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If you have never been to a Japanese Restaurant, here are some hints for having a successful and pleasant introduction to a wonderful food adventure.

Don't be intimidated! Sushi, raw fish with vinegar flavored rice, is not the only thing there. Most people like Teriyaki chicken or beef, even if you don't eat seafood. If you like deep fried food, Tempura is a popular choice. Most Japanese restaurants offer shrimp and vegetable tempura. If you are looking for an authentic Japanese Tempura, which is very light, it is hard to find. Most offers the "carnival food" style tempura with thick batter. It is such a "guilty-pleasure."

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Next step is to try other cooked Japanese food. Most people enjoy Sukiyaki (a hot pot dish with beef and vegetables cooked in a sweet soy flavored sauce.) You may also try rice bowl dishes, cooked meat and vegetables with eggs, served on top of rice. Miso soup often accompanies the meal and is one of the popular item. Miso is fermented soy-bean paste. It sounds strange, and it is very salty when you taste the paste. In miso soup, a small amount is dissolved in a flavorful stock with some small pieces of tofu, seaweed or vegetables.

For people who would like to try sushi without eating raw fish, you can try California roll - avocado, crab-flavored fish stick (cooked) and cucumber wrapped in vinegar-flavored rice and "nori," dried seaweed. It is not fishy, even with the seaweed. If you like rice salad, you'll probably enjoy it. There are also some vegetarian roll-style sushi. I won't recommend "oshinko" (dried daikon radish pickle) maki, "ume" (very salty or sour pickled plum) maki or "natto" (fermented soy-bean) maki for beginners! Stick with things you recognize, like cucumber and avocado. There are also other options with cooked items like shrimp and Japanese-style omelets (slightly sweet) for sushi. If you would like to take the plunge and do the raw fish, first make sure it is a reputable Japanese restaurant. (You do not have a bad first experience.) Then try tuna or mild white fish. You can always ask the sushi chef to give you a sampler.

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