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What to Eat in Japan?

Each person preferences is different but these are all the basic food that you will find easily and should try to eat at least once in Japan.

Rice Bowl

Whenever you hear don at the end of a food’s name. In most cases, it will be a rice topped with toppings! Beef, chicken, tempura, egg or stuff that you might have no idea what is it.

Popular chain store that offers this kind of foods are Yoshinoya, Sukiya, and Matsuya. Notice the ya in the end of each brand? Ya means a store. So not all store end in Ya sell you a don.

yoshinoya-japan

Fried Meat Cutlet

Whenever you hear katsu at the end, it’s usually a type of fried battered meat (pork/chicken/beef/fish/shrimp) that is cut to pieces. Usually, is served with rice. The pork katsu or tonkatsu is especially good in Japan. You should try it at least once.

pork-cutlet-tonkatsu-japan

Oden

Basically, it’s a soup with varieties of fish balls. It is a popular food to eat at winter time. You can find oden easily at most convenience store such as 7Eleven.

Noodles

Japan has a lot type of noodles. But here are the basics to help you differentiate them.

Ramen is a thin noodle served with broths and toppings. Ramen is so popular that you can easily eat it overseas. There are different styles of ramen. Such as Hakata which have a very heavy, fatty broth or Tokyo style which uses a clear light broth.

ramen-noodle-japan Udon is the thicker version of ramen. Also served with hot broths and toppings.

udon-noodle-japan Tsukemen is a type of noodle similar to udon but served cold with hot heavy broth to dip it with.

Soba is made with buckwheat flour and served cold or hot with a soy dip. The noodles are not chewy and rather bland compared to Ramen/Udon.

soba-noodle-japan Yakisoba, although contain the soba word, is not a variety of Soba. Although yaki could mean grilled, yakisoba is a type of fried noodles with special seasoning.

Somen is a type of wheat noodle used in ramen, but a bit thinner and served cold with vinegar and salad. It’s very popular in the summer time. Some people called it cold ramen.

Abura soba, although contain the soba word, is also not a variety of Soba. It’s a kind of dry udon served with chili, vinegar, and oil. Although it seems bland, it’s actually quite creamy because it’s usually served with ontama (onsen boiled egg). When mixed together, the texture is similar to Carbonara. It’s still difficult to find this type overseas so try to eat it in Japan!

Tempura

Crunchy, fried battered stuff… Fish, shrimp, egg, spinach, mushrooms, sweet potato, eel and the list goes on and on… Served with a thin soy based sauce. Japanese use special thin batter so tempura is quite light instead of oily.

ebi-shrimp-tempura

Sushi & Sashimi

These dishes are so popular that they might not need any explanation at all! You can easily find sushi and sashimi in big city around the world.

sushi-sashimi-japan

Sushi and Sashimi are basically seafood. Eaten raw or cooked, served with rice or without anything. While in Japan, there is a few reason why you should eat them here while you can easily find them outside of Japan.

The 100 yen sushi chain store
Yes, quality sushi under a buck, read it more here. Eat as much as you can with no worry.

Type of sushi/sashimi that is hard to be found overseas.
There’s more than Tuna and Salmon when it comes to Sushi & Sashimi. Try Uni, Unagi or if you’re feeling brave, try the Shirako (buttery fish semen sack…).

Takoyaki

Very famous due to anime/manga/drama. Takoyaki is a popular street food from Osaka. Tako means octopus. Basically, it’s a savory fried cake ball filled with octopus. But nowadays, there are a lot of different topping to choose from.

takoyaki-osaka-japan

Okonomiyaki

Many foreigner describe this food as a Japanese pizza. But okonomiyaki is not a bread. The main ingredient is egg with a little bit of flour. So the texture is similar to an omelette/pancake. The similarity with pizza is the kind of topping you can have in the okonomiyaki. Okonomi means “whatever you like”. There are a lot of toppings you can choose from. Monjayaki is a food that looks similar at a glance but it has a watery batter and thus the texture is not as firm.

Taiyaki

Although shaped like fish and named as Taiyaki (Baked Sea Bream),it doesn’t have any relation with fish at all. It’s a type of pancake batter shaped as fish with various filling. Original taiyaki usually have red bean as the filling

taiyaki-japan

First time going to Japan on your own?

Be sure to prepare yourself well before you go to Japan. Check out this article to help you plan what you need to have in Japan.

Language can be an obstacle since many people in Japan couldn’t speak English. You could either try to learn a bit of basic Japanese or you could also use free apps like Japan Travel Phrasebook to help you.

This app provide a lot of practical phrase you will need to travel such as “I want to go to …” or “Where is the toilet?”. You can imitate the phrases until you memorize them or you can simply bookmark the phrases and show it up to local so they can immediately understand what you need.

Hope it helps and have a wonderful trip! °˖✧◝(⁰▿⁰)◜✧˖°

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