Ask most people outside Japan about Japanese food and they’ll say “sushi.” While sushi is an iconic and popular cuisine in the land of the rising sun, it’s only one of many delicious dishes and styles of cooking you’ll find there.
Here’s just a taste of other foods you can explore when you visit or that you may find in your neck of the woods:
Curry rice: This, and not sushi, is considered to be Japan’s national dish. Which is a bit ironic considering curry was only introduced to the country by Indian traders in the 19th century. Unlike its hotter Indian counterpart, Japanese curry is sweeter and more fragrant, and usually combined with a variety of meat, seafood and vegetables.
Izakaya: Loosely translated, this is Japanese pub food, commonly enjoyed by businesspeople or friends meeting or on a night out. Among the mouthwatering delicacies you’ll find are karaage (deep-fried chicken), yakisoba (fried noodles) and yakitori — grilled pork, chicken, or beef skewers with a savory/sweet barbecue sauce.
Tonkatsu: The Germans call it schnitzel, the Japanese version is tonkatsu — pork cutlets fried in panko breadcrumbs, usually served with rice, pickles and plum sauce. Or for an even more mouthwatering combination, try tonkatsu on top of curry rice (see above).
Okonomiyaki: Somewhere between an omelet and a pancake, you’ll find this sensational delicacy, usually prepared with pork, squid or even Korean kim chi and finished off with barbecue sauce, bonito fish flakes and mayo.
Onigiri: Long before the Earl of Sandwich filled two slices of bread with meat and cheese for a portable treat, the Japanese had created their own version of rice balls stuff with tuna or salmon salad or pork and wrapped in seaweed to hold it all together. They’re the ideal on-the-go snack you’ll find at most convenience stores in Japan.
Sushi aside, what are your favorite Japanese foods? Did you discover them in Japan or on our side of the world? Please share your experiences with the Shop Talk blog community!
Another of Japan’s most popular foods, ramen originated in China but the Japanese have made it their own with a variety of flavors made with pork or chicken broth, thick or thin noodles, and toppings like pork, bamboo shoots, leeks, corn niblets and boiled egg. While you can readily find packaged dry versions in most supermarkets, eating freshly made ramen is an altogether more satisfying experience.