When you travel, you want to enjoy the unique food of the place.
In this column, I’ll introduce you to some of the most famous foods in Japan!
If you like, please check out the sequels, “Delicious Japanese Food Recommended by Foreigners Living in Japan” and “Japanese Food You Must Try on Your Trip – Minor and Regional“.
This is one of the most popular Japanese dishes.
Fresh fish meat on a bed of rice.
There are many sushi restaurants in Japan. And the price range varies.
The most affordable type of sushi is called “kaiten sushi” (conveyor belt sushi), where you can get two pieces of sushi on one plate for 100 yen or more.
The sushi flows on a conveyor belt, but nowadays, for hygiene reasons, it is common to order sushi using the touch panel at your seat.
Of course, the price remains the same.
It is a popular place for those who want to eat a lot of food, bring their children, and students.
On the other hand, at high-end sushi restaurants, the price starts from about 300-500 yen per piece.
The chef’s skill shines through in each dish, starting with the selection of fish.
The dish of deep-frying ingredients can be found all over the world, but in Japan we call it tempura.
It is made by battering vegetables or seafood and deep-frying them in oil.
You can buy tempura at ordinary supermarkets or set meal restaurants, but the taste of tempura at specialty stores is exceptional.
They are very particular about the thinness and thickness of the batter, and they serve it freshly fried, so it’s very tasty!
Ramen is one of the most popular foods in Japan.
Ramen is not originally a Japanese dish, but in Japan, people are very particular about their ramen.
Ramen available at the restaurant
Japanese people are crazy about ramen, so much so that some of them quit their companies and start their own ramen shops.
Ramen run by individuals differs in taste, noodle thickness, hardness, and ingredients depending on the store.
It is so difficult for even Japanese people to find their favorite restaurant.
In general, the flavors are divided into miso, soy sauce, pork bone, salt, and white water (chicken bone).
There is also a wide variety of noodles, including thick, thin, and shrunken.
The restaurant is most crowded during lunch time, but the ramen is also popular as a cuppa after drinking.
I urge you to find your favorite ramen shop!
Ramen at a food stall
Ramen shops are mainly found in Kyushu, Japan.
Ramen eaten outside, very quaint, isn’t it?
Some salarymen working in Japan might have a beer and a bowl of ramen and go home.
Kyushu’s yatai ramen stalls are a popular tourist attraction!
When talking about ramen, instant ramen (cup ramen) is something that cannot be ignored.
You are probably familiar with instant ramen since it is sold overseas as well, but there is a wide variety of instant ramen in Japan.
The soup and noodles are also being researched on a daily basis, and some of the noodles in particular have the same texture as those in the restaurants.
You can also take them home as souvenirs, so be sure to check out the ramen section of your supermarket.
You can also find cup ramen at convenience stores!
gyoza (crescent-shaped pan-fried dumplings stuffed with minced pork and vegetables)
This is also not a food that has its roots in Japan, but I have the impression that many people eat it in Japan.
Recently, at the 2021 Olympics (2020 Tokyo Olympics), there was a lot of talk about the delicious dumplings eaten at the athletes’ village.
There are some restaurants that specialize in takeout dumplings, and the most reliable ones are Chinese restaurants in Japan. Probably everywhere offers gyoza.
Even the ramen shops I mentioned earlier, many of them carry gyoza as a side dish!
Sukiyaki (thin slices of beef, cooked with various vegetables in a table-top cast-iron pan)
Here is an introduction to meat dishes.
Sukiyaki is a one-pot dish in which meat is cooked in a sweet and spicy sauce.
Japanese people also love this dish very much!
Generally, beef is used.
shabu-shabu (thinly sliced meat boiled quickly with vegetables, and dipped in sauce)
Another unique meat dish in Japan is shabu-shabu.
The most common meat is pork, which is inexpensive, but beef shabu-shabu is also available.
A method of quickly dipping thinly sliced meat into a pot of soup stock and eating it with a sauce of your choice.
It’s light and easy to eat, and can be found in everyday home cooking!
Oden is vegetables and meat stewed with Japanese seasoning.
This dish is especially popular in winter, and convenience stores often have an oden corner during the season.
The good thing about convenience stores and oden specialty stores is that you can order only the ingredients you like.
The most popular ones are daikon, which is soaked in Japanese soup stock, beef tendon, which goes well with sake, and eggs, which are slightly colored.
Japanese rice wine
Sake is made from rice, and there are many sake breweries in Japan.
It has a peculiar and unique taste, but some people from overseas say that it is similar to white wine.
Compared to other alcoholic beverages, it is unique in that it can be drunk cold or warm.
In the cold winter, I recommend the combination of hot sake and oden.
You can spend a relaxing time.
Sake is served in small glasses called ochoko.
It’s just the kind of glass that’s suitable for drinking a little at a time!
Umeshu (plum wine) is popular among women in the liquor industry.
Many Japanese plum wines are made by pickling plums in Japanese liquor, and have a sweet, refreshing and gentle taste.
Many people buy it as a souvenir!
It can be drunk straight or mixed with soda, water, or hot water.
Matcha sweets are often of interest to foreign people with a sweet tooth. The bittersweet taste of matcha goes well with cakes, drinks, and Japanese sweets.
You can often find matcha-flavored sweets in souvenir shops, and Starbucks sells matcha drinks, a staple in Japan!
If you like bitter chocolate, you will surely like the bitterness of matcha. If you haven’t tried it before, you should definitely give it a try.
There are various kinds of Japanese sweets, but they are lightly sweetened and have a Japanese appearance, which makes them a favorite among foreigners.
Dorayaki made with cake batter and bean jam in between.
Oshiruko, a dessert made from dumplings
Ohagi, dumplings wrapped in azuki beans
In fact, there are so many different types that I can’t even begin to introduce them all.
I also recommend the Nerikiri-kiri, whose design changes with the season
I’ll write more about the different types of Japanese sweets in my column.
In this article, we have introduced some of the standard Japanese foods, but were there any foods that caught your attention?
If you’d like, please check out the sequels, “Delicious Japanese Food Recommended by Foreigners Living in Japan” and “Japanese Food You Must Try When You Travel – Minor and Local” as well.