What is Umami? More Than Just “Delicious”!

If you regularly eat Japanese cuisine, you may have heard this phrase, umami, in the past. It is a term that is commonly used to describe a delicious and savory sensation, such as biting into a juicy burger or taking a sip of piping hot meat broth.

Osaka Las Vegas el pollo loco sushi roll on a plate

Umami is rich in fish, meat, and soy sauce. Sushi is a natural source of umami-packed nutrients. (El Pollo Roll)

Is Umami just a word to describe something delicious?

Umami is more than just an adjective for delicious food, it is actually a food taste we can distinctively detect.

This is significant because, for many years, food taste was broken down into four categories: sweetness, saltiness, sourness, and bitterness. Everything we eat is either one or a combination of these food tastes.

Kikunae Ikeda

Chemist Kikunae Ikeda discovered the fifth taste sensation, umami.

It wasn’t until the early 1900s when Japanese chemist Kikunae Ikeda discovered a fifth food taste, and coined it umami, after the Japanese term for delicious (Umai).

Umami sensation is triggered when the tongue detects a chemical compound called glutamate. You may be familiar with monosodium glutamates or MSG. Since the discovery, many restaurants choose to use MSG to trigger an umami sensation.

What type of food contains Umami?

Well, sushi and Japanese cuisine, in general, tend to be packed with umami-rich sources such as fish, broth, shrimp, shiitake mushrooms…Even soy sauce! You’ll be pleased to know that because Osaka’s menu items offer natural glutamates from foods without the need for MSG.

Osaka Japanese Bistro teppanyaki chefs at their grill portrait of three teppan expert chefs

Osaka chefs explain the sensation of umami.

The savory taste that you recognize and love from Osaka’s food are thanks to its abundance in umami and other delicious ingredients.

“Umami offers a distinct food taste,” Green Valley sushi chef says. “We are mindful of it and try to incorporate umami into our dishes.”

Does Osaka Japanese Bistro offer Umami-rich selections?

Choose from the following if you are looking for a delectable umami meal:

fresh sliced aji sashimi presented by Osaka Japanese Bistro

Fish is naturally packed with umami.

Sushi – Any nigiri or roll (with Soy Sauce for added umami)

Nabeyaki Udon

Miso Soup

Seaweed Salad

Green Tea

See Our Online Menu

These are some of the available options at Osaka where you can dine a highly nutritious and umami-filled experience. See all of Osaka Japanese Bistro’s umami-rich dishes on our online menu.

Top 3 Sushi Rolls You Need to Try in Las Vegas

Las Vegas is home to many unique attractions such as the iconic Las Vegas Strip, acrobatic Cirque De Soleil shows, exciting nightclubs, and more. Because Las Vegas is such a hot spot, you’re bound to find plenty of unique restaurants and eateries on and off the Strip. Naturally, restaurants strive to find new and creative ways to meet the expectations of the tourists and locals in the valley. Osaka Japanese Bistro is no exception. With the recent explosion of popularity in Japanese cuisine and primarily sushi, Osaka Japanese Bistro is always looking to improve its menu. Operational for over 50 years, Osaka Japanese Bistro has created award-winning sushi rolls over the years. Today, we want to share 3 sushi rolls that you need to try in Las Vegas.

3. Cajun Crunch Sushi Roll

A personal favorite of mine, the Cajun Crunch Sushi Roll is an explosion of irresistible flavor. The roll contains crispy shrimp tempura, cream cheese, and spicy crab topped with fresh albacore and Tataki & Banzai sauce. My first bite into the Cajun Crunch roll, I was met with the crunchy texture of the shrimp tempura. The oozy consistency of the cream cheese, however, was a nice contrast in comparison. The crab delivers just the right amount of spiciness to balance out the sweet and salty taste of the Tataki & Banzai sauce. The Cajun Crunch beautifully executes albacore, shrimp, and crab in one delicious roll.

2. Asakusa Sushi Roll

I had the pleasure of visiting Asakusa earlier this year during the Spring. While many temples are scattered throughout Japan, Asakusa is home to some of the most iconic temples in the bustling part of Tokyo. Though integrating modern buildings and roads without damaging the hundred-year-old temples were certainly a challenge, Asakusa is a clear example that old and new can seamlessly blend in today’s age. The Asakusa Sushi Roll does not exist in Asakusa, and sushi rolls, in general, are not nearly as popular in Japan compared to the United States. However, the Asakusa Sushi Roll served in Osaka Japanese Bistro is a perfect blend of Japanese-American sushi while containing the elegance and simplicity of Japanese sushi. It is served with spicy tuna, fresh albacore, and scallions topped with Tataki sauce. This fairly subtle but delicious roll is bound to impress you!

1. Roppongi Roll

This shouldn’t come as a surprise, as numerous celebrities, media, and Guy Fieri has raved about the Roppongi Roll. The Roppongi Hills in Japan is equivalent to that of Beverly Hills in the United States. If the prestigious class of these two neighborhoods is directly representative to the taste of this roll, then I cannot find a better name! The Roppongi Roll contains spicy tuna, shrimp topped with another serving of tuna, masago, scallions, and drizzled with Tataki and Yum Yum sauce. This beautiful combination of sauce and fish with a sprinkle of masago on the top of each roll is simply a masterpiece. If you haven’t tried the Roppongi Roll at Osaka Japanese Bistro yet, you should, especially if you are a constant sushi connoisseur.

In conclusion, these are the 3 sushi rolls I recommend trying in Las Vegas. You can find all three of rolls only at Osaka Japanese Bistro.

Authentic Japanese Sushi Reflects Japanese Culture

Authentic Japanese sushi meal with sushi roll, green tea, wasabi and soy sauce artistically arranged

Sushi plate

Sushi is a dish loved around the world. Once it left Japan, sushi became a magnet for food lovers everywhere, with sushi bars and sushi restaurants popping up across the US, in Europe and basically just about everywhere. Japanese sushi is a complex and refined culinary specialty that truly reflects the Japanese culture it came from. Translating it abroad brings challenges, but true aficionados recognize and appreciate authentic Japanese sushi when and where they find it.

Japanese Pursuit of Perfection

japanese pursuit of perfection symbolized in perfectly trimmed bonsai tree in a container in a Japanese garden

The Japanese culture is steeped in a search for perfection, whether in the craft or profession they practice, in school, or even in simple day to day activities, like cultivating the perfect bonsai tree. The Japanese value in themselves and others a high degree of devotion and capacity to deliver excellence in all that they do. This tradition is probably related to the historical practice of Confucianism, when everyone was given a place in society and a task to accomplish. All tasks were valued, no matter the person’s status. This tradition has only deepened over the centuries. The Japanese have shown themselves to be capable of rising to the top in a number of industries by delivering consistently high quality products, such as we’ve seen in industries like automobiles and electronics.

In Pursuit of Perfect Sushi

Fresh fish in white tiger sushi from Osaka Japanese Restaurant

Nowhere in Japanese culinary arts is this passion for quality and perfectionism greater than in the realm of sushi-making. Sushi is a culinary salute to Japanese ingenuity and precision. Through its long history in Japan as this fascinating delicacy was perfected, sushi became one of the world’s most loved and sought-after dishes. In the wisdom of one of the world’s most renowned sushi chefs, Jiro Ono, a primary principle of personal endeavor toward higher degrees of perfection in life is to master the art of simplicity. Great depth and purity follow from simplicity, hence, the finest sushi is simple.

This passion for perfection became an art form in its own right in sushi’s creative recipes and presentation. The best world-class sushi chefs painstakingly master this Japanese culinary art to apply exacting standards of freshness and a perfect balance of flavors and textures. And sushi-lovers everywhere never stop delighting in the new varieties of sushi they discover to sample and enjoy.  

How Do You Know Its Authentic Japanese Sushi?

Aji nigiri one piece tuna sushi

Sushi is loved worldwide, and no place more so than in America. Americans love sushi, and eat over $2 billion dollars worth every year. But, sushi made in America may differ significantly from traditional Japanese sushi.  Many chefs are not Japan-trained and so may not achieve the standards of knowledge and preparation that every sushi chef in Japan will master. In Japan, a sushi chef trainee may spend two years just learning to prepare sushi rice correctly. Most schools in America will not have patience for that kind of extensive practice.

American sushi recipes are adjusted to satisfy American tastes, which includes milder and sweeter tastes. Differences in the amounts and ways that soy sauce is used and various other differences in flavors distinguish the two culinary cultures. Americans like soy sauce, but it’s important to use only a small amount, and dip the fish end of the sushi into it as too much soy sauce will make the rice fall apart. Americans prefer their rice on the outside of a sushi roll, while in Japan, rolls may be wrapped in seaweed, neatly enclosing the rice and other ingredients. Sushi rolls tend to be bite-size and simple in Japan. In America, they are preferred to be larger and packed with more ingredients.

And, the “all you can eat” sushi bar, which is common in the US, is a concept that does not really exist in Japan. Whereas the US may expect to focus on being able to serve large quantities of sushi quickly, quality and presentation, rather than volume, are paramount in traditional Japanese sushi preparation.

Perfect Sushi Rice is Fundamental


A very important indicator that your sushi is authentic Japanese sushi is the quality of the rice. Preparing just the right mix of rice and vinegar balances the taste perfectly with the fish that graces the sushi. The rice must be of the right texture and perfectly cooked so that it never falls apart on the plate, yet will melt deliciously in the mouth when eaten.

Sushi rice should be made in small batches as rice ages quickly and loses its perfect texture within a short time. This is one reason many connoisseurs avoid large “all you can eat” establishments that have to make their sushi rice in bulk which makes it hard to a keep rice fresh and of the highest quality. Sadly, a lot of American sushi does not achieve the quality of rice needed to call out the flavor of the fish and deliver a great sushi experience.

Japan-Trained Sushi Chefs

To achieve the highest level of sushi master chef, the Japanese sushi student must apprentice through up to ten years of training. A Japan-trained sushi chef has learned to deeply understand and use the best and freshest species of fish to create unique and beautiful sushi. He (or she, although most Japan-trained sushi chefs are still men) is expected to add his own creative flair and special touches that makes their clients come back for more. Sushi connoisseurs seek out sushi restaurants that employ Japan-trained sushi staff because they know that is where they will experience the true tastes, textures and pleasures of authentic sushi.

Authentic Japanese Sushi on Sahara in Las Vegas and Green Valley Henderson

Kai's Special sushi roll from Osaka Japanese Bistro

The Osaka Japanese Bistro in Las Vegas is an authentic, family-owned Japanese restaurant, established in 1967, and now operated by the second generation of the Nakanishi family. Recognized by Japan’s largest weekly magazine, the Asahi Shukan, as one of the world’s 50 best Japanese restaurants, Osaka is widely known for our quality sushi. We serve a wide selection of authentic sushi, nigiri and sashimi to satisfy even the most thrill-seeking and experienced sushi-lovers, and specialize in serving exotic fish, usually found only in Japan. Indeed, our specialty is our large, authentic Japanese sushi menu, including daily and seasonal specials and hard-to-find sushi varieties, prepared by Japan’s former National Sushi Competition Adjudicator, and award winning sushi chef, Chef Shingo “Shin” Aihara and his professional Japan-trained staff. We also serve an extensive menu of traditional Japanese dishes, including a teppanyaki grill experience.

Osaka now has two locations, in Las Vegas on West Sahara and our Henderson location in Green Valley. When in Las Vegas, if you’re ready to try something new and adventurous, Osaka probably has it! Come in and experience Japanese-style sushi and other delicacies that represent the very best Japanese cuisine.

5 Ways to Know you’ve Found a Top Sushi Place

Five Qualities of Top Sushi

8 piece futomaki sushi roll on a plate

A top sushi place is hard to find, but when you find one, you’ll know it. At Osaka Japanese Bistro we’ve spent over 50 years perfecting the art of great sushi. Our sushi recipes are perfected using traditional methods of sushi-making, prepared by classically trained and experienced sushi chefs, and using only the freshest fish and finest quality ingredients. This is why so many Las Vegas casinos depend on us to provide sushi to their guests at buffets and other venues. We think we know a thing or two about great sushi and we’d like to share that knowledge with you.

While good sushi may satisfy your palate, the best quality sushi is a delightful and exotic experience that ignites your senses. Rather than merely a meal, the best sushi is a unique combination of art and science, crafted with attention to detail that leaves a lasting impression. Each sushi order is made fresh, created specifically for you, the customer. The sushi chef’s years of experience, training, knowledge and passion are reflected in each and every plate of sushi that is served.

But what are the key factors that separate merely good sushi and truly amazing sushi?

Five Signs you’ve Found the Best Quality Sushi


1. Presentation

More than any other food, sushi presentation matters almost as much as taste. Visit the sushi bar itself where the work si done. You should immediately see an impressive display, the sushi chef’s iced case with his supply fresh fish full of luster and shine and never any fishy odor around. An array of other fresh ingredients should be neatly arranged in the display case. The same care taken to make ingredients visibly appealing is likely taken in preparing your dish. When your entrée arrives, a truly perfect plate of sushi will look fresh and carefully composed, full of vibrant colors and a purposeful presentation and overall artistry that demonstrates the chef’s careful use of his tools and ingredients to deliver a beautiful dish.

Nigiri fresh roe and shrimp arrangement

2. Sushi Rice

The rice is a critical element in sushi and never an afterthought. It is so important, that a master sushi chef may spend years learning to craft the perfect rice. Typically dressed with seasoned vinegar, sushi rice should have a glossy sheen.

Sushi rice has the perfect texture to play off the fish. It should be sticky so that it holds together as you take a bite, but should still separate into individual grains once in your mouth, delicate enough that it brings out the flavors of the other ingredients. No matter what kind of sushi is on the menu, the rice is the core ingredient and starting point for great sushi.

3. Fresh Sushi Ingredients

Daily access to fresh, high quality fish is the mark of a superb sushi restaurant. To put it simply, the fish should be extremely fresh, usually delivered daily. It should never smell “fishy” which is a sign the fish is no longer fresh.

tiger roll Osaka Japanese restaurant sushi roll

Each piece of sushi should have a clean taste, with a variety of textures that melt smoothly in your mouth. Ingredients like seaweed should be crisp, not soggy or rubbery.  The restaurant should serve high-grade soy sauce that is mellow in taste, and should be made from freshly grated wasabi root.

4. Technique and Skill

The sushi chef is the heart and soul of the sushi experience. With years of training, a skilled chef will have excellent knife skills and manual dexterity, many years experience with a range of menus, flavors and recipes, and a personal, unique style that contributes to the uniqueness of the restaurant. In addition, the sushi chef’s commitment to the art of creating sushi is evidenced through a constant drive for self-improvement. An artist to the core, a sushi chef takes great pride in pleasing his audience.

Shinjuku sushi at Osaka Japanese Bistro Las Vegas

5. Creativity

The best quality sushi will reflect the restaurant’s unique style and personality. This will be reflected in the creativity of the menu. The sushi chef’s artistic vision should entice customers with a variety of culinary selections built around many types of fish and other ingredients. Many develop specialties using local ingredients or to please local tastes. Others perfect old classics with flair and extra touches to add variety and style. To truly appreciate a great sushi chef, look for the “chef’s choice” on the menu. It indicates that they are excited to inspire your palate with innovative cuisine. A changing menu is also a great sign. This means that the restaurant is constantly experimenting with new combinations to tantalize your taste buds.

Great Sushi is in How it Tastes

Of course, the final test of your great sushi experience will be when you actually consume the sushi.  But first, a true sushi experience is more than just eating your food. It is an experience of many senses – visual, because a beautiful presentation will whet your appetite; your nose, because fresh and delicate smells will prepare your taste buds, and of course taste, the most perfect, melt-in-your-mouth sushi rice will make room for all the accompanying ingredients to deliver a wonderfully delicious sushi experience. The best quality sushi will always deliver fresh and exciting tastes that make you linger over the sensation and then go back for another bite.

Enjoy Top Sushi at Osaka Japanese Bistro in Las Vegas

The ideal piece of sushi combines a variety of fresh ingredients to achieve a delicate balance of flavors. While the taste should be fantastic, the presentation, chef’s expertise, and the originality of the restaurant’s menu and ambiance are just as important.

It is rare to find a sushi experience that meets each of these criteria, but here at Osaka Japanese Bistro we are proud to have achieved this feat. Try our unique menu and dare to be inspired!

10 Japan Travel Tips for First Time Visitors

Kyoto Japan- Kiyomizu-dera is an independent Buddhist temple in eastern Kyoto. The temple is part of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto.

If you are a Westerner travelling to Japan for the first time, there are some useful tips to help you feel more familiar with the Japanese culture once you arrive. Japan is a rich culture with traditions that date back centuries, contributing to an organized, harmonious nation on a very crowded set of islands that make up Japan. Below are ten key tips you are not going to want to overlook when planning a trip to Japan:

  1. Learn a few basic Japanese phrases. This will help you when navigating around Japan. Just knowing a few to several phrases will get you through more doors, make it easier to Kyoto shopkeeper preparing food samples for her customerscommunicate your needs, and will act as a cultural ice-breaker. Here’s one to help you navigate the subway: “Sumimasen. Eigo no mappu wo arimasuka? Arigatou gozaimasu!” English translation: “Excuse me. Is there an English map? Thank you so much!” Another is: “O genki-desu ka? Genkidesu.” or “How are you? I’m fine”. And always say “Arigatou gozaimasu” (are-ee-gah-toe go-zai-mass) or Thank you so much. Use this Japanese language guide to learn more helpful phrases.
  2. Have some cash Yen on hand. Japan is still largely a cash society. Credit card use is limited, and you’ll want to have several thousand Yen on hand at least. If you’re flying in from the US or Europe, exchanging within Japan gives you a better rate. If you’re coming from Australia, Canada, or the U.K. you’re better off exchanging your money into Yen before you fly. You will be able to use most major credit cards to get money at the ATMs in Japan, but be prepared to pay big fees for this.
  3. Restaurants. It’s hard to find a bad meal in Japan, from high-end fusion restaurants down to tiny $8 bowl of noodle shops. Japan cherishes their rich food tradition and they do it with a flair all Plastic Japanese noodle bowls on display in Japanese restaurant windowtheir own. From crab claws to octopus balls to sashimi, to teppanyaki, kaiseki, and steaks–you’re bound to find a good meal wherever you travel in Japan.
  4. Save money eating out.  Speaking of noodle shops, they are everywhere in Japan–like hamburger joints in America or fish and chips shops in the UK. The great news is, they serve inexpensive, filling meals generally consisting of some kind of “noodle bowl” combination, featuring vegetables, beef, or fish mixed with a variety of choices on noodles, like yakisoba, udon, or ramen. Simple, fast, filling and found everywhere, don’t miss enjoying a simple noodle dish during your stay in Japan.
  5. Get a Japan Rail Pass. This is for those looking to travel to other cities and destinations in Japan A JR pass will save you money and time as you travel around. This pass is only available to foreign visitors and is economically priced lower than the fares that locals pay. Good for one-three TOKYO JAPAN -Shinkansen Hayate train at Tokyo Station.weeks, a Japan Rail Pass is a great way to get around.
  6. Mannerliness. Manners are everything in Japan. Gratitude is also at the top of the list. Bow a lot in appreciation, remove hands from pockets, say “Arigatou gozaimasu” after almost any interaction with the Japanese, and you will be well-received.
  7. Don’t litter! This is another biggie. You won’t see litter bins on every corner like you do in Europe and North America. That’s because the Japanese have special rubbish bin areas, and take meticulous pains to keep their city streets among the cleanest in the world. Basically, hold on to your trash until you find a litter bin area. The Japanese also recycle everything–you’ll see the bins and symbols for what goes where.
  8. No need to tip. There is no need to tip anyone in Japan–ever. In fact, the Japanese people find it rude to tip, thinking that it is like a bribe to “do better,” or a way of telling them they need to improve their service. If you tip out of habit, don’t be surprised if a hotel employee or waiter chases you down to (politely) return the money.
  9. TOKYO - DECEMBER 10: Pedestrians cross at Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo, Japan, one of the world's busiest crosswalksCab rides. Taxis in Japan are generally very expensive. When public transportation shuts down between 10 p.m. and midnight, they’re in much greater demand. Split fares with groups to cut costs. Use them for short trips–say, to and from your hotel to close-by places (within a mile or two). And remember, don’t tip!
  10. Peace and quiet. Another anomaly to Westerners is the strange quiet found even in busy crowded streets. You may wonder, “Why is everyone so quiet?” But, this is the level of appreciation the Japanese have for pleasant peace and quiet. Speak in a low voice even when talking outside, or you will be considered rude.

And, most of all, have fun and enjoy your trip to Japan.