Updated December 4, 2019 (3 days ago)

One of the most common questions I answer is “what kind of food should I try in Japan?” Inevitably my answer is “all of it!” But I get it. You probably don’t have the time to try it all.

And I suspect if you’re new to Japan you may have no idea what’s available.

So in this guide, I’m going to go over the “what” of Japanese food. To explain what the various dishes are and help you discover what types of food are available.

Meat Dishes

Wagyu

Have you heard of the legendary wagyu beef in Japan? Or maybe how crazy expensive it is?

It is superb and deserves every bit of its mantle as the best beef in the world.

Yakiniku

When you combine high-quality wagyu with Japan’s BBQ called yakiniku, you’re in for a real treat. There’s nothing quite like grilling your own quality meats on a cold winter day in Tokyo.

Shabu-Shabu

And then here’s something you might not expect, the boiled meat dish called shabu-shabu (yes, boiled). It’s amazing. Give it a try.

Teppanyaki

Although not purely about meat, teppanyaki is one of the most remarkable ways to eat wagyu — expertly cooked by master chefs on a flat iron grill.

Sushi

This is Japan and you’re probably wondering what sushi is like in its motherland.

(You know it’s absolutely incredible right?)

But did you know the price of sushi is incredible too? It’s both expensive and also very, very affordable at the same time.

I’m talking fast food, grab’n go low prices.

On a side note, you’ll often find nori (seaweed) as a common ingredient in sushi in Japan.

Fried Food

Tempura

Japan has some of the best fried food, like the delightful tempura… and it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg like it does in the U.S.

Tonkatsu

Or the delicious tonkatsu pork cutlet. This is just a comparison with a very similar word, tonkotsu. But more to come about tonkatsu f0r sure — it’s one of my favorite dishes in Japan.

Kushiage is absolutely amazing too. It’s skewered fried foods like chicken pork, beef, and a variety of veggies. I’ll write more about it soon.


Noodles

Ramen

How could I discuss Japanese food without explaining exactly what ramen noodles are in Japan? It just wouldn’t be right.

Mostly because ramen is practically Japan’s soul food now. An insane variety of ramen for you to try.

Soba & Udon

But there are a couple of other noodles dishes you should know about. Soba and udon. They’re both tasty too — and have their own varieties as well as some traditional cuisine around them.

More to come about udon in the future.


Miscellaneous

Donburi

There are a couple more dishes I’m not 100% sure how to categorize. Donburi are fantastic bowls of rice with a variety of toppings. Gyudon, for example, is beef bowl (and it is incredible).

Okonomiyaki

And the famous okonomiyaki, aka the “savory pancake.” Grilled on a flat iron teppan, this dish is so popular there are whole websites dedicated just to it

Both are dishes you must try when in Tokyo.


Pizza

Oh, yea. Japan has pizza too. That’s all well and good, but you might be wondering why I decided to talk about pizza in an article about Japanese food.

Well… it’s because Japanese pizza is weird and completely Japanese.


That’s all for now.

Tokyo is truly the food capital of the world. There are so many more dishes to add here.

It’s going to take me a while, but I’ll get more here as soon as possible for you.