Japan is famous for its delicious cuisine, and its street food is no exception! We’ve made a list of our 10 favourite Japanese street foods for you to try during your next trip to Japan.
Are you ready? Hang tight! I hope you ate already or else you are just going to be drooling a lot while reading this (haha)!
1 – Yakisoba (fried noodles)
Yakisoba is a stir-fry noodle dish made with pork and vegetables that is often tossed with a Worcestershire-like sauce. It is usually garnished with pickled ginger, katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes), sliced scallions, or aonori (powdered dried seaweed).
This sweet and savory noodle dish is a classic Japanese street food known to be part of Japan’s B-Gourmet menu! (B-Gourmet refers to foods that were made with “A-Class” taste, but were sold at “B-Class” prices, making it affordable for the public to still enjoy).
2 – Takoyaki (octopus balls)
Takoyaki is a ball of batter filled with pieces of octopus, green onions, and ginger. Crisp and gooey, takoyaki is a delicious snack to enjoy.
If you are ever in Osaka Prefecture, also known to be the “Nation’s Kitchen”, then I highly recommend you do not leave without having their takoyaki. As it was first popularized here, they take pride and joy in presenting you this humble dish that is boasting flavor!
3 – Yakiimo (roasted sweet potato)
Japanese sweet potatoes are carefully slow-roasted over hot stones for a traditional autumn and winter snack. There are no additional ingredients — the sweet potatoes are naturally sweet and creamy.
When you go strolling on those chilly days, be sure to grab one piping hot! The steam that slowly melts into you as you eat it will warm you up just right!
4 – Crepes
Although crepes aren’t traditionally ‘Japanese’, this street food is very popular among the younger generation in Japan. Crepes are made with a thin batter, filled with sweet or savoury ingredients, folded into a cone, and served wrapped in paper. Some common sweet fillings include cream, custard, fresh fruit, ice cream, nuts, and cake (such as cheesecake and brownie). The two most popular sweet crepe flavours are “Choco Banana” (made with sliced bananas, chocolate sauce, and fresh whipped cream) and “Strawberry Cream” (made with sliced strawberries, strawberry syrup, and fresh whipped cream). You may also find savoury crepes such as “Cheese Dog” (made with sausage, ketchup, cheese, and lettuce) or “Bacon Lettuce Tomato”. Yum, I’m already getting hungry here!
5 – Oden (one-pot dish)
Oden is a winter comfort food consisting of various ingredients simmering in a seasoned broth. Some common ingredients include konnyaku (jellied yam cake), boiled egg, cabbage, potatoes, tsukune (chicken meatballs), chikuwa (fish cake), daikon radish, and kinchaku (fried tofu pouches).
Oden is often garnished with Japanese mustard if you want an extra spicy kick! You do not need to pass by a specific shop to grab a bowl of this delicious goodness, as you can find Oden being sold at most convenience stores (konbini). Packed into a neat container with some additional toppings, enjoy your Oden in the comfort of your own home!
6 – Nikuman (steamed pork buns)
Eating steamed foods is the foremost way of not only keeping your hands warm, but also your heart! Nikuman are fluffy, steamed buns with a meat filling consisting of finely chopped pork, onion, and shiitake mushrooms. Other popular steamed bun flavors include an-man (filled with red bean paste), pizza-man (filled with tomato sauce and cheese), and curry-man (filled with curry-flavored meat and vegetables).
These soft, warm buns make a perfect winter snack for your travels as you enjoy the snowy sceneries of Japan’s winter.
7 – Dango (Japanese dumplings)
Let’s move on to the sweet side for a moment shall we. Dango are sweet, bite-sized dumplings that are served on a skewer. A popular variation of dango that is eaten throughout the year is mitarashi dango, which consists of white dumplings that are glazed with a sweet, sticky soy sauce. During the cherry blossom viewing season in the spring, three coloured dumplings – one green, one pink, and one white – called hanami dango are often eaten. Another popular form of dango is anko dango, which are white dumplings topped with sweetened red bean paste. You can try different variations of the versatile dango during any season.
8 – Korokke (Japanese croquettes)
Inspired by the French croquette, korokke are oval-shaped potato and meat patties. Creamy mashed potatoes are mixed with ground beef and onion, covered with breadcrumbs, and deep-fried until golden brown and crispy.
Did you know that the word croquette originates from the French verb croquer, which translates “to crunch”. Intriguing, right! Now, voila! I’ve now taught you a French word amidst our Japanese journey that you will remember for life the next time you take a bite into this ‘crunchy’ snack! You’re welcome!
9 – Senbei (rice crackers)
Although there are many flavours and variations, the traditional senbei is round-shaped and soy-flavoured. Crunchy, sticky, and savoury-sweet, senbei is a classic Japanese snack. You can probably find packaged senbei at any supermarket, but we recommend trying fresh senbei that is cooked right in front of your eyes on a long grill.
Don’t settle for just soy-sauce flavor though, as you can add some extra flavor with nori (dried seaweed) wrapped around this disc. Try one with black sesame seeds embedded into it, or if you’re more the sweet tooth type, have a zarame-senbei that’s completely coated is crystal sugar.
10 – Taiyaki (fish-shaped cake)
I hope you have been holding up well throughout this blog because I sure am hungry now! Though taiyaki translates to “baked sea bream”, don’t worry — there is no fish in this sweet treat! The name taiyaki comes from the fish-shaped mold that is used to imitate the shape of tai with a detailed face, as well as fins, and scales. Made with a batter similar to waffles, the most common filling for taiyaki is red bean paste. You may also find taiyaki filled with custard or sweet potato.
From stir-fry noodles to detailed fish-shaped cakes, Japan has a great variety of unique street food. These 10 street foods are only a small glimpse into the authentic, traditional, and popular Japanese cuisine that is available for you to enjoy as you explore different areas during your trip in Japan!
Now when you are travelling next time, keep your eyes peeled and your stomach ready to discover more of Japan’s delicious foods! And if you think you found something we have never heard about, be sure to let us know!
Feature Photo credit: byFood
Learn more about what makes Japanese cuisine so unique on our TOP 5 Japanese Foods Online Experience!
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