Tanoshii: Where Japanese cuisine began in Quito

17/Agosto/2012 | 16:02

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When it comes to food, Quito is an international city with high-end restaurants and traditions from around the globe.  One tradition in particular has flourished in the past decade:  sushi.

Though sushi restaurants dot the city map, you can trace the beginnings of all sushi establishments in Quito to one location:  Tanoshii at the Swissotel. 

Tanoshii was the first restaurant to introduce Quiteñans to the exotic flavor of Japanese food, of which sushi is just a part.  Sushi is so prevalent in Quito that many think it reperesents Japanese gastronomy.  A visit to Tanoshii, though, can set the record straight or confuse you if you let it. 

Japanese cuisine is as diverse and complex as most Asian traditions.  It has traditional dishes but also popular dishes that many associate with Japanese cuisine.  Because of its geographic considerations (Japan is an island) seafood dominates much of the Japanese diet.

Japanese Dishes

The popular Japanese foods which were introduced first at Tanoshii include sushi, sashimi, tempura, and soba (noodles).  Though so many people enjoy these dishes, the terms are often used incorrectly.

Popular Japanese food includes sushi, which is nothing more than a cooked, vinegar rice combined with other ingredients – often seafood – with a special presentation.

Sashimi, another common dish, is fresh raw meat – usually fish - delicately sliced into manageable pieces.

Tempura consistes of seafood and vegetables lightly battered and fried while soba is a thick, buckwheat flour noodle.  Tanoshii offers soba it as well as udon, a thicker wheat flour noodle.

Other Japanese foods include donburi or dombori, a rice bowl dish with fish, meat, and vegetables simmered together, and traditional curries.

Finally, teppanyaki is not so much a dish as it is a preparation method in which food is prepared on a hot iron plate or griddle.  Teppan means grilled or broiled and most Japanese restaurants, Tanoshii included, have a special area where diners can watch the chef prepare their meal before them on the grill.

Japan has also developed a reputation for fine beef and Tanoshii offers three different tenderloin meals: steak sealed with teriyaki sauce (fish or chicken are available for substitutes), Teriyaki “mar and tierra” (steak, prawns, and salmon cooked in teriyaki), and a Uruguayan beef also prepared in teriyaki.


Japanese food in South American cannot be discussed without the mention of Nikkei - a fusion of Japanese cuisine and the flavors of Latin America.  The Nikkei culinary tradition originated in the homes of Japanese immigrants of Peru and emerged during the 1970s and 80s as a part of Peruvian gastronomic culture.    Today, hundreds of restaurants throughout Peru and Latin America offer Nikkei cuisine.

In Ecuador, Tanoshii again was the first to introduce Nikkei dishes to the public with plates such as Tiradito de lenguado (cuts of lenguado fish with “three salmon sauce”), acevichado (combination of prawns, avocado, salmon and tuna with sauce and camote), and tuna tataki salad (braised tuna with fresh salad, camote pasta, and tataki sauce).

Other delights

With the growth of Asian cuisine, it is not only Japanese food that has seen a surge in demand, but other traditions as well, particularly Korean food.  As a leader in Asian cuisine, Tanoshii has incorporated popular and traditional Korean dishes such as bibimpop, bulgogi, and kimchi soup.

To rediscover the beginnings of Asian cuisine in Quito, Tanoshii is enticing diners with two promotions:

Through the end of August, enjoy a Teppanyaki special of seafood ($38) or meat ($28) that includes a half sushi roll, flambéed dessert, and a glass of Miller Beer. 

And every Wednesday through Friday from 7:00-9:00 p.m. enjoy 2x1 sushi rolls and cocktails. 

There is no better way to get reacquainted with Quito’s first and greatest Japanese restaurant.

Tanoshii is open every day from 12:00 – 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 – 11:00 p.m.  Dinners average $30-35 per person including taxes.  For reservations contact Swissôtel at 256-7600.


Ciudad Quito

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lbrashear - en Diario HOY - Noticias de Ecuador.