This one shouldn’t come as a surprise if you love Japanese cuisine and are looking for more recipe to explore. I’m sure you already tried sushi! Sushi is a slice of fish on top of a ball of compacted rice. The rice can stick together because the sushi chef uses a rice vinegar mix (made with sugar and salt).
Sushi is a simple but still complicated dish to master. The quality of sushi depends on two main factors. First, the fish needs to be as fresh as possible and from the best grade possible. Then, the rice needs to be perfectly cooked and mixed. If the rice is too hard or too sticky, the taste won’t be ideal.
They are so many different types of sushi you try, but the most popular are sushi toro, tuna sushi, and salmon sushi.
Same as sushi, you probably had sashimi before. We are starting this list with the most common Japanese dishes.
Sashimi is merely thin slices of fresh raw fish. They are so many different sashimi types, but the most popular ones are toro or fatty tuna; akami, or red meat of tuna; sake, or salmon; and katsuo, or bonito; among others.
Another Japanese institutional dish is, of course, Ramen! Probably the most popular “fast food” for Japanese workers. You can find a ramen shop on all streets of Japan and now worldwide.
Ramen consists of noodles served in a broth with condiments. Simple right?
That’s where things start to become complicated. You can find a multitude of different types of noodles, broth, and condiments, toppings.
Some ramen use a fish-based broth, some a meat-based broth and even vegetarian broth from selected vegetables. Then you can get sliced pork as a topping (the most popular option) but also can find nori (dried seaweed), boiled egg, beans, Menma (bamboo shoots), kakuni (braised pork), corn, wakame.
So many options to explore! Let’s try them all.
Another phenomenal dish from Japan, tempura is simply a food friend in a batter using a unique technique. Shrimp, scallops, squids, and crab usually processed and covered in tempura batter before they get fried in boiling cooking oil.
The tempura batter, on the other hand, is composed of wheat flour, egg, baking soda, starch, oil, and other spices and mixed with ice-cold water.
5. Kare raisu - Curry Rice
Undeniably, Japanese curry rice is among the most loved Japanese dish. Easy to prepare, the Japanese curry has a unique flavor distinct from its Indian origin and British influence. If the usual curry requires several different spices, the Japanese style only needs curry powder, bay leaves, chili, and the secret ingredient, tomato.
Okonomiyaki is a pan-fried dish that is made from cabbage and a special batter, topped with selected ingredients depending on one’s preference. Actually, the word ‘okonomi’ means ‘to one’s liking.’
There are two ways of preparing okonomiyaki—there is the Kansai-style, which is also called as the Osaka-style where the ingredients are mixed. On the other hand, the Hiroshima-style of cooking okonomiyaki involves cooking the batter like a thin crepe while the rest of the ingredients are cooked separately.
With paper-thin slices of tender meat and fresh vegetables cooked together, the shabu-shabu is a popular style of nabemono or Japanese hot pot. The only difference is that the shabu-shabu ingredients are served raw and cooked during a meal, just like a fondue.
8. Miso soup
Savory miso soup is a staple in every Japanese dining table. It is made up of two primary ingredients, such as dashi and miso. There is a lot of different components that can be added to the basic miso soup.
Yakitori means ‘grilled chicken,’ but its complexity and variety are a lot more than the usual. Yakitori is served with a dipping sauce made from soy and rice wine. The chicken is first dipped into the sauce before they hit the charcoal or gas grill. Halfway through the grilling, the meat is once again glazed with the sauce.
Onigiri is a Japanese fast food made with rice, filling, and nori or dried seaweed formed into a black sheet. Cooked rice is packed by hands, and sauces were squeezed through it. For centuries, onigiri is the to-go food to take during long travels as they can be quickly eaten with one hand.
Udon is a thick noodle made from wheat flour. Though it is thick, it has the right amount of chewiness and flavor. It is prevalent in Japan, and one can have a helping of this meal in every region in Japan though there might be some notable regional differences in terms of naming.
Udon noodles may be served in hot broth soup, thick curry sauce, or enjoyed cold with a dipping sauce.
Soba, on the other hand, are thin and delicate noodles, a couple of inches shorter than spaghetti. Their light grayish-brown color has a deep, nutty flavor. Soba is best enjoyed with a mild broth or simple dressing.
Soba noodles are the food of choice of those who are on a diet because it is low in fat and calories. Its main ingredient, the buckwheat flour offers many health benefits and is rich in nutrients like Vitamin B, fiber, iron, protein, and carbohydrates.
A rice bowl dish topped with beef and onions and simmered in soy sauce. It is a Japanese comfort food than can be quickly cooked at home using a few ingredients. Some gyudon recipes require adding in dashi and sake, though these are not necessary.
Derived from the English words “omelet and rice,” omurice is a popular meal amongst Japanese children. This dish is easily prepared at home, not to mention that it is a tasty dish.
Consist of thin omellete covering sweet-tasting fried rice made with ketchup and vegetables, the omurice’s ingredients have evolved over the years. Sometimes, these are prepared with small pieces of chicken and pork inside.
Made from pork cutlet and rice, a katsudon dish is often served in restaurants and has long been part of the Japanese food tradition.
The word ‘katsudon’ is derived from two Japanese words, “tonkatsu” referring to pork cutlets and “donburi,” which means “large bowl. So, in essence, tonkatsu means a large pot of tonkatsu.
Yuba is the product you’ll get after heating soy milk. Yuba, or the film, forms on the surface of the milk while the cream and protein rise to the surface. It might not look good for others, but the Japanese keep it for its high nutritional value. As a byproduct of soy, yuba is high in protein, iron, and a little cholesterol.
17. Dumplings – Gyoza
Otherwise called potstickers, dumplings are made from a wheat flour dough, jiaozi or dumplings are served as a delicious side dish, not only in Japan but in Asia, as a whole. It is a dough wrapper made from wheat flour and filled with meat and vegetables. They are served either steamed, pan-fried, deep-fried, or boiled.
Gyoza, on the other hand, is almost the same with dumplings, except that it has thinner dumpling wrapper and the fillings are more finely chopped. Gyoza is distinct for its crispy texture, so it is commonly fried but may also be served steamed.
Yakiniku stands for ‘grilled meat’ in Japanese. Though in other countries, pork is more popularly used for yakiniku, Japanese uses beef. In restaurants, the meat is served raw, and the diners themselves will grill it. Unlike steaks, beef for yakiniku are sliced thinly and the best time to grill the meat is when the grill net has already heated up.
Sukiyaki is a dish made of beef and vegetables prepared in a nabemono, or one-pot, style. The dish is cooked in a shallow iron pot over charcoal or in any portable heat source. After frying thin slices of beef in oil until they get brown, a sauce composed of stock, soy sauce, and sugar is added to it. Vegetables, as well as tofu, mushrooms, onions, and shirataki, are added and quickly cooked.
A classic Japanese food, tonkatsu is a breaded pork, deep-fried and served as a full meal with a side dish such as miso soup. Aside from helping with rice, tonkatsu may also be eaten as a sandwich filling. Nevertheless, it is eaten with a thick sauce known as tonkatsu sauce or soup.
Another dish prepared with batter and fried in oil, karaage’s ingredients are marinated beforehand and covered with flour, or katakuriko. Though chicken is the popular choice for karaage, root vegetables, fish, and squid are also some of the alternatives.
Karaage is a popular accompaniment for alcoholic beverages and are often served in bite sizes. Aside from that, karaage is also commonly eaten as a side in bento and in home meals.
A dish originated centuries ago from Hokkaido, robatayaki, or robata is cooked in authentic Japanese style. The term means ‘fireside cooking’ as Hokkaido fishermen created a unique means of cooking by encasing binchotan charcoals into stone boxes. These type of coal is free from chemicals and nearly smokeless. As such, it preserves the authentic flavors and juice of the food.
Gyutan yaki is grilled beef tongue created by a Yakitori restaurant owner from Sendai after the second world war, at a time of food shortage. The beef tongue, or gyutan, is grilled over a charcoal flame or in a teppan skillet and seasoned with salt or soy sauce-based tare sauce. Aside from grilling, gyutan may be served yakiniku-style, donburi-style, or katsu-style.
Chanko-nabe is a staple food of sumo wrestlers as they consume the dish every day to build up strength. There is actually no hard-and-fast rule as to what goes into the pot. Soup stock is heated in a bowl, and ingredients such as chicken, tofu, and vegetables are added in.
In cooking a one-pot meal, the usual practice is to drop in some ingredients, eat, and then, dump in some more. In the case of chanko nabe, everything must simmer first in a pot together, to bring out the flavors. After all, ingredients were already consumed, udon noodles or rice follows, and get eaten, as well. The thick soup must also be finished up to the last drop.
Another nabe, or one-pot stew, motsunabe is a dish with offal or internal organs of cows and pigs as main ingredients. Motsu is considered to be one of the most popular foods in Japan not only because of its taste, but because it is also very cheap. Some may find this dish unappetizing; it contains collage, which is considered to have beautifying effects.
Basically a rice ball, onigiri can be eaten for breakfast, as a snack, or a meal to go. It may be or may not be covered in nori, and other ingredients such as pickled plums, natto, tempura, tuna, mayo, and fish may be added to make it healthier and tastier.
27. Unagi-no-kabayaki (eel)
Grilled eel has been a popular dish in Japan since the Edo period. Though it was a common, inexpensive meal for many Japanese at that time, the dwindling population of eel has made the dish a luxurious one. The unagi no kabayaki dish is usually served with freshly steamed white rice.
Kani is the Japanese word for crab. It has been a misconception that kani refers to foods which imitate the taste of crab which is actually called as either Kani surimi, or minced fish or meat, or kamaboko, which literally translates into fish paste. However, nothing beats the real Kani, with the King Crab of Hokkaido being the tastiest. Kani may be enjoyed in a salad, in soup or nabe, in a shabu shabu, and others.
The term ‘yakizakana’ is a general term for all Japanese-style grilled fish served whole. The fish may be salted, or cooked with teriyaki flavor, and so on. It usually forms part of a traditional Japanese breakfast. A yakizakana dish is served as the sixth meal of a traditional Japanese meal taken in courses, which is also referred to as Kaiseki Ryori.
Another fish dish, NIzakama uses smaller fish to simmer as a whole, poached and sweetened using dashi stock and typically flavored with either soy sauce or miso soup. This dish falls into a broader category of boiled foods called nimono.
Another one of Japanese grilled dishes, but this time, it’s lamb meat. The meat is prepared using a convex metal skillet or grill. This dish is popular in the northern island of Hokkaido and in China, as well.
Kushikatsu is a deep-fried skewered meat and vegetables. It can be made with either chicken, pork, seafood, and seasonal vegetables, dipped in egg, flour, and panko. They are usually served by itself or with a tonkatsu sauce.
A hotpot dish traditionally is eaten during winter days; it consists of various ingredients simmered in soy-flavored dashi stock, sake, and mirin. This nourishing food traces its origin way back to the Muromachi period.
The term literally means pork grilled in ginger. Thin slices of pork are marinated in a simple, gingery sauce and pan-fried until they are golden brown. The recipe was thought to have originated from a Tonkatsu restaurant in Ginza, about 70 years ago.
Sometimes thought to be somewhat dangerous to eat, fugu, or pufferfish, is served in various restaurants in Japan. However, there are stringent rules to follow before fugu can be included in the menu. Chefs must undergo two to three years of intense training before they can be allowed to serve the dish in their own restaurants.
Primarily made from meat and potatoes, nikujaga is one of the staple Japanese weekday dinner dishes. The meat and potatoes are stewed in soy sauce sweetened with mirin and sugar.
A famous Japanese snack, takoyaki traces its roots from Osaka circa the 1930s. The name means baked octopus in Japanese. It is actually a ball-shaped snack made from wheat-based batter and contains various different fillings and toppings.
A stir-fried noodle dish cooked with pork and vegetables and seasoned with a sweet and savory sauce; yakisoba has become an icon for Japanese street food. It is easy to prepare and cook using an iron plate called teppan. Food stalls selling yakisoba are often found at school events, festivals, snack shops, and others.
A Japanese mixed rice dish, kamameshi is cooked using a ceramic or iron pot. The rice is mixed with soy sauce and mirin, a sweet wine commonly used for cooking, and other ingredients such as meat, seafood, vegetables, fruits, and nuts. The rice is served in the same pot where it was cooked.
Though it literally means grilled egg in Japanese, Tamagoyaki is actually rolled omelet cooked with full cream milk, dashi powder, mirin, light soy sauce, white sugar, and water. The cooked tamagoyaki is served in even slices, either hot or chilled.
Tofu is a by-product of soy and also called as bean curd. Soy milk coagulates, and the resulting curds are pressed into a solid white block. Gluten-free and low in calories, tofu has been a common ingredient of East Asian and Southeast Asian cuisines.
An egg custard dish usually served as a dish in a meal; chawanmushi is an egg mixture flavored with soy sauce, mirin, and dashi and other ingredients such as mushroom, ginkgo, and boiled shrimp. Since chopsticks cannot pick up egg custard, it is one dish that can only be eaten using a spoon.
Japanese pickles are stapled food and essential part of the Japanese diet. They are valued for their unique flavor and are commonly used as garnishing, relish, condiment, palate cleanser, or as a digestive. Radish, cucumber, eggplant, carrot, cabbage, water lily root, ginger, shallots, and plums are some of the fruits and vegetables used to make tsukemono.
44. Tamago Kake Gohan
A famous Japanese breakfast food, Tamago kake Gohan, or tamago gohan, is cooked Japanese rice topped or mixed with raw egg and soy sauce. The egg may be beaten or not, and there are times when only the yolk is used.
A popular plant-based snack, edamame are immature soybeans prepared with a pinch of salt and are added to soups, stews, salad, and noodle dishes. When eaten as a snack, the pods are either boiled or steamed and are blanched in saltwater.
Japanese people have found another use for leftover rice through chazuke recipe. Green tea, dashi, or hot water is poured over cooked rice and served with salty toppings or pickled vegetables, seafood, seaweeds, and other Japanese ingredients.
47. Kobe beef
A wagyu beef raised in Hyogo Prefecture, the meat is considered a Japanese delicacy and is valued for its flavor, tenderness, and texture. The quality of Kobe beef is graded on its quality and yield using a wagyu grading system.
Mochi is a Japanese rice cake made from mochigome, or short-grain japonica variety of glutinous rice. The rice is cooked with other ingredients such as water, sugar, and cornstarch pounded into a paste and molded into the desired shape.
49. Nikumaki onigiri
A small, fist-sized rice ball wrapped in pork and bacon slices and baked on a hot iron plate seasoned with sweet soy sauce, this Japanese dish is usually prepared during festivals because of the appetizing flavor of the baked meat and rice.
50. Melon Pan
A sweet bun from Japan, the melon pan is made from enriched dough which is covered with a thin layer of crisp cookie dough shaped like a melon. Crunchy and sweet, they are super soft and fluffy inside.
51. Sweet potatoes
Various names are used to refer to this variety of potatoes which is very common in Japan and are currently grown in the United States and in other regions of the world. It is high in anti-oxidants that the regular white potatoes.
A one-dish meal with toppings, donburi rice bowls are served with fish, meat, vegetables, and other ingredients. These are served in an oversized bowls called donburi-bachi. The varieties of donburi are named depending on their toppings.
A portion of traditional Japanese food made from fermented soybeans usually eaten as a breakfast food, natto has an acquired taste, intense flavor, and sticky texture. Wrapped in rice straw, natto contains a lot of health benefits as it naturally has bacillus subtilis.
54. Kaiseki Ryori
A traditional multi-course Japanese dinner, Kaiseki Ryori is composed of simple meals served during tea ceremony but has evolved to become a refined haute cuisine popular among the elite circles. The term may also refer to the skills and techniques used to prepare the meals.
Traditional Japanese confections, wagashi are often served with tea and made in a variety of shapes and consistencies using different ingredients and preparation methods. Wagashi is actually a generic term used for Japanese-style confections that do include not only sweets but also savory snacks such as arare and wasabi peas.
56. Takikomi Gohan
A mixed rice recipe seasoned with dashi and soy sauce and cooked with mushrooms, vegetables, meat or fish, takikomi gohan is served freshly cooked for dinner but may also be served cold in bento.
57. Japanese cheesecake
Also called as cotton cheesecake or light cheesecake, Japanese cheesecake is a sponge cake which has a fluffy texture produced by whipping egg white and egg yolk separately.
Traditional food prepared in households throughout Nagano Prefecture, oyaki is a Japanese dumpling made from fermented buckwheat dough wrapped around vegetables, fruits, or anko bean paste, and then roasted on an iron pan.
Basically, tsukemen is a ramen dish but with chewy noodles dipped in a separate bowl of thick and dense soup or broth. Aside from the noodles, it also has pork and green onions and topped with bamboo shoots, eggs, mushrooms, bean sprouts, and others.
Teishoku is a type of Japanese set meal but is different in such a way that all meals are served together based on the ichiju-issai, or ‘one soup, one side,’ traditional meals usually offered in temples.
A brand of chocolate-covered wafer bar confection produced by Nestle, Kitkat was created by Rowntree’s of York. In Japanese, the name Kit Kat is usually connected to the phrase “Kitto Kattu,” which means “You will surely win.”
Another Japanese dumpling, Dango, is made from mochiko or rice flour and served with green tea. It is eaten year-round, but the variety depends on the season.
A noodle dish from the regional cuisine of Nagasaki, a champon is a dish with fried pork, seafood, and vegetables with lard. Ramen noodles made explicitly from champon are added to the soup, and then everything is put into a boil.
Beef cutlets are breaded and deep-fried just like tonkatsu. This dish has only become popular recently. The beef slices are sprinkled with seasoning and then coated with breadcrumbs. After it has been deep-fried for approximately one minute, the meat becomes brown and crispy on the outside and red inside.
Nabe means ‘hot pot’ in Japanese and is a classic winter food in Japan. It is a stew of meat, fish, and vegetables cooked in a lidded clay pot. It is a very nutritious dish seasoned with dashi, soy sauce, and sake.
Thin noodles made of wheat flour. The dough is stretched to make skinny strips using vegetable oil and then, air-dried. Somen noodles are hot soup called nyumen while chilled somen is enjoyed during the summer months in Japan.
Also called as Tako Wasabi by English speakers, takowasa is a popular side dish made from raw octopus heavily flavored with Japanese horseradish.
Teppanyaki actually refers to the style of Japanese cuisine that uses an iron griddle to cook a meal. Teppan is a metal plate where food is prepared, and the word yaki may mean grilled, broiled, or pan-fried.
A Japanese cake shaped like a fish, taiyaki is usually filled with sweet red bean paste but may also be filled with custard, matcha cream, chocolate, and even cheese.
Similar to French croquette, korokke is composed of breaded, deep-fried patties filled with mashed potatoes or cream sauce, coming in a variety of flavors.
Ikayaki is a baked or grilled squid which is an easy and delicious side dish that goes well with chilled sake. The squid is served with the rings cut off from its body, including one or more tentacles, depending on its size.
Often enjoyed as a side dish to a bowl of steamed rice or as a filling, mentaiko is a spicy coe rod or Pollock eggs which are marinated in chili, sake, konbu, and yuzi citrus.
Grilled marinated offal meat over charcoal, the hormone is popular among Japanese because the organ meat, giblets, and others are believed to restore stamina and nutrients in the body.
Grilled or broiled collar or yellowtail fish, which is the fattiest and juiciest part, Hamachi kama with clean, bright flavors of pickled vegetables.
Ume fruits, a cross between apricot and plum, are pickled and salted. The salty and very sour umeboshi are eaten daily in Japanese households because of its health benefits.
Agedashi dofu means lightly deep-fried tofu in Japanese. Silken but firm tofu are cut into cubes and lightly dusted with potato starch or cornstarch, and they fried until they turn golden brown.
A bowl of sushi rice topped with raw fish, chirashizushi is often garnished with shredded egg, nori, or shiso. Other toppings may include certain seafood such as prawn.
A classic Japanese dish often served on New Year’s day; a chikuzenni is a dish which originated from northern Kyushu and is made of braised chicken and vegetables.
A kind of hot pot dish where tofu is cooked in boiling water served with tangy Ponzu sauce for dipping.
80. Hiyashi chukka
A delicious savory dish made from chilled ramen noodles topped with shredded egg, ham, cucumber, and ginger served in Japanese soy or sesame sauce.
Senbei is a type of Japanese rice cracker baked or grilled, brushed with soy sauce and mirin, and wrapped with a layer of nori.
Another traditional dish served during special occasions such as New Year, the birth of a baby, birthdays, festivals, weddings, and other, sekihan is rice cooked with red beans.
83. Wakame salad
Wakame is a dark green, leafy seaweed which is commonly used for salad. Highly nutritious, wakame can add a range of vitamins and minerals to a person’s diet.
A Japanese dish made from marine animals such as squid, fermented in its own guts, shokara goes well with a glass of shochu.
85. Goya Chanpuru
A favorite bitter melon stir fry dish, goya chanpuru is made with vibrant green goya, soy sauce, tofu, pork, and egg. Not only enjoyed as a dish to beat the summer fatigue, but this food will also get you energized for the autumn season.
Traditional food with soup with rice cakes such as mochi heated in a bowl and poured with soup and then garnished. Other ingredients include shrimp, gelatin, dakon radish, carrot, dashi, and soy sauce.
Kinpira Gobo is a dish of braised burdock root and carrot cooked in the sweet and salty sauce. It involves the Japanese cooking method, which is a combination of sautéing and simmering.
A Japanese rice porridge, rice is cooked with stock to add flavor. A very comforting dish made simply with a few toppings such as green onion, sesame seeds, and pickled apricots or plums.
Futomaki is a type of Japanese sushi formed into a long and thick roll, and with rice and filling wrapped in dried, roasted nori. These are further sliced into smaller bite-sized pieces.
A fried tofu fritter made with carrots, lotus roots, and burdock, gandomoki is eaten as it is or is cooked in a broth.
Umibudo is green seaweeds which resemble the shape of a small grape which is preserved and harvested in seawater rich in minerals.
Tonjiru literally means pig or pork soup flavored with miso and vegetables. Because of its complex flavor, this soup is usually enjoyed during dinner.
93. Ebi Furai
Also called as Ebi Fry, it is one of the Yoshuku, or Japanese-style western dish enjoyed in Japan. The main ingredient, the large prawn, is covered in bread crumbs before it gets deep-fried.
Oshizushi are made by pressing blocks of rice and sushi toppings into a mold to create perfect rectangles which are layered with various toppings.
Another type of sushi, gunkan maki is topped with ikura, or fish eggs, and wrapped with nori sheet. Popular toppings for gunkan maki include sea urchin, squid, salmon, fatty tuna belly, and green onion.
Eaten as a side dish or added to noodles, Tororo is a sticky food made from grated yam and mixed with other food that includes dashi, wasabi, and green onions.
Gomaae is another Japanese side dish made with vegetable and sesame dressing. A healthy vegetarian recipe, it is an easy-to-prepare dish than can be eaten with a lot of different dishes.
Temaki is hand-rolled sushi with a sizeable cone-shaped seaweed spilling out on a wide end. It is made from a variety of ingredients—that almost includes fish—and is commonly eaten with one’s fingers.
Tofuyu is, simply, fermented tofu which has a rich flavor like cheese. It is fermented in a solution made with rice koji.
Rich in dietary fiber and essential minerals such as calcium, iron, and magnesium, hijiki is a brown sea vegetable that grows on rocky coastlines around Japan, Korea, and China.
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