Japan is full of wonder. It is another world for many Westerners. The density of people, the lights and sounds, and the foods are something to behold. Whether you are going to this amazing country or just want to get to know Japanese culture, one of the best ways to do so is through the food. Japan is known for its delicious food. Whether you are looking for a snack or a meal, Japan has a food culture all its own. Based on simplicity, great ingredients, and use of all the flavors, Japan is a country that defines itself by excellence. Below are some Japanese foods that everyone should try.
Mochi is a rice cake that is used to flavor all kinds of different foods. It is popular on its own, but you can find mochi flavored anything. Whether it’s ice cream, Japanese candy, or just the pounded glutinous rice on its own, mochi is something that people love around the world. It is one of those ingredients and delicacies that has been exported to other countries. Whether you are going to Japan or are just visiting Little Tokyo, you should try some mochi in some form. You will probably love it.
You are likely familiar with sushi, but the sushi you get in the United States isn’t the same as it is in Japan. There are more rolls here that get creative. This isn’t what the Japanese want out of their fish. Sashimi is like sushi, but it’s just the finest thin cut of fish on its own, served raw. No rice, no seaweed, and no overly complicated ingredients, sashimi is something that everyone should try when traveling to Japan.
Don’t be afraid of raw fish. You might think that it’s going to taste like that fish smell. Well, it won’t. If you are eating good sashimi, your flavor will be clean and delicate. You should try it.
Everyone loves ramen and udon is delicious too, but have you tried soba? Soba is perhaps the most delicate and sought-after noodle in Japan. Handmade through an arduous process, soba is a delicacy typically served cold. You can dip into broth or sauce, but the flavor of cold buckwheat noodles is good on its own. When you’re in Japan, soba is a must-try. Even if you aren’t traveling to the country, finding an authentic soba will change your life—wherever you are.
Unagi is the Japanese word for eel, and before you skip this paragraph thinking “gross,” you simply must give it a shot. Unagi is delicious. There are plenty of ways to eat this river eel. You can have it over rice, as sushi, or grilled over charcoal. Freshly caught unagi is an amazing treat whether you’re in Japan or at home. It is so delicious. Meaty and savory, this delicacy is not to be overlooked. Just try it once. If you do, you will likely be back again and again to indulge in its amazing flavor.
Finally, tempura is something that is eaten across Japan and beyond. Tempura comes from Portugal, although the Japanese have made it completely their own. Battered fish and vegetables are fried to perfection. It is light but indulgent.
You can have tempura with udon, curry, or by itself. You can have tempura with just about anything, and it is always delicious. Try the sweet potato, shrimp, and carrots. Tempura is possibly the most accessible food to Westerners on this list. There’s a reason everyone loves it.
Whether you are in Japan or just want to dive deeper into the culture, food is a great way to do it. You are likely familiar with sushi and ramen, but that’s not all that Japan has to offer. With so many different things to choose from, you would be remiss not to try all the Japanese foods you’ve never had the pleasure of tasting.
Whether it’s soba, tempura, sashimi, mochi, unagi, or something else that you’ve never encountered, in Japan it’s always worth giving it a shot. Their culture emphasizes excellence in just about every way. If it is a Japanese mainstay, it is worth trying. So, when are you going to Japan?