One of the most important things when traveling to another land and experiencing another culture is the food. Of course you can’t eat everything there is to eat, but you can certainly try to eat as many new dishes as possible. So long as you don’t eat at McDonalds or KFC every day one should manage to try quite a lot 😉 (depending of course on how long you stay)
Though, when I was first in Japan I did try the Avocado Burger at McDonalds because it sounded really interesting!
Of course everyone has different tastes, and it was pretty hard to decide what to put into this list and what not, but I hope you can get some ideas on what to try when you are in Japan. I also put the Japanese writing behind the Roman ones, so that you can recognize it.
- Okonomiyaki お好み焼き and Monja 門じゃOkonomiyaki is the perfect kind of food to eat with your friends. It’s lots of fun to sit around the small table with the cooking plate in the middle and prepare your food together. Also everyone can try different flavours and you can just share between yourselves.There are 2 types of Okonomiyaki, the usual one (Kansai Style) and the Hiroshima Style one.
With the Hiroshima Style one there are actually noodles as well and the ingredients are rather layered than mixed.Now to the Monja. Monja is Delicious!
I quote two different friends of mine when after asking what it was she tried to explain to me:
“It’s kind of slimy” and
“It looks like dirt… But it’s REALLY good” (which is the better explanation in
Monja… gosh it’s so good, which is why it’s the number one on my list 😉
Btw it’s not slimy while you eat it, but when you make it it kind of looks like that.
I might just make another blog entry entirely about how to make it, because seriously? It IS Delicious! And the process is kind of complicated, at least if you are just on vacation in Japan, without knowing any Japanese who can show you.
But if you don’t want to do it yourself, there are also places that prepare the food for you 🙂
- Takoyaki たこ焼きYummy dough-balls filled with Octopus, Takoyaki Sauce and Bonito flakes, or Spring Onion on top. Need I say more?Actually, Yes: A short warning: Be Careful! They’re very, very hot on the inside, so don’t just stuff a whole ball into your mouth. You’ll get your tongue burned!
- Zaru Soba (especially in Summer) 笊そば‘You can get Zaru Soba at every Conbini, and it’s still delicious! They’re cold Soba (made from buckwheat) Noodles which you dip into a Soysaucy… dip (Pardon my eloquence).
As it’s a cold meal it is perfect for the hot, humid Japanese Summer, but you can also enjoy them in Winter!
You can also eat Soba noodles hot in a soup which is very delicious as well.
- Bibinba ビビンバA traditionally Korean food (Bibimbap) made Japanese. It is slightly spicy, but as even I like it (a lot) I suppose everyone can eat it. It is cooked rice and some vegetables and meat (depending on the chosen flavour) on top that are put together into a pot and cooked atop a flame.It is certainly delicious and one of my favourites when eating at the Canteen.
- (Traditional) Japanese sweets/snacksLike Umai and Konpeito (those Sugar stars the little Sootballs eat in Spirited away), Arare (rice crackers) and many, many more! Most of them you can find in normal shops (for Konpeito you might have to go to places like Asakusa) and if those don’t have them you’ll surely find a sweets store somewhere! ;)Coming to this is also Mochi, and all things made of it 餅
Mochi, or better yet Dango, Daifuku and Ichigo Daifuku! Mmmmh~ They’re really good sweets, that aren’t too sweet! Just be careful while eating it, as it’s very sticky, and people HAVE choked on them (during eating contests, but still, I can seriously imagine that happening!)
- Matcha 抹茶 with Wagashi和菓子I know it’s not necessarily a “food”, but If you are in Japan don’t let the possibility of drinking some freshly made Matcha tea given with a Wagashi pass you! It’s a truly nice experience and very relaxing, especially in a big city like Tokyo.One of the nicer places in my opinion for some Matcha is in the Hamarikyu Gardens Tea House. Sitting in a traditional Japanese tea house, looking out at the lake and the garden around you… it’s hard to believe you are in the middle of a gigantic city, even if you can still see the skyscrapers at the edges of the gardens.
You can also get Matcha in a lot of other places of course, for example Ameyoko market and the Tsukiji fish Market.
- Nikuman 肉まんThey are kind of like meat filled dumplings. They are really good! I think they were originally chinese? You can get them in most Convenient Stores pretty cheap and still very deliciously! In any case it would be like a healthier and most likely cheaper alternative McDonalds or Burger King.
- Shabu-Shabu しゃぶしゃぶAgain a kind of “eat with friends” food. You have a bowl with broth in the middle of the table that you bring to a boiling point. Different thin slices of meats (pork, beef etc) and vegetables are brought to you, which you cook inside of the broth. A short moment is enough, as the meat is so thin! It is really good, and a fun experience as well.
- A traditional Japanese breakfast 日本の朝ごはんA bowl of rice, Miso soup, fish, Natto, Tsukemono and depending on where you stay a few other things. Try to stay at least for one night at a traditional Japanese Ryokan and have a traditional Japanese Breakfast. It’s completely worth it!Try the Natto! I know it smells bad, and it doesn’t look good, but at least you’ll have tried it. I personally can’t stand Natto by the way, but It’s been half a year since I tried, so maybe I’ll go for it again.
- Sashimi 刺身Sashimi are thin slices of raw fish. They are mostly served with side dishes and a soy sauce for dipping.
It is really good, but if you want good ones it might get a bit more expensive. And as we are talking about raw fish here you should want a good one.Don’t get discouraged just because it is raw fish. It really is delicious!
I hope this list has brought you some ideas about what to try, when getting to Japan 🙂
Do you agree with it, or do you think something else that I have not listed should be tried when going to Tokyo?