One of the latest trends originating in the Kyoto region of Japan, souzai is a collection of side dishes that can be served hot or cold. Chef Juro Oki brought his expertise to I Love Sushi in Bellevue, where they now offer a deli case full of souzai-style salads available to go.
“Souzai is not just for convenience, but based on goodness of ingredients to your body,” says chef Oki through an interpreter.
Souzai contains many health-promoting ingredients, like antioxidants and digestive enzymes. Not only does it deliver a nutrient-packed punch, but it also manages to maintain the delicate and detailed style of Japanese dishes.
On the savory-umami side are dishes like the hijiki mineral salad — a rainbow of beans offset by black threads of hijiki, a type of seaweed, tossed in a soy-sesame oil dressing; steamed chicken salad with shio koji — tender juicy shredded chicken breast tossed with green onions, Chinese zasai pickles, sesame oil, and fermented seasonings; and Wagyu kimpira salad — thinly sliced burdock root with American Wagyu beef. Sweeter dishes include Yellow Power Salad — a mound of sunny-colored fruits like pineapple, oranges, mango, papaya, and passion fruit tossed with chia seeds, lemon, turmeric, and honey — or the shrimp and broccoli salad with sweet mayo dressing.
There are also protein-based dishes like kurosu kara-age — breaded, fried chicken thighs with colorful bell pepper slices; onions; and a rice vinegar, garlic, ginger, soy, and sugar sauce. Curry-spiced calamari rings and yuzu-flavored squid and cucumber salad offer seafood protein options.