Japan has a unique and varied cuisine, going beyond sushi and ramen. While many may have these two in mind when it comes to Japanese food, Japan’s food culture offers a variety of amazingly mouth-watering dishes.
Popular dishes in Japan vary depending on region. Read on to find out which dishes you should try in each particular region in Japan.
Okonomiyaki, famous in Osaka, is a Japanese pancake consisting of a pan fried batter, topped with different ingredients from seafood to cheese. While this dish can be found all over japan, it is most popular in Osaka and Hiroshima.
In Hiroshima, okonomiyakis are served with a layer of fried soba noodles in the middle, adding a unique element to the dish.
If you visit okonomiyaki restaurants, they are typically equipped with an iron griddle where you will be able to cook your own okonomiyaki.
While this dish had originated in China, they have become popular in Japan and can be found all over the country in street stalls and restaurants. Gyoza’s are dumplings that are typically filled with meat and vegetables.
There are three different types of gyozas in Japan — Yaki Gyoza (pan fried), Sui Gyoza (boiled) and Age Gyoza (deep fried).
Japanese gyozas are popular as a snack or appetizer before a meal as they are juicy, crispy and light. Around Japan, you will also be able to find some creative gyozas, coming up with a range of unique fillings from curry to cheese.
This dish was first introduced to japan in the 16th century. Tempura comes in different forms, from seafood to vegetables dipped in a light batter and fried in canola oil.
Tempura, while deep fried, is light and crisp as compared to fried dishes in other parts of the world and can be eaten with rice or on its own.
This term refers to various Japanese cattle breeds including, Japanese Black, Japanese Brown, Japanese Polled and Japanese Shorthorn. Beef that is produced from these cattle are known as wagyu. There are also various grades of wagyu, depending on the beef’s marbling.
One of the most popular wagyu in Japan is Kobe Beef, originating in Kobe. This beef is also known as the most expensive beef in the world.
Wagyu can be eaten in various forms, from steak to grilled yakiniku. In some parts of Japan, you will also be able to find wagyu sashimi.
If you are one who likes trying out unique dishes, fugu is the dish for you. Fugu is a pufferfish and usually served as sashimi or in hot pots. While it can be delicious, it can also be lethal due to fugu having toxins in some parts of its body.
Preparing this dish is rigidly controlled by the Japanese government, due to the fish characteristics. Chefs would need to get a licence and undergo 3 years of training to be able to prepare this dish.
While this dish is disliked by many foreigners, natto is widely consumed by the Japanese. Natto is a dish made from fermented soy beans and often served with rice.
This dish is an acquired taste and many find it smelly and weird due to its texture. However, this Japanese dish is one you should try when in Japan.
An onigiri consists of rice that is lightly salted and wrapped around different ingredients such as plum and salmon. Onigiri is a Japanese snack that can be found in various locations in Japan, including convenient stores. This snack is typically formed in a triangular shape and wrapped in nori.
Takoyaki is a modern Japanese creation, and widely popular in Japan. This is a ball-shaped snack consisting of battered diced octopus, tempura, ginger and onions. These balls are then topped with Takoyaki sauces including barbecue, mayonnaise and bonito flakes.
This snack is usually found in street stalls around Osaka with its fragrant smell filling the streets.
Matcha is finely ground green tea leaves and is important in Japanese culture. Traditionally, matcha is mixed with water to make tea, and a central component in Japanese tea ceremonies.
The best place to try matcha is in Uji, a town between Kyoto and Nara. These days, matcha is incorporated in many dishes from soba to ice cream. You are able to find matcha-flavored dishes all around Japan in restaurants and street stalls.
Mochi refers to sweet rice cakes that are filled with various fillings from ice cream to fruits. A traditional mochi in Japan, however, is filled with red bean paste — a sweet filling made from azuki beans.
You can find this dessert freshly made from street vendors all around Japan. One of the most popular spots to have mochi is in Nara!
Similar to mochi, dango is skewered rice cake balls grilled over charcoal. This dessert comes in various colors and flavors, with the most iconic colors being pink, white and green.
A popular type of dango is mitarashi — dango brushed with sweetened soy sauce glaze while grilled.