork, chicken, fish or vegetables. Prices are low typically, frills are non-existent and the cook is usually Japanese or Japanese-trained. Also, locally-sourced fish is a no-no, ditto for pork.
There is just one dish that is loved by both sides of the divide: ‘okonomiyaki,’ generally described as a Japanese pizza.
Appearing incognito is The Phantom's style, so we are keeping this identity under wraps. What we can tell you is that this is one food critic that has earned the respect of restaurateurs and foodies alike. With an astute palate and an adventurous spirit, the Phantom Critic has more than 20 years of experience writing about food and reviewing restaurants