If you’ve read my post on 10 Local Foods To Try In Japan and couldn’t get enough of all of the delicious foods, you’ve come to the right place. Here are 10 more local foods to try in Japan!
Food is one of the best ways to learn about a new culture and its also a great way to experience something new when traveling. I’ve shared a lot about my Japanese adventures but I’ve really been missing Japanese food lately! In fact, my mouth is watering just thinking of my trip to the famous Japanese food street, Dotonbori!
Most of us often think of sushi and ramen when we hear the words “Japanese food” but Japanese cuisine is so much more. In fact, I’ll go as far as saying it’s a total food culture out there! In this post I’m going to touch on some of the local foods you must try when visiting Japan. Hopefully this post will inspire you try some delicious foods on your next visit.
Here’s my list of ten local foods to try in Japan! Let’s go!
Tonkatsu, or breaded, deep fried tempura pork cutlet is the ultimate Japanese comfort food. My first time trying this dish was a mix of emotions because I didn’t know what to expect. All Japanese meals look so pretty but honestly how can you go wrong with anything breaded and deep fried? Traditionally, tonkatsu is served with a rich Worcestershire-based sauce, rice, shredded cabbage, and miso soup.
Everyone is talking about Kobe beef or Wagyu beef but let’s ask the question – what is it? And is it good?
The word Wagyu can be broken down to ‘wa’ means Japanese and ‘gyu’ translated to cow so Wagyu actually refers to any breed of Japanese beef cattle. This type of meat is known for its distinct marbling and tenderness and is one of the most delicious types of meats in Japan. But you also need to know how to order it to get the best experience. When you order wagyu, you will need to select the grade of meat you wish to eat. Simply put, you will need to select the Yield Grade and the Quality Grade. The Yield Grade is a letter (A, B, or C) which indicates how much quality meat the cow produces. A is the best. Quality Grade ranges from 1-5, with 5 being the best. So… the highest quality meat would be A5.
Wagyu is served in a variety of ways – from slices to steaks to sashimi. Choose which you prefer!
Traditional Japanese soup! Another delicious staple that you must try when in Japan. The broth is the most delicious part and is usually made with miso paste which is added to dashi (stock made with dried fish). In fact, most locals eat miso soup at least once a day. Miso soup is a light and brothy soup that is usually served in addition to a larger meal. Often there are additions to the soup such as tofu, seaweed, green onion, sprouts but this differs with region.
We’ve all heard of tempura – in fact, we’ve seen it on many of the western menus but let’s delve a little deeper into what exactly tempura-anything is. Tempura is a method of cooking in which individual pieces of seafood (like shrimp) or vegetables are battered and deep fried, resulting in a light and crispy end result! Delicious!
Typically when ordering tempura in Japan you’ll be served a variety of items ranging from eggplant and mushrooms to lotus root and seafood (usually prawns). This is usually accompanied with a light and flavourful dipping sauce called tentsuyu, made from soy sauce, mirin, and dashi.
I’ve done a whole post on tasting okonomiyaki in Japan because of how much I love this dish. It’s one of my local favourites! It’s western nickname is Japanese Pizza because of the flexibility you have with this dish.
Okonomi meaning “what you like” and yaki meaning “grilled”, so okonomiyaki typically translates into a savoury pancake that is “grilled how you like it”. The batter is typically made from a combination of wheat flour, grated yam, eggs, and dashi and this is topped with a variety of toppings such as cabbage, pork belly, green onions, noodles and cheese.
Lotus root is everywhere in Asia… not just Japan. In fact, I ate quite a lot while living in China over two and a half years. From lotus root desserts to grilled and deep fried lotus roots…. they are both delicious and everywhere! Lotus root is commonly sliced into thick discs and has a somewhat lacey pattern to it. It’s very hard to miss. It’s crunchy and delicious!
Oh yes… I went there! How can you come to Japan and not try ramen? Or as Daniel calls it… rami. Now this is not the typical ramen you’re thinking of… the ramen in Japan is… how shall I say it… gourmet….! Japanese ramen is usually freshly made and served with a broth, often topped with thin slices of tender pork, a soft boiled egg cooked to perfection, and a generous pile of green onions. Delicious!
This type of noodle is made from buckwheat, giving is a slightly chewier texture and a heartier flavour than ramen or udon. Soba is either served hot or cold depending on your preference. If you’re ordering cold noodles, they are usually served alongside fresh wasabi and a dipping sauce which you can dunk your noodles in before eating.
Udon is a type of Japanese noodle and is commonly thicker and made from wheat flour and commonly served as a noodle soup. In fact when ordering udon, it’s as if you’re ordering a noodle soup! Udon can be served either hot or cold, and depending on how you order it, the way you eat will change too. It’s often topped with green onions, shredded seaweed, deep fried tofu and a sprinkle of Japanese chili flakes.
So here’s the deal – you can’t go to Japan and not try sushi! It’s a common misconception that sushi originated from Japan but did you know this is not true? Sushi actually originated from Southeast Asia as people needed a way to preserve fish. They found that mixing rice with vinegar and pressing raw pieces of fish on top worked and voila – sushi! There are so many different types of sushi in Japan and chefs usually undergo years of training to be able to make the dish.