Access Bites | Asia

September 27, 2017

A Cheat Sheet to Japanese Food

Japanese cuisine is well-known for its sushi and sashimi, but there’s a whole world of flavors beyond these two mouthwatering dishes. Below, we share a list of must-try food should you find yourself in Japan.



Image Credit: A Slice of Pattie


Image Credit: Daniel Food Diary

If you’re allergic to seafood or you’d rather go with meat, grilled beef is another local specialty you might want to sample. Japan is also famous for its premium beef, so having yakiniku will be worth splurging on. There’s Kobe, with a texture that melts in your mouth and high-fat marbling; Ohmi, with its fine fat marbling and smooth flavor; and Matsusaka, considered to be the finest and most expensive beef in Japan.


tempura chef

Image Credit: Serious Eats


Image Credit: Savor Japan

While tempura is actually not a homegrown dish (it was introduced by the Portuguese to the Japanese during the 16th century), tempura has grown to be an iconic Japanese dish that comes as a main dish, side dish, rice or noodle topping and a snack. The lightly battered seafood or vegetable is easily accessible, whether you prefer to eat in an izakaya or in a high-end restaurant.



Image Credit: That Food Cray

Not all pancakes come sweet – Japan’s take on this is the okonomiyaki, a savory, pan-fried pancake hailing from the city of Osaka. Toppings and ingredients are usually based on your personal preference – anything from meat, eggs, and noodles to seafood, wasabi, and cheese.



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A comforting dish of thin and tender slices of beef cooked with soy sauce and sugar. Sweet, salty and all sorts of yummy. Best eaten in hot pot style and with noodles or white rice for a full meal.



Image Credit: Savor Japan

Yakitori pertains to anything that can be skewered and cooked over the grill. From meat such as pork, beef, poultry or seafood; vegetables like eggplant, tomato, okra or mushroom; to quail eggs and even the odd chicken parts like liver, small intestines, and tail. There’s something for everyone, which makes the yakitori a perfect drinking companion.


onigiri 7-11


Image Credit: Japan Info

Want something that’s quick to eat? Head to a convenience store or a department store’s basement food floor for the no-frills onigiri. This popular lunch item is a rice ball filled with different stuffings like salmon, seaweed, salted cod roe, tuna with mayonnaise or pickled plums.



Image Credit: Gastrolust


Image Credit: That Food Cray

There are many variations of ramen, from something simple like noodles served in a shio broth to something fun, like the tsukumen, where you have to dip the noodles in a broth. Flavor and style sometimes vary depending on the region too – like the miso-based ramen served with bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, butter, cabbage, corn, and roast pork in Sapporo or the cold ramen that comes in a beef-based broth in Yamagata.

Main Image Credit: All About Japan

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