There’s much more to Japanese cuisine than sushi. Cuisines vary across the country from region to region, with each culture showcasing their history and traditions in the food they prepare. From the ingredients they use to the flavour combinations they create, we’ve found just some of the many tantalising dishes to try on your trip to the land of the rising sun.
Osaka is known as the food capital of Japan and it’s no surprise why! Street food is most popular, from takoyaki which literally translates to “grilled octopus”, a battered ball filled with octopus and topped with mayonnaise, to okonomiyaki, a pancake-like dish made from cabbage and flour.
Another popular street food is kushikatsu, deep fried pieces of meat and vegetables, often served on a stick. The Osaka answer to udon is Kitsune Udon, a simple dish of udon noodles served in a hot soup and topped with a piece of deep fried piece tofu – yum!
Tokyo is one of the world’s most exciting dining destinations and features a range of local and regional Japanese cuisines. Local foods in Tokyo are referred to as Edo-mae. One of the most popular fast food dishes is Nigiri-zushi, a piece of sushi where fish is served over a bed of rice.
Tokyo’s answer to Osaka’s popular okonomiyaki is the monjayaki, a runny pancake made of flour, water and cabbage. It is often made with seafood and meat and cooked on a hot grill.
Other Tokyo staples include deep fried seafood known as tempura, soba noodles and chankonabe, a hot pot dish enjoyed by sumo wrestlers. The most popular of Tokyo’s sweets are ningyoyaki, small red bean paste filled cakes which are shaped to represent animals or dolls.
Mt Fuji cuisine
The most popular food of the Mt Fuji region is roasted skewers of meat, fish and vegetables which are cooked over irori charcoal. Another local delicacy is Houto, a noodle dish cooked in a skillet over the fire. Due to modern technological advancements, the traditional style of cooking over charcoal is becoming obsolete. Restaurants such as Sanrokuen in Yamanashi Prefecture uphold the traditional cooking techniques and dining experiences of the past.
Hiroshima’s most famous food is its own style of okonomiyaki, characterised by a thin layer of batter and a heaping amount of cabbage and yakisoba noodles. Popular toppings include oysters, squid and cheese. The dish is often served in a griddle at diners close to the train station.
Located in the northern part of the Japanese alpine route, Tateyama Mountain Range is famous for its fresh sushi. Toyama Bay is affected by a unique ocean current which brings around 500 species of warm-water and cold-water fish into the bay, making it a great sushi destination.
Kyoto offers a culinary mix of tradition and modernity. Shojin Ryori is a traditional style of cooking which developed from the austerity of Buddhist monks whose diet didn’t allow for meat and fish. The common ingredient in traditional meals is tofu, such as yodofu, soft tofu in a broth of vegetables and Obanzai Ryori, a traditional home style meal of small and simple dishes.
Another famous ingredient in Kyoto is matcha. Traditionally, matcha was reserved for important traditional tea ceremonies. Now, modern restaurants and cafes have infused matcha into popular desserts we know and love. From matcha ice cream and matcha cake to the traditional matcha Yatsuhashi, made from rice flour, sugar and cinnamon.