31 foods you should say konnichiwa to in japan

Not an exhaustive list but these are some of the things I got the chance to try. I didn’t love everything I ate but I feel like if you’re visiting a foreign country, you might as well try it. As Andrew Zimmern would say, “If it looks good, eat it!”

  1. Sushi – I feel like I probably didn’t need to say this one. Obviously, it is a must. Even if you are not a raw fish eater, you should still give it a try. The sushi in Japan is completely different from the Americanized sushi rolls that are fried and/or slathered in some kind of sauce. If you find the right restaurants in Japan, the fish will just melt in your mouth
    Tsukiji Market 59
    Different degrees of fatty tuna @ Sushi Ichiban
    Lunch @ Sushi Naritaya 8
    Sushi set @ Naritaya in Kyoto

    Maruetsu:Yamato 4
    Even supermarket sushi is delicious. And cheap! All of this cost 7 USD @ Maruetsu
  2. Conveyor Belt Sushi – okay, so this one is more for the experience. Don’t get me wrong, the sushi is still better than most sushi you’ll find in the United States, but I feel like this is more for fun. There are actual conveyor belts that go around, and you grab the plates you want. They then calculate your total at the end. They also have the ones where you order what you want from an iPad, and the sushi is delivered to you on the conveyor belt, like Genki Sushi. The system knows which seat ordered it, so the food will stop directly in front of you

    Uobei Genki Sushi 8
    Uobei Genki Sushi in Shibuya
  3. Uni (sea urchin) – opened right in front of you at Tsukiji Market

    Tsukiji Market 32
    Uni @ Tsukiji Market
  4. Ramen – I’m not talking about dried ramen you made in the hot water pot of your college dorm room, but REAL ramen. Fresh ramen. I’m not a huge fan of ramen but I still wanted to try it in Japan. Especially Ichiran, where you order, sit in these little semi-cubicles, the waiter opens a door in front of your table, gives you your food, and you never hear from them again (if you need something, you just ring the bell). I kind of loved this. I was able to stuff my face in peace

    Ichiran 11
    Ramen @ Ichiran in Ueno
  5. Takoyaki – balls of dough with little pieces of octopus inside with a sweet sauce and/or mayo drizzled on top. I’m not a huge fan of it because the octopus usually has a smoky taste, and on top of that, I feel like I’m just eating balls of dough

    Shibuya:Gindaco Highball 11
    Takoyaki @ Tsukiji Gindaco Highball in Shibuya
  6. Omurice – omelette with fried rice. Supposedly, this originated in a western-style restaurant in Ginza, so I guess the name makes sense. Egg? GOOD. Fried rice? GOOD.

    iPhone Mar 2019 696
    Omurice @ Shinagawa Train Station
  7. Waygu – Japanese cattle with a higher fat percentage. Yes, it is still expensive in Japan. Obviously not something you will eat everyday, but it’s totally worth it to try it at least once. Like good sushi, the beef almost just melts in your mouth
  8. Gyoza – once you’ve had this, you will not want to go back to the bags of dumplings in your freezer. These are pan-fried to perfection; perfectly crispy on the outer layer, but the inner layer has a nice, chewy bite to it

    Dinner @ Chao Chao Sanjo Kiyamachi 12
    Gyoza @ Chao Chao Sanjo Kiyamachi in Kyoto
  9. Okonomiyaki – pancake made of flour, grated yam, and cabbage as the base, and other things such as pork belly, seafood, or other veggies. Okonomi = what you like; Yaki = cooked. So really, anything goes

    Mitsukoshi 4
    Okonomiyaki @ Mitsukoshi in Ginza
  10. Udon – thick wheat-flour noodles, typically served in dashi broth. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to try an udon specialty restaurant. But I did try it at one of the conveyor belt spots, and even that was better than most of the udon I’ve had in the States.

    Uobei Genki Sushi 12.JPG
    Udon with shrimp tempura @ Uobei Genki in Shibuya
  11. Tempura – deep-fried seafood or vegetables. Let’s face it – anything fried is good
  12. Chicken Karaage – fried chicken

    Fushimi Inari 8
    Chicken Karaage @ Fushimi Inari Taisho
  13. Curry – this is very different than the super spicy Indian curry. Japanese curry is a bit sweeter. It’s typically served with some breaded cutlet (pork or chicken), with some veggies, over rice. Curry House CoCo ICHIBANYA is a popular chain for some casual curry dishes

    Coco Ichibanya 1
    Curry @ Coco Ichibanya in Akihabara
  14. Yakitori/kushiyaki – grilled meat on a stick. Yakitori is specifically chicken, and kushiyaki is pretty much anything else skewered

    Shinjuku:Omoide Yokocho:Mos Burger 26
    Yakitori @ Omoide Yokocho in Shinjuku
  15. Unagi (eel) – I’m normally not a fan of eel, but just like almost all of the other foods I’ve listed, it tastes completely different here. The texture is firmer and it tastes fresher than in the States

    Dinner @ Unagi Toku 19
    Unagi @ Unagi Toku in Kyoto
  16. Donburi – rice bowl with fish or meat

    Breakfast @ Sukiya 1
    Chicken and cheese donburi bowl @ Sukiya in Kyoto
  17. MOS Burger – fast food burger joint. It stands for Mountain Ocean Sun and is the second largest fast food franchise in Japan, after McDonald’s

    Shinjuku:Omoide Yokocho:Mos Burger 52
    Burgers from MOS Burger in Shinjuku
  18. Grated Yam – typically eaten with rice. It was a very interesting texture. And by interesting, I mean slimy and gooey. Not my cup of tea. Plus, I didn’t really think it tasted like yams at all

    Dinner @ Gyutan Negishi Kinshicho 3
    Grated yams (top left) on the side of some beef tongue @ Negishi Kinshicho in Kinshicho
  19. Natto – fermented soybeans. Similar to grated yam, this is served with rice and has a lot of the same textures as grated yam. Again, not for me
  20. Matcha – green tea anything and everything

    Fushimi Inari 94
    Matcha ice cream @ Fushimi Inari Taishō
  21. Totoro cream puff from Shirohige’s – okay so this one is oddly specific but if you are a Totoro fan, this one is a must
  22. Kit Kat – there are so many different (an unusual flavors) in Japan that you probably won’t even get to try them all. There are stores dedicated to selling these. You can even create your own. But a good place to buy them at a reasonable price is Don QuijoteShibuya:Shibuya Crossing:DQ 24
  23. Mochi – rice cake where rice is pounded into a shape, and then molded into its desired shape. Sure, you’ve had mochi ice cream from the Asian supermarket, or even from Trader Joe’s. But this is completely different. The mochi is so soft and fresh and should be eaten immediately
  24. Taiyaki – fish-shaped cakes with filling. The most popular filling is red bean but other variations include custard, or chocolate

    Fushimi Inari 90
    Taiyaki @ Fushimi Inari Taisho
  25. Highball – typically made with Japanese whisky or shochu with various mixers (oolong tea is a popular one)

    Dinner @ Chao Chao Sanjo Kiyamachi 5
    Highballs @ Chao Chao Sanjo Kiyamachi
  26. Sapporo/Kirin/Asahi – get a pint of either of these on draft. It’s so refreshing, especially with some bar food (i.e. gyozo, yakitori, etc.)Dinner @ Gyutan Negishi Kinshicho 2
  27. Sake – self-explanatoryDinner @ Unagi Toku 9
  28. Seven-Eleven or Lawson’s – the convenience stores in Japan are not like the ones in the United States. The ones in Japan actually have some good foodDaiso:Lawson's 2
  29. Train Station food – this sounds odd. But underground, there are actually a ton of shops, cafes, and restaurants since the train system in Japan is so huge. Grab a bento box and a beer for the train ride, and you will be good to go

    Shinkansen from Tokyo to Kyoto 11
    Bento box for the ride from Tokyo to Kyoto on the Shinkansen
  30. Department Store food – another weird one. But a lot of the department stores have a food section and/or supermarket in the basement. We tried some of the sushi to go here and it was pretty goodMitsukoshi 2
  31. McDonald’s – one of my favorite things to try in other countries. They had an ebi (shrimp burger) here, which I thoroughly enjoyed, and a chicken teriyaki burger, which was meh since it was soaked in sauceMcDonald's 2

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