What Are the Most Popular Sushi Rolls in Japan? Delving into Authentic Japanese Favorites

Sushi is one of Japan’s most iconic and beloved culinary exports. While the international palate has led to the creation of a myriad of sushi rolls (like the California roll), the sushi rolls popular in Japan tend to be simpler and focus intensely on the flavor and quality of the ingredients. Let’s dive into some of the most popular sushi rolls relished in the Land of the Rising Sun.

  1. Tekkamaki (Tuna Roll)

Tekkamaki is a simple roll filled with fresh tuna. The name “tekka”, which means “hot iron”, is said to be derived from the roll’s resemblance to the red color of a heated iron. This roll is often eaten quickly in sushi bars and is a staple during traditional tea ceremonies.

  1. Kappamaki (Cucumber Roll)

Named after the water imp ‘kappa’, who is fond of cucumbers in Japanese folklore, this roll features crisp cucumber in the center. It’s a refreshing option and is often enjoyed as a palate cleanser between different types of fish.

  1. Tamagoyaki (Sweet Egg Roll)

A slightly sweet, layered omelette is the star of this sushi roll. Tamagoyaki offers a delicate sweetness, and its fluffy texture contrasts beautifully with the vinegared rice.

  1. Negitoromaki (Green Onion and Tuna Roll)

A delicious combination of finely chopped tuna (toro) and green onions. The fatty richness of the tuna harmonizes with the sharpness of the green onions, making it a favorite among sushi enthusiasts.

  1. Umejiso Maki (Pickled Plum and Shiso Leaf Roll)

This roll is a blend of sour and aromatic flavors, featuring pickled plum (umeboshi) and shiso leaf. It’s a unique combination that showcases the more traditional tastes of Japan.

  1. Ebi Tempura Maki (Tempura Shrimp Roll)

A fusion of the old and the new, this roll contains a piece of tempura-fried shrimp. It offers a delightful crunch and is often complemented with a little drizzle of eel sauce or a sprinkle of sesame seeds.

  1. Unakyu Maki (Eel and Cucumber Roll)

This roll pairs grilled eel (often brushed with a sweet soy-based sauce) with cucumber. The rich, umami flavor of the eel juxtaposes the crisp freshness of the cucumber.

  1. Kanpyo Maki (Dried Gourd Roll)

Kanpyo refers to dried gourd strips that are rehydrated and simmered in a sweet and salty sauce. This roll has a unique, slightly chewy texture and a subtle sweetness.

While the global sushi scene has innovated and adapted to local tastes, resulting in an array of creative rolls, the traditional favorites in Japan remain rooted in simplicity and the deep appreciation of each ingredient’s intrinsic flavor. Whether you’re planning a trip to Japan or visiting a traditional Japanese sushi bar elsewhere, trying these authentic rolls is a journey into the heart of Japanese culinary artistry.

This post was written by a professional at Suhi Inc. Sushi Inc opened in late 2013, and is a vibrant Japanese restaurants in St Petersburg Fl. It offers live music, traditional hand-rolled sushi and a friendly atmosphere. Residents love our award-winning, fresh and creative Sushi rolls, Nigiri, and Sashimi. With a larger selection of tempura, non-Sushi, and teriyaki options, we can accommodate every taste.