Translated by Takuya Erik Watanabe
5 Traditional Japanese Dishes You Just Have To Try!
If you're in Japan, you'll, of course, want to enjoy some of the traditional Japanese dishes. In this article, we'll be introducing traditional Japanese dishes such sushi, unagi, tempura, soba, and udon.
Written by OsawaKimie
Traditional Japanese Food - The Must-Try Dishes!
When visiting Japan, you'll, of course, want to taste Japanese cuisine. There are many types of dishes and local specialties you can choose from, but if we were to pick up five traditional dishes that we highly recommend, they would be the ones introduced below.
Sushi is one of the best known Japanese foods around the world. It is offered in various ways and prices, from the entertaining kaiten-zushi (conveyor belt sushi), where visitors can enjoy sushi for a reasonable price of about 100 yen per plate, to high-end, long-established, traditional Edomae Sushi (Edo-style sushi) where you will sit at a quiet counter to eat as the sushi is prepared right before your eyes.
Sushi usually refers to a dish of pressed vinegared rice with a piece of raw fish or shellfish, called a neta, on top. Sushi is generally eaten with soy sauce and wasabi, but those who aren't too fond of wasabi can ask for "sabi-nuki" (meaning "without wasabi").
Sushi can be eaten with chopsticks or directly with your hand. However, there's one thing you should be careful about. When dipping the sushi in soy sauce, you should turn it over and apply the soy sauce to the neta, rather than the rice itself. This is to prevent the rice sucking up too much soy sauce and erasing the original taste of the "neta" itself.
Unagi - Grilled Eel
Unagi (eel), a fish known to be found mainly in rivers, is a delicacy that can often be found in fine and expensive Japanese dining. There are also many restaurants that specialize in unagi dishes. At unagi restaurants, you will be able to enjoy kabayaki, where the unagi is put on skewers and grilled with a special sauce containing soy sauce, mirin, sugar, and sake. Unadon, a dish of kabayaki on top of white rice, is also offered in these establishments.
Hitsumabushi, a specialty dish from Nagoya, is a dish of cut up kabayaki on top of white rice, which can be eaten in several ways, such as with condiments like green onion and wasabi, or eaten like ochazuke by pouring warm green tea or broth over it. Unagi has also been loved as a health food to prevent summer heat weariness for its protein and because it is good for digestion.
Tempura is a dish involving ingredients like seafood, meat, and vegetables covered in batter and deep-fried in oil. Tempura is generally dipped in a special sauce called tentsuyu before eating. Tentsuyu is a sauce made of broth from kombu or dried bonito, mirin, and soy sauce mixed at a ratio of 4:1:1 and cooked. You can add ginger or grated radish to your liking for a more refreshing taste.
Soba is a noodle dish made from buckwheat flour with water and flour, thinly spread and cut into noodles with widths of 1cm-2cm. After boiling the noodles in hot water, it is eaten dipped in a cold soup, or by pouring a hot soup over it. The sobatsuyu - sobajiru, made from kombu or dried bonito broth with seasoning like soy sauce and mirin, is crucial for having a delicious soba experience.
Udon is a unique dish known for its thick noodles. Udon is also a well-known traditional Japanese dish. The dough is made from flour and salt water that is well-kneaded and cut into noodles. After being boiled in hot water, much like soba, it is eaten in seafood broth soup, or by pouring soup and toppings like tempura on top of it. There is no one designated way to eat udon.
If you're craving some unique udon, we recommend trying kamatama udon. Kamatama udon is udon eaten with raw egg and soy sauce. It's so good you won't be able to stop your chopsticks!
Enjoy Traditional Japanese Food!
What do you think of our selection? Take the first opportunity to taste these dishes when visiting Japan. Japanese restaurants tend to be specialized in one type of cuisine, and we recommend that you try these traditional dishes at specialty stores.