Spicy Japanese Food
Japanese cuisine isn't inherently spicy and is often thought of as rather mild by other neighbouring Asian countries. For example, Korean kimchi is quite popular in Japan as well, however, the one sold at Japanese groceries is considered a little sweet compared to the original recipe. Same could be said for Chinese cuisine adapted to the Japanese palate. So what do you do when you miss that spicy kick in your dishes? Well, seek and ye shall find. Some Japanese people do like spicy dishes and ingredients too. Take a look at the suggestions below to get your fix!
"Mentaiko" is known in English as spicy cod roe and is a popular ingredient in Japanese cuisine. It is available both at affordable and high-end restaurants. If you aren't familiar with this ingredient, you might not find it very tempting, but I guarantee that once you try it, you are bound to love it! If you would like to try it but would like to eat it in a more familiar dish, you should definitely try mentaiko pasta. It's a Japanese-Italian fusion dish and it's simply superb!
Wasabi is a root of the same family as horseradish and mustard. However, I'm sorry to say that if you've only had wasabi outside of Japan, it probably wasn't wasabi, but horseradish with some green dye. Wasabi is a rather rare root and is seldom served in restaurants abroad. If you try real wasabi, you will discern the subtle spiciness coupled with a fresh herbal taste. Of course, wasabi goes hand in hand with sushi, soba and udon. If you would like to try some awesome sushi restaurant in Tokyo with a nice wasabi kick, click on the link below!
"Shichimi" can be easily translated to "seven flavours" in English. The common 3 spices of 7 are chilli pepper, sesame, and hemp seed. The other 4 spices differ depending on the food stall. There are unique products such as yuzu shichimi, which has a fresh scent of yuzu.
Shichimi is also called as Yagenbori, the name of the originator. Shichimi is often served with yakitori, so here's where to try some good yakitori joints in Tokyo (see link below).
"Karashi" is a Japanese condiment which is usually used to add some spiciness to daily dishes. Unlike the western mustard, karashi (Japanese mustard) is quite spicy and used in moderation. About the size of a pea is enough to spice a dish. It is often eaten with oden (a winter stew), natto, tonkatsu, etc. Here are some awesome tonkatsu restaurants to try in Tokyo.
Tantanmen is originally a Sichuanese dish but is now a staple in Japanese cuisine as well so I took the liberty of adding it. It is usually made with a spicy sauce, minced fried beef, chilli peppers, chilli oil, Sichuan pepper, and noodles. It is a really delicious flavourful and punchy dish. Below is a suggestion of where to try it.
Last, but not least: extremely spicy ramen!
For the grand finale, this is the build-up we've been all been waiting for...the magma-level spicy ramen! If you're up to the challenge, you can try this extremely spicy ramen dish. The legend has it that no one has been able to finish the dish so far. Will you take up the torch and try to be possibly the only person who has ever achieved to finish it? Click on the link below for more information on the resto.
Have a fun and delicious culinary adventure in Japan! Here's to discovering new dishes and ingredients! Cheers!