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When you think of Japanese food, sushi and sashimi might pop up in your mind. Perhaps in other Asian countries we might know a little bit more than these two foods. However, you will be surprised that in many Western countries, for example in Italy, there is little knowledge about Japanese food apart from the famous sushi.

So, if you plan to visit Japan, I assume that you would not want to eat only sushi during the trip. So, here are some of the foods, based on my personal experience, that you shouldn’t miss.

Well, since sushi can be found in everywhere in the world, it is just not right if you didn’t try the original one from Japan. However, finding a good sushi restaurant is not always easy. It will be great if you can get the locals to suggest something. Just some additional information, sushi is also considered as an artful high-end food in Japan.

2. Kaisen Don / Sashimi

Fresh fish, sashimi is way too common in Japan. Try to get a multicolored Kaisen Don (Sashimi Rice Bowl) and you will be surprised.

3. Yakiniku, the Japanese BBQ

This is a cook-it-yourself meat barbeque where the grill is on the table. Try to avoid the restaurants using an electrical grill.

4. Okonomiyaki, the Japanese Pizza

Smaller than regular pizza, Okonomiyaki is filled with meats, seafood, vegetables and cheese as well as many other ingredients. It is more of a savory pancake than pizza.

Japan’s curry is a little different from India’s curry. There aren’t that many types of Japanese curry: instead they are classified as either sweet, medium-spicy, or spicy. Normally, the curry is eaten together with rice.

6. Onigiri, the rice ball

These rice balls are usually wrapped with seaweed and filled with tuna, other fish or vegetables, though anything can fill a rice ball. It is available in most of the convenience stores.

7. Tamagoyaki, the Japanese omelet

This sweet omelet could taste weird to some. It is not the same from what you have tried in a common sushi bar in your country. The taste is stronger and it is also thicker. You can easily buy a good one along the outdoor market in Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo.

8. Takoyaki, Octopus-filled ball

This is a famous street snack made from wheat flour in a ball shaped and filled with diced octopus.

9. Taiyaki, cake filled with red-bean paste and others

It comes in fish and other different cute shapes and is filled with red bean paste (common filling), custard, chocolate, cheese or sweet potatoes.

10. Yakitori

Yakitori is skewered grilled chicken and is available in most Izakaya restaurants.

11. Shabu-Shabu

A hot pot like Japanese cuisine, Shabu-shabu includes thinly sliced beef boiled in a pot of water on the table. It is more savory and less sweet compared to Sukiyaki, the similar style dish.

Like Shabu-shabu, Sukiyaki is also a hot pot style dish with thinly sliced beef and vegetable, but it offers a greater flavor with the presence of soy sauce and sugar.

It consists of meat (usually thinly sliced beef) which is slowly cooked or simmered at the table, alongside vegetables and other ingredients, in a shallow iron pot in a mixture of soy sauce, sugar, and mirin. Before being eaten, the ingredients are usually dipped in a small bowl of raw, beaten eggs.

13. Otsumami

This is the Japanese dry appetizers which are usually eaten with sake or other alcohol drinks. Some of the Otsumami include surume (grilled dried squid) and Yakitori (grilled skewers of meat or vegetables).

Ochazuke is a simple Japanese dish made by of two main Japanese ingredients – plain white rice and green tea. It is then top with savory toppings such as seaweed, sesame seeds, salted salmon, pickled seafood or furikake.

Ochazuke is commonly served at the very end of an elaborate Japanese full course meal. It’s also favored as a midnight snack, a hangover cure, or just when you want something hot and filling. It’s commonly made with leftover rice, though ideally the rice should be heated up if it’s cold.

A typical Japanese confectionery, Wagashi is usually served together with Japanese tea. There are various types of wagashi and the most famous ones include Mochi (glutinous rice cake) and Anko (red bean paste).

One of the most well known Japanese traditional health food, Natto is basically the fermented soybeans. It is usually served with plain white rice and served as breakfast.

17. Tebasaki

Tebasaki is a Japanese style fried chicken wings. This crispy chicken wings are seasoned with sweet sauce before deep frying. It is a specialty in Nagoya region.

18. Nagashi Somen

A very unique Japanese dish, Nagashi Somen is simply means “Flowing noodles”. Somen, the noodles are flow down with water along a long bamboo gutter where you will have to catch the flowing noodles. You will be provided with a pair of chopsticks and a bowl of cool broth.

Unagi is the freshwater eel which is commonly used in Japanese cuisine. It is considered as one of the expensive delicacy in Japan for its rich taste as well as the the legendary stamina-giving properties.

20. Japanese Green Teas

We all know that Japan is famous for its green tea, but do you know that there are many types of green teas available in Japan? There are Matcha (powdered green tea), Konacha (residual green tea), Hojicha (roasted green tea) and Genmaicha (green tea with roasted brown rice) and etc.

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