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Japanese Food You Must Try If You’re Visiting The Country

As a globetrotter, you haven’t really experienced a country or understood it’s culture, till you have tasted their food. Would a foreigner understand Indian food culture without tasting dishes like Pav Bhaji, Pani Puri or even Dal Chawal? In the same manner, stepping into Japan and not trying Sushi in the land of its origination would be a sin! Being a sushi lover this was on top of my list. However, on doing a little research, I was surprised by the array of food options the land had to offer. It seemed nothing less than a foodie’s paradise.

Are you travelling to Japan soon or is it on your itinerary in the coming days? Here’s some help from a fellow traveler and foodie.

Classic Japanese Dishes

I. Japanese Curry

The curry was actually brought to Japan by the British. But the Japanese added their own spin to it so what we get as the Japanese Curry today is far different from the British or even the Indian curry. It is called “karē” and consists of a mixture of carrots, potatoes, onions, and beef or pork, with a dark and thick gravy-like sauce . There are three versions to it:

curry rice

curry noodles

curry-filled pastries

With all the above curries one can choose from various add-ons like beef, pork cutlet, or even vegetables. The best place (as per many sources) to have any kind of Japanese curry is CoCo Ichibanya, which has been accredited with being the largest curry chain in the world.

II. Tempura

As Indians, we love anything deep fried. So, tempura would be a big ‘yes’ even for vegetarians. In tempura, individual pieces of seafood like shrimp, or even vegetables are battered and deep fried. This results in a light and crispy dish which is sure to be a delight to the tongue. For vegetarians, this Japanese dish is a good option because with the exception of shrimp, most ingredients used here are vegetables. However, remember to use soy sauce and not the traditional dipping sauce (tentsuyu) which is made from dried fish, as the sauce for dipping. Choose any of the local or world cuisine restaurants to try this dish as they’re all good

III. Okonomiyaki

This dish has been nicknamed ‘Japanese pizza’, why so? Because it allows you to choose ingredients to your liking, to be put on a round base making it a topping-heavy dish just like a regular pizza. The most popular toppings are cabbage, pork belly and green onions. However, there is a ton of variety one can choose from which includes all types of seafood, vegetables, and cheese.

The base batter is a combination of wheat flour, grated yam, eggs, and dashi. Osaka is said to be origin of the dish so try it here to enjoy the best and authentic taste.

Sea Food

Besides the obvious option of sushi (which I’m not going to bore you with) here are a few other great options if you want to tingle your taste buds with Japanese sea food.

I. Unagi

Yes, Rachel and Phoebe were right when they said Unagi is a type of freshwater eel and not the “state of total awareness” which Ross called it to be.

Unagi is a cooked dish (raw eel can be poisonous) served with an eel sauce which is a thick and sweetened soy sauce . It can be ordered in a variety of dishes like sushi, served on top of a rice bowl or grilled over hot coats.

II. Kaisendon

This is a combination dish served with a bowl of sushi rice (which is short-grained rice mixed with a bit of rice vinegar, sugar and salt) topped with fresh sashimi. There are quite a few options available for the topping, ranging from uni and salmon roe to prawn and raw fish. It is recommended to try this dish at a restaurant near a fish market.

Noodles

Besides the obvious and most popular choice of Ramen noodles, here are a few others worth trying:

I. Udon

Brimming with thick and chewy noodles served in a steaming, delicate broth and thinly sliced scallions, this soup is simple as well as satisfying . One can add additional toppings of own preference as well. This is a great option for people traveling on a budget as the price is usually under 5 USD. If in Tokyo, try this dish at Shin Udon which is claimed to be the best place for Udon noodles.

II. Yakisoba

This soup is a stir fried mixture of noodles, veggies, and a sweet and savory sauce. For those unwilling to experiment with new types of food, this is an easy way out. The noodles in this dish are made with wheat flour making it a healthy option too.

Desserts

This one’s for all those with a sweet-tooth.

I. Dango

Have you seen this emoji 🍡 ? But you might not know the emoji is based on a Japanese dessert item called dango. This sweet dish is a skewered rice cake ball grilled over charcoal. It comes in a variety of flavors but the most popular one is the pink, white and green one which is also the inspiration behind the emoji. Mitarashi is another popular variant which is brushed with a sweetened soy sauce glaze while being grilled.

II. Matcha Ice Cream

Are you a green tea lover? Well then this dessert is for you! However, be warned that it can be quite bitter. We suggest pairing it with a vanilla ice cream scoop for a comparatively sweeter experience.

Well, now that we have talked about most of the food delicacies of Japan, you can comfortably plan your food orders while visiting the country. Do let us know about your food experiences and if you tried some new Japanese delicacy.

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