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Eat like a local: Top 10 Japanese foods to try!

Lived in Japan for 2 years and worked in Japanese hospitality and tourism industry, I’m in love with Japanese cuisine and culture. Japanese culinary is not only special for its delicious dishes but also for the decoration and service. In this article, I will introduce 10 Japanese foods that you cannot miss.

 

1. Sushi(寿司)

Sushi is probably the first dish that people will mention about Japanese foods. It has become a symbol of Japanese cuisine, and you can find sushi restaurants in many places around the world.

Trying sushi in Japan is by far the most delicious place in my perspective. In Japan, you can try sushi from different prices, from Running sushi stores with 100 Yen, to expensive sushi dishes in luxury restaurants. If you have a chance to visit Fish Market in Tokyo, you should try the freshest sushi with the ingredients taken directly from the market.

100 Yen Running Sushi – Each dish is from 100 Yen (0.9$)

 

2. Ramen(ラーメン)

Ramen is a familiar dish to the ones who love Japanese culinary. It presents the beauty of Japanese cuisines and culture because it requires the patience in cooking, and also presents the beauty of each region.

Ramen and Gyoza

a) Ramen noodles

Ramen noodles are made of wheat flour, water, salt and salt water (Kansui). 

b) Ramen soup

Ramen soup is not only sophisticated but also varied according to the creativity of the region. Salt, water (shio ramen), tunnel boned pork (tonkotsu ramen), Japanese soy sauce (shouyu ramen) and miso (miso ramen) are important ingredients to make a delicious ramen broth. 
A ramen bowl will always contain vegetables (green onion, bean sprout), Chashu pork, dried bamboo (Menma) and Japanese Marinated Soft Boiled Egg (Ajitsuke tamago)

c) Ramen in different regions

You can try different Ramen style in each part of Japan: Sapporo Ramen, Hakata Ramen from Fukuoka, Hiroshima Ramen, Kitakata Ramen from Fukushima, and Toyama Ramen.

d) Service

You can try a different way of ordering Ramen in Fukuoka. There are some machines placed outside the restaurants, and you can choose the dish and pay there. Then you just wait at the table for the waiter to bring a delicious ramen.
There’s a ramen theme park in Japan named Aqua City Odaiba. You can try different ramen in booth stands there.

 

3. Udon(うどん)

With the Udon noodles, Japanese cook can make different types of Udon. The most popular Udon is Cold Udon, Udon and Yaki Udon.

a) Cold Udon

With Cold Udon, Udon is put in cold water first and then put into a bowl, served with sauce and chopped scallions. You can choose the topping to make your dish more delicious. 

b) Udon

The simplest form of Udon (Kake Udon) is served hot with Udon noodles and broth (Kake Udon), with thinly chopped scallions. You can choose different toppings to eat with, such as Tempura or meat. 

It’s normal to order udon with rice as a set 

c) Yaki Udon

Yaki Udon, or Fried Udon, is stir fried with vegetables, sauces, and different ingredients according to your choices (meat, eggs, etc.)

 

4. Okonomiyaki(お好み焼き)

Another Japanese food that you should try is Okonomiyaki. It’s a Japanese style of pancake and made of eggs, water, flour, cabbage, and meat. You can choose the topping as your preferences but commonly are dried fish and okonomiyaki sauce.

 

5. Yakiniku(焼肉)

Yakiniku, which is a combination of 2 words: Yaki (Grilled) and Niku (Meat),  is generally used for grilled meat in Japan. 

If you visit Japan, you can try Yakiniku buffet, where you pay for the buffet according to the amount of time such as 1 hour, 1.5 hours or 2 hours. Also, you can choose your favorite meats and vegetables based on your favorite choices. Sometimes in Yakiniku buffet, there are sushi, udon, ramen, soba, and free drinks as well. Eating the hot delicious Yakiniku in cold weather is one of the best experience in the winter in Japan.

 

6. Soba (そば)

Soba noodles can have yellow colors, or gray or green (if it’s made from broccoli). You can eat soba with some toppings or try Yakisoba (Fried soba). Ingredients for Yakisoba are usually Soba noodles, cabbage, meat (chicken, pork or beef), and sauce. Although it’s so easy to make Yakisoba, its taste is amazing.

 

7. Takoyaki(たこ焼き)

Takoyaki is Japanese octopus cake. You can make your own Takoyaki with Takoyaki machine, by mixing Takoyaki flour, eggs, water, and octopus. Furthermore, you can add green onion and cheese according to your preferences. Takoyaki is normally served with fried fish, Takoyaki sauce and chopped green onion.
On the other hand, you can just simply buy Takoyaki in Japanese restaurants. In Japan, you can find Takoyaki stands many places in the festival.

 My homemade version of Takoyaki

 

8. Fried food

a) Karaage(からあげ)

Karaaage is a Japanese version of fried chicken. There are various types of Karaage with different ways of cooking, but commonly is marinated and then coated in potato starch. Biting a piece of karaage, you can feel the crispiness outside and soft, juicy and yummy chicken inside.

Crispy and juicy chicken

b) Tempura(天ぷら)

Tempura is a common name for Japanese fried dishes of seafood or vegetables, and you can try it alone or with udon.

 

9. Japanese rice

With the same base, you can try different Japanese rice dishes such as Curry Rice, Tamago Rice (Rice with Egg), Takikomi Gohan (Japanese mixed rice), etc.
Japanese curry tastes amazing. When I first visited Japan, I loved this dish so much that I ate it every day. Takikomi Gohan is made of Japanese rice dish, dashi (Japanese fish stock), soy sauce. You can try with different vegetables, meat or fish.

You can also order a rice set like this

 

10. Japanese Bakery

a) Japanese Cheesecake

You can find cheesecake in every supermarket, restaurant or souvenir shop. Japanese cotton cheesecake is so soft that you can feel it melted in your tongue in your first bite.

b) Mochi(餅)

Mochi is a Japanese rice cake which is not only delicious but also cute. There are various types of Mochi such as strawberry mochi, matcha mochi, mochi ice-cream, but the most popular ones are with red bean.

c) Matcha related products(抹茶)

As a healthy and delicious green tea powder, Matcha is used in various products in Japan, especially in baking industry. There are matcha tea, matcha ice-cream, matcha cake, matcha caramel, matcha mochi, etc.

 

There are other Japanese dishes such as Gyoza (Japanese dumplings), Tonkatsu (Japanese deep-fried pork cutlet) as well, but I focus on introducing most popular Japanese foods in this article. If you have a chance, let’s try all those yummy Japanese foods!

You can also read more about Japan here!



 


What are your favorite Japanese foods? Please share with me in the comment 🙂

50 replies
  1. Bri
    Bri says:

    One of my favorite things about traveling is trying the local foods – sadly, I have yet to try authentic Japanese cuisine but it all looks soooo good.

    Reply
  2. Kim @ Those Who Wandr
    Kim @ Those Who Wandr says:

    I’m proud to say I’ve tried everything on this list! Love Japanese food, my favorite has to be udon (because it reminds me of banh canh haha). Do you have your own takoyaki machine?? Jealous!

    Reply
  3. Bianca Malata (@ItsAllBee)
    Bianca Malata (@ItsAllBee) says:

    Yaki Udon and Gyoza are my go to meals. My know and trusted meals especially if I am in a new Japanese resturant and dont know what to order. Now all I have to do is finally purchase a ticket and visit Japan seeing as I love the food.

    Reply
  4. Nicole Anderson
    Nicole Anderson says:

    Reading this post brought back a few memories. Like you, I spent some time living in Japan and I have grown to appreciate the cuisine very much. Aside from tasting so good, it is usually very healthy and is presented so well. The eyes enjoy the feast as much as the tongue and stomach! Lovely post, great list of choices and photos.

    Reply
  5. Melissa Smuzynski
    Melissa Smuzynski says:

    I have yet to find a Japanese food I didn’t like. I’ve tried most of these with the exception of 2 or 3, however I’m sure they are much better in Japan than elsewhere. All of these foods look incredible!

    Reply
  6. Danielle Jones
    Danielle Jones says:

    You’ve made everything sound so delicious. I’m such a fussy eater though so I struggle with food when I’m travelling. Lovely post!

    Reply
  7. Alexa
    Alexa says:

    Ahhh I love Japanese food so much! How good is all the dairy there? But I can never understand why they don’t make cheese! I live in Hokkaido for the winter every year. I can’t wait to get back there. What a great summary of all the delicious Japanese delights you have put together!!!

    Reply
  8. Genie | Gallivanting Bean
    Genie | Gallivanting Bean says:

    omg I love all of the above especially sushi, udon noodles, soba. but for something new I would absolutely love to try the takoyaki. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it. actually had sushi yesterday haha

    Reply
  9. Soraya @ Hello Raya
    Soraya @ Hello Raya says:

    I am absolutely in love with Japanese food, and this post has just made me so hungry! I have only recently found my love for ramen, and I am starting to realise how many different varieties there actually is! I have also grown a love for cold soba – I find it fascinating that they actually put ice into it!

    Reply
  10. Yukti
    Yukti says:

    I can try Japanese rice and Japanese bakery. As I am vegetarian I have to customize the dishes if any hotel wants to help me on that. Very few choices for me. All your food pictures make me hungry.

    Reply
  11. Natasha Haley
    Natasha Haley says:

    This post made me really hungry! The juicy crispy chicken looks delicious and now I really want to go get it haha. Yum! Looks like Japan has more to offer foodwise than I thought!

    Reply
  12. Momma To Go
    Momma To Go says:

    I’m vegetarian and I don’t eat fish. When I went to Japan I ate a lot of Indian food & veg tempura. I loved my visit but the food not so much!

    Reply
  13. ljlegend
    ljlegend says:

    I love the Japanese culture and your food has made me hungry, can’t wait to try these out on a Japanese food theme night although would be better in Japan.

    Reply
  14. Christie
    Christie says:

    Yum! It wasn’t a good idea to read this while I’m hungry haha! I LOVE Japanese food and have tried most of these things. My favourites are ramen and sushi and I’m also a big fan of gyoza and pork katsu. I’ve had some great Japanese style curries too! Japan is one of the top places I want to visit so I can’t wait to try all the food there!

    Reply
  15. Judy
    Judy says:

    what a lovely list that takes me back! I love Japanese food and just when I think I’ve eaten all that I can eat I find more to try. And the standards of quality in these foods are just astounding. Ramen and soba are such favourites!

    Reply
  16. Mimi & Mitch
    Mimi & Mitch says:

    We love Udon – can’t decide if we love the cold or in hot broth more, need to have some now to decide haha! Takoyaki is our other favorite as well. Tempura.. well who hates tempura really? 😛

    Reply
  17. CHAPTERTRAVEL (@CHAPTERTRAVEL)
    CHAPTERTRAVEL (@CHAPTERTRAVEL) says:

    Yum! Japanese food is one of my fav. Actually been to Japan two weeks ago, and it was amazing. And had some ramen yesterday at a local restaurant. It was pretty good, but not the same of course. I tried most of these, but not everyone – so have to go back I guess!

    Reply
  18. Kristina
    Kristina says:

    It took me awhile to get used to mochi, but now I adore it. Aw man now I’m craving it too! haha. Having lived in Japan before, this is really bringing back so many memories. Ah delicious nostalgia!

    Reply
  19. Page_Traveller
    Page_Traveller says:

    Oh my gosh, I love Japanese food! This made my tummy rumble so much! I visited just over a year ago and can’t wait to go back again some day. The British imitation of sushi in particular in NOT the same!

    Reply

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