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Japanese Food

Food and Drinks in Japan 975
Japanese Food
Japanese cuisine is mainly divided into two categories: traditional Japanese cuisine and Japanese Western cuisine. Japanese cuisine not only includes sushi and sashimi which are traditional foods invented by the Japanese. There is also Japanese curry originating from India and the Japanese-style omelet rice originating from France, which are the western-style Japanese cuisine. The characteristics of Japanese cuisine primarily focuses on the original, natural flavor and is preferred Japanese cuisine. The cooking method, the soup, seasoning, and cooking methods are made from several hours of slow-heating and are based on preserving the original taste of the food.

Japanese cuisine is recognized as the most meticulous international cuisine in the world when it comes to the cooking process. This has also created a refined and healthy diet concept for Japanese cuisine. Natural, original taste is the main focus of Japanese cuisine and its cooking methods are delicate and exquisite. The ingredients selected for Japanese cuisine are mainly fresh seafood and seasonal fresh vegetables. They have the characteristics of light taste, fine processing, bright colors, less grease, etc.

Japanese cuisine is mainly divided into three categories: local cuisine, kaiseki cuisine and banquet cuisine. For Japanese cuisine, half of the experience is about the environment, atmosphere, and mood. The biggest feature of Japanese cuisine is to use seafood such as fish, shrimp, and shellfish as the main ingredients for cooking and food. The taste is fresh and salty, and sometimes slightly sweet and sour and spicy. Light, non-greasy, delicate, nutritious, focusing on the combination of vision, taste, and utensils are the characteristics of Japanese cuisine. As a foreign visitor, being able to taste Japanese food is also an important part of visiting Japan.

Below we introduce some of the more famous dishes in Japanese cuisine, which are also the most easily encountered food in tourism.

10 Popular Must-Try Dishes
Sushi is the most popular dish among the Japanese. There are many types of sushi that vary from having rice or not or come in a roll form or not. A few popular types of sushi include Nigiri (thin slices of raw fish served on small rice balls), Sashimi (thin sliced raw fish, served without rice), Maki (type of sushi roll where seaweed is on the outside of the roll), and Uramaki (sushi roll where rice is on outside of roll). Japan has many specialties that you should try.

Sashimi is a thinly sliced, raw fish and is one of the most famous dishes in Japanese cuisine. Seafood is commonly eaten as sashimi, but other types of meat can also be served as sashimi. Sashimi does not include rice, unlike sushi. Sashimi dishes are available at many types of restaurants and izakayas. Popular types of sashimi include tuna, salmon, squid, sea urchin, etc.

Japanese Ramen
Japanese ramen has become one of the most popular dishes in recent decades. It is a noodle soup dish that is inexpensive and widely available. Restaurants that have ramen can be found in almost every corner of Japan. There are a few main popular soup types which include soy sauce, salt, soybean paste, and pork bone. There are also different types of noodles, varying from thickness or regular or firm noodles. Lastly, toppings are the last thing on noodles and you can pick from chashu, bamboo, bean sprouts, eggs, seaweed, corn, etc.

Tofu can be used in a variety of sweet and savory dishes, as it is a good source of protein. It is made from curdled soy milk which is hardened and pressed into blocks. There are a few different types of tofu products which include soft tofu, firm tofu, deep-fried tofu, etc. Popular tofu dishes include the hiyayakko (chilled tofu garnished with ginger), miso soup, mabodofu (tofu pieces with a spicy sauce flavored with fermented black beans), hot pot, etc.

There are many varieties of tempura, which are pieces of battered and deep-fried seafood or vegetables. Tempura can be found in many types of restaurants, where it is served as a main dish, side dish, or as a topping for udon, soba, or tendon rice bowls. Some tempura pieces include shrimp/prawn, fish, eggplant, pumpkin, sweet potato, etc.

Udon is thick Japanese noodles that are made of wheat flour. They are white and chewy, different from soba noodles. Popular udon dishes come either hot or cold, like zaru udon (cold) and kake udon (hot). Some  udon dishes are served in soup or sauce, which you can dip your noodles in. Udon can be found across Japan on the menu as it is a popular dish.

Soba noodles are made of buckwheat flour, roughly as thick as spaghetti, and come in hot or cold dishes. The basic soba dish is mori soba which is boiled, cold soba noodles which are eaten with a soy-based dipping sauce. Some popular soba dishes include the cold served mori/zaru soba, hot served kake soba, tanuki soba (hot/cold), etc. Soba dishes can be found on menus that also serve udon.

Yokitori is grilled chicken skewers that have bite-sized pieces of different parts of the chicken. They are usually made to order and cooked over charcoal and can be found at many types of restaurants in Japan. It is a popular and inexpensive dish, which is commonly enjoyed with a beer.  The most popular yakitori are momo (chicken thigh), tsukune (meatballs made of minced chicken), etc. Most yakitori restaurants also sell non-chicken skewers that include peppers, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, or asparagus.

Tonkatsu, also known as pork cutlet is a dish with thick slices of pork that are breaded and deep-fried. There are other variations of tonkatsu dishes made from chicken, beef, ham, or ground meat. Tonkatsu is usually served in slices with dishes that include tonkatsu (set meal with cabbage, rice, miso soup), katsudon (tonkatsu with a mixture of eggs and onions), katsu curry (Japanese curry rice), etc. It is a common dish that can be found at a variety of restaurants.

Japanese BBQ
Japanese BBQ is also known as Yakiniku in Japanese, meaning grilled meat. These restaurants are really popular in Japan, as most will be "all you can eat". They usually offer a variety of all you can eat options with different meats included in each one, or you can order by plate. Some restaurants have gas grills, some will have charcoal. A popular yakiniku is 298 nikuya, a fairly cheap location with a good quality selection if you want to give it a try.


Most Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can your tour take me to try the foods in Tokyo?
    Yes, but reserve at least 2-3 days for the tour because some foods are only served in specific restaurant, such as barbecue restaurant or udon restaurant.
  • Would I try any Japanese food in a group tour?
    If you are in our Japan tour, you will have a chance to try Japanese food. However, for some specific food like udon, you will arrange on your own. Note that meals will be served at common restaurants. If you want to try the best food, you will have to go to top-level restaurants.
  • Is Kaiseki cuisine expensive?
    The price of kaiseki cuisine varies from restaurant to restaurant. An authentic kaiseki cuisine is usually expensive and advance reservation is required.
  • Is there any barbecue restaurant in Shinjuku?
    There are many barbecue restaurants in Shinjuku, and some are operated by Chinese and Korean. If you want to try traditional Japanese barbecue, we recommend going to famous local restaurants.
  • What is the must-try traditional Japanese food?
    Sashimi is probably the most traditional Japanese food that every tourist should try. Depending on your preference, you can try sashimi at your preferred restaurant.
  • What foods are considered as "foreign dish" in Japan?
    Japanese food culture has been influenced by countries around the world in history. For example, noodles come from China. Today, Japanese consider many foods as foreign dishes, including: Japanese-style curry from India and Japanese-style omelet rice from France.
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