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What Japanese Dishes Should I Try?

Discover the must-try Japanese dishes that will take your taste buds on an unforgettable journey. From sushi and ramen to tempura and tonkatsu, explore the flavors of Japan in this informational post.

What Japanese Dishes Should I Try?

If you’re craving an adventurous culinary journey, look no further than the world of Japanese cuisine. From tantalizing sushi rolls to sizzling bowls of ramen, the Japanese food scene offers a delightful array of flavors and textures. Whether you’re a seafood lover or a fan of comforting street food, this article will guide you through some must-try dishes that will transport your taste buds to the bustling streets of Tokyo. Get ready to embark on a delicious exploration of Japanese cuisine!

What Japanese Dishes Should I Try?


Sushi is a beloved Japanese dish that has gained popularity all around the world. It is a true culinary delight, showcasing the freshness and flavors of the ocean. There are various types of sushi, each with its own unique characteristics and flavors. Let’s explore some of the most popular ones.


Nigiri sushi is a classic and widely recognized type of sushi. It consists of a small mound of vinegared sushi rice topped with a thin slice of fresh seafood. Some common types of nigiri include salmon, tuna, shrimp, and eel. The simplicity of nigiri allows the flavors of the seafood to shine through, making it a favorite among sushi enthusiasts.


Maki sushi is the more familiar sushi roll that most people are familiar with. It is made by wrapping a sheet of seaweed (nori) around sushi rice and various fillings, then sliced into bite-sized pieces. There are countless variations of maki sushi, including California rolls, spicy tuna rolls, and vegetable rolls. Maki sushi is a great option for those who are new to sushi, as it offers a combination of flavors and textures in each bite.


Sashimi is a pure form of sushi that showcases the raw, pristine quality of the seafood. Unlike sushi rolls, sashimi does not include rice or any other fillings. Instead, it consists of thinly sliced pieces of raw fish or seafood, served with soy sauce and wasabi. Sashimi requires the highest quality of ingredients and precise knife skills to achieve the perfect cut. From buttery salmon to delicate slices of yellowtail, sashimi is a true delicacy for seafood lovers.


Ramen is a popular Japanese dish that has captured the hearts (and taste buds) of people all around the world. It is a hearty and comforting noodle soup that is perfect for any time of the year. While there are many regional variations of ramen, let’s explore some of the most well-known types.

Shoyu Ramen

Shoyu ramen is the most common type of ramen, known for its savory and slightly salty flavor. It is made with a soy sauce-based broth, which is rich and complex. The broth is typically simmered with various ingredients such as pork bones, chicken, and vegetables to extract the maximum flavor. Shoyu ramen is often topped with sliced roasted pork (chashu), bamboo shoots, nori, and a soft-boiled egg.

Miso Ramen

Miso ramen originated in Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan, and has gained popularity throughout the country. It features a broth made with fermented soybean paste (miso), which gives it a unique, umami-rich flavor. Miso ramen is often topped with corn, bean sprouts, butter, and sliced roasted pork. The combination of the hearty broth and the rich toppings creates a truly satisfying bowl of noodles.

Tonkotsu Ramen

Tonkotsu ramen is a specialty of Fukuoka, a city in southern Japan. It is characterized by its thick and creamy pork bone broth, which is simmered for hours to extract the collagen and marrow. The result is a velvety smooth broth that is full of flavor. Tonkotsu ramen is typically topped with thin slices of pork belly (kakuni), marinated bamboo shoots, green onions, and a soft-boiled egg. This rich and indulgent ramen is a must-try for those who enjoy bold and flavorful dishes.


Tempura is a popular Japanese dish that consists of battered and deep-fried seafood, vegetables, or other ingredients. It is known for its light and crispy texture, making it a delightful treat for both the eyes and the palate. Let’s explore some of the most common types of tempura.

Ebi Tempura

Ebi tempura refers to shrimp tempura, which is one of the most popular variations of this dish. The shrimp is coated in a light batter made from flour, egg, and water, then deep-fried until golden and crispy. The result is a succulent and juicy shrimp encased in a delicate, airy crust. Ebi tempura is often served with a dipping sauce and accompanied by grated daikon radish.

Vegetable Tempura

Vegetable tempura is a vegetarian-friendly option that showcases the natural flavors and textures of various vegetables. Common vegetables used for tempura include zucchini, eggplant, sweet potato, and mushrooms. The vegetables are sliced into thin pieces, coated in the same light batter as ebi tempura, and deep-fried until golden and crispy. Vegetable tempura is a great way to enjoy the freshness of seasonal produce.


Kakiage is a type of tempura that is made by thinly slicing various vegetables and mixing them together before frying. The vegetables are typically seasoned with a touch of soy sauce or salt to enhance the flavors. Kakiage tempura is often served as a topping for udon or soba noodles, adding a delightful crunch and flavor to the dish.


Okonomiyaki is a savory pancake that hails from the Kansai region of Japan. It is a popular street food and is often cooked on a large griddle right in front of you. Okonomiyaki loosely translates to “grilled as you like it,” and true to its name, it allows for a wide variety of toppings and fillings. Let’s explore two popular styles of okonomiyaki.

Osaka Style Okonomiyaki

Osaka style okonomiyaki is the most common and well-known style of this dish. It consists of a batter made from flour, eggs, and shredded cabbage, mixed together with various ingredients such as sliced pork, seafood, and green onions. The batter is then cooked on a hot griddle until golden and crispy. Osaka style okonomiyaki is typically topped with a variety of savory and sweet sauces, mayonnaise, bonito flakes, and dried seaweed.

Hiroshima Style Okonomiyaki

Hiroshima style okonomiyaki is a variation that originated in Hiroshima, a city in western Japan. It is known for its distinctive layering technique, where each ingredient is cooked separately and stacked on top of each other. The base layer consists of batter and shredded cabbage, followed by layers of thinly sliced pork, bean sprouts, yakisoba noodles, and a fried egg. Hiroshima style okonomiyaki is often drizzled with a thick and savory sauce, along with other toppings such as green onions and pickled ginger.

What Japanese Dishes Should I Try?


Udon is a type of thick wheat noodle that is commonly enjoyed in Japan. It is known for its chewy texture and ability to absorb flavors and sauces. Udon noodles are typically served in a hot or cold broth, accompanied by various toppings. Let’s explore some popular udon dishes.

Kake Udon

Kake udon is the simplest and most basic form of udon. It consists of udon noodles served in a hot broth made from soy sauce, dashi (a type of Japanese stock), and mirin (a sweet rice wine). Kake udon is often garnished with sliced green onions and can be enjoyed as is or with additional toppings such as tempura or grated daikon radish.

Kitsune Udon

Kitsune udon is a popular variation of udon that features deep-fried tofu (aburaage) as a topping. The sweet and savory flavor of the tofu complements the simplicity of the udon broth. Kitsune udon is often garnished with sliced green onions and can be enjoyed with additional toppings such as tempura or seaweed.

Tempura Udon

Tempura udon is a hearty and satisfying dish that combines crispy tempura with chewy udon noodles. It typically consists of udon noodles served in a hot broth, topped with various pieces of tempura such as shrimp, vegetables, or fish. Tempura udon is a favorite among those who appreciate the contrast between the crispy texture of the tempura and the chewiness of the noodles.


Soba is a type of thin buckwheat noodle that is highly regarded in Japanese cuisine. It is known for its nutty flavor and delicate texture. Soba noodles can be enjoyed hot or cold, and they pair well with a variety of dipping sauces. Let’s explore some popular soba dishes.

Zaru Soba

Zaru soba is a simple and refreshing dish that highlights the purity of the soba noodles. It consists of chilled soba noodles served on a bamboo mat (zaru) and accompanied by a dipping sauce. The dipping sauce is made from soy sauce, dashi, and mirin, and can be garnished with sliced green onions, grated daikon radish, or wasabi. Zaru soba is a popular choice during the hot summer months, as its cold and refreshing nature provides relief from the heat.

Kitsune Soba

Kitsune soba is a type of soba dish that features deep-fried tofu (aburaage) as a topping. The sweetness of the tofu complements the earthy flavors of the soba noodles, creating a harmonious combination. Kitsune soba is typically served with a hot broth made from soy sauce and dashi, and can be enjoyed with additional toppings such as sliced green onions or tempura.

Tempura Soba

Tempura soba is a dish that combines the best of both worlds – crispy tempura and flavorful soba noodles. It consists of soba noodles served in a hot broth, topped with pieces of tempura such as shrimp, vegetables, or fish. The contrasting textures and flavors of the crispy tempura and the delicate soba noodles create a satisfying and well-rounded dish.

What Japanese Dishes Should I Try?


Yakitori is a type of grilled skewered chicken that originated in Japan. It is a popular dish that can be found in various izakayas (Japanese pubs) and street food stalls. Yakitori showcases the art of grilling and highlights the flavors of different cuts of chicken. Let’s explore some popular types of yakitori.


Negima is a classic yakitori dish that features skewered pieces of chicken thigh, alternating with pieces of green onion. The chicken thigh is marinated in a soy-based sauce, then grilled to perfection. The combination of the tender and juicy chicken with the slight char from the grill creates a flavorful and aromatic bite. Negima yakitori is often served with a dipping sauce and can be enjoyed as a snack or as part of a meal.


Tsukune is a type of yakitori that is made from ground chicken meat, which is seasoned with various spices and shaped into meatballs. The meatballs are skewered and grilled until golden and juicy. Tsukune yakitori is often coated with a sweet and savory sauce, such as tare or teriyaki sauce, which caramelizes on the grill and creates a delicious glaze. Tsukune is a popular choice among yakitori enthusiasts for its flavorful and succulent texture.


Momo is a simple and classic yakitori dish that consists of skewered pieces of chicken thigh meat. The chicken thighs are grilled until tender and slightly charred, resulting in a flavorful and juicy bite. Momo yakitori can be enjoyed as is or brushed with a sauce for added flavor. Its simplicity and deliciousness make it a popular choice among yakitori lovers.


Tonkatsu is a beloved Japanese dish that features a breaded and deep-fried cutlet of pork. It is a dish that is sure to delight meat lovers with its crispy exterior and juicy interior. Let’s explore two popular types of tonkatsu.

Pork Tonkatsu

Pork tonkatsu is the most common and widely enjoyed type of tonkatsu. It is made by coating a pork cutlet with flour, egg, and breadcrumbs, then deep-frying it until golden and crispy. The result is a mouthwatering piece of pork that is tender on the inside and crunchy on the outside. Pork tonkatsu is often served with a side of shredded cabbage, a tangy tonkatsu sauce, and a bowl of steamed rice. This classic Japanese dish is a must-try for meat lovers.

Chicken Tonkatsu

Chicken tonkatsu is a variation of tonkatsu that replaces the pork cutlet with a chicken cutlet. The chicken is prepared in the same way as the pork, resulting in a crispy and flavorful chicken cutlet. Chicken tonkatsu is a lighter alternative to the pork version, making it a popular choice among those who prefer poultry. It is typically served with the same accompaniments as the pork tonkatsu, allowing you to enjoy the same delicious flavors in a different form.

What Japanese Dishes Should I Try?


Kaiseki is a traditional multi-course Japanese meal that is often considered the epitome of fine dining in Japan. It is an artful and elegant culinary experience that takes you on a journey of flavors and textures. Let’s explore two types of kaiseki.

Kaiseki Ryori

Kaiseki ryori is the standard form of kaiseki that is often enjoyed on special occasions or at high-end restaurants. It consists of multiple courses that are meticulously prepared and presented with great attention to detail. Each course is thoughtfully designed to highlight the seasonality and uniqueness of the ingredients, and the flavors range from delicate and subtle to bold and rich. Kaiseki ryori is not just a meal, but a cultural experience that allows you to appreciate the beauty and harmony of Japanese cuisine.

Kaiseki Veggie Cuisine

Kaiseki veggie cuisine is a vegetarian version of kaiseki that showcases the creativity and versatility of plant-based ingredients. Like traditional kaiseki, it consists of multiple courses that are carefully crafted to bring out the natural flavors and textures of the vegetables. From fresh seasonal salads to simmered vegetables and creatively prepared tofu dishes, kaiseki veggie cuisine offers a delightful and satisfying dining experience for vegetarians and vegans. It is a testament to the ingenuity and innovation of Japanese cuisine.


Takoyaki is a popular street food that originated in Osaka, Japan. It is a ball-shaped snack made from a batter filled with diced octopus, green onions, and tempura scraps. Takoyaki is cooked in special takoyaki pans, which have round molds that create the signature shape of the snack. The balls are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, with a sweet and savory flavor. Let’s explore some popular types of takoyaki.

Traditional Takoyaki

Traditional takoyaki is the classic version of this beloved snack. It features a batter made from flour, eggs, and dashi (Japanese stock), filled with diced octopus, green onions, and tempura scraps. The batter is poured into the takoyaki pan, and as it cooks, it is continuously turned to create the round shape. Traditional takoyaki is usually served with a drizzle of takoyaki sauce, a sprinkle of bonito flakes, and a dollop of mayonnaise.

Octopus-Free Takoyaki

For those who are not fond of octopus or prefer a vegetarian option, octopus-free takoyaki is a great alternative. Instead of octopus, this version is filled with various ingredients such as mushrooms, cheese, or crispy corn. The rest of the process remains the same, with the batter poured into the takoyaki pan and cooked until golden and crispy. Octopus-free takoyaki offers a different flavor profile while still capturing the essence of this popular snack.

Modern Fusion Takoyaki

Modern fusion takoyaki takes inspiration from different cuisines and adds unique twists to the classic dish. It can feature fillings such as kimchi, bacon, or cheese. The toppings can also vary, ranging from spicy sauces to fusion ingredients like avocado or teriyaki chicken. Modern fusion takoyaki brings a new level of creativity and excitement to the traditional snack, making it a fun and adventurous choice for those looking to try something different.

In conclusion, Japanese cuisine offers a wide variety of delectable dishes that cater to different tastes and preferences. From the elegance of sushi to the heartiness of noodles and the indulgence of deep-fried delights, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Whether you’re a seafood lover, a meat enthusiast, or a vegetarian, Japanese cuisine has a wealth of flavors and textures to satisfy your cravings. So why not embark on a culinary adventure and explore the diverse and delicious world of Japanese food? You won’t be disappointed!

What Japanese Dishes Should I Try?

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