Who doesn’t love sushi or ramen? Who hasn’t heard of sake and moshi? Japanese cuisine is famous around the world. And with good reason.
The Japanese are experts in healthy, simple, and above all, tasty food. Japanese cuisine is built around fresh, quality ingredients and balanced flavors. It’s no wonder that the Japanese diet is among the healthiest in the world.
Despite being rooted in tradition, Japanese food is also super hip. The vending machines are filled with futuristic looking beverages in brightly colored packages. And there’s nothing more fun than trying all the crazy snacks at 7/11.
But with vegetables you’ve never heard of, and Kit Kats in every flavor imaginable (wasabi chocolate anyone?), eating in Japan can also be an overwhelming experience. There is so much to choose from! To help you enjoy the best food Japan has to offer, here are the things you have to eat in Japan:
The first thing that comes to mind when you think about Japanese food is probably sushi. These raw seafood and rice bites have become popular around the world.
Although good sushi can be pricey in other countries, excellent sushi is still affordable in Japan. Fish is brought in fresh from the market and available throughout the day.
Although there are very upscale sushi restaurants, sushi can also be considered a fast food here and it is often enjoyed by locals at conveyor belts or standing restaurants. Perfect for a quick meal and a quintessential Japanese food experience.
Piping hot noodle soup
From ramen to udon, with meat, seafood or vegetarian, the Japanese make a mean noodle soup. You will find different styles of soup all around the country, usually distinguished by the type of noodle used.
Ramen are thin vermicelli type noodles, soba is made from buckwheat and udon are thick, slippery rice noodles (my personal favourite).
Noodle soups are an affordable and healthy choice, often loaded with vegetables. It can be hard to find truly vegan or vegetarian noodle soup though, as most places will add fish sauce to the broth.
Steamed or fried dumplings
My all-time favorite food is dumplings. You can find different versions of these scrumptious little pockets of deliciousness all over the world. From ravioli to pierogi and empanadas to dim sum, you just can’t go wrong with a dumpling.
Japanese gyoza are delightful dumplings, either steamed or fried and filled with everything from pork to shrimp or vegetables. They are usually enjoyed as a snack or starter, but there are also restaurants that serve only dumplings. Because why would you want to eat anything else?
The fanciest omelet in the world: okonomiyaki
It’s the signature dish of Hiroshima, but Okonomiyaki can be found throughout Japan. They are a combination of a savory pancake and an omelette filled with meat, seafood and vegetables.
Instead of mixing the ingredients together, Okonomiyaki is created by the process of baking and layering them on a hot griddle. The dish is made right in front of you, which is as much fun as eating it. Dinner and a show!
Matcha green tea
Tea is not just a drink in Japan, it’s a part of their culture. Matcha, which is powdered green tea is so beloved that it is incorporated into a variety of sweet dishes. As a tea, it is made by stirring the powder into hot water with a bamboo whisk. But you can also enjoy matcha ice-cream, matcha chocolate, matcha cookies and so much more.
Most conveyor belt sushi places will have a dispensary at the table for hot water and matcha so that you can make your own!
Of course this list is far from complete, so what’s your favorite Japanese dish? Tell me in the comments.
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