10+ Must-Try Japanese Food
Japanese cuisine is famous for its delicious dishes with beautiful decoration and extraordinary service.
In this Japanese food guide, you’ll find the list of 10+ Japanese food you should try when traveling to Japan.
1. Sushi (寿司)
Sushi is probably the first dish that people would mention about Japanese food. It has become a symbol of Japanese cuisine, and you can find sushi restaurants in many places around the world.
You can try sushi at different prices in Japan, 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.
Read more: How to travel on a budget to Japan.
2. Ramen (ラーメン)
Ramen presents the beauty of Japanese cuisines and culture because it requires patience in cooking and each region’s specialty.
a) Ramen noodles
Ramen noodles are a combination of wheat flour, water, salt, and saltwater (Kansui). Depending on each area, ramen noodles have different sizes, colors, and tastes.
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 (tonkatsu ramen), Japanese soy sauce (Shouyu ramen), and miso (miso ramen) are essential ingredients to make a delicious ramen broth.
The sauces used in ramen vary based on region and type.
A bowl of ramen usually contains 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 types in each part of Japan: Sapporo Ramen, Hakata Ramen from Fukuoka, Hiroshima Ramen, Kitakata Ramen from Fukushima, and Toyama Ramen.
The most ordinary ramen restaurant have one long row of seats, so customers can eat freely even when they go there alone.
In some restaurants, customers don’t pay after eating but pay at the machine first. Then, they will bring the ticket to the waitress or a cook and get their meals.
Do you know that there is a Ramen theme park in Japan?
This park is Aqua City Odaiba, and you can try different ramen in booth stands there.
3. Udon (うどん)
The most popular Udon types are Cold Udon, Udon, and Yaki Udon.
a) Cold Udon
With Cold Udon, Udon is put in cold water first and then served with sauce and chopped scallions in a bowl. You can choose the topping to make your dish more delicious.
The purest 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.
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. Soba (そば)
Soba noodles can have yellow colors or gray or green (if 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 fantastic.
5. Sashimi (刺身)
Sashimi is one of the most famous Japanese dishes. Fresh raw meat or fish are sliced into thin pieces and served with delicate decoration.
Even though the most common sashimi is seafood (fish, octopus), there are other types of meat (horse, beef). If you visit Kumamoto, you should try their specialty, horse sashimi.
How to eat sashimi?
You can eat sashimi by dipping each one into a small soy sauce dish. Sometimes people also add wasabi and ginger slide to eat with sashimi.
6. Miso Soup (味噌汁)
Miso soup is one of the most common dishes that you can find in Japan. It consists of “dashi” stock, wakame (a type of seaweed), 1/2-inch cube soft tofu, drained and sliced scallion greens.
Miso soup is very healthy as it improves digestion and provides beneficial probiotics.
7. Takoyaki (たこ焼き)
Takoyaki is a Japanese octopus cake. It is typically served with fried fish, Takoyaki sauce, and chopped green onion.
You can make your Takoyaki with a Takoyaki machine by mixing Takoyaki flour, eggs, water, and octopus and adding green onion and cheese according to your preferences.
Also, you can buy Takoyaki in Japanese restaurants or stands at the festival. It is recommended to try Takoyaki in Osaka.
8. Okonomiyaki (お好み焼き)
Another Japanese food that you should try when visiting Japan is Okonomiyaki.
It’s a Japanese pancake style and is made of eggs, water, flour, cabbage, and meat. You can choose the topping as your preference, but dried fish and okonomiyaki sauce are the most common toppings.
9. Tempura (天ぷら)
Tempura is a common name for Japanese fried dishes of seafood or vegetables. Usually, Tempura is served with udon, miso soup, or rice set.
10. Karaage (からあげ)
Karaage is a Japanese version of fried chicken. There are various types of Karaage with different cooking methods, but it is commonly 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.
11. Yakitori (焼き鳥)
Another chicken dish in Japanese culinary is Yakitori. Yakitori combines Yaki (Grilled) and Tori (Chicken), so Yakitori is grilled chicken.
Yakitori is a common name for all grilled parts of chicken: skin, leg meat, heart, etc. Eating Yakitori in Izakaya and drinking is common.
12. Gyoza (餃子)
Gyoza is a Japanese dumpling filled with vegetables and ground meat, then wrapped in a thin dough. People usually eat Gyoza as a side dish.
13. Yakiniku (焼肉)
Yakiniku, 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 the Yakiniku buffet, where you pay for the buffet according to the amount of time, such as 1 hour, 1.5 hours, or 2 hours.
In Yakiniku, All you can eat, you can choose your favorite meats and vegetables based on your preferred choices.
Sometimes in the Yakiniku buffet, there are sushi, udon, ramen, soba, and free drinks. Eating grilled meat in cold weather is one of the best experiences in the winter in Japan.
14. Sukiyaki (すき焼き)
The best thing to do in Japan in the winter is to have Sukiyaki. Sukiyaki is a name for Japanese hotpot (Nabemono style)
In a shallow iron pot, meat is slowly cooked or simmered together with vegetables and other ingredients.
15. Japanese curry
Japanese curry is delicious!
You can find curry in almost every restaurant in Japan. There are three primary forms of curry: curry rice, curry udon, and curry bread.
The most common ingredients in Japanese curry are meat, potatoes, carrots, and onions. It’s easy to buy a curry base at the supermarket, so it will be a lovely gift to remind you about Japan.
16. Takikomi Gohan (炊き込みご飯)
Takikomi Gohan is made of a Japanese rice dish, dashi (Japanese fish stock), and soy sauce. You can try different vegetables, meat or fish.
17. Tonkatsu (豚カツ) & Katsudon (カツ丼)
Tonkatsu (Japanese deep-fried pork cutlet) consists of a breaded and deep-fried pork cutlet. It can be served alone with sliced cabbage or in a rice bowl – Katsudon.
Katsudon (Japanese pork cutlet rice bowl) is a bowl of rice topped with Tonkatsu, egg, vegetables, and spices. It’s a typical Japanese dish and can be found in several restaurants.
18. Mochi (餅)
Mochi is a Japanese rice cake that is delicious and cute.
There are various forms of Mochi, such as strawberry mochi, matcha mochi, mochi ice cream, but the most popular ones are red beans.
19. Matcha related products (抹茶)
As a healthy and delicious green tea powder, Matcha is used in various products in Japan. There are matcha tea, matcha ice cream, matcha cake, matcha caramel, matcha mochi, etc.
20. 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.
I went on a Pablo cheese hunt during my first trip to Tokyo, and it was delicious!
Being a vegetarian, Japan has always been a scary thought for me when it comes to food. LOL . Would love to know whether one can easily find vegetarian food in Japan.
There’s not many vegetarian choice in Japan, but you can try veggie tempura :)
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? :P
It’s so true! No one can hate tempura ;)! They have veggie ones and also meat related ones, so everyone can try it!
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!
I’m glad to hear that you had good time in Japan :)
I love Japanese foodd!!! In fact I love everything on this list – takoyaki is my favourite! :)
You should try to make Takoyaki ! It’s really fun to do with your friends/ family :)
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!
I tried Japanese food in some countries in Europe, and they are not the same for sure. You should go back Japan for the food haha!
Wow, I love sweets and I had no idea that there is such thing as a Japanese Cheesecake! The description is so tasty that I cannot wait to try it. I am going immediately online to find a Japanese restaurant so that I can feel this taste myself!
You should try Japanese cheesecake! It’s so yummy and tastety :)
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!
Mochi was quite strange at first I would say, but it is so yummy when you get used to it. I still live in Japan as an expat, and wow I love food here <3
Great guide. Japanese food in particular Sushi is one of my favorite things to eat! I haven’t heard of all the foods you have suggested so will have to try some next time I go to a Japanese restaurant or if I make it to Japan!
Thank you! I’m glad that you like it.
I’m going to japan for the first time at the end of this year and cannot wait to try as many of these as possible! They all sound delicious!
Hope you will have a great trip to Japan :)