As we were only there for two weeks, we weren’t able to try everything that Japan had to offer (unfortunately!) but we did our best.
We managed to have all of these (sometimes, several times!) in our two week trip and cannot wait to get back to Japan to try more!
Yes, I know this is an obvious one…but my goodness, it is just so good! There is just so much choice! Even the quality of sushi you can buy at the train stations is miles better than some of the sushi I’ve had in the UK. Some places have conveyor belts, in some, you can order from a screen or machine and others have regular menus – whichever you go for, you’ll eat some great sushi! A couple of things I learnt from the sushi master at Tsukiji Fish Market are…never put the wasabi in the same bowl as the soy sauce and don’t let the soy sauce touch the rice, only the fish.
These are fried balls of batter with octopus in, served usually with a sweet sauce, mayonnaise and shavings of bonito. They’re prominent in most places but the best place I tried them was Osaka from a street stall but we saw them quite a lot on our trip.
As well as being fun to say, this dish is delicious! It’s a kind of savoury pancake but there’s a lot more to it than that. The name actually means ‘grilled as you like’ so in some places, you can choose the fillings that go inside. There are lots of different ways of making it, in Hiroshima they build it up with layers but in other places, the batter is mixed with the different fillings and noodles before being fried. I personally preferred the one I tried in Hiroshima and apparently, that’s one of the best places to try it.
These are bream-shaped waffles crammed full of delicious creamy fillings. My favourite was the matcha cream.
These are quite similar to Taiyaki in that it’s a kind of pancake/waffle with fillings inside. They’re small, circular and filled with cream (more like a vanilla custard) or red bean paste.
These are squishy, gooey sweets, often with a variety of fillings inside – red bean paste is a popular choice. I believe they’re made with a fine rice flour. I had tried these in the UK before but they were quite dense and I didn’t really enjoy them, I’m so glad that I tried them again!
Similar to mochi, dango is a Japanese dumpling. There are lots and lots of different varieties of these, some more savoury than others. I think the fresher they are from the grill, the better…the one I tried was a little on the cold side and I think I would have preferred it to be warm. But, still pretty tasty!
You can get katsu curry fairly easily in the UK but yet again, the version we had (twice!) in Japan was sensational! Made with panko breadcrumbs, which have been made specially as breadcrumbs, rather than being made from bread, so they’re all of a similar size and shape instead of being a kind of bread powder? You can get a number of different things made in this way but we went for pork. Served with a hot curry gravy and sticky rice, it is a really filling, satisfying meal! They also give you a bottle of a dark, thick sauce to have with it, often known simply as Tonkatsu sauce but it’s kind of a sweet/Worcestershire sauce kind of flavour. Yum!
Simply put, these are tender meat/fish skewers that are freshly grilled in front of you, either at a street food stall, or some pubs/bars will just serve a selection of yakitori with drinks. Lots of different types of meat, various different sauces, eat your heart out!
These are breaded, deep-fried meat/fish skewers and they are delicious! They usually come drizzled with a sweet/salty sauce and they’re great washed down with a cold beer. They’re like breaded yakitori.
Holy moly there are a lot of different types of ramen, I only wish I’d had time to sample a few more! It’s such a comforting dish, consisting of a pork/miso/fish based broth, noodles, bean sprouts, other vegetables like mushroom strips, spring onions and slices of meat/fish etc.
Japanese tempura is melt-in-the-mouth delicious! It isn’t greasy like other batters can be, it is a gentle crispy coating and I could have ordered more and more. We tried tempura octopus, chicken and vegetables and they were all delicious. A simple thing done really, really well. No photos of this, I’m afraid…they didn’t last long!
These are delicious, banana-shaped sponges filled with banana cream made with real bananas. They aren’t just for souvenirs, in Tokyo, we often saw people queuing up to buy huge boxes on their way to/from work. The sponge is very light, much like a lot of Japanese cakes etc. and they are very moreish! If you miss the chance to buy them in Tokyo, they have them in abundance at Narita airport.
I have to confess, I had no idea what these were called when I was away, despite trying many different types and in fact, buying some as souvenirs. Lots of places in Kyoto offered tasters, in some places, they even gave you some free tea so you could try lots of different flavours! Yum! They’re triangular shaped and very soft, in a number of different flavours. Definitely worth a try!
I’m certain that I’ve missed off lots of other incredible dishes/snacks so do let me know what you recommend and I’ll be sure to try them next time!