In the land of sushi, rice is the name of the game. The Japanese palate has been known to be very particular about rice since cultivating the highest quality of rice in all of the world has long been Japan’s pride. Here is a list of the recommended rice brands and some tips on choosing rice from the “five star rice master’s” point of view.
According to Nishijima Toyozo, there are several things that a customer should consider when buying rice such as: firmness, sweetness, the aftertaste, and place of production. Brand name should not be the biggest factor when choosing rice. But, you could also stick to one brand and sample crops of the same variety grown in different regions so that you could compare the flavors. Mr. Nishijima suggests that it is best to try sample rice grains from various regions (i.e. from Hokkaido to Kyushu) if you are not really sure which rice variety to pick.
Rice shops as well as the farmer who cultivated the variety also offer information on washing, cooking and eating rice to even further help you with your choice. Take note that even if the grains are of the same variety, the region where the rice is produced does matter. The rice produced in coastal areas, for instance, is best paired with seafood. Similarly, the rice cultivated in the mountainous regions is perfect with vegetables from the mountainous regions. If you want the best serving of rice, make sure to go to the region where rice is grown and make sure to use the local water when cooking the rice to get a superb rice dining experience.
Japanese rice has distinctly two major types with respect to taste—Koshihikari and Sasanishiki. Koshihikari is stickier and has a fuller and richer flavor than the other type and it is best for dinners, bentos and Western-style meals. Sasanishiki, on the other hand, is plain and it goes down the throat very smoothly which is a perfect choice for Japanese-style breakfasts.
Some of the best Sasanishiki types are those from Tsuyahime and Nanatsuboshi, while the most recommended Koshihikari types are Milky Queen, Yumegokochi and Yumepirika. Yumepirika is cultivated in Hokkaido and it is also ranked with Uonuma from Niigata Prefecture when it comes to flavor. The Tosa Tenku no Sato which is cultivated in the mountain regions of Kochi Prefecture on the island of Shikoku is a perfect brand for both the mountain and coastal delicacies of the island.
Meet Nishijima Toyozo: Japan’s Five–Star Rice Master
Cooking Japanese Rice in the Rice Cooker: Ensuring the Best Flavor
Yumepirika: The Development of One of the Best Rice Brands in Japan