If you're not familiar with Japanese, don't worry! This guide will equip you with the basic phrases you need to successfully navigate through a meal at a Japanese restaurant!
Most Popular Japanese Dishes
There are so many kinds of ramen out there, and you've got questions: What's the difference between 'tonkotsu ramen' and 'shio tonkotsu ramen?' What is menma, anyway? What's the difference between ramen and chuka soba? All of these questions, and more, will be answered!
Sushi is probably the best-known Japanese food around the world. A traditional sushi course is comprised of a many bite-sized 'nigiri' (nigiru means to 'squeeze in the hand') of rice topped with pieces of raw fish or other toppings called 'neta.'
Soba is a Japanese noodle dish. It simply refers to thin noodles made from buckwheat flour or a combination of buckwheat and wheat flours. They are usually served with hot dashi soup. Also, in summer seasons, people prefer to eat soba with cold salty dipping sauce called mentsuyu.
Yakitori is basically just chicken parts on a skewer and cooked over a charcoal fire. Although it may sound like a simple dish, it's hard to cook perfectly so that the chicken is well cooked yet still tender. The skewers can be seasoned with "tare" (a soy sauce based sauce) or salt. Simple and delicious, and generally cheap. What's not to love!
Sashimi (刺し身) is very fresh raw fish (or also meat) that is thinly sliced and served uncooked. The word sashimi literally means "pierced body (of fish and meat)" in Japanese. The Japanese started to call it sashimi back in the 14th century to avoid using kirimi (切り身/cut body) because they considered the word "kiri" (cut) as a bad word. "Kiri" is used for instance in the widely known expression "hara kiri" which literally means cutting the stomach.
"Donburi" is a Japanese dish where cooked or uncooked ingredients are served over a bed of rice. It can include right about anything as long as it is served over rice. For example, this can be a "kaisendon", a speciality of Hokkaido, which is basically incredibly fresh fish or seafood served over rice. That in itself can offer a wide range of possibilities.
Yakiniku is a Japanese word for "grilled meat". Meat and vegetables are grilled over a flame and barbequed. Yakiniku is a great dish to enjoy with a group of friends. A small grill with charcoal is put in the middle of the table and you can grill different kinds of meat and vegetables by yourself.
Tonkatsu is a traditional Japanese cutlet with deep-fried pork fillet or loin. It will be often served with shredded cabbage. Topped sauces are varied, such as miso, soy sauce, etc. Tonkatsu, as well as being served as a single dish, it is also filled in a sandwich or added with curry rice.
Sukiyaki is a type of Japanese hot pot dish where premium wagyu (Japanese beef) is simmered in a sweet soy sauce-based sauce. Unlike other hot pot dishes, sukiyaki broth is thicker and coats the ingredients like a sauce rather than a soup.
Udon is simply very thick wheat flour noodle which is often used to make a lot of comforting and delicious Japanese dishes. When udon is homemade, it doesn't have to be served with a very strong broth to be tasty is, as it is appreciated on its own for its flavour and texture.
Karaage is a Japanese word that refers to boneless, bite-sized pieces of fried meat (usually chicken). It's one of the most popular foods in Japan and can be found at restaurants and convenience stores everywhere. This article will tell you all about karaage, including how to pronounce it, links to great restaurants, and a recipe!
Shabu shabu refers to the motion of dragging a thin slice of meat back and forth through a pot of clear soup. That's exactly what shabu shabu is. The dish is usually served with pork, beef, and chicken meatballs called 'tsukune.'
Kaiseki refers to the traditional Japanese full course. Like the full course in the Western culture, it starts with an appetizer called Hassun, a main dish, a soup and a rice bowl and simmered dish are followed, and finally, it is finished with some dessert called Kanmi. Kaiseki cuisine is a sort of party menu that is often offered at a traditional Japanese Inn called Ryokan or an exclusive Japanese restaurant.
One of the winter Japanese cuisine you can't miss, "nabe", a Japanese hot pot dishes. This post will be a perfect guide for everyone who would like to try making nabe of their own. From the most basic kind of nabe to the unique ones, you will get to know 12 recipes in this post.
Onigiri is an awesome dish that can be eaten right about any time of the day. It can be breakfast, a snack, or a meal on the go. You can stuff it with your favourite ingredients and it can be prepared at home or bought in specialized restos or convenience stores.
Teishoku can be directly translated to meal set. This term refers to the combination of white rice, miso soup, tsukemono, and your choice of main dish. In Japan, the word "Ichiju-Issai", which means a bowl of soup and one dish, is the origin of Japan's Teishoku culture. This has gradually evolved into the meal sets of today. Teishoku is healthy and cheap, so it is still a popular food culture in Japan.
Kushikatsu, also known as kushiage, is a Japanese dish of deep-fried skewered seafood, meat and vegetables. But, make sure you do not dip the kushikatsu in the sauce after you take a bite. This is a big NO! As you have to dip the kushikatsu in the sauce shared between other customers, you are allowed to dip the kushikatsu once and ONLY once!
Takoyaki is a famous dish from Osaka which has gained popularity all over the country, and even abroad! Takoyaki is basically dough cooked on a rounded iron plate in which bits of "tako" (octopus) are placed in the center. It is then rolled to form a ball and served with shallots, mayonnaise, bonito flakes, and a thick Worchestire-style sauce.
Okonomiyaki is a pan fried dish, also known as Japanese pancakes. It consists of batter,cabbage, and a variety of toppings such as meat, seafood, cheese, etc. The word "okonomi" means "to one's liking", so there are many styles in eating this dish. Okonomiyaki originated in Hiroshima and Osaka, but Hiroshima Okonomiyaki always includes noodles and eggs while in Osaka, it does not. Depending on where you eat the Okonomiyaki, the style and ingredients may change, but Okonomiyaki restaurants are located all over Japan.
But first, what is oden exactly? Oden (おでん) is a kind of Japanese hotpot dish commonly eaten in winter. It consists of various ingredients simmered in a soy-flavored light dashi (Japanese cooking stock made from seaweed and bonito) broth. Oden can be served at fancy Japanese restaurants, but it can also be made at home. You can also find convenience stores and food stalls selling oden at reasonable low prices. It's a warm dish, a kind of Japanese comfort food, that you'll surely love to eat during the winter.
Gyoza is dumplings filled with ground meat and vegetables and wrapped in a thin dough. Origin of Gyoza is Chinnese before becoming a staple in Japanese cuisine. In the US, Gyoza is commonly sold as a "potsticker". It is crispy on the sides, soft on the bottom, and juicy on the inside!
Yakisoba is stir-fried noodles, usually made with thinly sliced carrots, cabbage, green bell peppers and pork. They normally serve it in a plastic container at street fairs and is quite heavy. You can fill your belly with just a coin. Good deal, I'd say.
Omurice is a popular Japanese comfort food which consists of ketchup flavored fried rice wrapped in or covered with eggs. "Omu" comes from "omelet". It can be served at both casual and nice restaurants, and also people often cook it at home.
Mochi is a very popular traditional sweet in Japan. Made from steamed sticky rice, it's chewy, not too sweet, and fun to eat. There are thousands of shops throughout Tokyo where you can buy mochi, but some outstanding ones are listed here. Enjoy!
Miso soup is the most common Japanese soup. It is usually brown in color (but can be anywhere from very pale to very dark), and is cloudy when stirred. Miso soup recipes abound, and each family has their own way of preparing the soup, but the dish's most essential elements are a dashi broth and miso paste. Depending on how it is prepared, the taste of a miso soup can be mild and gentle or bold and salty. No matter how it's prepared, miso soup is delicious!
One of the simplest Japanese comfort foods is called 'tamago kake gohan' (卵かけご飯）and consists of a raw egg cracked over a bowl of white rice. Eating raw eggs might seem strange to some, but it's actually safe to do in Japan (see article below for details).
Japanese cuisine is so incredibly delicious, and the best part is that you can find something delicious in a wide variety of price ranges. Of course from high-end restaurants, but street stalls are also really tasty too! Here's a list of Japanese street food you definitely should try!