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All About Food in Japan

Sushi – a Japanese dish that layers fresh, raw fish on rice and is almost always served with soy sauce and wasabi.

Noodles – Noodles in Japan are famous and come in a wide variety including ramen, soba, somen, udon, shirataki noodles, etc.

Tempura – Tempura is a food that is covered in a batter. then deep-fried. Tempura is often served additionally as a topping with noodles or in rice bowl dishes.

Curry – Curry in Japan, not at all like its Indian counterpart, is found in many restaurants in Japan and is known to be less spicy. It is generally cooked with the basic ingredients of carrots, onions, and potatoes and is a staple food for many households.

Takoyaki – often referred to as “octopus balls” in English, this is a street food that is commonly sold at festivals and can be made at home. It is a batter with several ingredients including octopus including inside and made to be a bite-sized ball.

Okonomiyaki – commonly referred to as a savory, “Japanese pancake”, the okonomiyaki is a staple dish that has different types in Osaka and Hiroshima.

Onigiri – a triangular-shaped rice ball typically covered in nori (seaweed laver). It is a quick to-go food for those on the run. You can find onigiri in every convenience store in a wide variety of tastes.

Japanese Food in Kyoto

Kyoyasai – Kyoyasai are basically vegetables grown in Kyoto. What separates kyoyasai from other vegetables around Japan is its flavor, slight sweetness and sometimes, unique shape. For that reason, restaurants with vegetarian or vegan dishes are aplenty!

Kaiseki Ryori – famous in Kyoto, kaiseki ryori is a meal that includes local and seasonal ingredients fashioned in a very simple way and can be quite pricey as a fancy and high-class Kyoto style dish.

Yuba Tofu (bean curd skin) – This is a specialty in Kyoto which derives from skimmed tofu skin that results from the tofu making process.

Shojin Ryori – This is a type of dish that is consumed by Buddhist monks and made to be vegetarian. It commonly includes tofu.

Kyo-wagashi – This is a traditional, Japanese sweet that is usually served with green tea (matcha) at tea rooms.

Yatsuhashi – A sweet made from rice flour, similar to mochi but has a different shape. It is a famous food souvenir in Kyoto. Containing cinnamon, it has a different flavor in contrast to regular mochi.

Unagi (Eel, Kane-yo) – Eel (known as “unagi”)is used to make kane-yo, a popular dish in Kyoto. Although eaten all over Japan, in Kyoto, it is particularly famous.

Unusual Foods

Umibudo (sea grapes) – an underwater seaweed plant that pop in your mouth when you bite them. They have a similar appearance to green grapes (if they were tiny!).

Natto (fermented soybeans) – smelly soybeans with a stringy and slimy texture

Warabi Mochi – a bit different from the image of the typical mochi whereas warabi mochi is jelly-like, transparent and made from starch.

Fugu (pufferfish) – a lethally poisonous fish that is carefully prepared for consumption by removal of its poisonous parts. It is generally prepared as sashimi.

Konnyaku (konjak) – a texture similar to gelatin, konnyaku has a fishy smell and is used in dishes (such as oden and sukiyaki) and also comes in several forms (such as squares and noodles).

Kitkat – Kitkats in Japan are one of the most interesting chocolates in Japan for their wide range of flavors that goes from Japanese sake to apple cider vinegar.

Habushu – This is an Okinawan sake with a preserved Habu snake inside it.

Basashi – Basashi is a raw horse meat that is served as a sashimi.

Shirako – Also known as "milt", shirako is soft roe of a male fish.

Food prices in Japan: How do you live cheaper in Japan?

I often hear from tourists and fellow expats that food in Japan be expensive. I think this is true a lot of the time when you want to eat out, the typical prices range from 800~1500 yen.

Supermarkets – The bento sections of the supermarkets have a wide variety of food in them and are very cheap. Especially during the night, the bentos are put on a sale price.

Convenience stores – Convenience stores are also another good option for convenient, on-the-run cheap bentos and smaller sized foods including karaage (fried chicken), nikuman (meat bun), or onigiri (rice ball).

Gyudon restaurants – Beef bowls are also really popular for a cheap and quick bite.

Family restaurants – For a nice meal, a drink bar, and place to stay for a chat with a friend or with family, family restaurants can be a good cheaper option in comparison to fancy restaurants. Many dishes are under 1000 yen. Depending on which family restaurant you go to, the price can go from 500 yen to 2000 yen. Here are some suggestions:

  • Saizeriya
  • Gusto
  • Coco's
  • Joyful

Sushi chain restaurants – Sushi is generally quite expensive, but some sushi chain restaurants have made sushi more accessible these days. Most plates costs 108 yen.

  • Sushiro
  • Kurazushi
  • Hamazushi
  • Genkizushi
  • Kappazushi

My Recommendation:

Nishiki Market – one of the best areas to go to for food stalls as a wide variety of foods are sold here.


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