To most people Japanese food typically means sushi and tempura, but Japanese cuisine is superb and unique, it is definitely something you can’t miss when you visit Japan. Here are some of the most amazing dishes that I tried and how to eat them.
Gyoza are the traditional Chinese dumplings but with a tasty Japanese twist, they are very popular and there are lots of restaurants that serve them. The ones that I tried were pan-fried.
Ramen consists of Chinese-style wheat noodles served in a soup with meat (usually chicken, beef or pork), boiled egg, seaweed and green onions. Ramen soup is yummy but slightly salty.
3) Japanese soba
A dish of noodles made from soba (buckwheat) served with a soy and sugar sauce. Please don’t be a total tourist like me and try to pour the sauce on top of the soba, as a really kind waitress instructed me, you need go one by one, dip it in the sauce and eat it. This dish was served cold.
This is one of my favourites. Tonkatsu is a pork cutlet dish that is breaded and deep fried served with Tonkatsu sauce and shredded cabbage. If done properly, Tonkatsu will melt in your mouth!
Yakitori are chicken skewers seasoned with a sweet salt or soy sauce based sauce and barbecued. If you eat them at a specialist restaurant you’ll be able to try pork and vegetable ones too. I had them while I drank a cold beer as most locals did.
I am not a big fish fan, but I decided to put it behind me when I visited Japan and I don’t regret it. I had sushi at one of the restaurants at the Tokyo fish market after visiting it early in the morning. I had to queue for 45 minutes but it was completely worth it, every bite was full of flavour and 100% fresh. The restaurants at the fish market are tiny and the chefs make the sushi right in front of you, I was told that the fish they used were alive that same morning, I guess it doesn’t get any fresher than that!
This is the traditional savory Japanese pancake, depending on the region they will taste different and even be layered. They usually have meat, cabbage, green onions and soba noodles, they are served with Japanese mayonnaise and Okonomiyaki sauce. There are some restaurants where you will have to make a part of it yourself, make sure you put the pancake on top of the egg and let it cook for a few minutes until the meat gets golden and use the spatula they give you to cut the pancake into small pieces that you can later pick up with your chopsticks. Don’t be a tourist and try to cut the pancake with your chopsticks as you’ll make a mess and will get nowhere.
This is a dish from the Kyoto region (Kansai) where meat and vegetables are put on skewers and fried in batter in a similar way to tonkatsu. As with Yakitori, they taste better with a cold beer.
Tempura is a dish in which seafood and fresh vegetables are dipped in a flour and egg batter and deep fried. I ordered tempura at a restaurant close to mount Fuji and they served soy sauce on the mount Fuji shaped dish you can see below.
These are the famous octopus balls served with a special sauce. You can find stalls that sell them all over Japan.
It is a bowl of cooked rice with meat, green onions and an omelette on top. There is a wide variety of donburi dishes.
They give you a pan of boiling water and vegetables and raw meat on different plates. You need to put all the vegetables inside, and then quickly dip the pieces of meat (one by one) into the boiling water and then in a sesame sauce before you eat them. Once I was done with the meat the waiter brought some soba that I had to boil and I dip in the sesame sauce when cooked. This dish is really tasty and extremely fun to make and eat!
A dish of tick noodles eaten with a sauce made from soy sauce and sugar, they are similar to soba noodles.
14) Kobe beef
Last but not least is my favourite: Kobe beef. Kobe is a region in Japan that is famous for its beef, as I was told when I ate it, Kobe beef is not allowed to be exported outside of Japan, so if you have ever tried it outside Japan it was without a doubt fake. It is the most tender beef that I have tried in my whole life, there are no words to explain what it feels to eat it, so I recommend you go to Japan and taste it!