Wintertime is a great time to switch hemispheres and catch up on tropical weather south of the Equator. In this winter guide to destinations with awesome Japanese cuisine, we are going to focus on three places that are just perfect for escaping to this time of year. All three host Japanese food scenes that are unique and well worth exploring as well.
Hawaii – Poke Bowls in Paradise
Not only is Hawaii blessed with a gorgeous climate, it’s surrounded by the mighty Pacific Ocean. This means that high-quality fish is abundant. Also, Hawaii has a strong Japanese influence for generations, it has become a sushi sanctuary with serious dimensions.
One of the best expressions of this Hawaiian sushi fusion is the Poke bowl, which uses sashimi-style raw fish to create rice salads in a bowl. The most popular of these include tuna and tako (octopus), although there are many others as well. To try Poke at its best, pop into Maguro Bros in Honolulu, where former Tokyo fish market fish buyer Junichiro Tsuchiya is wowing the masses. For something even more creative, check out Sansei — which means “third generation” in Japanese. Here you can try Hawaiian Japanese fusion cuisine like seared foie gras nigiri sushi served with caramelized Maui onions, fresh mango and a drizzle of unagi glaze in an upscale environment.
Singapore – Garden City Delights
This tropical nation state is one of the most prosperous countries in the world. Also with an interesting mix of different Asian ethnicity populating it, the food scene in Singapore is stand-out as well. In fact, Singapore claims that it is home to the best sushi bars outside of Japan itself, and it surely wouldn’t be surprising if this was absolutely true.
If anyone can prove this point, its Chef Ronnie of Tatsuya, who won the World Gourmet Summit Asian Ethic chef moniker for two years and now operates out of the historic Goodwood Park Hotel. At Tatsuya, you are going to find classic Japanese done with an influence of Asian fusion flavors. Stand-out items include the wagyu beef bowls and the award-winning omakase. Another amazing option in Singapore is Shinji by Kanesaka. Two Michelin star-wearing Chef Shinji Kanesaka serves top-quality sushi here on a bar made from a 200-year-old hinoki tree!
It might seem like the end of the world is a strange place to find amazing Japanese food. However, Easter Island simply will not disappoint. Even though it’s one of the most isolated islands on earth, Easter Island is gaining steam as a tourist’s destination. Accessible by flight from both Chile and Tahiti, the island is attracting an eclectic range of visitors who want to see the Moai standing stones.
The island has also attracted some interesting long-term residents, including Francisco Xavier, chef and owner of the Izakaya Kotaro. After spending 10 years in Japan studying traditional culinary techniques, this Chilean chef decided to set up shop on Easter Island, to the delight of both locals and tourists. Kotaro is known far and wide for his handmade ramen and udon noodles and his homemade tofu. While Kotaro uses fresh local seafood and creates his own items as well, he also imports things like miso, soy sauce and even rice all the way from Japan!