42 Best Japanese foods

In the recent, Japanese cuisine has become more and more popular in the world because Japanese foods are tasty, healthy, good-looking, and distinct. Each Japanese food contains the soul of the country of rising sun, characteristics of Japanese people who are diligent, skillful, and delicate. Let’s learn about Best foods of Japan, you will know what to eat on your trip to this beautiful country.

Savory foods

1. Sushi

All of Sushi is made from rice mixed with a mixture of vinegar, sugar, salt. Other ingredients are nori (seaweed sheet), seafood (shrimp, crab,), fish, eel, egg (chicken egg, fish egg), vegetables, fruits, etc. There are many kinds of Sushi: maki, uramaki, temaki, uramaki, sashimi, and nigiri. Maki is the most popular sushi. To make Maki, they use nori to wrap rice and other ingredients into a roll, then cut into many circles. Uramaki is similar to Maki, but rice is on the outside and nori wrap and filling are inside. Temaki is hand-rolled into a cone shape. Sashimi is fresh fish or shellfish cut into slices, then served alone. Nigiri is a piece of mixed rice topped with fish or seafood.

2. Sashimi

Sashimi is considered as the queen of purity taste. This Japanese delicacy consists of very fresh raw meat/fish/seafood which are sliced into thin pieces. The slices are cut by talented chefs with specific knives. Only ingredients which are caught by special tools, stored and handled through a special process are chosen for Sashimi. some favorite ingredients for Sashimi are salmon, tuna, mackerel, shrimp, cuttlefish, seabream, puffer fish, scallop, sea urchin, octopus, etc. Most of the ingredients are cut and served raw, except for a few ingredients such as chicken, octopus. Sashimi often is served with dipping sauce such as soy sauce, spices such as wasabi, gari (pickled ginger), shiso, mint, shredded daikon, seaweeds.

3. Shabu-shabu

Shabu-shabu is a Japanese hot pot dish of thinly sliced meat (mostly beef, wagyu, pork, crab, chicken, lamb, duck, or lobster), vegetables (Chinese cabbage, chrysanthemum leaves, nori, onion, carrot, shiitake mushroom, and enokitake mushroom), noodles (udon, mochi, harusame) boiled in water. In comparison to Sukiyaki hot pot, the broth of Shabu-shabu is less sweet and more savory. Diner cooks the food piece by piece at the table. This hot pot is served with ponzu sauce (or sesame sauce, soy sauce) and pickles.

4. Sukiyaki

Sukiyaki is similar to Shabu-shabu which is consists of soup, thinly sliced meat (usually beef), vegetables, noodles, cooked at the table by dinner. The differences are the broth flavored with soy sauce, sugar, and mirin and raw beaten egg is used as dip.

5. Chankonabe

Chankonabe is a rich-protein one-pot dish which is usually eaten by sumo wrestlers in order to gain weight. Chankonabe contains a dashi/chicken broth soup base flavored with sake or mirin, meats (chicken, beef), fish, tofu, vegetables. Dashi is a Japanese stock made from kombu (dried kelp), katsuobushi (dried and smoked bonito/skipjack tuna) that is shaved into thin flakes, iriko or niboshi (anchovies/sardine).

6. Udon

Udon is a type of thick wheat flour noodle. Udon is often served hot as a noodle soup, topped with thinly chopped scallions. The broth can be simple or kakejiru – a mildly flavored broth made of dashi (fish and seaweed stock), soy sauce, and mirin (sweet rice wine). The flavor of broth and topping vary from region to region: dark brown broth made from dark soy sauce light brown broth and made from light soy sauce. Common toppings include tempura, often prawn, aburaage – a type of deep-fried tofu pockets seasoned with sugar, mirin, and soy sauce. A thin slice of kamaboko, a half-moon-shaped fish cake, and Shichimi – a spice mixture containing seven ingredients are often added. Sometimes, udon noodles are served chilled with sauce, topped with various ingredients or served as a part of hot pot.

Some favorite types of hot udon noodle soups: Kake udon (topped with thinly sliced green onions, and perhaps a slice of kamaboko), Kitsune udon (topped with aburaage (sweetened deep-fried tofu pockets), Tempura udon (topped with tempura, especially prawn), or kakiage, a type of mixed tempura fritter), Tanuki udon (topped with tempura batter pieces), Tsukimi udon (Topped with raw egg, which poaches in the hot soup), Wakame udon (topped with wakame – a dark green sea vegetable, Karē udon (udon in a curry-flavoured soup with meat or vegetables), Chikara udon (topped with toasted mochi rice cakes), Stamina udon (topped with meat, a raw egg, and vegetables), Nabeyaki udon (a hot pot consisting of udon, seafood, and vegetables.

Other types of hot udon noodles: Kamaage udon (served in a communal hot-pot with hot water, and accompanied by a hot dipping sauce of dashi sukiyaki), Yaki udon (Stir-fried udon in a soy-based sauce), Miso-nikomi udon (a hard udon simmered in red miso soup containing chicken, a floating cracked raw egg that is stirred in by the eater, kamaboko, vegetables and tubers), Hōtō udon (a type of miso soup with udon and vegetables). For your information, miso is a traditional Japanese seasoning produced by fermenting soybeans with salt and koji

Cold udon dishes:  Zaru udon (topped with shredded nori and served on a zaru – a sieve-like bamboo tray, accompanied by a chilled dipping sauce, often a strong mixture of dashi, mirin, and shoyu, eaten with wasabi or grated ginger), Bukkake udon (served with thick dashi-broth), Hadaka udon (served on its own), Kijōyu udon (served in a cold soup of raw soy sauce and sudachi juice, sometimes with grated daikon).

7. Ramen

Ramen consists of ramen noodles served in a meat/fish-based broth, often flavored with soy sauce or miso, and topped with sliced pork, nori, menma (a condiment made from lactate-fermented bamboo shoots), and green onions. Every region in Japan has its own variation of ramen. Ramen noodles are made from wheat flour, salt, water, and kansui (a type of alkaline mineral water). Kansui makes Ramen different from other noodles, it makes Ramen yellowish hue and firm. Ramen broth is made from chicken or pork, kombu (kelp), katsuobushi (skipjack tuna flakes), niboshi (dried baby sardines), beef bones, pork bones, shiitake, and onions. Tonkotsu soup is a common Ramen soup, it usually has a cloudy white colored broth.

Ramen can be divided into four categories:

Shoyu ramen has clear brown chicken/fish/beef and vegetable based broth, with soy sauce. Mostly noodles are curly. Toppings include marinated bamboo shoots, green onions, kamaboko (fish cakes), nori, boiled eggs, bean sprouts or black pepper).

Shio ramen has a pale, clear, yellowish broth made with salt, chicken, vegetables, fish, and seaweed. Ramen noodles are usually straight rather than curly. It is topped with Chashu (char siu) or lean chicken meatballs, pickled plums and kamaboko (a slice of processed fish roll).

Miso ramen has a broth cooked from  miso, chicken/fish/tonkotsu. Toppings include spicy bean paste, butter and corn, leeks, onions, bean sprouts, ground pork, cabbage, sesame, white pepper, and chopped garlic.

Miso ramen has a broth made with pork bones and vegetables which are seasoned with curry. The noodles are thick and curly. Toppings include chāshū, wakame, and bean sprouts.

8. Champon

Champon is a regional cuisine ò Nagasaki, made by frying pork, seafood and vegetables with lard; a soup made with chicken and pig bones are added; Ramen noodles made especially for champon and then boiled.

9. Soba

Soba refers to thin, brown noodle made from buckwheat flour (or a combination of buckwheat and wheat flour). The noodles are served in a hot broth (usually soy-based dashi broth) as a noodle soup in the winter or drained, chilled with a sauce in the summer. Soba dishes are often topped with meat and vegetables in order to balance the flavor and enhance the taste. Cold soba dishes are often served on zaru – a sieve-like bamboo tray, garnished with dried nori, dipped with soba tsuyu (a mixture of dashi, soy sauce, and mirin).

Some types of cold soba dishes are Mori soba (basic chilled soba noodles), Zaru soba (soba noodles topped with shredded nori seaweed), Hadaka soba (only soba noodles), Hiyashi soba (topped with puree of yamaimo, daikon radish, sticky fermented soybeans, fresh sliced okra, then eaten with a broth poured by diner), Soba maki (soba noodles wrapped in nori), soba salad (soba noodles mixed with vegetables, and sesame dressing).

Some types of hot soba dishes are Kake soba (topped with sliced scallion, fish cake), Kitsune soba (topped with deep-fried tofu), Tanuki soba (topped with deep-fried tempura batter), Tempura soba (topped with tempura, often shrimp tempura), Tsukim soba (topped with raw egg which poaches in the hot soup), etc.

10. Yakisoba

Yakisoba is a Japanese wheat noodle stir-fry dish with pork, vegetables (cabbage, onions, carrots), flavored with yakisoba sauce, salt, and pepper. It is usually garnished with aonori (seaweed powder), beni shoga (shredded pickled ginger), katsuobushi (fish flakes), and mayonnaise.

11. Somen

Somen are very thin white wheat noodles. In the summer, Somen noodles are usually served cold with tsuyu dipping sauce – usually, a katsuobushi-based sauce that can be flavored with Japanese bunching onion, ginger, or myoga ginger. The noodles are placed in a long flume of bamboo which carries clear, ice-cold water in order to make sure the noodles are cool and not mushy. When the noodles pass by, diners pluck them out with chopsticks.

12. Tempura

Tempura consists of seafood or vegetables that have been battered and deep fried. Highlights of this food are it is extremely crispy and not as oily as other deep-fry dishes. The batter is light, made of cold water, soft wheat flour, sometimes egg, baking soda, starch, oil, and spices. Types of seafood used in tempura include prawn, shrimp, scallop, squid, sweetfish, conger eel, fish, catfish, white fish, haddock, cod, pollock, coley, plaice, skate, ray, rock salmon, whiting, sea bass, sea perch. Types of vegetables used in tempura include bamboo shoots, bell pepper, carrot, butternut squash, eggplant, green beans, gobo, kabocha, mushrooms, shiitake, onion, okra, potato, pumpkin, sweet potato, lotus root, shiso leaf, yam.

13. Gyoza

Gyoza are dumplings filled with ground meat and vegetables and wrapped in a thin dough made from sticky rice. The typical gyoza filling is made from ground pork, nira chives, green onion, cabbage, ginger, garlic, soy sauce and sesame oil. Types of Gyoza include Yaki Gyoza (the most common, pan-fried in a hot skillet before a mixture of water and cornstarch is poured in and everything is covered for a few minutes), Sui gyoza (boiled, often served in a very light broth), Age gyoza (deep fried).

14. Tonkatsu

Tonkatsu is breaded deep-fried pork cutlet. There are 2 main types of Tonkatsu: fillet and loin. This crispy outside and tender inside food is usually served with shredded cabbage, miso soup, steamed rice/noodle soup/stir-fried noodles, sandwich, etc.

15. Korokke

Korokke is a deep-fried dish made by mixing cooked chopped meat, seafood, macaroni, or vegetables with mashed potato or white sauce. It is often shaped like a flat patty, rolling it in wheat flour, eggs, and Japanese style breadcrumbs, then deep-fried until brown and crisped outside.

16. Hambagu

Hambagu is made from a blend of ground beef and other ingredients, fried until well-done and brown. It is usually served with bread or steamed rice, vegetables (cauliflower, fried potato), and demi-glace sauce which often contains tomato sauce and red wine.

17. Okonomiyaki

Okonomiyaki is a Japanese savory pancake which batters and toppings vary according to region. Kansai okonomiyaki is the predominant version, its batter is made from flour, grated nagaimo (a type of yam), water or dashi, eggs, and shredded cabbage, sometimes green onion, meat (often pork), octopus, squid, shrimp, vegetables, konjac, mochi or cheese. The batter and others are pan-fried on both sides on either a teppan or a pan using metal spatulas. Toppings include otafuku/okonomiyaki sauce, aonori (seaweed flakes), katsuobushi (bonito flakes), Japanese mayonnaise, and pickled ginger.

18. Monjayaki

Monjayaki is similar to Okonomiyaki, but the batter is thinner and moister than Okonomiyaki.

19. Chawanmushi

Chawanmushi is steamed egg with various ingredients, often chicken, shrimp, fish, Gingko seed. This food is usually cooked and served in a cup with a lid.

20. Kaiseki Ryori

Kaiseki Ryori – a traditional multi-course Japanese haute cuisine is the most delicate and quintessential part of Japanese rich cuisine. It is a set of many dishes made from season products including vegetables, fishes, seaweed, mushroom, etc. Some are served cold, some are served hot. Kaiseki meals have a prescribed order to their dishes: starters (aperitif, appetizers), main courses (soup, Sashimi, boiled dish, grilled dish, deep-fried dish, steamed dish, vinegared dish), shokuji (rice, miso soup, pickles), dessert (sweets, fruit).

21. Bento

Bento is a single-portion which is a taken-out or home-packed meal. Traditional bento holds rice or noodles, fish or meat, with pickled and cooked vegetables, arranged in a container. The containers range from disposable mass-produced to hand-crafted lacquerware. Foods packed in Bento container are healthy, delicious and beautifully decorated.

Followings are some types of Bento:

Chuka bento (filled with Chinese foods), Hinomaru bento (consisting of plain white rice with an umeboshi (pickled ume fruits) in the center, Kamameshi bento (cooked and served in a clay pot), Makunouchi bento (consisting of rice, umeboshi, a slice of broiled salmon, a rolled egg), Sake bento (topped with a slice of broiled salmon), Shidashi bento (packed with tempura, rice and pickled vegetables), Shokado bento (packed in a traditional black-lacquered box), Tori bento (consisting of rice topped with chicken cooked in sauce), Kyaraben (made for children, have cute characters), Ekiben (sold at railway stations), Hayaben (eaten before lunch), Hokaben (bought at a take-out bento shops), Noriben (consisiting of rice, nori, soy sauce dip), Soraben (sold at airports for eating on an airplane).

22. Yakitori

Yakitori is a type of skewered chicken which is very popular in Japan. The chicken is cut into small pieces, seasoned, then placed on kushi – a special skewer made from steel, bamboo, or others, and grilled on charcoal. Sweet-salty Yakitori is seasoned with tare sauce which consists of mirin, sake, soy sauce, and sugar. Salty Yakitori is seasoned with salt.

23. Unagi

Unagi refers to grilled eel which is very common in Japanese cuisine. It is a healthy and relatively expensive delicacy. It is crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. Traditionally, eels are grilled over hot charcoals and then steamed to remove excess fat. Then they’re glazed with a sweet sauce and grilled again. Unagi is serveed on skewers as appetizers or as the main entree with a bed of rice.

24. Yakizakana

Yakizakana literally means “grilled fish”, made using seasonal fish (tuna, mackerel, sparidae and often served with grated daikon or a slice of lemon. The fish is grilled with some other ingredients like onions, peppers, mushrooms, spices until tender, well-done inside and crisped outside.  Yakizakana + a bowl of rice + a bowl of miso soup = the quintessential Japanese meal.

25. Yakiniku

Yakiniku literally means “grilled meat”, it refers to cooking bite-size meat and vegetables on gridirons or griddles over a flame of wood charcoals. Typical ingredients include beef, pork, horumon (discarded items such as intestine, heart, uterus, tail, tripe, stomach), chicken, seafood, vegetables (bell pepper, carrots, shiitake and other mushrooms, onions, cabbage, eggplant, bean sprout, garlic and kabocha squash).

26. Nikujaga

Nikujaga consists of meat, potatoes, and onion stewed in sweetened soy sauce, sometimes with ito konnyaku which is thick noodle-shaped, made from and vegetables. The chef performs his skill while cooking in front of diners.

27. Teppanyaki

Teppanyaki refers to Japanese foods (steak, shrimp, lobster, okonomiyaki, yakisoba, monjayaki) cooked on a flat iron griddle.

28. Steamed rice

Japanese people usually have their breakfast with raw egg and tamago kake gohan – a type of soy sauce. They can mix steamed rice with natto – soybeans fermented with Bacillus subtilis var or savory dishes.

29. Donburi

Donburi is a Japanese “rice bowl dish”, steamed rice is served with simmered fish, meat, vegetables, served in oversized rice bowls also called donburi. The simmering sauce varies according to season, ingredients, region, and taste. The most common sauce consists of dashi, soy sauce, and mirin.

Traditional Japanese donburi include Gyūdon (topped with beef and onion simmered in a mildly sweet sauce flavored with dashi, soy sauce, and mirin, sometimes topped with a raw egg or a soft poached egg, often includes shirataki noodles), Butadon (topped with pork simmered in mildly sweet sauce), Tendon (topped with tempura), Tentamadon (topped with tempura simmered with beaten egg), Unadon (topped with fillets of eel (unagi) grilled in a style known as kabayaki), Tamagodon (topped with a scrambled egg mixed with sweet donburi sauce), Oyakodon (topped with simmered chicken, egg, and sliced scallion), Katsudon (Breaded deep-fried pork cutlets called tonkatsu and onion are simmered and binding by beaten egg), Sōsukatsudon (similar to Katsudon, but sliced cabbage and sweet-salty sauce are used instead of egg), Konohadon (similar to oyakodon, but using thin sliced kamaboko pieces instead of chicken meat), Karedon (topped with thickened curry flavored dashi), Tekkadon (topped with thinly-sliced raw tuna), Hokkaidon (topped with thinly-sliced raw salmon), Negitorodon (topped with diced fatty tuna and spring onions), Ikuradon (topped with seasoned salmon roe), Kaisendon (topped with thinly-sliced sashimi), Tenshidon (topped with crabmeat omelet), Chukadon (topped with stir-fried vegetables, onions, mushrooms, and thin slices of meat.

30. Kare Raisu

Steamed rice is eaten with curry made from various combinations of vegetables (onions, carrots, potatoes) and meats (beef, pork, and chicken). Different from many curry dishes in other countries, Japanese curry dishes served with steamed rice are not spicy and easy to eat.

31. Chahan

Chahan is a fried rice with many kinds of vegetables, meats, and seasonings, often cooked in a wok -a versatile round-bottomed cooking vessel. Ingredients for this food varies, common ones are beans, egg, scallions, carrots, avocado, lemon, pork, shrimp, squid, crab.

32. Onigiri

Onigiri is also known as Japanese rice ball made by forming steamed rice into triangular or cylindrical shapes and often wrapped in nori, filled with pickled ume (salt plum), salted salmon, katsuobushi (dried, fermented, and smoked skipjack tuna), kombu (edible kelp), tarako (salted cod roe), or any other salty or sour ingredient.

33. Chazuke

Chazuke is made by pouring green tea, dashi, or hot water over steamed rice. The food is topped with tsukemono (Japanese pickles), umeboshi, nori, furikake (a mixture of dried fish, sesame, chopped seaweed, sugar, salt), sesame, tarako and mentaiko (salted and marinated pollock roe), salted salmon, shiokara (pickled seafood), scallions, and wasabi.

34. Hayashi Raisu

Hayashi Raisu is a mixed rice with stewed beef, button mushrooms, and onions in a thick brown demi-glace sauce, sometimes topped with a drizzle of fresh cream.

35. Omuraisu

Omuraisu is an omelete rice dish which is made by wrapping steamed rice in fried egg, usually decorated with tomato sauce or demi-glace sauce.

36. Okayu

Okayu is a type of congee in Japan, made with rice, water, seasoned with salt which uses a ratio of 5:1. It is less broken down, more thickened than congee in other cultures. This food is comfortable so that it is a favorite food of Japanese people. It is usually decorated with umeboshi.

37. Hiyayakko

Hiyayakko is made with chilled cold tofu and variety of toppings. A standard combination includes chopped green onion, katsuobushi – dried skipjack tuna flakes and soy sauce. Other toppings are daikon radish, perilla leaf, yuzu rind, sliced myoga ginger, grated ginger, sliced okra, plump paste, mustard.

38. Yudofu

Yudofu is tofu cut into small pieces, boiled in a clear and light soup, dipped in soy sauce or ponzu sauce. This food is usually eaten in the winter.

39. Agedashidofu

Agedashidofu is made from tofu. To make this food, cover tofu pieces with flour, fry them, serve them hot with dashi . The food is decorated with chopped green onion or ground daikon radish.

40. Miso soup

Miso soup is cooked by mixing miso sauce with dashi, sometimes adding wakame seaweeds, sliced tofu or sliced fried tofu.

41. Oden

Oden is a one-pot winter dish which consists of various ingredients such as boiled eggs, daikon, konjac, and processed fishcakes stewed in a light, karashi, soy-flavored dashi broth.

42. Wagashi

Wagashi are traditional Japanese confections that are often served with tea. They are made in a wide variety of shapes and consistencies and with diverse ingredients and preparation methods. Some of them are only available regionally or seasonally. Wagashi are typically made from plant-based ingredients. Some favorite Wagashi are Namagashi (made of rice flour, sweet bean paste filling, shaped by hand to reflect the season), Daifuku (made of mochi – soft rice cake wrapped around a small round of smooth, sweet bean paste or other fillings, covered with a light dusting of potato starch), Dango (chewy, small, steamed dumplings made of rice flour, typically served skewered, topped with a sweet sauce or bean paste), Dorayaki (consisting of sweet bean paste/whipped cream/custard cream/green tea flavored cream sandwiched between two pancake-like patties), Taiyaki (fish-shaped snacks made of batter similar to pancake batter and filled with sweet bean paste/custard cream/chocolate/cheese), Manju (small buns that are steamed or baked and filled with sweet bean paste or some other sweet filling), Anmitsu (consisting of sweet bean paste, rice flour dumplings, fruits, cubed kanten agar, sometimes ice cream, and dressed with brown sugar syrup), Oshiruko (consisting of hot, sweet bean soup with grilled rice cakes or rice flour dumplings), Yokan (sweet, firm, jelly-like snack made of sugar and kanten agar, Monaka (consisting of a wafer shell filled with sweet bean paste).

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