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Food Around The World: 10 Must-Try Traditional Japanese Dishes

Food Around The World: 10 Must-Try Traditional Japanese Dishes


A trip to Japan is guaranteed to be one of the most exciting vacation experiences ever. With its rich culture, distinct traditions, and great views, the country ranks as one of the most desired holiday destinations. Beyond its top tourist attractions, another thing that makes Japan a place to visit is the traditional Japanese dishes.

Yes, exploring is not enough to really know Japan. To become an expert, you must take action and enjoy the most sumptuous feature of all—their food.  Their cuisine is rich, fun, and remarkably widely acclaimed. Most Japan tour packages include some sort of food tasting, so you might as well get introduced to some of them.

Here are the top 10 must-try traditional Japanese dishes…

#1. Sushi

Photo: Pixabay

When we think about the country of the rising sun, Sushi is one of the first things that come to mind. While the meal is highly popular all around the world, you should really try the authentic version in Japan. They pride themselves on the fresh ingredients and attentiveness they put into their recipes, so it is essential to test the lovely mixtures of fish, seaweed, and rice.

#2. Udon

Photo: Katerina Holmes/Pexels

If you know your Asian food, you have probably seen or even tried some sort of noodle variation. However, the key ones to try are called Udon. Made from wheat flour and brine water, these noodles are easily manipulated into any kind of meal. So, you will have plenty of options. Feel free to order a hot pot or a broth, or get udon as a side dish. However, you should know that they are usually added to traditional noodle soups.

#3. Tempura

Photo: Pixabay/Pexels

Heavenly—that is how you describe Tempura. Seemingly primitive, the dish is at the top of all crispy fried foods and will seduce you for seconds. Made of slices of meat, fish, or vegetables, tempura is eventually fried until it gains that lovely brown shade and crunchiness. You can order it as a starter, a side dish, or add it to your noodle soup.

#4. Sashimi

Photo: 奥尼尔 孙/Pexels

One of the more controversial dishes on the list, sashimi is a traditional Japanese dish loved by the locals but a bit intimidating to visitors. Basically, you get to try raw fish or meat that has been prepared only with precise knife work. Sashimi is usually served with slices of radishes or ginger, so you will have something to cleanse the palate, but the exciting meal remains what it is.

By the way, originally, Sashimi is best tried in Tokyo, so if you seek the most authentic of experiences, we suggest Japan trains and a quick journey to the capital city. Make your way toward that perfect bite.

#5. Yakitori

Photo: Pixabay/Pexels

Literally translated into “barbecued chicken,” Yakitori is precisely what it is. While some find it peculiar that chicken is a part of the authentic Japanese menu, yakitori has been around since the Meiji period in the 19th century. Right now, it is mainly regarded as Japanese street food, so take a break during your explorations and order the tastiest chicken with a sauce, a tare, sake alcohol, and sugar.

#6. Sukiyaki

Photo: Lindsey Eats

If you visit Japan in winter, sukiyaki is the way to go. Mostly enjoyed when it gets chillier, it is an exciting hot pot of beef slices, broth, vegetables, noodles, and all kinds of protein. The meal is a good chameleon, so you can get it from street vendors, local cafes, and lavish restaurants.

#7. Mentaiko

Photo: The Spruce Eats

The further we go, the more interesting it gets. Mentaiko is fish eggs marinated with spicy seasoning and sauces. While it sounds a bit risky, mentaiko actually has a lovely taste you can easily pair with rice, noodle soup, or a hot pot. Recently, the Japanese have taken to adding it to their pasta dishes to give them more of a kick.

#8. Okonomiyaki

Photo: Pixabay

A fun name for a fun dish, you will love okonomiyaki if you enjoy easy yet rich-tasting foods. The principle is very simple: just mix a batter with sliced cabbage, add some seasoning or other optional ingredients, and cook it as you would a pancake. Some Japanese restaurant chains allow you to do that yourself when you order it. And we are all for new experiences.

#9. Curry rice

Photo: Pixabay

While the dish is mainly associated with India, the Japanese have their own authentic version of curry rice. You will see the difference in the distinctively sweeter aftertaste, softer seasoning, and thicker texture. Also, the Japanese version is prepared with local rice, so you can easily spot the contrast. We highly recommend it for comfort food.

#10. Gyoza

Photo: Pixabay

Last but not least, Gyoza is probably just as popular as Sushi and a must-try on your way to becoming an expert in Japanese. These crunchy, rich, and delicious moon-shaped dumplings are a great hangover cure, a dinner option, and an experimental dish if you have not tried them yet. There are plenty of different fillings as well: minced meat, spicy veggies, or seafood.

Our main advice for you is to try everything. Even if something sounds unusual or even a bit scary to try, you might find yourself loving it. So, be brave and curious on your Japanese quest, and prepare your taste buds for new flavors. Good luck!

Featured image: @fintwoknox/Instagram 

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