Today, you don’t have to visit Japan to enjoy its cuisine.
In the West, countless Japanese restaurants and sushi bars bring authentic foods to customers who may never get to travel to the Land of the Rising Sun. Without doubt, Japanese cooking produces some of the most exciting dishes in the world, loaded with powerful flavors, eye-popping colors, and exquisite presentation.
Whether you’re flying to Japan or hunting for a new Japanese dish to try at home, here are five you have to try …
Chances are, you’ve heard of ramen. But do you know what it is?
This is a bowl of wheat noodles served in miso soup or soy sauce, with plenty of extra bits and pieces. Popular ramen additions include seaweed, egg, onion, pork, and other vegetables, creating a strong diversity of flavors and textures.
Different areas of Japan tend to have their own ramen. In Tokyo, for example, ramen is generally made with thin noodles in a chicken broth (with soy flavorings), as well as nori, egg, and spinach.
Tempura’s a common fixture at Japanese restaurants, even here in the West.
This is basically deep-friend vegetables and seafood, cooked in sesame oil until deliciously crispy. While it may lack the vibrant mix of color we usually expect of Japanese food, it has a crunchy texture and puts a different spin on ingredients we see often.
With a dish of soy sauce, tempura’s a great start or accompaniment to a meal.
Another popular dish, Unagi consists of charcoal-grilled river eel prepared with sweet barbecue sauce.
The name itself is the Japanese term for ‘freshwater eel’, and restaurants specializing in unagi are a common sight. It’s one of the most traditional foods, and is especially popular over the summer months, when it’s in fresh supply.
You may have heard of Soba. This is a well-known fixture of Japanese cuisine, made with fine buckwheat noodles usually produced in mountainous areas.
You’ll typically find soba served on a bamboo mat, accompanied by a broth in which to dip it. Alternatively, restaurants may provide it with a soy sauce instead.
Soba’s sold in countless places across Japan, in settings as diverse as fast-food establishments to more sophisticated, expensive venues. Soba is also a healthy option, as it’s loaded with all types of amino acid – so it’s delicious and good for you!
Last but by no means least – kaiseki!
This is one of Japan’s most traditional foods, a dinner across multiple courses. It’s renowned for the impressive range of skills and knowledge needed to create it.
Kaiseki is regarded as a serious art-form, demanding a delicate balancing of aesthetics, texture, taste, and color, with only in-season ingredients. Presentation is obviously critical to Japanese cuisine, and especially so in this dinner.
Numerous dishes may be included in a kaiseki, as chefs see fit, including various soups, sushi, vegetables, rice, and desserts.
For anyone yet to try Japanese cuisine, it really is a whole new world of taste. Delicious, colorful, artistic – unlike anything else!