Dining Out: Japanese Cuisine


This cuisine features smaller portions that are lower calories and lower fat (IF you avoid fried options) and emphasizes rice and soybean products. Sometimes features tabletop stir-fry cooking, some foods are fried, but most are grilled, broiled, braised, simmered or steamed.
Common Ingredients:

Generally meat, fish or chicken combine with fresh veggies. Dishes contain lots of rice, noodles, tofu, and seafood, a limited amount of additional oils and fat, and are usually accompanied by edible garnishes, such as vegetables or seaweed.
Hidden Dangers:
  • Ask that your dish not be prepared with soy sauce, fish sauce or MSG, all of which are high in sodium.
  • If you're watching your sodium, also go light on miso and teriyaki sauces.
  • “Tempura” dishes are batter-coated and fried. Just 3 large tempura prawns with veggies will cost you 320 calories and 18 grams of fat.
  • Watch for these words:
    • Tempura (battered and fried)
    • Agemono (breaded and fried)
    • Katsu (breaded and fried)
  • Breaded and fried dishes like Tonkatsu (pork) or Torikatsu (chicken)
  • Rainbow Roll: 480 calories, 10g fat
  • Beef Teriyaki with sauce with rice: 1,110 calories and 37g fat
  • 10-ounces of Teppanyaki (steak, seafood and veggies): 470 calories, 30g fat

Healthy Finds:
  • Udon (wheat noodles) or Soba (buckwheat noodles) are both healthy alternatives to rice.
  • Chawanmushi (chicken and shrimp baked with egg)
  • Sushi and sashimi (raw fish) are low in fat and high in protein. Just stay away from specialty rolls that are fried or topped with heavy sauces.
  • Look for these words:
    • Nimono (simmered)
    • Yaki (grilled)
  • Yosenabe (seafood and veggies)
  • Shabu Shabu (meat, veggies and seafood in boiling broth)
  • Yakitori (broiled chicken)
  • Domburi (rice covered in vegetables, meat, poultry, and egg)
  • Nigiri (slices of raw fish atop rice): 35 calories, 1g fat.
  • Norimaki (seaweed-wrapped sushi)
  • Tamagoyaki (sweet egg omelet): 70 calories, 1g fat
  • Tofu Dengaku (grilled tofu with miso): 140 calories and 5g fat
  • California Roll: 180 calories, 6g fat
  • Clear soups like Miso (50 calories, 1g fat) or dashi (fish-based stock)

The Big Tip:

Steaming vegetables not only locks in valuable antioxidants, but cuts down on fats and calories.
Substitution Ideas:

 Try This Skip That
Steamed rice Fried rice
Lemon slice Miso dressing on salad
Stir-fried dishes Deep-fried dishes
Stir-fried tofu Fried tofu
Edamame (soybean pods) Vegetable Tempura
Sashimi Shrimp Tempura
Vegetable roll (180 calories) Eel Avocado roll (372 calories)
Tuna Sashimi (164 calories)  Spicy Tuna roll (290 calories)
Salmon Cucumber roll (231 calories, 4g fat) Salmon, Cream cheese, Cucumber roll (379 calories, 19g fat)
Chicken or Beef Teriyaki Tonkatsu (breaded pork)
Hot mustard Soy or Teriyaki sauce

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Member Comments

Thank you for the great tips. I have always loved tempura anything but now see that I must branch out a bit. Great article! Report
thanks for sharing Report
Thanks for sharing Report
thank you Report
I have pinned this so when I'm out I can
reference this list. However for those of us who are concerned w/ prediabetes or who it, white rice is poison & I seldom eat it. I spoke to some Asian friends & they tell me obesity, diabetes & heart disease are impacting their people too now that more food is available generally plus many are including at least some westernized foods. I hope SP recognizes that since so many articles are out of date. It's 2019 & the world is changing rapidly particularly when it comes to diet knowledge. Report
Thanks for the great article! :) Report
This was really helpful for my wife and me to learn. I've pinned it as well as printed it out for our own digital storage.

Btw, I do love the interesting texture and flavor of octopus-sashimi. I was served it first in a hole-in-the-wall Japanese restaurant in the Seattle area favored by old-school Japanese residents who became American citizens. That was almost 3 decades ago and I still carry images and memory of it. I'd worked in an older couple's home, and they recommended it to me -- and it was near where I lived but all the way across town from where they lived. Good stuff, no frillies or pretense. Report
thanks Report
Good article. Report
More comfortable eating this kind of food. Report
I love ordering veggie teryaki at our local Japanese place, but the servings are huge and I tend to eat way too much of it...veggies or not, it is still too much food and I am way too tempted to eat it all. Report
The dining out guides are awesome! I just wish we could access these on our phone apps for the times choosing a resturant is last minute! Report
Edamame is also good at any Japanese/sushi restaurant! Report
I never realized how many calories were in some of my favorite sushi rolls (spicy tuna, rainbow roll, etc). Seems like all the times I thought sushi was a healthier lunch option might not have been so right :) Report