My trip to Japan was well spent in the kitchen —- Japan’s Kitchen to be exact. The Kansai Region is known for its food culture and people all over the world go here just to experience gastronomical pleasure and they couldn’t be more satisfied with what this country has to offer.
If you’re ever in Japan, here are some items that you definitely need to try. Sure, you probably have these menu items in your home country, but you can really taste the difference of these popular foods. It will be such an authentic experience, trust me on that.
‘Tako’ means octupus and ‘Yaki’ comes from the word ‘Yaku’ which basically means grilled. Takoyaki is one of the most popular street foods in Japan. These ball -shaped bite-sized creations are made from wheat-flour based batter with vegetables and octopus pieces as the filling.
Once they are ready to serve, it is brushed with takoyaki sauce and mayonnaise. After that, it is usually topped with different toppings such as tempura scraps, green onion, green laver, and dried bonito (the flakes that look like the bonito is still alive because of the movement).
I went on a takoyaki food hunt when we were in Japan. We tried to eat takoyaki from different restaurants and places.
Ramen is a Japanese dish that uses Chinese-style wheat noodles. The translation of ramen is ‘pulled noodles.’
You need to try ramen in Japan because the flavor is so rich and it just gives you that warm feeling inside.
I tried ramen in Ichiran, which is a popular establishment in Japan where you can customize your ramen. You’ll be seated in single stalls and which is nice if you a solo traveler.
The plain ramen will consist of broth, noodles, green onion, sliced pork, and spice for taste (10 levels). You can have add-ons like nori, mushrooms, and soft-boiled eggs.
I also tried ramen from different restaurants, street vendors, and even 7-11.
All I can say is that the Japanese know their ramen.
Soba is another Japanese noodle dish which means the literal translation of buckwheat.
Soba is an acquired taste but it is something you should experience if you ever visit Japan. Compared to your standard noodles, buckwheat noodles have a firmer texture and earthier taste.
I went to a speciality restaurant in Kyoto, Japan wherein I was able to experience a 3-course meal that featured a soba theme. It will set you back around ¥3500 or 32 USD, but still worth trying.
Course 1 : They served us three different types of tofu (soy-based product) appetizers. Each with different textures and flavors. It was really interesting because it didn’t taste like the tofu that you usually have. It almost had a milky flavor to it.
Along with the tofu, they served us something called sobagaki. It is a soba flour paste that packs a really strong flavor which is toned done.
Cold Soba – Plain buckwheat noodles that you dip in a special soy-sauce based concoction
Hot Soba – Noodles in broth and mixed vegetables
Tempura Mix – Shrimp and mixed vegetables. They even had baby bamboo for us to try.
Course 3: Ice Cream. Yes, they served soba ice-cream and it was really splendid. It almost tasted like vanilla-bean ice cream with a twist.
Sushi is a must. Sushi in Japan is so fresh and delectable.
They offer a wide variety of choices and price ranges.
We tried a budget sushi restaurant that offered 2 USD menu items and it was still good quality sushi. I was surprised that they offered different sauces, even a teriyaki-like sauce. Who knew that it would pair nicely with sushi.
It’s also a lot of fun to get the sushi from the conveyer belt.
Omurice is one of the simplest staple dishes that you can eat.
It is just fried rice with an omelet which is usually topped with ketchup or a demi glaze.
I was able to go to Kyoto and try a popular Omurice restaurant called Kichi Kichi. It was quite the experience and I really enjoyed the entertaining Chef: Motokichi Yukamuri
Yakiniku restaurants offers grilling meat right on the table. It is very similar to Korean BBQ.
They serve different types and cuts of meat, usually in bite-sized pieces.
You can order side dishes like kimchi and edamame.
It is also best paired with an alcoholic beverage like draft beer.
7. KOBE BEEF
If you are in Japan, you should definitely try kobe beef. Kobe beef is the highest grade of Wagyu beef which is A5.
These cattle are native and bred in Japan. Kobe beef is considered a delicacy. It is well known for its flavor and marbled texture. The fat of the cattle is marbled in the muscle tissue which creates a perfect combination. Once you grill the meat to the perfect wellness level, it basically melts in your mouth.
Just for fun, we tried kobe beef in the city of Kobe at Kobeland Restaurant (Lunch Time).
8. ANYTHING MATCHA
Matcha is a green powder that is made out of leaves that are very rich in anti-oxidants. It’s most common form is tea, which is served almost everywhere in Japan.
You should try different variations of Matcha.
Melonpan is a sweet bread that is covered in a thin layer of cookie crisp dough. It is best paired with ice cream. The hot bread will counter the cold ice cream and it is just heaven in your mouth.
Kushikatsu is skewered meat and vegetables that is deep fried and dipped in sauce. It is different from tempura because it uses a different batter which is less flakey.
We tried KushiKatsu Daruma in Dotonbori where they had a communal sauce (sauce for sharing) so you weren’t allowed to double dip lol.
We got the one of the Daruma combos which had beef, shrimp, asparagus, rice cake, pork cutlet, chicken meatball, sausage and fish sausage with cheese.
Happy Travels from The Clever Trekker