TOP FOODS TO EAT WHEN VISITING JAPAN
Japan tops the list of must-visit countries to visit after the pandemic. And surely one of the best things to do when visiting is try the country’s local food. But for those of you who don’t have any idea which Japanese food to try, read on to get some knowledge of Japan’s delicious foods.
These foods are easily found everywhere in Japan. Prices vary depending on location but it is still very pocket-friendly to the budget traveler. For more ideas on where to eat in Japan, check out my previous article here: https://www.tanboblog.org/top-restaurant-chains-in-japan-offering-japanese-food/
Undeniably Japan’s popular food is sushi. The classic nigiri sushi is well-loved by most people. Simple yet flavorful, the sushi rice is topped with different toppings such as salmon, shrimp, and shellfish. Maki sushi comes next with its delicious nori-wrapped rice and different kinds of fillings. You can easily spot sushi restaurants everywhere in the city.
Who doesn’t love to eat noodles? Japanese ramen is the best comfort food to solve your hunger, especially during winter. The combination of handmade noodles, flavorful broth, and a variety of meat and vegetables is one complete meal. You have a choice of four soup flavors: shoyu (soy sauce-based), shio (salt-based), miso (soybean paste-based), and tonkotso (pork bone-based). And finally, the toppings consist of roasted pork, fish cakes, bamboo shoots, soft-boiled egg, sliced green onions, and nori (seaweed). A bowl of ramen is generally affordable and again, prices vary for every type of ramen restaurant.
One of Japan’s delightful handy meals is the onigiri (rice balls). These rice balls are often formed into triangular shapes filled with salmon meat, tuna mayonnaise, bonito flakes, and plum (ume). They are then wrapped with crispy seaweed sheets (nori) giving each rice ball a delicious and crunchy treat. Sold in convenience stores, supermarkets, and trains stations, they are the perfect to-go food when you’re short on time.
Ramen’s famous food pairing is the pan-fried gyoza (Japanese dumplings). Gyoza is made with a round wheat flour wrapper stuffed with minced meat, cabbage, garlic, and chives. They are pan-fried first, simmered with a little amount of water until tender, and pan-fried again giving a brown, crispy bottom. Some methods of cooking gyoza are boiled, steamed, and deep-fried. Available everywhere especially in specialty shops, izakaya, and ramen shops.
Yakitori literally is chicken barbecue, with different parts of the chicken placed on a skewer and grilled over a charcoal fire. What makes yakitori special is that the sauce (tare) gives the meat a boost of flavor. It is made from mirin (rice wine) and soy sauce glazed into the chicken meat. Aside from the meat, you will also find vegetable skewers consisting of asparagus, mushrooms, and green onions. Usually available at yakitori-ya (specialty shops), izakaya, and kitchen cars.
Often we have an impression that curry comes from South Asia only but Japan has its own version of curry dishes called Curry Rice. The Japanese version is a bit sweeter and thicker in consistency. Consists mainly of meat (beef, chicken, and pork) and vegetables like carrots and potatoes, it is paired with white rice and pickled ginger as a side dish. It is well-loved by most people both young and old.
Originated in Osaka, takoyaki is popular street food. They are fluffy dough balls stuffed with small bits of octopus, pickled ginger, shredded cabbage, and onions. They are usually crispy on the outer side and served with mayonnaise, teriyaki sauce, seaweed powder, and bonito flakes. Available in specialty shops and supermarket food corners.
A classic Japanese dish, tempura consists of vegetables, seafood, or even sweet potatoes coated with thick batter made from flour, egg, and water and deep-fried. Usually, it is a topping for udon and soba dishes but you can eat it as a main dish or side dish. You can try it mostly in noodle restaurants such as ramen, soba, and udon specialty shops.
Udon is everybody’s comfort food consisting of thick, handmade noodles, a mild broth made from dashi, soy sauce, and mirin, and a variety of toppings. The most common topping is the prawn tempura, kakiage (mixed tempura fritter), and abura-age sweet tofu pouches). Truly a complete meal with an affordable price tag.
Wagashi are fun Japanese traditional sweets enjoyed with a cup of green tea. They come in different types and classifications. The popular ones are made of mochi (sticky rice), anko (azuki bean paste), and fruits such as strawberry and mikan. Wagashi are a healthier version of Western desserts because it is made from plant-based ingredients. No trip to Japan is complete without trying these visually appealing wagashi.
And now that you’ve learned about Japanese foods, it makes traveling more exciting and memorable when the borders re-open.
curry rice gyoza japanese foods onigiri ramen sushi takoyaki tempura udon wagashi yakitori