[ back to Japan Guide ]

Japanese cuisine is renowned worldwide for its emphasis on fresh, seasonal ingredients, meticulous preparation, and beautiful presentation. Rooted in a rich culinary tradition that values balance, harmony, and simplicity, Japanese food offers a diverse array of flavors and textures that delight the senses.

Okonomiyaki, JapanOkonomiyaki, Japan

From delicate sushi and sashimi to comforting bowls of ramen and hearty izakaya dishes, Japanese cuisine is a reflection of the country's culture, history, and natural landscapes.

Here are ten foods that are iconic to Japanese cuisine and should be on every food lover's must-try list when visiting the country:

  1. Sushi: A globally recognized Japanese dish, sushi consists of vinegared rice combined with a variety of fresh seafood, vegetables, or other ingredients, often served with soy sauce, wasabi, and pickled ginger.
  2. Ramen: A beloved comfort food in Japan, ramen features wheat noodles served in a flavorful broth, often topped with sliced pork, soft-boiled egg, green onions, and other toppings.
  3. Tempura: Light and crispy tempura consists of battered and deep-fried seafood, vegetables, or even tofu, served with tentsuyu dipping sauce.
  4. Okonomiyaki: Dubbed as "Japanese savory pancake" or "Japanese pizza," okonomiyaki is a hearty and customizable dish made with a batter of flour, eggs, cabbage, and a variety of fillings like pork, seafood, or cheese, topped with savory okonomiyaki sauce, mayo, and bonito flakes.
  5. Takoyaki: These delicious octopus-filled balls of batter are a popular street food snack in Japan, cooked in a special takoyaki pan and served hot with takoyaki sauce, mayonnaise, and bonito flakes.
  6. Sashimi: Sliced raw fish or seafood served without rice, sashimi showcases the purity and freshness of the ingredients, often accompanied by soy sauce and wasabi.
  7. Yakitori: Grilled skewers of bite-sized pieces of chicken, yakitori is a staple of Japanese izakaya (pub) cuisine, featuring various cuts of chicken grilled over charcoal and seasoned with tare sauce.
  8. Tonkatsu: A breaded and deep-fried pork cutlet, tonkatsu is served with a tangy tonkatsu sauce and often accompanied by shredded cabbage and rice.
  9. Matcha: A finely ground powder of specially grown and processed green tea leaves, matcha is used to prepare traditional Japanese tea ceremonies and is also incorporated into various desserts and beverages.
  10. Onigiri: These triangular-shaped rice balls are often filled with savory ingredients like pickled plum (umeboshi), grilled salmon, or tuna mayo, wrapped in seaweed (nori), and make for a convenient and tasty snack or light meal.

More Information


Do you have feedback, a comment or correction? Let us know