When it comes to Japanese food, the first thing that pops up in everyone’s minds is Sushi. But going beyond sushi, here are some food items not miss during your trip, and chain restaurants that serve them so that you can try them no matter where in Japan you’ll be travelling to. However, do remember that there will always be better and more famous restaurants that serve these foods in each specific region, so if you want to taste the best in that region of Japan, research is key!
Okonomiyaki is a dish that is best described as an egg and cabbage pancake. It’s especially popular in Hiroshima and the Kansai region of Japan, where it is considered a comfort food (In fact, the name literally translates to ‘grilled how you like it’). The combination of the pancake with the sauces and toppings has proven time and again to be a hot favorite among locals and tourists alike.
Common places to try it: Botejyu, local street food/ festival food.
Japanese Curry Rice
This dish has a really interesting history to it, as the concept of curry was passed along from India to the British, who then introduced it in Japan, resulting in a sort of ‘broken telephone’ dish. Flavors were modified to suit local tastes and today, curry has truly become embedded in Japanese culture, with it being found literally everywhere.
Common places to try it: Coco Ichibanya, C&C curry shop.
A well loved comfort food found all around Japan, Ramen is also the dish with the most variation. This Noodle dish generally has 4 types of broth- Shoyu, Shio, Miso and Tonkotsu, but flavors and toppings actually vary regionally. From cheaper fast food versions to Michelin star luxury versions, and there truly is a Ramen dish for everyone.
Common places to try it: Ippudo, Korakuen, Ichiran Ramen.
Yakitori is a form of skewered chicken dish that is sometimes grilled with scallions and onions. They come in all the possible chicken cuts- thigh, skin, cartilage and even gizzard. They can also be either savory or sweet, according to the seasoning used. This is a staple during festivals, all around Japan. Who doesn’t love chicken on a stick?
Common places to try it: Torikizoku, Yakitori Daikichi, Toritetsu, local street food/ festival food.
Gyoza are Japanese style dumplings that are often served in groups of 6 or 8. The great thing about Gyoza is their flexibility, as they can be shared and eaten as a snack or eaten as part of meal, or even eaten as the main course. They mostly come with pork and cabbage fillings, but you can also sometimes find prawn, chicken and beef fillings.
Common places to try it: Gyoza no Ohsho, Osaka Ohsho.