Japan is likely one of the greatest international locations for meals, not simply in Asia, however on the earth. The truth that Japan trails solely France in variety of Michelin stars speaks for itself.

Not like many journey bloggers, we don’t have a need to go to each nation on the earth however we do intend to go to each prefecture in Japan, and a variety of that has to do with our love for conventional Japanese meals tradition. If the price of dwelling weren’t so excessive, we’d really like to reside in Japan. That will be a dream!

To be trustworthy, I don’t suppose I’ve ever met a Japanese dish I didn’t like so it was exhausting limiting this meals information to simply 45 dishes. To make it as well-rounded as doable, I targeted on making a balanced checklist that featured each well-liked Japanese dishes and extra obscure regional specialties from the totally different prefectures in Japan.

Conventional Japanese meals like ramen and tempura are represented effectively however so are lesser recognized prefectural delicacies like fukagawa meshi and kaga ryori. You’re in all probability conversant in maguro sushi and sashimi, however have you ever tried kabura zushi?

Japanese delicacies is my favourite delicacies on the earth so a variety of love went into scripting this information on conventional Japanese meals. It doesn’t matter what your stage of affection for conventional Japanese delicacies, I hope you discover one thing scrumptious to whet your urge for food earlier than that subsequent journey to Japan.


In case you’re planning a visit to Japan and need to actually dive into the delicacies, then you might be concerned about becoming a member of a meals tour or taking a cooking class.


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Fukagawa meshi


Conventional Japanese meals or washoku is characterised by its sense of steadiness, aesthetics, and the seasonality and freshness of its substances. Completely different dishes are served relying on the season. Rice is a staple dish in Japanese delicacies, and to a lesser extent, so are noodle dishes like soba and udon.

Like many international locations in Asia, rice is mixed with one or two predominant dishes to go along with various facet dishes that usually embrace miso soup and tsukemono (Japanese preserved greens). The phrase ichiju-sansai – which means “one soup, three sides” – describes the make-up of a typical Japanese meal.

When Buddhism grew to become the official faith in Japan throughout the Kofun interval, the consumption of meat grew to become restricted. This led to a minimal use of spices in Japanese cooking and a rise in using fish and different sorts of seafood as the primary supply of protein in Japanese delicacies.

Within the ninth century, grilled and uncooked fish had been broadly consumed all through Japan and a brand new manner of preserving fish was invented. This Japanese methodology of preserving uncooked fish by fermenting it in boiled rice is acknowledged because the earliest type of sushi.

Solely when Japan began opening as much as the west within the mid- to late-Nineteenth century did meat discover its manner again into the Japanese food plan. This gave rise to the favored Japanese meat dishes of in the present day like tonkatsu, wagyu, and yakiniku.

Traditionally, conventional Japanese delicacies was influenced by Chinese language delicacies however trendy Japanese meals tradition has been influenced by western cuisines as effectively. You’ll be able to see (and style) this western affect in dishes like Japanese curry, spaghetti, pizza, and hamburgers.


To assist set up this checklist of the best-tasting Japanese meals, I’ve divided them up by class. Click on on a hyperlink to leap to that part.

In case you don’t have a variety of expertise with Japanese delicacies and need to strive the preferred dishes, then you can begin with these ten well-known Japanese meals.

1. Sushi

Sushi is essentially the most well-known Japanese dish and the very first thing folks consider once they consider Japanese delicacies. For sushi connoisseurs, it’s extra than simply meals. It’s an artwork type.

Sushi refers to a household of artfully offered dishes made with vinegared sushi rice and quite a lot of substances, principally uncooked fish and different sorts of seafood. It may be made with any kind of contemporary uncooked fish, a few of the hottest being maguro (tuna), shake (salmon), hamachi (yellowtail), saba (mackerel), and unagi (freshwater eel).

Sushi is often eaten with pickled ginger and dipped in soy sauce blended with wasabi.

Plate of sushi, the classic Japanese dish of raw fish served with vinegared sushi rice

Sushi was invented in Japan as a manner of preserving uncooked fish by storing it in fermented rice. This early kind of sushi is named narezushi and might nonetheless be loved in Japan in the present day.

Pictured beneath is kabura zushi, a extra trendy kind of narezushi related to Kanazawa. It’s a Kanazawa meals specialty made with salted buri (Japanese amberjack or yellowtail) sandwiched between items of pickled turnip.

Extra frequent sorts of sushi in Japan embrace maki sushi, nigiri sushi, chirashizushi, and inari sushi. Non-Japanese persons are in all probability most conversant in nigiri sushi and maki sushi.

Nigiri sushi refers to oblong-shaped rice balls topped with a sliver of fish and different sorts of seafood, whereas maki sushi is the kind of sushi generally known as “sushi rolls”. You’ll be able to see examples of each within the image above.

Kabura zushi, a type of salted fish narezushi from Kanazawa

2. Sashimi

Sashimi refers to thinly sliced uncooked fish or seafood. It may even discuss with several types of uncooked meat. It’s principally sushi minus the vinegared rice. Like sushi, it’s normally eaten with soy sauce blended with wasabi.

It isn’t fish however pictured beneath is one in all my favourite sorts of sashimi – uni or sea urchin sashimi. Usually served in its personal shell, I had this golden glistening bowl at Kuromon Ichiba Market in Osaka however you’ll be able to just about discover uni sushi and sashimi at any seafood market in Japan.

Uni or sea urchin sashimi in a shell with soy sauce and wasabi

Spoiler alert, the sashimi beneath isn’t made with fish both. In case you’re a daring eater, then you might need to strive rooster sashimi. Sure, you learn that accurately – RAW rooster sashimi.

Rooster sashimi is created from a selected breed of Japanese rooster often called the “blue foot rooster”. This breed of rooster presents a decrease threat of salmonella although the uncooked rooster meat nonetheless must be tremendous contemporary to be safely eaten. Due to apparent well being issues, a particular license is required to serve uncooked rooster in Japan.

Rooster sashimi is completely scrumptious and one of the vital shocking Japanese dishes we’ve had to date in Japan. If you may get previous the truth that it’s uncooked rooster, then I counsel attempting it if you happen to see it on a Japanese restaurant’s menu.

We haven’t seen it that always however we did get to strive it at Korombia Izakaya in Sapporo.

Raw chicken sashimi at a Japanese izakaya or pub

3. Ramen

Like sushi, ramen is a Japanese meals favourite and among the best dishes you’ll be able to eat in Japan. It refers to a noodle soup made with 4 fundamental elements – the broth, tare (seasoning), wheat noodles, and toppings.

Tare (or kaeshi) is the salty concentrated essence positioned on the backside of each ramen bowl. Along with the broth, it’s what determines the type of the ramen, of which there are 4 predominant sorts – shoyu, miso, shio, and tonkotsu. The noodles and toppings improve the expertise however the true star of this beloved Japanese dish is the seasoned broth.

It’s necessary to grasp that even with the 4 acknowledged kinds of ramen, limitless variations exist inside every type. Each bowl of ramen falls into one of many 4 fundamental sorts however the variations inside every type are immense. And we aren’t even speaking about the kind of noodles or mixture of toppings but!

So huge are the chances with ramen that numerous varieties have been established all through the totally different areas of Japan. In reality, you’ll be able to write a complete Japanese meals information on ramen alone.

Pictured beneath is a bowl of miso ramen from Ramen Alley in Sapporo. It’s made by mixing miso (soy bean paste) with oily rooster or fish broth to create a heavy and hearty soup appropriate for Hokkaido’s harsh winters. It’s among the best Japanese dishes to search for while you go to Sapporo.

Toppings between eating places fluctuate however miso ramen is normally topped with quite a lot of substances like chashu (thinly sliced braised pork stomach), nori (seaweed), floor pork, leeks, scallions, bean sprouts, and a ramen egg.

Bowl of miso ramen with wheat noodles, scallions, and thin slices of pork

Personally, my favourite kind of ramen in Japan is Fukuoka’s Hakata ramen. Also called tonkotsu ramen, it’s made by boiling pork bones, fats, and collagen over excessive warmth for wherever between 12-20 hours. This lengthy boiling course of breaks down the marrow, inflicting it to ooze out and create a wealthy and milky broth.

Hakata ramen is commonly made with skinny wheat noodles and normally topped with scallions, wooden ear mushroom, chashu pork, and a ramen egg. It’s creamy and scrumptious and among the best Japanese dishes you’ll be able to have while you go to Fukuoka.

Bowl of Hakata or tonkotsu ramen with wheat noodles, ramen egg, and thin slices of chashu pork

One other variation of ramen you would possibly need to strive in Japan is tsukemen. Tsukemen refers to any type of ramen the place the broth and noodles are served individually. That is to make sure that the noodles keep agency all through your meal.

To eat, you dip the noodles into the soup. Tsukemen broth is extra intensely flavored than typical ramen broth to verify the noodles are coated with as a lot taste as doable.

Pictured beneath was one of the vital scrumptious and fascinating bowls of ramen I’ve ever had in Japan. It’s a sort of tsukemen made with motsu or offal. You’ll be able to take a look at our Kyoto meals information for extra particulars.

It’s humorous, I went on this Kyoto foodie evening tour later that day and my information was shocked after I advised him I had this motsu tsukemen for lunch. Coincidentally, it’s his favourite bowl of ramen in Japan.

Tsukemen, a type of deconstructed ramen popular in Japan

4. Tempura

Tempura is a standard Japanese cooking methodology that includes deep-frying seafood or greens coated in a lightweight batter made with chilly water and mushy cake flour. The tempura batter is flippantly blended and stored chilly with lumps to create a crisp and fluffy texture when fried.

Most tempura is cooked for just some seconds earlier than being served with grated daikon radish and a dipping sauce, most frequently tentsuyu which is made with dashi (soup inventory), mirin (rice wine), and shoyu (soy sauce). Alternatively, it may be sprinkled with sea salt or mixtures of powdered inexperienced tea, salt, and yuzu earlier than consuming.

Several types of fish, seafood, and greens are used to make tempura in Japan although ebi (shrimp) is the preferred.

Assorted tempura with dipping sauce at a Japanese restaurant in Kyoto

5. Unagi

Unagi is freshwater eel. It isn’t to be confused with anago which is saltwater or conger eel.

To organize unagi, the eel is lower open and its head and bones are eliminated. The meat is then skewered and broiled earlier than being slowly grilled over charcoal whereas being basted with a kabayaki sauce (candy soy sauce).

Grilled unagi is often served as sushi in Japan, or over a mattress of rice in a dish referred to as unagi donburi or unadon for brief.

Unagi donburi, a popular Japanese dish of barbecued eel over rice

Among the finest unagi dishes you’ll be able to eat in Japan is hitsumabushi. It refers to a Nagoya specialty of grilled unagi over rice that’s eaten in three phases.

Unagi is served in a bowl over rice with yakumi (condiments) and dashi as a facet dish. The primary stage includes consuming the eel over rice as is.

After you’ve had a couple of bites, you then combine the yakumi into your bowl within the second stage. The kind of yakumi varies between eating places however they usually embrace substances like wasabi, pickled greens, nori (seaweed), and inexperienced onions.

While you’re all the way down to your previous few bites, you pour the dashi (generally tea) into your bowl and end the remaining. It’s a enjoyable manner of consuming unagi in Japan that isn’t as frequent as unadon or unagi sushi.

Regardless of the way it’s served, unagi is one in all my favourite conventional Japanese meals. Smokey and savory-sweet with nice texture, it’s one thing you’ll want to have while you go to Japan.

Hitsumabushi with yakumi as a side dish, a specialty of Nagoya

6. Wagyu

The time period wagyu refers to any of the 4 Japanese breeds of cattle – particularly Japanese Black, Japanese Brown, Japanese Polled, and Japanese Shorthorn.

Any beef produced from these 4 breeds of cattle is named wagyu, Nevertheless, not all sorts of wagyu are equal. Probably the most desired wagyu comes from Japanese cattle that’s genetically predisposed to intense marbling, just like the Tajima pressure of cattle raised in Hyogo. You’ve in all probability heard of it as Kobe Beef.

Wagyu in Japan is branded based on the place it was raised, so Kobe Beef means it got here from Kobe, Aso Beef means it got here from Aso, and so forth and so forth.

Kobe is essentially the most well-known however different prime wagyu manufacturers in Japan embrace Matsusaka, Saga, Ohmi, and Hida. Strive any of those wagyu manufacturers and also you’ll by no means consider beef in the identical manner once more. They’re so extremely tender they virtually dissolve in your mouth.

Pictured beneath are essentially the most tender slices of Kobe Beef yakiniku at Tsurugyu, one in all our favourite eating places in Osaka.

Sliced beef grilling over charcoal at a Japanese yakiniku restaurant in Osaka

7. Kushiyaki / Yakitori

Many non-Japanese have in all probability heard of the time period “yakitori”, however not “kushiyaki”. Each discuss with skewers of grilled meat well-liked at izakayas or casual Japanese gastropubs. Like oden, it’s one of the vital well-liked bar meals in Japan.

Strictly talking, yakitori refers particularly to skewered and charcoal-grilled rooster, although it’s usually used to explain skewered meat typically, each poultry and non-poultry.

The right blanket time period to explain all sorts of skewered grilled meat in Japan is kushiyaki. Several types of meat and greens are skewered on bamboo or metallic sticks earlier than being grilled over charcoal and seasoned with a tare sauce. It’s among the best Japanese dishes you’ll be able to have with beer.

Plate of yakitori or skewered grilled chicken, a popular food at Japanese bars or izakayas

8. Takoyaki

Takoyaki is an Osaka meals favourite. It refers to a ball-shaped snack created from wheat flour batter stuffed with minced or diced octopus, tempura scraps, pickled ginger, and inexperienced onions. It’s normally topped with a candy and savory takoyaki sauce, Japanese mayo, inexperienced laver, and bonito fish flakes.

Like okonomiyaki, takoyaki is likely one of the greatest dishes you’ll be able to have while you go to Osaka.

Takoyaki topped with bonito flakes, tempura scraps, and a brown sauce

9. Okonomiyaki

Okonomiyaki refers to a Japanese sweet-savory pancake dish made with a batter of flour, eggs, dashi, and shredded cabbage blended with substances like pork stomach, greens, shrimp, squid, and different seafood.

The batter and fillings are pan-fried on each side then completed with quite a lot of toppings like a candy and savory brown sauce, Japanese mayo, dried seaweed, and bonito fish flakes.

Okonomiyaki is likely one of the hottest Japanese meals. It’s broadly out there all through Japan but it surely’s most carefully related to Osaka and Hiroshima. Pictured beneath is an Osaka model of okonomiyaki.

Osaka-style okonomyiaki, a popular food in Japan

That is what a Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki appears like. Each variations use comparable substances however they differ in how they’re ready.

In Osaka, the fillings are blended into the batter earlier than being cooked on the grill. In Hiroshima, the substances are layered separately as an alternative of being blended collectively.

Like in Osaka, okonomiyaki is a quintessential Hiroshima meals and one thing you’ll want to strive while you go to Hiroshima.

Hiroshima-style okonomyiaki, a popular Japanese dish

10. Miso Soup

Miso soup is a standard Japanese soup made with dashi, miso paste, and any variety of optionally available substances like greens, tofu, abura-age (deep-fried tofu pouches), fish, and seafood. It’s a Japanese meals staple that’s served with many set meals in Japan.

Personally, miso soup is my favourite dish to eat on the finish of a Japanese meal. I choose it over something, even dessert. Not solely is it scrumptious, but it surely’s good for you as effectively. It’s made with fermented soybeans which is taken into account a sort of well being meals in Japan.

Bowl of miso soup, a classic Japanese side dish


11. Kaisendon

Kaisen is the Japanese phrase for “seafood” whereas donburi interprets to “rice bowl”, so kaisendon actually means “seafood rice bowl”. It refers to a household of Japanese dishes made with uncooked fish and seafood sashimi topped over unseasoned white rice.

Kaisendon isn’t to be confused with a similar-looking dish referred to as chirashizushi. At first look, each dishes look the identical however chirashi is topped over vinegared sushi rice whereas kaisendon is made with plain steamed rice.

Yow will discover kaisendon at markets and eating places in Japan that provide contemporary fish and seafood. I had this overflowing bowl at Takinami Shokudo in Hokkaido.

Bowl of kaisendon or fresh Japanese seafood served with rice

12. Anago Meshi

Anago meshi is a really comparable dish to unagi donburi, however as an alternative of freshwater eel, it’s made with anago which is saltwater or conger eel.

In comparison with unagi, anago is softer in texture and glazed with a sauce that isn’t as candy as kabayaki sauce. It’s extra refined in taste and never fairly as oily.

Anago is commonly used as an ingredient for sushi however anago meshi is taken into account a specialty dish of Hiroshima prefecture.

Anago meshi, a Japanese dish of saltwater eel served with rice

13. Zuke

Zuke refers to an outdated Japanese methodology of preserving uncooked fish by soaking fish fillets in a soy sauce combination. It was a way lengthy forgotten for the reason that onset of refrigeration however has seen a resurgence in latest many years as a technique of meals preparation in Japan.

In the present day, thinly sliced fillets of uncooked fish are marinated within the zuke methodology not for preservation, however for taste. We had this scrumptious bowl of maguro and shake zuke (tuna and salmon) at a restaurant in Nagasaki.

Zuke, a traditional Japanese method of preserving raw fish

14. Tako Tamago

Tako tamago refers to those glazed child octopuses full of complete quail eggs. They’re skewered on sticks and generally offered as avenue meals in Japan.

Tako tamago appears to have originated at Nishiki Market in Kyoto however yow will discover them at comparable meals markets all through the Kansai area. This image was taken at Kuromon Ichiba Market in Osaka.

Tako tamago, a popular street food in Japan

15. Fukagawa Meshi

Fukagawa meshi refers to a Tokyo meals specialty of clam and lengthy onion cooked in miso then topped over rice. It’s named after the realm in Tokyo the place it was invented – Fukagawa.

Throughout Japan’s Edo interval, Fukagawa was a fishing city and the individuals who lived there earned a dwelling by catching fish, gathering clams, or harvesting laver. This dish was invented throughout that point and continues to be loved to today.

Fukagawa meshi, a regional clam and rice dish from Tokyo

16. Fugu

Fugu is the Japanese phrase for pufferfish. It’s a extremely poisonous fish containing a strong neurotoxin about 1,200 instances stronger than cyanide.

So harmful is that this fish that the preparation of fugu in Japan is strictly managed by regulation. Solely certified cooks with three or extra years of rigorous coaching are allowed to organize the fish. Even then, it’s mentioned that it takes a minimal of ten years of apprenticeship to be a correct fugu chef in Japan.

Fugu may be ready various methods but it surely’s most normally served as sushi or sashimi or in a winter sizzling pot dish often called fugu chirinabe. It’s mentioned that the liver is the tastiest half, but it surely additionally occurs to be essentially the most toxic so serving liver in Japanese eating places has been banned since 1984.

We tried fugu at Zuboraya, one of the vital recognizable however touristy eating places in Osaka. In case you’re critical about attempting one of the best fugu in Japan, then it’s greatest to make a visit to Yamaguchi.

Town of Shimonoseki in Yamaguchi is the biggest harvester of pufferfish in Japan and is nicknamed the nation’s “Fugu Capital”.

Fugu or blowfish sushi and sashimi at a Japanese restaurant in Osaka

17. Crab

Japan’s love for crab is known. The crab consumption in Japan ranks among the many highest on the earth and their love for it reaches fever pitch in winter.

Sometimes eaten within the colder months, crab is the quintessential winter dish in Japan. Yow will discover crab all through Japan however among the best locations to have it’s in Hokkaido.

We had been in Sapporo for the Sapporo Snow Pageant and Nijo Market and Sankaku Market in Otaru had been virtually drowning in a number of sorts of crab – king, snow, bushy, and thorny.

King crab legs at Nijo Market in Sapporo

Hokkaido could also be house to a few of the greatest crab in Japan however northern Hyogo is a haven for crabs as effectively. It’s house to the prized Matsuba Crab, a time period given to male snow crabs caught from the Sea of Japan.

What units Matsuba Crab other than different snow crabs in Japan is the plankton-rich atmosphere the place it lives. This leads to crabmeat loaded with taste.

So prized is Matsuba Crab in Japan that the Japanese make journeys to Tottori, northern Kyoto, and northern Hyogo in winter simply to feast on this delectable crustacean.

I went to Kinoaski Onsen and located many distributors and eating places providing Matsuba Crab. I attempted it at a minshuku referred to as Nashikisou and it was among the best crabs I’ve ever tasted in my life, even higher than the crabs in Hokkaido.

Matsuba crab hot pot with a side dish of fish

18. Oysters

Like okonomiyaki and anago meshi, oysters are a Japanese meals specialty in Hiroshima. They’ve been cultivated in Hiroshima Bay for nearly 500 years with the area accounting for over two-thirds of oyster manufacturing in Japan.

Hiroshima oysters are pretty massive, concerning the measurement of an toddler’s fist. They’re at their most plump in January and February and from March until April.

Though they are often eaten uncooked, oysters in Hiroshima are extra usually served cooked – both grilled, steamed, deep-fried, smoked, or pan-fried.

You’ll be able to get pleasure from an oyster set like this at one of many many Japanese eating places on Miyajima Island. It got here with deep-fried breaded oysters, grilled oysters, smoked oysters, oyster miso soup, pickled oysters, and kaki meshi. Kaki meshi is a dish of oysters cooked in soy sauce and topped over rice steamed in oyster broth.

Stuffing your face with fats juicy oysters is likely one of the greatest issues you are able to do in Hiroshima.

Oyster set meal with miso soup at a Japanese restaurant on Miyajima Island


19. Gyoza

Gyoza refers to Japanese dumplings stuffed with floor meat and greens wrapped in a skinny sheet of dough. They’re initially from China however they’ve develop into extremely popular in Japan as effectively.

Gyoza are usually stuffed with floor pork, chives, garlic, ginger, sesame oil, and different substances. They’re normally pan-fried however they are often served steamed or deep-fried as effectively, both on their very own or as a facet dish to extra substantial dishes like ramen.

Gyoza, a popular side dish of Japanese dumplings

20. Karaage

Karaage is a Japanese cooking methodology that includes deep frying meat, poultry, or seafood in oil. Rooster karaage is commonest although different sorts of meat and fish are additionally used.

Karaage is just like tempura besides the substances are marinated earlier than being coated in a heavier wheat flour, potato or corn starch. This leads to a thicker, crunchier coating.

Chicken karaage, a popular bar food in Japan

21. Japanese Curry

Curry rice is vastly well-liked in Japan. It was launched to Japan by the British throughout the Meiji interval but it surely wasn’t till the late Sixties that it exploded in reputation when it grew to become broadly out there at supermarkets and Japanese eating places.

In the present day, Japanese curry rice is taken into account by many to be a nationwide dish of Japan. It’s out there all through the nation and generally served over rice, over udon, and in savory Japanese pastries.

A Japanese curry meal usually consists of curry sauce, rice, and several types of meat and greens like carrots, onions, and potatoes. Pork, beef, and rooster curry are the most typical although it may be made with different meats as effectively.

Pictured beneath is a much less frequent horse meat katsu curry (deep-fried breaded cutlet) from Kumamoto. We loved it at Warokuya restaurant in Kurokawa Onsen. Kumamoto and Nagano are among the many few prefectures in Japan recognized for farming horse meat.

Japanese curry sauce with horse meat katsu, a popular regional dish from Kumamoto

22. Korokke

Korokke is the Japanese time period for croquette. It’s a breaded deep-fried patty containing meat, seafood, or greens blended with mashed potato or white sauce. The patty is rolled in wheat flour, eggs, after which panko breadcrumbs earlier than being deep-fried to a golden brown.

Korokke is broadly out there wherever in Japan, even groceries and comfort shops. We had these scrumptious crab and octopus croquettes at a preferred stand in Yufuin.

Korokke, a Japanese-style croquette

23. Yakiniku

Yakiniku technically isn’t a dish, however a Japanese type of cooking meat and greens on small tabletop grills. Uncooked meats and greens are dropped at the desk so diners can grill the meals themselves.

The meats and greens are normally served with a tare made with any variety of substances like soy sauce, sake, mirin, sugar, garlic, fruit juice, and sesame.

It’s fascinating to notice that though yakiniku is a Japanese culinary time period, this type of cooking is broadly thought of to have Korean roots. It grew to become widespread in Japan after WWII and is believed to be a variant of Korean bulgogi or galbi which was modified to swimsuit Japanese tastes.

This will clarify why some yakiniku eating places in Japan serve Korean dishes like kimchi as effectively. I seen this at yakiniku eating places in Sapporo and Fukuoka.

In case you’ve been to Sapporo, then you might acknowledge jingisukan as a selected kind of yakiniku. It’s native to Hokkaido and entails the grilling of mutton or lamb meat over a convex metallic skillet.

Yakiniku, a style of grilling meat in Japan

24. Miso Katsu

Miso katsu refers to a Nagoya specialty dish of pork tonkatsu served with a thick sauce made with Hatcho miso. It’s maybe the one dish that greatest represents Nagoya meshi or Nagoya delicacies.

Tonkatsu refers to a breaded and deep-fried pork cutlet dish that’s extremely popular in Japan. It’s made with a 2-3 cm slice of pork loin or tenderloin coated with panko bread crumbs and deep-fried in oil. It’s usually served with rice, a savory-sweet tonkatsu sauce, shredded cabbage, and pickled greens.

Miso katsu is a Nagoya model of tonkatsu. The pork cutlet is strictly the identical however what makes the dish totally different is the sauce.

As a substitute of being served with common tonkatsu sauce made with the same old substances like soy sauce, ketchup, and Worcestershire sauce, the primary ingredient in miso katsu sauce is Hatcho miso bean paste.

Hatcho miso is essentially the most well-known kind of mame or purple miso in Japan. Loaded with umami and touted to have many well being advantages, it’s this purple miso bean paste that offers Nagoya delicacies its distinctive taste.

Miso katsu, a Japanese deep-fried pork dish from Nagoya

25. Motsunabe

In case you like offal and sizzling pot, then you definately’re going to like this Fukuoka specialty. Motsunabe is a Japanese sizzling pot stew made with beef or pork offal. Beef intestines are commonest although different sorts of offal may also be used.

Motsunabe is normally cooked in a shallow sizzling pot in your desk. The offal is allowed to simmer for a couple of minutes in a soup base seasoned with soy sauce, garlic, and chili pepper. Different substances like cabbage, garlic chives, and champon noodles are later added to finish the dish.

Motsunabe sizzling pot is scrumptious, particularly when eaten with rice. It’s among the best issues you are able to do in Fukuoka. I’ve had it a couple of instances however one of the best motsunabe I’ve tried was from the extremely regarded Hakata Motsunabe Yamanaka Akasakaten restaurant.

Motsunabe, a popular Japanese hot pot dish from Fukuoka

26. Jingisukan

Jingisukan (pronounced jing-giss kahn) or Genghis Khan is a mutton dish well-liked in Hokkaido. In typical yakiniku vogue, servers will carry the uncooked meat and greens to your desk which you’ll cook dinner your self on a convex metallic skillet over a fuel range or sizzling coals.

Jingisukan is rumored to have gotten its identify in prewar Japan, when lamb was believed to be the meat of alternative amongst troopers in Mongolia. The dome-shaped metallic skillet used in the present day is supposed to signify a soldier’s helmet which was allegedly used to cook dinner meals.

Probably the most well-liked locations to have jingisukan in Sapporo is the Sapporo Beer Museum.

Jingisukan, a popular lamb dish from Hokkaido

27. Basashi

Basashi refers to a Japanese dish of horse meat, particularly uncooked horse sashimi.

Horse meat in Japan is known as sakuraniku – which means “cherry blossom meat” – due to its pinkish shade. It’s a extremely localized dish, a specialty in solely a handful of prefectures in Japan, most notably Kumamoto and Nagano. Even for many Japanese, consuming basashi is a uncommon prevalence.

We tried basashi at two eating places in Kurokawa Onsen. Just about all of the eating places in that small onsen city was serving some type of horse meat. Except for sushi, we had it in a croquette and in Japanese curry as effectively.

Kumamoto had an over-abundance of horses within the Sixties which they now not wanted for transport or agricultural work. It was round that point that the Japanese turned to horse meat as an everyday meals supply. In the present day, there are horse farms and eating places all all through Kumamoto.

Basashi is usually served chilly along with soy sauce, garlic, and wasabi. From what I perceive, it’s served chilly as a result of it’s handled for micro organism and different parasites at -20°C for not less than 48 hours.

Basashi or raw horse sashimi from Kumamoto

28. Hida Beef Sushi

Hida beef refers to wagyu produced from black-haired Japanese cattle raised in Gifu prefecture. Like Kobe beef, Hida beef is taken into account one of the vital prized beef manufacturers in Japan, revered for its intense marbling and juiciness.

In comparison with Kobe beef which tends to be extra balanced in its meat and fats distribution, Hida beef has extra of the latter, providing you with a more true melt-in-your-mouth expertise.

We visted Takayama and Shirakawa-go and loved Hida Beef in quite a lot of dishes like burgers, croquettes, rice balls, and steamed buns, however our palms down favourite was Hida Beef sushi. It actually does soften in your mouth. Wow.

The considered consuming uncooked beef could also be difficult for some but when you may get previous it, then you definately’ll be rewarded with among the best meals experiences in Japan. Consuming Hida Beef sushi actually is likely one of the greatest issues you are able to do in Takayama.

Hida beef sushi, a type of sushi made from raw sliced beef served with rice

29. Kakuni Manju

Kakuni manju is a Japanese-style pork stomach bun from Nagasaki. It’s principally a Japanese model of the Chinese language gua bao.

The pork stomach is simmered in dashi, soy sauce, mirin, sugar, and sake earlier than being cooked for a number of hours over a low flame. This sluggish cooking course of breaks the collagen down into gelatin which helps hold the meat moist whereas making it extraordinarily tender.

The pork stomach is then sandwiched in a mushy bun – usually with scallions and cucumber – and served out of bamboo steamers. Yow will discover them just about wherever in Nagasaki, particularly round Chinatown.

Kakuni manju, a Japanese-style pork belly bun from Nagasaki

30. Tebasaki

Tebasaki refers to Japanese-style deep-fried rooster wings. They’re made with non-battered bone-in rooster wings which are double fried to realize a supremely crisp however delicate coating.

Tebasaki is a well-liked Japanese dish that may be flavored with quite a lot of seasonings, although many izakayas will serve them coated in a sticky, savory-sweet glaze. It’s broadly out there all through Japan however the dish could have its roots in Nagoya.

One of the best tebasaki is alleged to be created from Nagoya cochin, one of the vital prized rooster breeds in Japan.

Tebasaki or deep-fried chicken wings, a popular bar food in Japan

31. Doteni

Doteni refers to a Nagoya dish of beef tendon, innards, and daikon radish simmered in Hatcho miso sauce. Like tebasaki, it’s a staple izakaya dish that you’ll want to strive in Nagoya.

Doteni is one in all my favourite dishes in Nagoya delicacies. Like miso katsu, the flavour from the Hatcho miso is what actually makes this dish.

Doteni, a popular bar food of beef offal in Hatcho miso sauce from Nagoya


32. Udon

Together with ramen and soba, udon is likely one of the hottest noodle varieties in Japan. It refers to a sort of thick chewy Japanese noodle made with wheat flour. It’s usually served sizzling in winter or chilled in summer season and may be topped with substances like thinly chopped scallions, tempura, abura-age, and kamaboko (fish muffins).

Like ramen, the kind of udon broth and toppings fluctuate from area to area in Japan. Japanese udon tends to be darker brown in shade whereas western udon is lighter. The broth’s shade is decided by the kind of soy sauce used.

Typically talking, udon broth isn’t as flavorful as ramen broth, presumably to focus on the udon noodles which appear to be the actual star of this beloved Japanese dish.

Udon with tempura scraps, a Japanese noodle soup dish made with thick wheat noodles

Kishimen is a sort of udon dish from Nagoya. It’s made with udon noodles which are broad and flat.

I discovered to make udon noodles in a Tokyo cooking class and the instructor advised me to chop the noodles thinly, in any other case I’d be making Nagoya-style udon.

Like all udon dish, kishimen may be ready sizzling or chilly and seasoned with salt, soy sauce, miso, or Japanese curry. Probably the most conventional model in Japan appears to be served in a sizzling broth with steamed fish muffins, spinach, deep-fried tofu, inexperienced onions, and bonito fish flakes.

Kishimen topped with bonito flakes, a type of udon popular in Nagoya

33. Soba

Soba refers to skinny noodles created from buckwheat flour. They are often served chilly with a dipping sauce referred to as tsuyu, or in a sizzling broth as noodle soup.

Chilled soba noodles are sometimes served on a bamboo tray (zaru) with a tsuyu of dashi, mirin, sweetened soy sauce, wasabi, scallion, and sesame seeds. To eat, you dip the buckwheat flour noodles into the tsuyu earlier than slurping the noodles.

Consuming them chilled is alleged to be the easiest way of appreciating soba noodles. Permitting them to soak in a sizzling soup usually adjustments its texture. It’s the identical purpose why some folks choose tsukemen over common ramen.

Soba is broadly out there all through Japan however one of the best soba noodles are mentioned to come back from Nagano prefecture, the place it’s often called Shinshu soba. Nagano’s drastic day and evening temperature variations and its mountain soil wealthy in volcanic ash make it the perfect atmosphere for rising soba.

Pictured beneath is the zaru soba from Kobayashi Soba in Matsumoto. They’ve been open for over 100 years and are recognized for serving a few of the best soba in Japan.

Boxes of shinshu soba buckwheat noodles with a tsuyu dipping sauce

In case you go to Matsumoto, then you might be concerned about attempting toji soba as effectively. It’s an fascinating manner of having fun with soba noodles that’s out there solely inside sure areas in Nagano like Matsumoto.

Toji soba is just like shabu-shabu. Utilizing a small basket, you steep the soba buckwheat noodles in a sizzling broth for a couple of seconds earlier than consuming them with the greens contained in the pot. It’s a preferred Japanese winter dish and a novel manner of having fun with soba in Matsumoto.

Toji soba, a type of shinshu soba buckwheat noodles cooked in a hot pot

34. Champon

Like kakuni manju, champon is a Japanese-Chinese language dish from Nagasaki. It’s a noodle soup dish made by frying pork, seafood, and greens with lard, then including a soup made with rooster and pig bones. Champon ramen noodles are then added to the combination earlier than boiling.

Champon was first served in Nagasaki by Chinese language restaurant Shikairo. In keeping with the restaurant, it was based mostly on a dish in Fujian delicacies referred to as tonniishiimen. It was created throughout the Meiji interval to supply an inexpensive, filling meal for Chinese language college students attending college in Japan.

Champon is broadly out there in Nagasaki. We had it at Horaiken Bekkan, a extremely regarded champon restaurant close to the Atomic Bomb Museum.

Champon, a Japanese-Chinese noodle soup dish popular in Nagasaki


To be trustworthy, I didn’t actually know the place to place these dishes. They aren’t predominantly meat or seafood dishes however I couldn’t categorize them as vegetarian both so I made a decision to create this part of blended ingredient Japanese dishes.

35. Chawanmushi

Chawanmushi is a well-liked Japanese savory egg custard dish. In Japan, it’s historically served sizzling in winter and chilled in summer season and is normally half of a bigger set meal.

Chawanmushi recipes fluctuate but it surely’s usually made with substances like shiitake mushroom, parsley, ginkgo, lily, chestnut, rooster, and several types of seafood.

Some accounts hint the origin of chawanmushi to seventeenth century Nagasaki. It’s mentioned to be one of many dishes served in shippoku set meals that are massive, banquet-type spreads containing a medley of Chinese language, Western, and conventional Japanese dishes.

Yow will discover chawanmushi wherever in Japan. In case you go to Nagasaki, then we advise attempting it at Yossou. They’ve been open since 1866 and make their signature chawanmushi with 9 particular substances – white fish, rooster, shiitake mushrooms, kikurage mushrooms, bamboo shoots, ginkgo, kamaboko, wheat powder, and anago.

Chawanmushi with bamboo shoots, mushroom, and other ingredients

36. Oden

Oden refers to a sort of nabemono (Japanese one-pot dish) made with any variety of substances like chikuwa, konnyaku, ganmodoki, daikon, and boiled eggs stewed in a soy-flavored dashi broth.

It’s a preferred Japanese dish loved all through the nation – at eating places, izakayas, even konbinis (comfort shops) like 7-Eleven. Components fluctuate between eating places but it surely’s normally served with a facet of karashi (Japanese mustard).

Oden, a popular Japanese izakaya bar food

37. Onigiri

Onigiri is a sort of Japanese snack created from rice, nori (seaweed), and a filling. They’re known as rice balls although they aren’t all the time formed like balls.

White rice is fashioned in triangular or cylindrical shapes and wrapped in nori. It’s usually stuffed with substances like tuna, salmon, umeboshi, katsuobushi, mentaiko, kombu, or some other salty/bitter ingredient that can be utilized as a pure preservative.

Regardless of its look and identify, onigiri shouldn’t be confused as a sort of sushi. Sushi is made with vinegared rice whereas onigiri is made with unseasoned white rice.

You’ll discover several types of onigiri offered at each konbini in Japan. It’s a preferred Japanese snack and personally my favourite factor to eat after I’m searching for a fast chunk to eat in Japan.

Onigiri, a popular Japanese snack of stuffed rice wrapped in nori seaweed

38. Monjayaki

Monjayaki is the quintessential Tokyo dish. In keeping with my Japanese pal, you’ll be able to’t speak about Tokyo meals with out speaking about monjayaki.

Monjayaki refers to a Japanese dish made with pan-fried batter. It’s just like okonomiyaki besides the batter used to make it’s a lot runnier as a result of addition of dashi or water. When cooked, it has the feel of melted cheese and doesn’t fairly solidify into pancake type the way in which okonomiyaki does.

Like okonomiyaki, monjayaki is normally cooked in your desk. Shredded cabbage is unfold out over the griddle earlier than being poured over with the batter. The server then mixes all of it up for a couple of minutes earlier than permitting it to relaxation and cook dinner for a couple of extra minutes.

Monjayaki may be made with any variety of substances like pork, octopus, squid, shrimp, and different sorts of seafood. To eat, you scoop small sections off utilizing a spatula. It’s an fascinating Japanese dish that you must strive while you go to Tokyo.

Monjayaki, a popular regional food from Tokyo

39. Tamago Kake Gohan

Also known as “TKG”, tamago kake gohan is a well-liked Japanese dish of steamed rice topped with uncooked egg and soy sauce.

In keeping with my Japanese pal, it’s a sort of Japanese consolation meals that’s just like an American PB&J sandwich. It’s a dish locals wish to eat when they need one thing easy and comforting.

The Japanese usually eat tamago kake gohan with simply uncooked egg, white rice, and soy sauce, however it may be made with different substances as effectively like rooster.

Tamago kake gohan, a popular raw egg and rice comfort food in Japan

40. Kaiseki

Like yakiniku, kaiseki is extra a Japanese culinary time period than a dish. It refers to a standard multi-course meal in Japan consisting of over ten small artfully ready Japanese dishes.

You’ll be able to consider kaiseki because the Japanese equal to western haute delicacies. It’s normally served at ryokans and small eating places in Japan referred to as ryotei over a course of a number of hours.

There’s no formulation for kaiseki meals although there’s a prescribed order to the dishes. Kaiseki usually consists of appetizers, a soup course (suimono), seasonal programs, cooked dishes, a rice course (shokuji), and dessert and tea.

A lot is left to the creativity of the chef who’s free to omit any course besides the suimono and shokuji programs. Kaiseki may be loved all through Japan although it’s mentioned to have its roots in Kyoto.

In case you go to Kyoto and desire a actually particular Japanese meal, then I counsel making preparations for a kaiseki dinner. It’s among the best culinary experiences you’ll be able to have in Japan.

One course from a kaiseki meal, a traditional Japanese multi-course dinner


41. Matcha

Matcha is a vital a part of Japanese tradition. It refers to a finely floor powder of specifically grown and processed inexperienced tea leaves.

Historically, matcha is blended with sizzling water to make tea. It’s the central element in Japanese tea ceremonies which revolve across the preparation, serving, and consuming of matcha as sizzling tea. The Japanese drink it usually because it’s touted to have many well being advantages.

Pictured beneath is a cup of matcha with wagashi from a casual tea ceremony I loved in Kanazawa. Wagashi are fastidiously crafted conventional Japanese sweets or confections which are normally served with inexperienced tea. Thought of an artwork type in Japan, it is available in many formed and may be made with a various array of substances and preparation strategies.

One of the best matcha in Japan is alleged to come back from Uji, a small city between Kyoto and Nara. The best grade of matcha is known as ceremonial-grade matcha and is the sort utilized in Japanese tea ceremonies.

Matcha green tea with wagashi, a traditional Japanese confection

Matcha often is the central element in conventional Japanese tea ceremonies however the ingredient has discovered its manner into many trendy dishes as effectively.

Culinary-grade matcha is used to taste a spectrum of stylish meals merchandise in Japan like mochi, ice cream, candies, sweet, lattes, muffins, and pastries. It’s even used to taste savory Japanese dishes like soba and tempura.

Soft serve ice cream cone made with matcha green tea

42. Mochi

Mochi is likely one of the most well-known Japanese sweets. It refers to a preferred Japanese rice cake created from mochigome, a glutinous short-grain rice. The rice is pounded right into a paste earlier than being molded into the specified form.

Mochi may be loved year-round in Japan although it’s historically eaten to usher within the Japanese New 12 months. It’s usually eaten by itself but it surely may also be used as an ingredient in lots of merchandise like confections and ice cream. Aside from attracting luck, it’s believed that lengthy strands of freshly made mochi symbolize an extended life and good well-being.

In case you go to Japan in spring, then you should definitely look out for a particular kind of pink mochi referred to as sakuramochi. It’s made to welcome spring in Japan and is stuffed with a candy purple bean paste and wrapped in a pickled cherry blossom leaf.

Mochi is historically made in a labor-intensive course of referred to as mochitsuki. The steamed rice is pounded with a heavy picket mallet (kine) in a big mortar (usu).

Two folks work in tandem – one kilos whereas the opposite turns and wets the mochi. They should hold a gradual rhythm in order to not crush the mochi-wetter’s hand with the heavy kine!

Mochi, one of the most well-known Japanese sweets

43. Hokkaido Dairy

Hokkaido is the most important prefecture in Japan and residential to an enormous dairy business. They produce about half of the nation’s milk and 90% of its cheese.

Dairy from Hokkaido is costlier than dairy from different prefectures due to its popularity for high quality and freshness. It’s so extremely regarded that you simply’ll usually discover labels on packages proudly exhibiting they had been made with Hokkaido dairy.

That is true even exterior of Japan. Many dessert and pastry retailers in Asia will usually create and spotlight merchandise made with Hokkaido dairy.

There are terrific dairy merchandise in every single place in Hokkaido however one of the best we discovered had been in Otaru, a small port metropolis lower than an hour northwest of Sapporo. You’ll be able to strive it in pastries, cookies, custard, and different Japanese desserts, although the preferred is mushy serve ice cream.

Take a stroll down Sakaimachi Road and pattern goodies at its many dairy retailers. You’ll want to cease on the vastly well-liked LeTao to choose up one in all these double fromage cheeseckaes. It’s insanely scrumptious.

Double fromage cheesecake from LeTao, one of the best Japanese cheesecake brands from Sapporo

44. Castella Cake

Castella is a Japanese sponge cake made with sugar, flour, eggs, and starch syrup. It was dropped at Japan by Portuguese retailers within the sixteenth century via Nagasaki, which on the time was the one Japanese port open to overseas commerce.

In the present day, castella cake is taken into account a specialty of Nagasaki, its identify derived from the Portuguese dish Pao de Castela which means “bread from Castile”.

Castella cake is on the market at many retailers within the metropolis and is one in all Nagasaki’s hottest vacationer present gadgets. We purchased a couple of packing containers at well-liked Castella chain Bunmeido.

Castella cake, one of the most popular Japanese sweets from Nagasaki

45. Sake

Sake is the nationwide beverage of Japan. It refers to an alcoholic drink made by fermenting rice that’s been polished to take away the bran.

Sake is known as Japanese rice wine although its brewing course of is definitely nearer to beer than wine. Like beer, sake is produced by changing starch into sugars which ferment into alcohol.

I went on a sake tasting tour in Kyoto’s Fushimi district and I used to be fascinated by the method. Like wine, you’ll be able to pair several types of sake with sure dishes to carry out the flavour and character of the sake and meals.

In case you’d wish to be taught extra about sake in Kyoto, then you’ll be able to ebook a sake tasting tour via Magical Journey.

Vial of sake or rice wine, one of the most famous Japanese alcoholic drinks


Nobody is aware of Japanese meals higher than a neighborhood, so what higher method to expertise Japanese delicacies than by occurring a meals tour? A educated native will take you to the town’s greatest spots and markets and clarify each dish to you in additional element.

We’ve gone on meals excursions in Tokyo and Kyoto and loved them each very a lot. In case you’re visiting Japan, then take a look at Get Your Information and byFood for a listing of meals excursions in Tokyo, Osaka, and different locations all through the nation.


Except for meals excursions, we get pleasure from taking cooking lessons once we journey. For me, it’s among the best methods to be taught concerning the native delicacies since you get to see the totally different substances and strategies that go into making it.

As described, I took a cooking class in Tokyo the place I discovered to make Japanese dishes like tempura, udon, and tamagoyaki. Earlier than your journey, take a look at Cookly and byFood for a listing of cooking lessons in Tokyo and in different cities all through Japan.


We’ve been to Japan many instances however I really feel like we’re solely starting to scratch the floor of Japanese delicacies. We’ve visited lower than half of the 47 prefectures in Japan so this Japanese meals information nonetheless has an extended method to go.

As described, it’s a labor of affection that I’ll be increasing and refining after each journey to Japan. We benefit from the meals in Japan a lot that we plan on visiting not less than yearly yearly till we’ve explored each prefecture and skilled most of its regional Japanese meals.

As all the time, I’m a meals fanatic, not an knowledgeable, so if you happen to spot any errors or mistaken data, then be happy to let me know within the feedback part beneath. I’d love to listen to your options for any must-try Japanese dishes as effectively.

Thanks for studying and have an exquisite time consuming your manner via Japan!


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