29 foods you need to try if you visit Japan

Flickr/City FoodstersRamen is a popular dish in Japan.
  • If you are planning a trip to Japan, there are certain foods that should be on your must-try list.
  • Ramen, composed of broth and noodles, and Yakisoba, a fried noodle dish, make for hearty, comforting meals.
  • Melon pan, taiyaki, and senbei are all sweet treats you can find in Japan.

Japanese cuisine is known for being just as beautiful, affordable, and healthy as it is delicious. Beyond sushi – which is popular many places throughout the world – the country has pioneered other incredible dishes that both look and taste like heaven.

Next time you find yourself in the land of the rising sun, don’t forget to try at least a few of these popular Japanese dishes.


Okonomiyaki is a mix of a whole lot of delicious ingredients.

Okonomiyaki are often called “Japanese pancakes” for their appearance but have nothing in common with the sweet breakfast food. They consist of pan-fried batter and cabbage combined with ingredients like meat, cheese, seafood, and wasabi.


Takoyaki is often sold on the streets of Japan.

ShutterstockTakoyaki.

A popular street food and Osaka specialty, takoyaki is batter-fried, grilled octopus. The dish often comes served with takoyaki sauce, mayonnaise, green laver, and dried bonito flakes.


Donburi bowls allow for a wide array of ingredients.

Donburi are bowls of cooked rice topped with a number of other food combinations, including beef, pork, tempura, chicken, egg, and tuna.


Shabu shabu is fun to eat.

ShutterstockShabu shabu.

Shabu shabu is a type of hot pot meal consisting of thinly-sliced meat dipped first in soup, again in sauce, and then eaten. Though traditionally served with beef, chicken and pork have recently become more common.


Onigiri are bite-sized snacks.

Onigiri are rice balls wrapped in nori seaweed served stuffed with different fillings like salmon pickled plums, and seaweed. Inexpensive and delicious, they are commonly sold in convenience stores.


Omuraisu features eggs and rice.

Short for “omelet rice,” omuraisu is fried rice wrapped in an omelet. The dish is usually eaten with tomato or demi-glace sauce.


Gyudon is a hearty meal.

A variety of donburi, gyudon bowls consist of beef and onion cooked in soy sauce and sake and served over a bed of rice.


Yakisoba has both pork and vegetables.

Unrelated to the soba noodle, yakisoba is a fried noodle dish cooked with pork and vegetables.


Dango is easy to eat on the go.

Dango are chewy steamed dumplings made of rice flour, often served on a skewer. They come dipped in sweet sauce or bean paste.


Melon pan is a sweet treat.

Crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, melon pan is Japanese sweet bread topped in cookie crumbs and shaped to resemble a melon.


Gyoza are commonly known as pot stickers.

Commonly known as pot stickers, gyoza are dumplings filled with ground meat, vegetables and other fillings like ginger, garlic and soy sauce.


Gunkanmaki includes fish eggs.

takaokun/FlickrGunkanmaki.

Gunkanmaki, or gunkan, are small cups of nori seaweed filled with sea urchin or various types of fish eggs.


Temaki are hand roll sushi.

INSIDERTemaki.

They are served as cones of nori seaweed filled with sushi rice, seafood, and vegetables.


Tsukemono are a healthy addition to any meal.

An essential part of the Japanese diet, tsukemono – or Japanese pickles – are served alongside almost every meal. A variety of vegetables and fruits comprise tsukemono, including radish, cucumber, eggplant, plums, and cabbage.


Tamago Kake Gohan is often eaten at breakfast.

Getty Images/imagenaviTamago Kake Gohan.

A common breakfast dish, tamago kake gohan is a Japanese comfort food made of a raw egg mixed into a bowl of rice.


Daifuku are rice cakes filled with sweet pastes.

Daifuku are mochi (soft rice cakes) filled with sweet bean paste or other fillings, such as strawberry or ice cream.


Senbei come in various shapes, sizes, and flavours.

Senbei are baked or grilled Japanese rice crackers that come in both sweet and savoury varieties.


Udon is a type of thick wheat flour noodle.

Udon are wheat flour noodles much thicker and chewier than soba or ramen noodles. Available in both hot and cold varieties, they are served with broth and often topped with things like tofu, egg, and tempura.


Yakitori is a Japanese type of skewered chicken.

Yakitori are grilled chicken skewers cooked over charcoal. Different variations are made with different vegetables and from different parts of the chicken.


Taiyaki are commonly filled with red bean paste.

Taiyaki are warm, crispy, fish-shaped treats made of batter similar to pancake batter. They usually come filled with sweet bean paste, custard cream or chocolate.


Ramen is a nourishing treat.

sasakenRamen.

Eaten around the world, traditional Japanese ramen outshines the packaged variety beloved by college students. The most popular types, shoyu, shio, miso, and tonkotsu, are made of different broths and include toppings like green onions, bean sprouts, egg, seaweed, and bamboo shoots.


Yakiniku refers to grilled meat cuisine.

Yakiniku, or Korean-style barbecue, is highly popular in Japan despite its foreign roots. Yakiniku-ya speciality restaurants are common throughout the country, allowing customers to cook their meals on a grill at the table.


Sake is one go-to alcoholic drink in Japan.

key05/iStockSake.

Japan’s most popular alcoholic export, sake is wine created from rice. The drink is enjoyed both hot and cold and is often locally brewed.


Natto is composed of soybeans.

Natto are simply fermented soybeans. Despite being popular at breakfast tables, the dish has a reputation for being an acquired taste and is often unpopular with both foreigners and many Japanese.


Tonkatsu is breaded and fried pork.

ShutterstockTonkatsu.

Tonkatsu are thick, breaded, deep-fried pork cutlets, usually served alongside cabbage, rice, miso soup, and pickles.


Soba noodles can be served either hot or cold.

Shutterstock/H.C HuangSoba noodles.

Soba noodles are made of buckwheat flour and come in a variety of both hot and cold dishes. While some soba dishes are available year round, others are only eaten at special times of the year.


Tempura can include anything from fish to vegetables.

Tempura are battered and fried seafood and vegetables. There are endless varieties to try, including shrimp, fish, eggplant, mushrooms, and more.


Agedashi tofu is a high-protein dish perfect for vegetarians.

Foodista/FlickrAgedashi tofu.

Agedashi tofu is lightly breaded and deep-fried tofu served in soy sauce broth.


Japanese curry is an especially thick curry.

Flickr/Ari HelminenJapanese curry.

Thicker but less spicy than Indian curry, Japanese curry generally consists of potatoes, carrots, onions, pork or beef, and sauce made of curry powder served over rice.

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