Quite often the uninformed patron can mistake Japanese and Chinese food, dismissing their differences through ignorance or apathy and just labeling them as Asian cuisine. After all, if it has rice, meat, and some sauce it’s pretty much the same thing right? This really couldn’t be further from the truth as Japanese and Chinese foods have many differences in their respective cuisines through treatment of the meal, ingredients, and tastes.
Meat The protein of the dish is probably the most glaring difference between the two cuisines. Japanese food is known for having seafood as a traditional part of the meal, with livestock only really being a dish on special occasions. Japan is a fairly mountainous island; while they had a bustling fishing economy, they really didn’t have much land for livestock to graze. Conversely, China has a lot more land space than Japan does, with much of its land smack in the middle of the continent of Asia. This means room for herding and raising livestock making meats like pork the mainstay of Chinese food, with smaller seafood salads being a course for holidays like the Lunar New Year.
Technique and Flavor Once again, this is an aspect that Japanese and Chinese food couldn’t be more different in. Japanese food typically has much milder flavors, usually involving things like soy, fish stock, and salt. Japanese cuisine tends to try and bring out the natural flavor of the ingredient, sometimes serving it raw so as to not overdo the natural flavor. The popularity of sashimi and sushi restaurants is evident of this minimalist attitude. Chinese food is once again the polarity. Chinese food emphasizes powerful tastes like oyster sauces, and bean curd pastes. If anything is ever served raw, it must be heavily spiced. Also, as far as method goes Chinese food favors the traditional wok to fry the meal together, usually keeping the grease as part of the taste.
It is for this reason that Chinese food is generally considered less healthy than Japanese, as Japanese cuisine is grilled on a flat, grill-like table called teppans.
Fusion Despite their differences, the two cuisines have a high compatibility for fusion cuisine. Fusion cuisine is the blending of characteristics between different regional or likewise cooking styles to form a new cuisine. While Chinese food has rarely experimented with fusion techniques until more modern times, Japanese restaurants have been practicing fusion for hundreds of years due to Japan’s place as a trade powerhouse in the Pacific and more contact with Western influences. Japanese fusion is famous for bringing beef to Japan from the west, a fascination that has led to modern Japan producing some of the finest beef in the world.
Japanese and Chinese cuisines are ripe for fusion, especially through their shared ingredients such as rice, though their attitudes on rice differ greatly. A typical Japanese and Chinese fusion can feature the cooking and attention to detail of Japanese cuisine with the powerful tastes and heartiness of Chinese food, making for a powerful new cuisine to try at a downtown restaurant.