Think you know your Japanese food? Think again. There’s more to Japanese food than the typical ramen, teriyaki, sushi and sashimi that Westerners are familiar with. You’d be surprised at how truly exotic Japanese food can be. Take a look at this list of our top 10 foods finds in Japan.
Curry rice is, informally, the national dish of Japan. It is a staple in many Japanese homes and a Bento favourite among students and salarymen alike. It’s a simple dish of vegetables and meat stewed with a mix of curry powder and spices. Some curry rice recipes call for a pinch of coffee powder for added flavour.
Gindara saikyo-yaki is black cod that’s marinated in yellow miso and grilled slowly over a low fire. Black cod is delectable in itself, but the yellow miso fully brings out its buttery flavour.
Fried chicken and beer is a favourite night-time snack combo among the Japanese. Karaage refers to the fried chicken part of that combo, and it’s usually composed of dark chicken meat (the legs and thighs) marinated in soy sauce and ginger and then deep-fried to crunchy perfection.
It is the polar opposite of the New York cheesecake. Where the New York cheesecake is dense, Japanese cheesecake is light as air. The secret is the Japanese version uses a meringue filling.
The Japanese have a love-hate relationship with Natto or fermented soybeans. It’s not surprising, though. Natto has a slimy texture and a strong, stinky smell that’s often compared to blue cheese. But it’s probiotic and helps with digestion so it’s good for the body.
If the West has chicken soup for comfort food, the Japanese have ochazuke. Ochazuke is white rice and green tea stewed in kelp broth. Usually served with seaweed, salmon flakes and pickled plums, ochazuke is great for colds, upset stomach and hangovers.
A Japanese-style savoury pancakes. The name “okonomiyaki” literally means “what you want pancake” so anything goes. The ingredients that find their way in one of these pancakes depends on which region you are in, but it could have meat or seafood and a handful of veggies.
If ever you had a hankering for Japanese street food, make a beeline for the nearest takoyaki stall. Takoyaki is minced octopus and tempura bits mixed with chopped pickles and green onions in a wheat-flour batter. The batter is then formed into small balls roughly the size of ping-pong balls and deep-fried in a special pan. Don’t forget to eat it with its special sauce.
A yummy appetizer or side dish, umi-budo are sea grapes eaten raw. The first bite is always crunchy and releases the briny juice inside the grapes. You can eat it as it is or you can dip it in soy sauce first.
It is a breed of cattle native to Japan whose meat is genetically predisposed to high levels of marbling. The marbling makes Wagyu beef extremely rich and flavorful, but this fat is a relatively healthy fat with high concentrations of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. Steaks, burgers and other beef entrees made with wagyu beef can be quite pricey, but they’re so worth it. There is more reason to visit Japan, besides food!
Salivating yet? Been dying to try this top 10 food finds in Japan? Swallow and wipe your mouth, and then book your next foodie trip to Japan right now.