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Top Dishes You Must Try When Visiting Japan

Top Dishes You Must Try When Visiting Japan

By CarolUpdated Oct. 21, 2022

Japan has a wonderful and unique cuisine, but mostly when thinking about Japanese food,to our mind come fish and rice. This article will help you to get a different view about the food culture in Japan. It will also help you to know what to order when sitting in a restaurant.

Dishes in Japan are usually well-prepared. If you have ever watched a masterful Japanese chef at work, it is a beautiful sight–the way they prepare each ingredient with exacting precision.Therefore, it is hard not to eat well in Japan.


  • Ramen, Soba and Udon are Japan's most well-known noodles.
  • If you absolutely want to enjoy your dish, visit a specialized restaurant.
  • Try Gyutan and Sukiyaki if you are a beef-lover!
  • Japan is one of the best culinary countries in the world!
  • Japanese cuisine offers a great variety of dishes throughout the country. Here are 12 top dishes you must try!
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Top Japanese Dishes

Japan is a culinary wonderland, thanks to its unique heritage and a national obsession with cuisine. The result is the following 12edible treasures that you can never get enough of:

Sushi and Sashimi

Without a doubt, sushi is one of Japan's greatest gastronomical gifts to the world. Almost poetic in its simplicity, good sushi relies on two things: the freshness of the ingredients and the knife skills of the chef.

Whether you like your raw fish draped over bite-sized balls of vinegar flavored rice, rolled up in toasted nori seaweed or pressed into fat rectangular logs, delicious sushi can be found at every price range across Japan.


Gyutan, or cow’s tongue, is a delicacy that is most famous in Japan’s northern city Sendai. Thick slices of cow tongue are grilled, releasing a smoky fragrance, and seasoned with salt or standard Japanese sauce.

The springy texture is what fans of the dish crave, and it is popular with diners on a diet, due to its high-protein and low-fat content. Gyutan is eaten with rice, which is often accompanied by grated yam. It’s also sometimes served at izakaya and yakitori restaurants on a grilled skewer.


A famous style of the Japanese culinary world, teppanyaki consists of fresh meat that isgrilled tableside, usually done by a dexterous chef. Once the meat is cooked to order, the chef plates the entree in front of you.

Beef is the staple choice of meat and synonymous with teppanyaki. A popular way to round off a teppanyaki meal is with garlic-fried rice that is cooked in the savory juices of the meat that remain on the hotplate.


Another traditional Japanese food, called Tempura, was introduced to Japan by the Portuguese missionaries in the 16th century. The dish comprises vegetables, seafood and other ingredients, all battered in egg and flour, and then fried in vegetable oil to form a crispy texture.

To absolutely enjoy the dish, it is best to try it at a specialized tempura restaurant – tempura-ya– although it is often served with common dishes, like soba or udon.

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Soba is a type of noodle made from buckwheat flour, which has been known as a traditional Japanese food since the Edo period (1603-1868). The Japanese have different opinions on how best to enjoy soba, but the chilled version or the one cooked as a noodle soup, are the two most popular ones.

Soba is usually taken with a soy sauce, called tsuyu, placed on the side for dipping (cold soba), or boiled in it (hot soba). The most common type of chilled soba is Mori Soba. There are quite a few places in Japan to try good soba, from street vendors to markets to specialized restaurants.

As with other Japanese dishes, slurping is expected!


Udon is quite similar to soba, in terms of being noodles, but these are made from wheat flour. As with soba, they can be served either cold or hot. The simplest hot dish is made in a broth, called kakejiru. A variety of toppings can be added, like scallions or prawns.

Miso Soup

Miso soup is a traditional Japanese food, said to be the cornerstone of a nutritious local breakfast. It consists of dashi – a stock with added miso paste. Tofu is also usually added to the equation and, depending on the recipe, vegetables, meat and seafood can be used as well. This soup represents a high-protein mixture that balances floating ingredients with sinking ones.

Miso paste is a signature ingredient that defines miso soup as such; the texture and flavor of the soup is very much dependent on the type of miso paste used. In essence, Miso soup is a staple Japanese dish and an absolute must-try, when in Japan.


Unagi is the Japanese word for "fresh eel". It is usually served as part of other dishes, such as unadon, in which unagi is placed on a bed of rice, or unakyu – sushi with unagi and cucumber.

As an important part of Japanese cuisine, unagi deserves a good, long tasting. The eel itself is high in protein and vitamin A. There are a number of restaurants in Japan specializing in unagi, usually recognizable by a street sign featuring the first character of the Japanese word unagi.

There is even a special day in Japan for eating unagi, the midsummer day of the ox.

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A totally Japanese comfort food, Okonomiyaki is a pancake filled with all sorts of things - mostly pork, shrimp or cabbage, - topped with mayonnaise, sauce and dried seaweed. The name is translated as something close to "whatever you like grilled", hence the multiple ingredients present in the dish.

It is considered fast food and can be found at street vendors, although some restaurants also cook it right in front of you, or even let you try your hand and prepare it for yourself!


Sukiyaki is a real treat for those passionate beef-lovers! It is usually cooked right at the table in a Japanese hot pot style (nabemono). The most common ingredients used in Sukiyaki include vegetables, tofu and negi, all of which are added to the beef and cooked, mixed with soy sauce, sugar and mirin. To soak up the broth, boiled udon or soba is sometimes added at the end. Sukiyaki is considered the perfect winter dish.


Ramen is originally Chinese food that the Japanese have adapted to their taste. Nowadays, this is one of the staple dishes in Japanese cuisine. Ramen tastes different throughout the country.

It is wheat noodles in a bowl, served in a soy sauce or miso soup, mixed with many kinds of condiments. The most common condiments are slices of pork, green onion, seaweed and egg. Don't forget to make a slurping sound while eating ramen with your chopsticks, as this is something rather common (a sign of appreciation) and not at all impolite!

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Kare Raisu (Rice with Curry)

Curry rice is also a very popular, simple and delicious dish that we can find almost anywhere in Japan. Kare Raisu is just rice with curry but the taste is different from the usual curry rice you can find in your country. Japanese curries are sweeter in flavor, thicker in texture, and prepared more like a stew with meat and vegetables.

It uses a variety of meat and vegetables. The basic vegetables are onions, carrots and sweet potatoes, and the meat used is chicken, pork, beef or sometimes duck. There are different levels of spiciness– soft, regular and hot are the most common.

Explore Japanese Dishes with Asia Highlights

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