What Japanese food should I try in Japan?

What food should you try in Japan? Well here’s a rundown of the top ten or so interesting Japanese foods. Depending on the area of Japan there will be some local delicacy that you should also check out!

1. Sushi

Sushi is great. It’s cheap and there are lots of different things to try. Sushi basically includes anything on top of vingeared rice (Spam sushi available at a certain Tokyo sushi shop). Sushi is often eaten with miso soup, green tea, sake or Japanese beer. Usually there will be small bowl. Pour your sauce in and mix some wasabi in too. You can dip sushi in the bowl. Eat the sushi with hands or chopsticks.

Sushi from PartsnPieces flickr images!
Sushi is best eaten in whatever shop is closest to the fish market. There are two types of restaurant. One is the rotating belt sushi. Grab whatever you want off the belt. Each item is on a plate, the plates come in five or so colours. The colour represents the price from 100yen (or lower) to around 500yen. You can also ask the sushi chef to whip you something up off the menu.

The second type of restaurant is more expensive and has no belt. You sit at or near a bar and call out what you’d like to the sushi chef. He cuts it up and it’s brought to you. These places are often more expensive but unless you know the restaurant you’re not guaranteed higher quality.

Recommend: Inuagi (eel) with thick soy sauce

Don’t bother with: Crab with crab brains. The sushi will look like normal crab but with a thick yellow mustard next to or on top of it. This is not mustard it’s pureed brains and it tastes like pain.

2. Sashimi

Sashimi is raw sea food. Slices of raw fish, squid, some times shell fish and prawns. It’s eaten for celebrations in Japan as well as normal meal now and again. Sashimi goes best with sake. It is also eaten with wasabi and maybe displayed on wasabi leaves.

Sushi from etsai's flickr images!
Lots of places serve sashimi. Japan has a lot of cheap eateries called Izukaiyas that are often jam packed. An Izukaiya is a little like an English pub but with greater emphasis on eating – people go there to drink a lot and eat. These places will serve sashimi and it will be extremely reasonable though perhaps not the best ingredients.

Exclusive sashimi places can be quite expensive and sashimi is usually eaten as part of a larger meal rather than alone. It’s best to inquire with a Japanese person who knows the area if you want to find out where the best places are.

Recommend: Maguro raw tuna fish, it’s quite red but has extremely fresh pleasant taste.
Don’t bother with: Nothing – try it all! A word of warning is that sometimes especially at big parties raw horse maybe served and some times even raw bear! (Especially near mountainous areas)

3. Ramen

Ramen from Rhosoi flickr images!
Ramen is originally from China, I know! But it is the most popular dish in Japan. People here love their ramen – it’s the Japanese fast food. It’s basically a very greasy stock with freshly made noodles added. That’s the basis of all ramen. The stock itself might be flavoured with ginger, garlic, pepper or any number of different things.

It’s quite common to have slices of pork on the top, as well as fresh green vegetables that give a pleasing crunchy texture. Popular at the moment is mozzarella cheese especially among woman. This is melted on top of the noodles.

It’s often eaten after drinking. A ramen bowl is usually pretty big and very hot. It’s also cheap, one of the cheapest foods in Japan! Ramen is eaten with a big soup spoon for tasting and eating the stock and chopsticks for the noodles and other bits. The noodles are very very hot. You grab noodles with the chopsticks pull them free from the big knot of noodles and then eat them.

Noodles are slurped, you suck in the noodles and air which cools them – supposedly bringing out more flavour as well (but I believe this to be dubious). Try not to splash or spit over the people, who you’ll no doubt be eating elbow to elbow with, and you’ll do fine.

Recommend: Chicken base ramen with pork slices and plenty of garlic and ginger!
Don’t bother with: Cup ramen or any of that make it yourself stuff – it tastes nothing like the restaurant ramen.

See the next three recommended Japanese foods.
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