When you think of Japanese food, sushi and ramen are the first items that come to mind, right? However, the one thing that visitors to Japan can agree on after visiting the country is that the food is to die for! In fact, I’d even go as far as to say that is is almost impossible to have a bad meal!
One of the most popular cuisines in the world, traditional Japanese cuisine (known as washoku) was recognised by UNESCO in 2013, for being an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. With so much on offer, it can be a little daunting deciding on just one dish to try at each meal. To make meal-time easier, these are the 6 Japanese foods you need to try when in Japan:
Arguably Japan’s most iconic dish is Sushi. Dating back to the 4th Century BC, sushi originated from the process of preserving fish in fermented rice. Today, it’s made with rice seasoned with rice vinegar and mixed with a variety of ingredients including raw fish, cooked fish, vegetables and nori (seaweed).
Some common types of sushi you’ll have to try include the classic maki roll, nigiri sushi (raw fish over rice), sashimi (a piece of fresh fish) and inarizushi (rice inside an Aburaage tofu pouch).
Another popular dish is Ramen; a wheat noodle and soup-based meal that can be found all over Japan. Based on the flavour soup used, there are four main types of ramen, shio (salt-based broth), miso (soybean paste-based broth), tonkatsu (pork bone-based broth) and shio (soy sauce-based broth). While you can find these flavours anywhere in Japan, each region has its own version of the dish.
Often described as ‘Japanese comfort food’, Okonomiyaki is a savoury pancake type-dish you don’t want to leave Japan without having tried! The dish is most popular in Osaka and Hiroshima, with both areas having their own unique style of the dish.
In Osaka, it is made with flour, eggs, grated yam, dashi and shredded cabbage cooked into a pancake. In Hiroshima, the ingredients are layered rather than mixed; it starts with a noodle base, topped with layers of cabbage, bacon, egg, okonomiyaki pancake batter, sauce, green onions and pickled ginger.
Yakitori is a dish of bite-sized grilled chicken skewers that are cooked over a charcoal fire and are popular as a side with beer.
Katsudon is a traditional Japanese dish, made of a bowl of rice, topped with crumbed pork chop, egg and other ingredients.
Katsudon is a popular dish among students, as it’s considered an auspicious dish for winning.
Mochi is a Japanese rice cake that is traditionally made by pounding rice. You can get mochi in a variety of flavours. Some favourites include strawberry daifuku, which has a whole strawberry and red bean paste inside and mochi ice cream, which has ice cream inside of the mochi.