Japan is a dreamland of many tourists, especially for those who love cherry blossoms. So, if you have the opportunity to set foot in the country with full of the elites of culture, art, history … especially cuisine, you definitely cannot ignore 14 foods to try when you visiting Japan. Hey! Carefully make a list and “do” now. So, what is the best Japanese food? And what to eat in Japan in general and in Tokyo in particular? Let’s check it out our Japanese food blog: Japan must eat (must eat food in Japan) with top 17 best Japan must try food (must try Japanese food) & most famous Japanese food to eat in Japan with Living Nomads below.
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- Visiting Owl Shrine Café, Tokyo — Healing the soul by cuteness
- Otaru sushi — Top 4 best sushi restaurants in Otaru, Japan
- Visiting Kosoan tea house — The traditional tea room in Tokyo
- Top ramen in Tokyo — Top 6 best ramen restaurants in Tokyo
Like Vietnam, in Japan each region will have its own specialities. And it will not be easy to enjoy all the specialties right in its hometown only in a Japanese trip.
Okonomiyaki (Japanese savory pancake)
The first dish that Living Nomads wants to introduce to you is Okonomiyaki or also known as Japanese savory pancake. This is one of the dishes you have to try when coming to Japan, though there will be many people who are no stranger to this dish.
This is a familiar dish, also a long-standing traditional dish originating from Osaka, which is considered a Japanese pizza. You can easily enjoy this dish in Japanese eateries, street food stalls, or restaurants, but the best and most famous Okonomiyaki is Okonomiyaki in Hiroshima.
What makes the pancake here different from other regions is that its ingredients are not mixed and half-fried, but consist of two layers: the upper – the bottom is flour layer and the core layer in the middle of the cake (including chopped cabbage, thin sliced beef, octopus, shrimp, cheese and noodles. At the first glance it seems like a fried sandwich, but it is still basically a traditional Japanese pancake.
And of course, when eating this signature pancake, Okonomi sauce is indispensable, some fatty mayonnaise, scallions and dried bonito flakes (Katsuobushi).
Some also argue that the pancake in Kansai region is as delicious as Hiroshima, and is also considered a quintessential Japanese cuisine. However, if you can not arrange to visit these two places, you can still enjoy Japanese pancakes at eateries, street food stalls or restaurants throughout Japan. Some places also serve on-demand pancakes with ingredients and doneness on the grill will be entirely decided by you.
Ramen can be considered the “national essence” of Japanese cuisine, because it is one of the first foods to be remembered when talking about the land of the rising sun. Ramen is a noodles cooked in broth from meat or fish, served with eggs, soy sauce and meat. There are many types of ramen, from simple to varied ingredients. The ingredients themselves can also be added or reduced depending on the cook or the taste of the guests, creating a lot of different ramen tastes.
Similarly, the price of ramen noodles ranges from popular to high-end, and if you come to Japan you will be able to enjoy this dish almost anywhere. This noodle is often used by Japanese people for a late dinner, especially on nights when temperatures are low and there is a bit of cold snow.
Referring to ramen, Sapporo ramen is often remembered. The ramen noodles in this city are quite special taste, made from firm and crispy long noodles, big slices of pork, dried bamboo shoots, fried vegetables, cabbage, onions, fish cakes, eggs … then cooked in special broth that includes greasy miso sauce and a mixture of heirloom salt. Many of the ingredients are combined that showed the elaborateness of its processing, the salty taste of the ingredients and the richness, fatty of the broth, sliced pork and miso soy sauce that have brought the distinctive brand of ramen noodles in Sapparo. So if there is a chance to visit Sapporo, ramen is a dish you must try!
Read more: Top ramen in Tokyo — Top 6 best ramen restaurants in Tokyo.
The next dish to try when coming to Japan is the famous delicious champon noodles of Nagasaki region. At the first glance it looks like ramen noodles because it made from fibers of ramen noodles, but the processing with flavor and color is completely different, creating a distinct character for itself.
Instead of separate cooking noodles and broth such as soba or ramen noodles, Champon noodles are cooked directly in a pot of broth, which is made and simmer from chicken or pork bones, combined with a variety of vegetables such as bean sprouts, cabbage, and carrots along with common seafood such as oysters, shrimp, etc. Even in some places, this broth also has Japanese fish cakes, seasonal products or other ingredients required by diners.
Because of so many ingredients, Champon noodles have changed with quite a lot versions, the taste and color of the dish also change slightly according to each season, each kind of product – becoming a special dish of Japanese cuisine culture, not sophisticated but diverse.
Tempura is a generic name for Japanese dishes that will be dipped into flour mix with eggs or batter mix and deep fried – one of the must eat food in Japan. Usually, people will dip seafood and vegetables into flour and deep-fried.
Tempura can be said to be a signature dish of the land of the rising sun. Because deep-fried in oil so Japanese often use vegetables or seafood, aim to balance the fat and not grease for diners. Tempura bearing aromatic flavor, mouth-watering, so it is one of the most popular Japanese specialties.
Tonkatsu (deep fried pork cutlet)
Another deep fried dish is equally famous of Japanese cuisine is Tonkatsu (deep fried pork cutlet), made from pork that was born in the late 19th century and is considered as a signature dish of Japanese cuisine. The ingredients for making this dish are quite simple, including only pork tenderloin, flour, eggs, bread crumbs, chopped cabbage and ingredients to cook miso soup. The pork cutlet will be coated in flour, dipped in eggs and cover by bread crumbs, then deep fried in oil. We can also use the breast meat and the back meat; meat will be seasoned salt and pepper.
When finished, Tonkatsu will have a golden layer of crispy fried dough on the outside, wrapped soft pork and tasty inside. Tonkatsu can be eaten with rice, miso soup and cabbage salad. Some places also serve tonkatsu with sashimi, miso soup and even ice cream.
Chanko Nabe Hot Pot (Sumo Stew)
Japanese cuisine possesses many types of hotpot, one of which is Chanko Nabe, the extremely spectacular hotpot you must try when coming to Japan. Chanko Nabe is known as a traditional hotpot of Sumo wrestler with chicken, seafood, potatoes and vegetables.
The most popular Nabe is Yosenabe including meat, fish, eggs, tofu, vegetables cooked together in a pot served with miso or soy sauce. Many people are afraid will “gain weight” after enjoying this dish, but you will definitely not be able to resist its delicious taste. Besides, enjoying this hotpot with friends and relatives, “how much fat will be melted” because of the warmth and happiness. Especially, Chanko Nabe is a favorite choice of customers in Japan on cold winter days.
Unagi (Grilled eel)
If you are a devotee of anime movies, you will definitely heard about unagi – grilled eel. This grilled eel food is not only a must try food when coming to Japan, but even Japanese people believe that it is an antidote and an ideal food in sweltering summer days from May to October; extremely high value in health.