Personally, I haven’t met a single person who doesn’t admire Japanese culture; everyone is fond of it, from their polite manners to their organized lifestyle, not to mention their traditional cuisine, which is full of healthy, tasty Japanese goodness!
Keep scrolling as I introduce you to 10 of Japan’s most heavenly traditional dishes. Let’s dive right in!
Imagine your favorite seafood and vegetables coated in a delicious batter of flour and eggs and deep-fried in oil. That’s exactly what tempura is! When you get your freshly-fried tempura out of the oil, you’re supposed to dip it in a special Japanese sauce called “Tentsuyu” before eating. It’s a heavenly mixture of soy sauce, mirin, and broth from kombu, and you’re free to add grated radish or ginger to taste if you want that extra freshness!
But hold on a second, this authentic Japanese dish isn’t as easy to make as it seems. You’d be astonished to know that Japanese chefs can spend years just to master its seemingly simple recipe!
Have you ever seen those small rice balls before but didn’t know what they were called? It’s a very popular Japanese dish called onigiri, or omusubi.
At first glance, onigiri might look like just plain rice balls, but in fact, it’s full of surprises! Onigiri is typically formed into triangles, cylinders, or balls, and then wrapped with dried seaweed (nori). Onigiri is stuffed with a variety of savory fillings, such as salmon, bonito flakes, and pickled plum (umeboshi). You can also find many other innovative flavors at local Japanese grocery stores!
These cute rice balls are a classic snack for any Japanese family, and it’s also perfect for bento lunches. Even though it’s quite easy to make onigiri, there are many restaurants in Japan that offer this snack made with high-quality ingredients by expert Japanese chefs.
It’s worth mentioning that when onigiri was first invented, there was no such thing as refrigerators, so Japanese people came up with a great idea to keep rice fresh for a longer time: they rub salt on their hands before forming onigiri. Interesting, right?
Sukiyaki is that one hot pot that you can enjoy in a nice, cozy place with your close friends and family members. This iconic Japanese stew is traditionally cooked and served in a shallow iron pan and is enjoyed in both winter and fall.
This hearty dish is made with a good variety of ingredients, such as thinly sliced beef, tofu, noodles, mushrooms, tomatoes, leafy vegetables, and green onions. All of these ingredients are grilled in the pan after adding some drops of sukiyaki sauce.
You might be surprised that the authentic way to eat sukiyaki is by dipping the beef and other ingredients in raw, beaten eggs. But before you call an ambulance, you need to bear in mind that the Japanese eggs. Unlike the eggs in the US, are safe to eat raw, so if you’re in Japan and want to have sukiyaki the conventional way, just go for it!
This famous Japanese soup will not only take your taste buds to heaven. But it will also boost your health in so many areas! Typically, miso is drunk alongside main and side dishes, and it’s a basic part of the Japanese diet.
Miso soup is traditionally made with miso (soybean paste), dashi, and mushrooms (or your choice of healthy ingredient). You can never get bored of miso, as each family in Japan has their own special, original way of making this healthy staple of Japanese cuisine!
These easy, traditional Japanese noodles are very popular and are enjoyed all over Japan. Making the dough is a piece of cake. Flour, water, salt, good kneading, then cut it into noodles and boil it in water.
Udon is usually put in a delicious seafood broth, and you can also enjoy it by putting tempora or any kind of toppings on it. Whether hot or cold, you can enjoy udon either way, so take your pick!
Glazed in mouthwatering sweet and sour sauce, these Japanese chicken and scallion skewers are impossible to resist!
This Japanese version of chicken on a stick can be found in casual restaurants and izakaya. Which makes the delicious dish perfect for a night out with friends! It’s also sold in food stalls in most Japanese festivals.
I know what you’re thinking; I also feel hungry just talking about it!
Have you ever tried Tamagoyaki Japan’s golden omelette pillows? At first, tamagoyaki might seem like a fairly difficult dish to make, but these delicious egg bars are the simplest when you learn the technique behind making them. It involves the careful rolling of thin layers of omelette into a long roll, and then slicing that roll into segments.
So don’t worry, it’s simple enough for you and me to make. Tamagoyaki is one of the most common dishes in Japanese cuisine. Its custardy texture and delicious sweet and sour taste make it a perfect side dish in the Japanese lunch box (bento).
Japanese people are so deeply in love with this eggy treat that they actually invest in pans that are specially made for cooking it!
Oden is a traditional Japanese winter comfort food that contains fish cakes, fish balls, konnyaku, deep-fried tofu, boiled eggs, and a mix of veggies simmered in delicious soy sauce-based dashi broth. Restaurants all over Japan serve this one-pot dish throughout the fall and winter. In fact, you can even find vending machines in Tokyo that sell canned oden!
What’s even more surprising is that this hot pot is thought to have been eaten for the first time during the Muromachi period (1336 – 1573). So make sure to try out this ancient dish whenever you visit Japan!
Who on Earth hasn’t heard about sushi? If you haven’t, then you’ve probably been living under a rock. I couldn’t possibly write my list of the best Japanese foods without mentioning this iconic, world-renowned Japanese dish!
However, for the one person reading who doesn’t know what sushi is, Sushi generally refers to a dish consisting of vinegared pressed rice and a piece of fresh, raw fish on top. It’s traditionally enjoyed with wasabi or soy sauce. But if you’re one of the people who don’t enjoy the taste of wasabi, simply say “sabi-nuki” or “without wasabi”. If you’re eating it at a restaurant.
Aside from making it at home, you can have your favorite sushi at a restaurant. It comes in a variety of ways and prices, from conveyor belt sushi (kaiten-zushi). Where you can enjoy this goodness for a very reasonable price, to high-end traditional, Edo-style sushi (Edomae sushi). Where you will be able to enjoy watching the chef prepare the sushi right in front of you before you eat it.
Of course, you are free to eat sushi with chopsticks or just with your hand. Be careful when dipping the sushi in soy sauce, though. When you dip it, it’s best to turn the sushi over. So that what touches the sauce is the neta (the topping) instead of the rice. The rice can absorb too much soy sauce and make your sushi experience much less enjoyable!
If you are familiar with Japanese cuisine, you’ve probably heard of sashimi at least once! It’s a very similar dish to sushi, but the only difference is that it has no rice.
It consists of slices of fresh raw fish served with soy sauce, and for extra heat, you can add some wasabi on top!
Sashimi has dozens of varieties that diners can enjoy. Some of the most popular varieties are tuna, maguro, salmon, sea bream, and mackerel. You can also enjoy uni, clams, and salmon roe.
Of course, the extremely high quality of the fish in Japan and its freshness makes the sashimi made in Japan the absolute BEST!
I know that, I make your stomach growl while reading this. But knowing more about the impressive Japanese cuisine was worth it, right? Let me know in the comments which dish you’ve tried before and which one you’d like to try the most!