“Japanese food makes me feel particularly good,” U.S. author David Mitchell says.
If you think Japanese cuisine is just about noodles and sushi, then probably, you need to know more. With its well-balanced blend of all-time favorite dishes as well as fine dining, it has since become among the most popular cuisine in the whole world.
If it happens to be your first time in Japan, then expect a long and rewarding culinary journey ahead of you. The Japanese have a variety of dishes based on the four seasons, so every food you taste comes with a distinct flavor. And, what makes their food even more interesting is their use of Oriental ingredients. So, regardless of whether you’re ordering some Tempura prawns, the staple Gohan, or the simplest Miso soup, expect not only visually pleasing, but also sumptuous dishes served right in front of you.
Here are some of Japan’s most popular street foods you may start with:
Taiyaki – Japanese Fish Shaped Pan Cake
Taiyaki is a very popular Japanese dessert that is prepared using a pancake or waffle batter and cooked in a sea-bream shaped waffle iron. It is often filled with various fillings, such as chocolate, apple, custard, bacon, and potato, but is usually stuffed with red bean paste. For the Japanese, the sea bream is a symbol of good fortune. This is explains why it comes with a fish-like shape.
Choco banana is not only popular in Japan, but also in all parts of the world. Basically, these are just plain bananas coated with chocolate and topped with sprinkles. These are very popular during festivals and cost approximately about 200 yen. Although it has a high calorie content, it can be reduced because of the banana.
Takoyaki is a small spherical-shaped ball stuffed with octopus. Normally, octopus is minced or diced so that it will be easier to put it inside the wheat flour batter. And then, it is cooked in a cast iron pan that is specially built to cook Takoyaki. To somehow add flavor, ginger, onion, and tenkatsu are added. Takoyaki is usually served in batches and then topped with sauce, chives, spring onions, mayonnaise and fish flakes. Before you eat them, make sure to be very careful. They can be pretty hot, especially when they are just taken out from the mold.
Tempura is just deep fried vegetables and fish in a light batter made from cold water, flour, and beaten egg. This is best served when hot. It often comes with a Tentsuyu dip or some soy sauce.
Common as a street food during festivals, the Kasutera is a Japanese sponge cake made from eggs, starch syrup, honey or sugar, and flour. It is more or less similar to the Western sponge cake, however, it uses honey as a sweetening. This cake was introduced by Portuguese merchants during the 16th century. And now, it is considered Nagasaki’s specialty. Depending on the city you visit, the preparation of Kasutera also varies. It even has a bite-size version, which is popularly known as Bebi Kasutea.
Jaga Bata ( Butter-Potato)
Jaga Bata is another ordinary Japanese summer festival dish. To prepare this, potato skin is often peeled off and then, it is covered with butter. Jaga Bata often costs 500 Yen.
Japanese Crepes are very popular in the country. Not only are they easy to prepare, they also come in a variety of fillings. This is often prepared on the spot and is then served in a cone, similar to that of an ice cream. These crepes are filled with usual Japanese ingredients like whipped cream, Azuki beans, and chicken with teriyaki sauce. While they taste like a French crepe, there are still minor differences. One is that there is less butter used in the filling.
Yaki Tomorokoshi – Japanese Grilled Corn on the Cob
In Japan, corn is often used in breads, pastas, and pizzas. However, if it is the season of harvest, cobs on a stick become very popular. These are often sold by street vendors. To prepare this, corn is first boiled and dipped in butter, miso, and soy sauce. It is then served on a stick. Though Yaki Tomorokoshi is served all across the nation, it is often associated with the Hokkaido region.
Dango is a classic Japanese that has a very chewy texture. In one skewer, there are about three to four Dangos served. This dish is often named after a variety of seasonings served with it or on it.
Senbei is a Japanese rice cracker with varying flavors. For locals, it is more of a refreshment than a main dish. In fact, it is usually served with green tea. While being cooked or grilled over charcoal, Senbei is brushed with soy sauce. This rice cracker also comes in different shapes, which include cherry blossoms, seeds, animals, and leaves. Its flavors include curry, chocolate, wasabi, and kimchi.