Recently, Japanese food has become so popular that restaurants specializing in it are opening all over the world. That being said, one of the appeals of Japanese food is that it’s not just restricted to Japanese style! If you come to Japan, here is a selection of recommended Japanese foods that you will surely want to eat.
If you were to name a Japanese food that is highly popular among foreign visitors to Japan, then it would definitely be sushi. From the fresh seafood used, to the rice mixed with the right proportion of vinegar and hand-molded at the perfect temperature, the beauty of Japan’s sushi is the high attention to detail. We recommend the delicate, artisan molded sushi that you observe while eating at the counter. As well as the sushi placed on conveyor belts and available for a reasonable price of about 100JPY per plate at “Kaitenzushi”, where you can casually try and compare lots of sushi toppings.
2. Wagyu Dishes
“The tenderness and balance of high-quality lean and fatty meat is exquisite!”. Nowadays, the name which has received high praise and a gained a reputation for itself across the world is the Japanese beef “Wagyu”. Many tourists travel for the sole purpose of getting to eat the steaks or yakiniku from these cows raised with care on domestic Japanese farms. Starting with the internationally popular Kobe beef, followed by the Matsuzaka and Sendai beef which are famous within Japan for their delicious taste, there are tons of restaurants in various areas with different brands of beef for you to try. If you come to Japan, eat and compare the different cuts of beef, or enjoy the extravagant flavor of steak and savor Wagyu to your heart’s content.
3. Ryotei Japanese Cuisine
Ryotei are restaurants that provide high quality Japanese cuisine, with an atmosphere and service that reflects the essence of Japanese culture. The term ryotei undoubtedly conjures up an expensive image but lately, there has been an increase in reasonably priced casual restaurants. Traditional Japanese cuisine developed amongst Japan’s unique climate and uses ingredients that vary from season to season. Its characteristic is the emphasis placed on bringing out the natural flavors of the food. Also, its delicate appearance and the arrangement of the food makes it a fine art. You can experience this form of Japanese fine art and culture with its attention to detail through the Japanese cuisine offered at a ryotei. There are also restaurants that offer English and Chinese menus.
4. Family Restaurant Meals
Restaurants that you can take your family to that has a casual atmosphere in Japan are referred to as “Family Restaurants” and many of them have chains all over the country. They offer a range of menu items at reasonable prices from Western-style dishes like steak and hamburgers, easy-to-eat Japanese-style foods like udon and soba and even pancakes and parfaits. Depending on the restaurant some are open for 24 hours so it’s recommended if you have to eat early in the morning or late at night as well as for the people who can’t chose between Western-style or Japanese-style food and want it all.
5. Japan's Unique Hamburgers
Everyone loves hamburgers. There are burger chains unique to Japan with Japan-only menu items. For example, at McDonald’s there are teriyaki flavored burgers, Kentucky Fried Chicken makes chicken with a soy sauce base, chicken cutlet burgers and more. Also Mos Burger, which originated in Japan and is currently focused on expanding throughout Asia, has rice burgers which are burgers placed between “buns” made of rice. In addition to those, there are several other hamburger chains with Japan-specific menu items so be sure to check for them.
*Picture of a rice burger for illustration purposes.
6. Soba and Udon
Soba and Udon are Japan’s soul foods that you can eat casually while enjoying the deliciousness of “dashi”, the core of Japanese food. Soba noodles made from buckwheat flour and udon noodles made from wheat flour are both commonly eaten by dipping in a soup made from Japanese-style dashi or a strong broth. Although there are high class restaurants, you can find many chain soba and udon shops across Japan where you can dine casually. Just the simple noodles and broth is good in itself but depending on the restaurant, you can also customize with toppings or tempura.
A food that originated in China, ramen underwent a unique evolution in Japan and is now popular throughout the world as a popular Japanese dish. Beginning with tonkotsu ramen that is popular among foreigners nowadays, ramen's unique trait is the many varieties of soups like miso, soy sauce, salt and more. Each restaurant has their own particular seasonings that they use for the soup stock and since the ingredients also vary based on the nature of the restaurant, the variety of flavors are endless. Compared to the relatively light taste of most Japanese food, ramen has many strong flavors. So if you become a little dissatisfied with Japanese food, it would be good to eat ramen. After drinking alcohol, many Japanese people eat ramen as a meal to round everything off. How about you try the Japanese way of having “one bowl of ramen after drinks”?
Japan is acknowledged worldwide as a country that has delicious food and its appeal lies in the many varieties and high quality of the food. During your stay in Japan, please enjoy Japanese food to your heart’s content.