Top 5 Japanese Foods You Might Not Know About

food japan

When you think of Japan, the food you think of may not be what you’re picturing. Edamame, for example, are considered a staple of the culture, and skewered meat dish Gyudon may be the most familiar. But how about other dishes you might not know about? Then, read on to learn more about Japanese food. Here are some of my favorites:

Traditional Japanese food

One of the most iconic forms of traditional Japanese food is kaiseki. This fine dining tradition can be traced back to the courtly culture of imperial Kyoto in the 16th century. During tea ceremonies, samurai were treated to small dishes. Today, kaiseki dinners can consist of anywhere from 12 to 20 traditional dishes. These dishes vary depending on the season, expertise of the chef, and the strict orthodoxy of the cuisine.


Japanese people have enjoyed edamame for thousands of years. The humble soybean is served as an appetizer in many Japanese restaurants. Despite their tinier size, edamame are filled with low-fat soy protein. You can buy edamame in fresh or frozen varieties. Pods can be eaten raw or cooked. During the summer, edamame are available in the market in bright red or yellow pods.


Known in Japan as gymeshi, gydon is a rice dish topped with beef and onions. It is simmered in a mild sweet sauce that may contain soy sauce, dashi, or mirin. Sometimes raw eggs, grated cheese, Welsh onions, or kimchi are added to the dish. In addition to beef and onions, it may also be served with kimchi, a popular Korean side dish.

Gyudon is a skewered meat dish

Often eaten as a meal at home, Gyudon is a traditional Japanese skewered meat dish. It is an unapologetic, uncomplicated, and utterly delicious dish. Whether served on a skewer or as a bowl of soup, Gyudon is a favorite of many Japanese. Here are some tips for enjoying gyudon.


Sushi in Japan is a Japanese culinary staple. Sushi is made from rice and topped with various ingredients. Some toppings are pickled, while others are cooked. The varieties of sushi are endless and are served with sauces such as wasabi and pickled ginger. Many varieties are vegetarian. Some are even rolled into small cakes. Sushi is traditionally eaten with rice, but is now served with many types of sauces. To make sushi more palatable for Westerners, Japanese chefs often serve it with shoyu, wasabi, and soy sauce.


If you haven’t tried Okonomiyaki in Japan, you are missing out. The savory pancake is a popular dish in Japan and is made from a batter made of wheat flour and other ingredients and cooked on a teppan or hot plate. Common ingredients include meat, vegetables, or seafood. A sauce made with Japanese mayonnaise is typically served with okonomiyaki.

Miso soup

The traditional recipe for miso soup in Japan consists of a mixture of miso and dashi powder. There are several ingredients that go well with miso. Popular choices are onion and green onion, which add a slight sweetness to the salty miso. Other ingredients include tofu and sea vegetables. However, these ingredients are not mashed; rather, they are eaten raw in the soup. Miso is also delicious with seafood.


If you’ve ever dreamed of eating authentic sushi without a trip to the country of origin, you should visit a Sushiyaki restaurant in Japan. The chefs here will roll up unique sushi cuts, glaze meats with teriyaki, and whip up delicious noodle entrees. To complete your meal, you can try a Japanese beer, wine, or tea. Sushiyaki restaurants are often red and decorated in eclectic styles. Visitors can dine at a low table in the traditional dining area, or choose to reserve a private room with floor cushions. They offer a variety of menu choices and a sushi buffet so that visitors can plan their own taste adventures. In case of an emergency, the Sushiyaki restaurant can double as an airport check-in desk.


If you’ve been craving a Japanese hot pot but aren’t sure what to order, consider trying shabu-shabu. This style of dining is known for its thin slices of beef and fresh vegetables. These are cooked tableside while you enjoy the savory stew. This hot pot meal originated in Japan during the 1950s and has since been popularized throughout the world. The name shabu-shabu actually comes from a Japanese onomatopoeia.


If you are traveling to Japan, you might want to try the sake, a Japanese alcoholic drink made from fermented rice. This traditional Japanese beverage has been around for over a thousand years and is a favorite among many people. Sake has a higher ABV than beer, and typically has a 15% to 20% alcohol content (ABV). There are about 1,700 sake breweries in Japan, and more than 40,000 brands are produced. Many are exported around the world.