Translated by Jenni Silvola
Japanese Foods You Absolutely Must Try
Written by Nao Sugio
Visiting Japan? Make sure you try these traditional Japanese foods! Matcha (green tea), mochi rice cakes, sweets with red bean paste, natto and okonomiyaki should definitely feature on your list of must-try foods!
4. Matcha - Grean Tea Powder
Drinking matcha is a completely different experience from drinking an average cup of green tea. Matcha has an intensive green color and it is very frothy, somewhat bittersweet. It will definitely be a unique experience even for ultimate tea lovers.
As you probably are aware of, Japan has a long tea history and matcha is a strong part of it. Preparing matcha for guests is a form of art, but lucky for us who just want to enjoy the taste without the hard work, we can merely order one in a café or stroll to a konbini or a supermarket and buy matcha powder in a bag, all ready to be mixed with hot water and to be enjoyed.
Since matcha has a special place in the heart (and belly) of the Japanese, it will not come as a big surprise that matcha is used to flavor many various foods, such as bread, mochi, nuts, coffee, pastry, chocolate, ice-cream, noodles, etc.
Matcha has such an intense green color that you will be able to pick matcha delicacies in no time.
As matcha is such a traditional drink you should not pass up an opportunity to try it out! Sipping on your frothy cup of matcha, imagine how the geisha used to serve it to noblemen and feel yourself going back in time. Indeed, this special delicacy is something you can not experience outside Japan.
A mixture of cabbage, flour, eggs, noodles and toppings of one's choice, an okonomiyaki is a tricky dish to describe. Okonomiyaki is popular all over Japan but there is some debate where its roots lay and what is a "real" okonomiyaki. All regions have their very own version of okonomiyaki: in Tokyo, you will find a very different looking okonomiyaki compared to those in, for example, Osaka, Kyoto or Hiroshima. In saying that, most Japanese consider Hiroshima the birthplace of the authentic okonomiyaki and you should definitely try this dish in Hiroshima.
Described as "Japanese pizza" or "Japanese pancake", okonomiyaki looks like a big pile of pancakes covered in sauce and usually sprinkled with green onion and fish flakes. The technique of how it is made differs depending on the region and city you will be dining in, but Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki is famous all around Japan and you will be able to find Hiroshima style okonomiyaki restaurants in other cities.
Okonomiyaki is a very filling dish, high in calories and rich in its savory taste.
No matter if you are in Tokyo, Osaka, Hiroshima or anywhere else in Japan, this is one traditional Japanese dish you should not skip. It is seemingly simple, but the combination of ingredients will surprise you and leave you craving for more. It is possible you will lose your heart to okonomiyaki and use the rest of your time in Japan trying different versions. Okonomiyaki is an absolute must try!
But wait, there is more...
There are many special, traditional dishes and delicacies in Japan - the list would go on and on, there is simply so much wonderful food to try in Japan.
These particular foods are my recommendations to travelers who want to experience the essential parts of the Japanese food culture and dip their chopsticks into the wonderful, delicious world of Japanese food.
You can explore much more by bravely going to local restaurants and trying out a variety of dishes. But do make sure to try these ones: I guarantee you will not regret it. Itadakimasu, bon appetit!