A Foodie’s Guide to Japanese Traditional Culinary Delights

Wed, 18 Nov 2020

Who doesn’t love a little bit of Japanese goodness in their lives?


When you travel, the local food is definitely one of the highlights to look forward to! Known for creating dishes with the freshest ingredients with a unique dining experience, Japanese culinary has been one of the ultimate favorites for foodies worldwide! 


What comes to your head first when you hear “Japanese cuisine”? You might immediately think of sushi, ramen, and bentos. Well, those dishes are well-known for a reason! Although, did you know that Japan has a total of 47 prefectures, where each has a signature local dish? 


That being said, let’s discover some of the unique gems of Japanese cuisine that are not exactly common, yet a must-try when you get the chance to. Check off your culinary bucket list and taste the wonders of Japan through these mouth-watering dishes!


1. Monjayaki


You might’ve heard about the dish Okonomiyaki, but probably not Monjayaki. These two are actually savory, Japanese-style pancakes that generally have the same base ingredients, which is seasoned flour and other ingredients, like cabbages and bean sprouts mixed to a batter that are later cooked in a sizzling iron plate. Although, they actually have a slight difference in the texture, in which Monjayaki ones are thinner and crispier, whereas Okonomiyaki is thick and soft! Monjayaki’s sauce also has a stronger taste since the okonomi sauce is mixed with the batter, where in Okonomiyaki, it’s just poured on top of the dish. Try both to find out which one you like better!


2. Tsukemen


If you have enjoyed various types of ramen but not tsukemen, you’ll definitely miss out! Tsukemen is a type of ramen where the noodles are eaten after being dipped into a separate bowl of broth, which makes the soup taste typically stronger and more flavourful than the normal ramen! The interesting thing with tsukemen is that unlike with usual ramen, you can control how much broth you’d like since you dip the noodles yourselves! Normally topped with slices of your choice of meat, hard-boiled egg and some bamboo shots, tsukemen is a definite must-try for ramen lovers!


3. Sakura Mochi


Spring in Japan is one of the best experiences you could ever imagine! Enjoy a variety of spring festivals, beautiful cherry blossoms, and of course, the seasonal treats! One of them is the Sakura Mochi, a traditional Japanese rice cake with sweetened red or white bean filling, with a pink color to match the cherry blossoms. Sometimes, salted sakura leaves are also wrapped around the mochi for a mix of sweet and salty to create a delicious snack! This treat is often eaten during spring festivals and throughout the season, so if you’re a sweet tooth, better not miss this pretty-looking dessert!


4. Kaiseki


Feel like having an exquisite, fine-dining meal experience? Kaiseki is a series of Japanese traditional course meals with artistic plating and presentation! The dishes are prepared carefully with hand-picked ingredients, and aim to focus on respect and hospitality to create an ultimate dining experience. While the meals can have a variety of selections, chefs usually have a standard course of a Kaiseki meal that includes an appetizer served with sake, a simmered dish, a sashimi dish, a grilled course, and finally, a rice dish! 


5. Kushikatsu


Originated from Osaka, Kushikatsu is a deep-fried meat dish (varying from beef, chicken, pork, seafood, or even vegetables) covered in breadcrumbs and skewered on a stick like yakitori! Dip it on a special sauce and you’re set to enjoy it, both as a snack and a full meal. On a special note, remember to not double-dip your Kushikatsu to the sauce as it’s a part of respecting their etiquette. Eating it together with cabbage also improves your Kushikatsu dining experience!


6. Dango-jiru


Do you recognize Dango as the sweet skewered Japanese dumpling? Well, it can also be made as a savory, soup-y dish, which consists of dumplings, noodles, onions, leeks, shiitake mushrooms with a miso broth! This bowl of goodness is the Oita prefecture signature dish, so make sure to give it a try when you get the chance. More than just being tasty, Dango-jiru is really nutritious as it includes numerous healthy ingredients! Pair your meal with a hot green tea and you’re good to go!


7. Taiyaki


This term Taiyaki literally translates to “baked sea bream”, since the shape of this dish lives up to its name! Though, it’s not an actual fish! Taiyaki is a small, fish-shaped cake with a various choice of fillings such as red bean, custard, chocolate, cheese, and other unique flavors like gyoza and okonomiyaki! These are typically sold in street stalls, with a really affordable price and generous amount of fillings. The perfect treat to snack on while exploring Japan!


Feel Hungry Yet?


Although most of us couldn’t get our hands on these delicious dishes just yet because of the current pandemic, make sure to add them to your culinary bucket list to try when the situation gets better! In the meantime, learning a bit of Japanese phrases might be really beneficial for your future visit.


Learning food terms in Japanese excites us, and we’re sure you will also be delighted to do the same! 


See you in class, Lingobuddies!


Japanese Food

Japanese Traditional Food




Japanese Cuisine

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Japanese Language Learning

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