Japan, one of the most culturally intense and diverse places in the world. A place of extremes, a place of binaries. On one hand there’s the pristine countryside untouched by technology and on the other, there are busting cities that never sleep.
But this amalgamation gives rise to a unique culinary bouquet that thrives on fresh, nutritious and mouthwatering produce.
If you plan to venture to Japan, then here are ten dishes that you must try
The food that put Japan on the global gastronome’s wish list. If you haven’t heard of Sushi, then you were probably hibernating under a rock. Sushi is slices of freshly caught raw fish, served on rolls or a layer of vinegar-seasoned white rice. However, it’s the accompaniments and the garnishes that make Sushi a delicacy to die for.
One that Japan borrowed from China, Ramen is now one of the most widely consumed foods around the world. Noodles with a meat of your choice in a salty broth doesn’t sound like too innovative. But you have to try the Tonkotsu to know why it is the food of choice for millions. Authentic Ramen is an explosion of flavors and keeps you full for hours. If you are adventurous, try the miso Ramen.
Unagi is quintessentially Japanese cuisine. Freshly caught or harvested meat that’s minimally cooked and mildly flavored. In this case, it is river eel that’s barbequed before being lacquered with sauce. The Unagi is the Japanese’s way of beating the intensely hot summers that the country faces each year. To get the real Unagi flavor, head to an old eatery in the Japanese countryside. You get wild Unagi for three months of the year.
Shrimp Tempura with Wasabi
Another food that Japan borrowed, possibly from Portugal and made it their own. The crisp and crunchy tempura is now a delicacy that’s sold in most countries around the world. Authentic Tempura is fried in sesame oil and comes with a dip that’s soy flavored. Wasabi is optional but you do get grated radish that serves as the dipping.
The thin brown buckwheat noodles originated in the Japanese hills where buckwheat is preferred over rice. Soba noodles are usually served in a rich broth that’s flavored with soy. Some versions are served cold or at room temperature with accompanying dips.
Onomatopoeia contributing to culinary names is always interesting. Enter Shabu Shabu, the sound that originates when meat slices move around when picked with chopsticks. Does that really sound like Shabu Shabu? We will never know. But the idea of cooking thin marbled meat slices on your table certainly sounds appealing.
Yakitori stands for slow-grilled chicken seasoned with salt or soy sauce. What’s interesting about Yakitori is that the chicken pieces are not limited to the legs or breast. Each and every part of the chicken, including the feet are grilled. Yakitori is an everyday street staple in Japan.