Most Popular Japanese Dishes to Try
Japanese dishes are not only incredibly delicious, but also extremely versatile and healthy – Japan’s culinary offerings really do have something for everyone!
On the very first day of your trip to Japan, you will discover that Japanese cuisine has much more to offer than just sushi. You’ll discover regional culinary specialties, taste special vegetables and meats, enjoy tea from different growing regions, and visit countless sake breweries.
Japan is a country of aesthetes and this also applies to food. In the restaurant, the Japanese dishes and menus are lovingly arranged and attractively decorated. Even the homemade lunches or those bought on the way are small culinary works of art.
The eye definitely eats with you here!
Here is an overview:
Here are some very delicious Japanese dishes
Ramen is a mega delicious noodle soup from Japan, which originally comes from China. In Japan, it is prepared very differently from region to region, but it usually consists of a strong broth, delicious ramen noodles and fresh ingredients such as meat, fish or vegetables.
And best of all, there are more and more fresh ramen to be discovered in many other regions of the world, too, so you no longer have to resort to the instant variety. Be sure to give it a try!
By the way, don’t worry if you slurp audibly while eating ramen and other noodles – that’s expressly allowed here! So go for it and enjoy the full taste experience without inhibitions.
Have you ever heard of unagi? This is the Japanese word for eel and an absolute delicacy in Japan!
The eel is cooked in a very special way, which causes it to lose most of its fat content. Taste-wise, unagi is certainly not everyone’s cup of tea, but it is definitely a healthy and nutritious Japanese dish.
These noodles are made from buckwheat and originated in the mountains, where rice does not grow well.
There is no set dish with soba, but most often they are cooked in broth and then eaten either as soup or plain. In Japan, there are now many different varieties of soba that can be found in fast food restaurants.
Okonomiyaki are a type of pancake that are fried directly at the table on a hot iron plate. The batter consists of flour, cabbage, egg, water and dashi, but many other ingredients are added depending on the region.
The dish comes from the Kansai area and is prepared similarly in Tokyo under the name Monjayaki.
This is a super delicious way to deep fry vegetables and seafood. These are coated with a batter made of egg, flour and ice water and then fried in hot oil until crispy.
You can enjoy tempura in two ways: either directly on rice as tempura donburi or served on a plate at the counter.
It is often accompanied by a clear soup or soba (a type of noodle soup).
Udon are wheat noodles that float in a hot soup and are simply delicious.
The broth is refined with fish, soy sauce and mirin and garnished with spring onions.
Especially in winter, udon soups are a real treat because they warm you up from the inside.
And best of all, you can get them almost anywhere, even in mountain huts like Fuji.
Maybe you’ve tried it in a Japanese restaurant, because it’s also very famous everywhere else.
But did you know that it is one of the national Japanese dishes?
The best thing about it is that you can enjoy miso soup at any time of the day – be it for breakfast, lunch or dinner. And so you will find it offered everywhere, at any time of the day.
The basis of the soup is a soybean paste called miso, which is refined with dashi (fish stock) and various ingredients such as tofu, seaweed or spring onions. The taste is simply indescribable – I’ve never tasted anything quite like it. The soup has a strong, fishy taste and is simply unique. But it’s best to try it for yourself and form your own opinion.
Takoyaki is a mega popular snack in Japan, especially in and around Osaka. These are small, baked dough balls filled with a piece of octopus arm.
By the way, the name takoyaki means “baked octopus” – cool, right?
The dough balls are stuffed into a hot iron, similar to how poffertjes are made in the Netherlands, and then filled with the octopus arms. The result is simply to bite into!
Takoyaki is especially delicious served with an okonomiyaki sauce and katsuobushi.
Katsuobushi, by the way, is a typical condiment in many dishes in Japan. It is made from dried bonito fish and grated into paper-thin pieces. When you get it served, the pieces flutter back and forth.
Yakitori are delicious chicken skewers that are often grilled in street restaurants in Japan.
The preparation is simple, usually only salt or a soy sauce mix is used.
Unlike other countries, where we often over-season, the Japanese rely on the natural freshness and inherent flavor of the ingredients. Japanese cuisine is all about bringing out the flavors of the products. So according to the motto, less is more.
Yakiniku is where the action really starts! You sit around the table with your friends and are served fresh meat, vegetables and side dishes. Everything is top quality and ready to grill.
The best thing about it: You grill your food right in front of you and can prepare it the way you like it best. The atmosphere is really good and there is a lot of talking and laughing.
The waiters are also fully involved and are happy to give tips and tricks for the perfect barbecue.
Yakitori, grilled chicken skewers, are particularly popular. But not only that, thin slices of Wagyu beef or pancetta are often part of the menu.
The meat is usually served without marinade or seasoning, and you can take it right off the serving plate with a small pair of tongs. The sauce for dipping is at least as important and you can choose it according to your taste.
On the Japanese grill, fresh ingredients such as mushrooms, onions, peppers or pak choi are also sautéed and eaten with the meat. The possible combinations are endless and make this dish a highlight of Japanese cuisine.
Wagashi are the sweet treats that are often artfully decorated in Japan and served on special occasions or as gifts for friends and family.
These delicacies are full of history and tradition and often have an important meaning during religious festivals.
It goes perfectly with a cup of green tea.
Typical ingredients for wagashi include anko, a sweet paste made from red beans, which is often used as a filling. Fruits, green tea matcha and rice flour are also commonly used.
If you’re looking for Japanese desserts, be sure to visit a traditional wagashi pastry shop. There you are guaranteed to find your happiness!
Sushi is a traditional Japanese dish consisting of rice and seaweed. It has become an indispensable part of Japanese culture and now delights gourmets around the world.
Sushi is the combination of the Japanese words “su” and “meshi”, which translate to “vinegar” and “rice”. Sushi refers to the slightly sweet rice prepared with vinegar, paired with a side dish – or neta – of seafood, eggs or vegetables, either raw or cooked.
In addition, there are also various traditional forms of vegetarian sushi.
Sushi is an expensive dish in many countries. In Japan, it is eaten both as a high-class product and at lower prices in a variety of restaurants.
Sushi in Japan is usually accompanied by hot green tea or genmaicha, a type of green tea combined with toasted brown rice. Most Japanese sushi restaurants have a wide selection of drinks for their guests, as Japanese rice wine sake or wines also go wonderfully with this dish.
Japan has a very diverse topography, which has produced a diverse natural world and a wide variety of agricultural traditions. Japanese dishes therefore are rich in regional differences, which have influenced a variety of sushi styles.
Among the most famous sushi styles are:
- Temaki Sushi: This is a really cool way to enjoy sushi – totally playful and uncomplicated. But if you ever want to share sushi with friends or family, Chirashi Sushi is the perfect choice! Here, instead of being rolled in rice, the sushi is served in a bowl of rice. This makes it easy for everyone to grab and enjoy. A great alternative to the classic sushi roll, right?
- Inari Sushi: This is sushi served in a crispy tofu pocket and filled with rice and fresh local ingredients. It’s a super delicious and unique way to enjoy sushi. And the best part is that you can fill it with your favorite vegetables.
- Makizushi: This is a mega delicious variety of sushi! Here, the chef places a layer of rice on a bamboo mat and then rolls it tightly to create this unique, small and uniform sushi roll. Delicious!
- Nigirizushi: This is the absolute icon among sushi creations! This uses a hand-formed mound of specially prepared rice (also known as nori) onto which the sushi topping, also known as neta, is artfully draped. A real treat that you should definitely try!
- Oshizushi: This is sushi that is pressed in a special wooden mold with fish, rice and vegetables, giving it a unique texture and flavor. The whole thing is then weighted down with stones so that it becomes nice and firm. Best of all, you can easily cut it into small slices and enjoy!
- Temakizushi: It looks similar to Maki Sushi, but here the ingredients are placed on Nori and rolled by hand into a cone. The thinner end of the cone should be closed so the filling doesn’t fall out. But the best part is that you can see the neta, or filling, on the open and wider end of the cone. This makes the food not only delicious, but super appealing.
- Uramaki: These are the rolls where the rice is on the outside and the nori sheet is on the inside. But that’s not all, because the rice is also coated in sesame seeds or masago (fish roe) for an added flavor.
- Hosomaki: A style formed into small rolls and usually garnished with raw fish, boiled egg and cooked vegetables.
- Hakosushi: This is a style of sushi where the rice is placed in a box with neta and then pressed with a bamboo mold. Battera mackerel sushi is particularly famous in this regard.
- Funasushi: A traditional type of sushi made with fermented fish. This is a special delicacy that is highly prized, especially in Japan and Korea. The fish is first salted and then pickled for several months until it is fully fermented. It can then be served as sushi or made into other Japanese dishes.
- California Roll: A modern variation of sushi that originated in California in the 1970s. This is a type of uramaki sushi with the rice on the outside and the filling on the inside. The California Roll is often filled with avocado, surimi (imitation crab meat) and cucumber and sprinkled with sesame seeds. This creation has quickly gained popularity and is now one of the most famous sushi variations in the world.
In addition to these classic variations, there are numerous other types of sushi that can vary depending on the region or personal taste.
Did you know that sashimi is actually a Japanese dish in its own right? Even though it is often served in sushi restaurants, it doesn’t have much to do with sushi. Sashimi consists of fresh, raw fish served without rice. What makes it special is that the taste of the ingredients is not adulterated and they can be enjoyed in their natural form. Simply delicious!
However, all types of sushi have one thing in common: they are not only a culinary highlight but also a real feast for the eyes. The artfully arranged rolls not only look fantastic but also taste simply unbelievably good! No wonder that this Japanese specialty has become so popular around the world.
They are a culinary experience for every lover of Japanese cuisine!
No matter what kind of sushi you prefer, there are some basic rules to follow. For example, you should always eat the sushi with your hands and not with cutlery. Soy sauce should also be used sparingly so as not to drown out the flavor of the fish.
Sushi can be enjoyed as a snack or as a full meal and is perfect for a social evening among friends or family. Why not try different types and discover your personal favorite!