20 Types Of Traditional Yet Delicious Japanese Dishes One Must Try!

Since Japanese cuisine is so well-known around the world, you’ll want to try it when you visit Japan. There are several different types of dishes and regional specialties to choose from, but if you are a die-hard Japanese food fan looking to broaden your culinary horizons, here are the twenty best traditional Japanese dishes that are a must-try.

1. Sushi

Sushi is one of the most well-known Japanese dishes worldwide. It comes in a variety of forms and prices and can be eaten with chopsticks or your hands. However, when dipping the sushi in soy sauce, be sure to turn it over and add the soy sauce to the neta rather than the rice itself. This is to avoid the rice coughing up too much water and erasing the authentic taste.

2. Sashimi

Another dish to try is sashimi. Sashimi is raw fish cut into easy-to-eat sections, similar to sushi but without the rice. Sashimi, like sushi, comes in a wide variety of flavors. Maguro and other tuna varieties, salmon, mackerel, and sea bream are some of the most common and popular varieties.

3. Tempura

Tempura is a battered and fried dish made of fish, seafood, or vegetables. Until consuming, tempura is typically dipped in a special sauce called tentsuyu. Tentsuyu is a cooked sauce made from kombu or dried bonito broth. For a more refreshing flavor, you can add ginger or grated radish to the taste.

4. Soba

Soba is a noodle dish made from buckwheat flour thinly spread and cut into noodles with widths ranging from 1cm to 2cm. The noodles are eaten dipped in cold broth or by pouring hot soup over them after they have been boiled in hot water. Soba can be eaten hot or cold, making it a year-round meal.

5. Onigiri- Rice balls

You’ve always heard of onigiri or rice balls. Onigiri, also known as omusubi, can appear to be nothing more than plain rice, but they usually contain a savory filling and are wrapped in a salty sheet of nori seaweed. Families make them in bento lunches, and they’re mostly sold in grocery stores and supermarkets.

6. Miso Soup

Miso soup may appear to be a simple dish, but it’s an important Japanese dish that goes with any traditional meal. The soup is made with miso bean paste and dashi stock (either fish or kelp stock) to add a savory umami aspect to any meal.

7. Gyoza

Gyoza are savory moon-shaped dumplings made from a minced mixture of savory fillings (a typical combination is pork mince, cabbage, green onion, and mushroom, but other fillings may be used as well) wrapped in a circular gyoza wrapper and crimped or pleated around the edges to create an iconic half-moon shape.

8. Okonomiyaki

If you’re visiting the region, you should sample one of the many varieties of this traditional dish. The Japanese frittata, or pancake, okonomiyaki, is difficult to equate to other dishes. The name’s etymology (meaning what you like or how you like + grilled) alludes to the variety of ingredients that can be used to make this savory dish.

9. Yakitori

Yakitori is a common Japanese dish in which chicken is cut into small pieces and grilled on bamboo skewers. Additionally, if you attend a Japanese festival, there is a fair chance that food stalls will sell this traditional dish. At restaurants, yakitori is ordered by the chicken portion.

10. Udon

Udon is a common and traditional Japanese dish that is distinguished by its thick noodles. The dough is made with flour and saltwater, kneaded thoroughly, and cut into noodles. After boiling the udon noodles in hot water, they are served in a seafood broth soup or with soup and tempura toppings on top. Udon, like soba, can be eaten hot or cold. 

11. Unagi- Grilled Eel

Unagi, also known as eel, is a river-dwelling fish. It is a delicacy in high-class Japanese dining in Japan. Unagi is popular as healthy food to prevent summer heat exhaustion due to its high protein content and digestive benefits.

12. Sukiyaki

Sukiyaki is a shallow iron pan-cooked dish that is traditionally enjoyed in Japan during the fall and winter seasons. It contains a variety of ingredients, including thin slices of beef, green onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, and tofu. To eat Sukiyaki the traditional way, after the ingredients have been thoroughly cooked, dip the meat into a bowl of the beaten egg.

13. Oden

Oden is a dish made up of various ingredients that are simmered in broth. The ingredients are intended to enhance the flavor of the dashi and provide a salty taste. Oden has been consumed in Japan for a long time and is thought to have originated during the Muromachi period.

14. Champon

This dish may appear to be Ramen at first glance, but it is distinct and one-of-a-kind. Don’t miss out on this dish if you want to try something truly traditional. Champon’s ingredients change slightly depending on the season, making it a great seasonal dish (pork, seafood, vegetables, or any combination of these).

15. Fugu

Fugu is the dish to try if you want to not only eat amazing Japanese food but also have an exciting experience! Fugu is a delicious putter fish that is typically served as sashimi or in certain types of Japanese nave hot pots. The toxic parts of the fish are removed before serving, making it safe to eat.

16. Kushikatsu

This dish is crunchy deep-fried skewered meat, fish, or vegetables, also known as kushiage. The etymology refers to the method of preparation, with Kushi referring to the skewers used and katsu referring to the deep frying of a meat cutlet. Some of the more unique varieties are made with bamboo shoots and lotus roots.

17. Kaiseki

Kaiseki, the pinnacle of Japanese fine dining, is a tasting course of small, seasonally-themed dishes crafted with the utmost precision and attention to detail. This dish evolved from the traditional tea ceremony, in which small morsels of food were served alongside the bitter green tea, and these offerings evolved into a multi-course cuisine meal.

18. Omuraisu

The name of this flavorful dish is a combination of the words omelet and rice. The dish appears to have originated around 100 years ago in Tokyo, in a western-style restaurant. It’s a filling, inexpensive, and tasty one-dish meal that will appeal to both adults and children.

19. Robatayaki

Robatayaki is a Japanese specialty in which food is grilled on an irori-style fireplace (wide, flat, open fireplace) over charcoal. This type of food is usually only found in specialized restaurants, so you may have to look for it specifically.

20. Ramen

Most people are familiar with ramen, particularly its world-famous instant variety, but when visiting Japan, you will be surprised by its incredible taste and the vast array of options. It is considered fast food and is the final meal of a day or night out.

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