Ultimate Food Guide for Japan
Kaisen Donburi (thinly sliced raw fish on steamed plain rice) Typical toppings for Kaisen Don include sea bream, scallop, salmon, squid, prawns, octopus, crab meat, soy pickled salmon/trout roe (ikura) and sea urchin roes. There are many variations of Kaisen Don in Japan, some with only one kind of topping, others have various seafood for toppings.
Ishikari nabe (miso based hotpot filled with salmon, stewed vegetables, and tofu),
Hokkaido Ramen (Sappoeo –Miso ; Hkodate – Salt ; Asahikawa – Shoyu), is a mix of many different styles. In Sapporo, you’ll find miso ramen with thick, wavy noodles. It’s topped with local ingredients such as Hokkaido butter, sweet corn, and even fresh scallops. In Hokadate, the specialty is shio ramen which is salty chicken broth sometime with pork broth. The noodles are thin, straight and served a bit soft. Whereas in Asahikawa, Shoyu ramin, a soy-based broth made with chicken, seafood, and pork bone is their specialty. The noodles are thin, wavy, and chewy.
Hokkaido’s soup curry gained great popularity due to the region’s famous dairy. It’s a Japanese style curry with fresh herbs, spices and large slices of vegetables.
Jingusukan(also known as Genhis Khan barbecue where thin slices of marinated lamb or mutton are broiled with vegetables on top of a helmet-shaped grill with special sauce dips. Some say the name comes from Mongolian warriors who would grill meat on their helmets.
Ika Soumen (Raw squid is cut into thin strips that resemble soumen which is a type of thin white noodle. Served with grated ginger and soy sauce and it is a specialiy in Hokadate.
Hokkaido ice cream
Hokkaido is famous for its delicious milk, cream and butter. The high quality dairy is the secret to the Hokkaido soft serve ice cream, which tend to have milkier flavour. Lavender, blue honeysuckle, aronia, lingonberry, yubari, melon, squid ink, sea urchin, murasaki potato ice cream
Wanko Soba is a speciality dish in Iwate prefecture. Soba noodles are served in a small wanko bowl with side dihes such as mushrooms and radishes set aside and the noodles are served as an all-you-can-eat. You will see another bowl of soba in front of you after you slurp down one bowl.
Kiritanpo Rice Cakes
Kiritanpo is made from cooked rice and molded into a hallow cylinder shape and skewered. It is usually serve in a hotpot called Kiritanpo Nabe or simply grilled.
Zunda mocha is made from young soybeans, called edamame. It is a chewy dessert made from pounded edamame and sugar.
Miso Milk Curry Ramen from Aomori
The unique ramen is served in a miso-based soup seasoned with curry powder and milk, and always topped with a cube of butter. It was originally developed around 1970 by Mr. Kiyoshi Satoh, who wanted to promote Sapporo-style ramen outside Hokkaido. This unique flavour is still popular among the locals to this day.
Gyutan from Miyagi
Gyutan, grilled beef tounge is a popular food ingredient in Miyagi and they developed many ways to eat it with a side dish of barley rice, simply grilled over charcoal and in ox tail soup.
Maezawa Beef in Iwate among the highest quality cuts of meats and it is served in a number of dishes including steak, yakiniku, shabushabu or as sushi.
Monjayaki is very popular in Tokyo. The batter of monjayaki is made from water, flour, and Worcestershire sauce. The pancake is made adding ingredients that you like such as cabbage, meat and seafood and it’s usually cooked on top of a tabletop grill.
Roast sweet buns (Yakimanju) are glazed with rich and sweet miso sauce and roasted from Gunma prefecture.
Mizusawa Udon is also famous from Gunma made from pure water, quality flour, salt to make this firm, thick and semi-transparent udon usually served cold with dipping soup.
Sumo hotpot is a Japanese stew that is popular among sumo wrestlers as a weight-gain method thanks to its protein-rich ingredients with either a fish or chicken broth. There is no rules to what goes into the stew but its common ingredients are chicken or fish, tofu and vegetables.
Kanto style Chirashi Zushi
Kanto style Chirashi Zushi consists of vinegared white rice topped with various sashimi toppings and is generally offered at sushi restaurants in Kanto area around Tokyo with thinly shredded egg omelette and nori seaweed over the rice.
This is an Edo period fisherman dish which is a bowl of rice topped with fresh clam miso soup.
Oden is a typical boiled street food originated from Edo period and is often sold from food carts. The usual ingredients are boiled eggs, daikon, konjac and processed fishcakes stewed in a light, soy flavoured dashi broth or in some region with miso broth.
Tempura is made of seafood or vegetables that have been battered and deep fried. The dish was influenced by fritter-cooking techniques introduced by the Portuguese residing in Nagasaki in the 16th century and is widely popular in Japanese cuisine.
Miso Katsu – Pork cutlet with miso sauce
The deep-fried pork cutlet is a main ingredient with a unique sauce with Aichi miso and is sweetened with bonito stock and sugar. The dish is famous to Nagoya.
Unagi no Kabayaki
Unagi no Kabayaki means Grilled Filleted Eel. First the fresh eel is gutted, boned and butterflied, then marinated ina mixture of soy sauce, sake, sugar and other seasonings before being grilled. Unagi no Kabayaki is usually served with or on top of steamed rice. In Kanto region, the eels are slit down it back before grilling and is steamed to get rid of excess fat then grilled again with the result of tender and flaky texture. In Kansai, the eels are slit down the belly then grilled without steaming and therefore, makes the fish a little crispier and chewier.
Hida beef from Takayama is extremely high-quality breed of kuroge wagyu (black haired Japanese cattle) that is raised in Gifu for at least 14 months, twice as long as other variety of wagyu beef. Its tender meat and beautiful marbling gives a incredibly rich, smoothly sweet and juicy flavour that melts in your mouth. It is considered the very best variety of A5 Wagyu with an astonishing reputation.
This dish originated long ago when people were working in the mountains stuck rice on pieces of wood to grilled them and ate them with miso while drinking sake. They are made to thank the gods after harvest in autumn.
Tatami Iwashi is made from baby sardines or shirasu and dried in a single layer to form a large mat-like sheet. It commonly serves as an ingredient in soup or as a snack for sake or beer drinking.
Takayama ramen has a heavy influence from Chinese noodles. The soup is made from chicken bone broth and soy sauce with vert thin and curled noodles. Leeks, grilled pork and seasoned bamboo shoots are used commonly as the toppings.
Takoyaki, grilled octopus balls are one of the signatures Kansai Street food you wouldn't want to miss. They come in a bite size filled with chewy chunks of octopus in a perfectly round shape. It is commonly dressed with takoyaki sauce, mayonnaise, bonito fish flakes and powdered seaweed.
Okonomiyaki is a pancake with meat, seafood, vegetables with your preference and topped with sweet Worchester sauce, mayonnaise, fish flakes and powdered seaweed, similar to takoyaki balls.
Kushiage is deep-fried food on a bamboo skewer served with thick sweet sauce and crisp leaves of raw cabbage.
This is the most popular style of udon in Japan. Udon noodles are served in flavourful dashi and soy sauce broth with fried tofu skin which is also named to be fox's favourite food (kitsune).
Funazushi is not for the light-hearted. It is made with fermented funa fish which can only be found in Lake Biwa. The salted fish is fermented for years and it has a strong smell and sharp vinegar flavour.
Uji Green Tea
When introducing you to cuisine in Kansai, you can't miss out the legendary Uji Green Tea. Green tea here is respected for its superior quality and many shops in Kyoto specialize with green tea noodles, ice cream and sweets.
Osaka and Hiroshima are the two regions of Japan most famous for their okonomiyaki, a savoury pancake made with cabbage slices filled batter.
Osaka-style Okonomiyaki is your classic version of this famous pancake. All ingredients all mix in the batter before it is cooked.
Hiroshima-style Okonomiyaki is a regional version of the normal Okonomiyaki you can find in Osaka. The ingredients are cooked in layers rather than all ingredients all mix in the batter. First, the chief will place a layer of batter first and then layer the yakisoba noodles on top then and a whole fried egg topped with okonomiyaki sauce, Japanese mayonnaise and bonito fish flakes.
However, Okayama makes its own twist by putting the fresh grilled oysters from the nearby Seto Inland Sea as toppings.
Barazushi is a bowl of sushi rice topped with various fishes and vegetable like lotus root and carrots,
Okayama prefecture has one of the highest amount of octopus catch in Japan. The octopus from Shimotsui, Kurashiki in Setonaikai Sea where the sea current is fast is said to be tasty with its firm flesh and unique texture. It is of high quality. Takomeshi, a specialty of Kurashiki, is a dish of octopus cut in small pieces and cooked together with rice. The fragrant of the sea spreads in your mouth. Fresh octopus dishes can be enjoyed in various parts of Kurashiki city. Takomeshi are different in each restaurant, with different ingredients, flavors and toppings.
Hiruzen yakisoba is a style of stir-fried noodles that is made with large chunks of locally raised chicken with cabbage and noodles in a light sweet and spicy miso sauce.
Okayama is the top fruit-producing prefectures in Japan. It is famous for its white peach (in season in early June), muscat grapes and pione grapes (in season from May to December). Fruit parfait is a very popular dessert using the local fruits pair with ice cream, whipped cream, sponge cake and crunchy corn flakes.
Tottori prefecture is located along the sea of Japan, giving it access to some of the finest snow crab in the country from November to March. The adult male snow crab is famous for its chewy, delicately flavoured meat.
Izumo soba known as one of the three major soba buckwheat noodle in Japan along with Wanko soba of Iwate and Togakushi soba of Nagano. Izumo soba has a darker and stronger buckwheat flavour and the texture is chewy. The cold way to eat is served as Warigo in a three tier round shape lackerware together with dipping sauce and a variety of toppings (nori seaweed, shredded radish, green onion and so on).
Yamaguchi prefecture is the best place in Japan to try the infamous pufferfish which has intestines, ovaries and liver that contain poison that is a hundred times more toxic than cyanide, and must be prepared only by a specially licensed chef. Tecchiri is a hotpot dish of pufferfish and vegetables simmered in steaming broth.
Sanuki Udon are from Kagawa prefecture, one of Japna's three most famous types of udon along with Mizusawa Udon of Gunma and Inaniwa Udon of Akita. It is characterized by its square shape and flat edges with rather chewy texture. The noodle can be eaten in various way: cold with a dipping sauce, or in a hot broth with toppings such as bonito flakes, sesame seeds, grated daikon, and sliced green onions.
Tokushima is famous for its unique style of ramen made with pork bones and sweet soy sauce which comes in shades of dark brown, yellow and white depending on whether pork, chicken or vegetable broth is used and whether dark or light soy sauce is used. The ramen is served topped with slices of seasoned pork ribs, green onions, and a raw egg that cooks in the hot soup.
Katsuo no Tataki
In Kochi, katsuo (also known as bonito or skipjack tuna) is famous and a highly prized fish in Japan. The usual way to serve this fish is to wrap the katsuo fillet in straw and seared until it's golden on the outside but still rare in the center. This dish is usually served with ginger, Japanese leek, shiso (perilla) leaves, garlic and ponzu (a citrus and soy sauce dressing)
This traditional Japanese sweet from Ehime consists of three mochi ( rice flour dumplings) on a bamboo skewer. The dumplings are qrapped in bean paste with three distinctive colours, red dumplings with red adzuki beans, yellow dumpling with eggs, and green dumplings flavoured with green tea.
Hakata ramen is widely-known for its creamy rich white pork bone soup base made from boiling the bones on high heat for hours. Then the soup is topped with chopped scallions and tender slices of char-siu pork with thin straight noodles, best to be cooked al dente and you will want to have another bowl of ramen.
This is a specialty dish from Nagasaki where the noodles are cooked directly in the soup. The hearty and affordable dish embodies the taste from frying meat, vegetables, kamaboko fish cake and other seafood. It is the true taste of Nagasaki.
Tonkatsu from Kagoshima is famous for it's succulent pork coated in crisp panko bread crumbs.
A spicy cod roe marinated in red pepper in Fukuoka and it is known for its high quality and exceptional freshness. It may be eaten raw, seared or mixed in any dish to add a nice punch in your food.
Ikinari Dango is a steamed sweet rice cake with sweet potato and adzuki red bean paste fillings.