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10 most popular Japanese dishes for travelers

Bento box
10 most popular Japanese dishes for travelers

Japan is to Asia as France is to Europe – elegant, mysterious and unfailingly fashionable. It follows that Japanese cuisine is now as revered as French cuisine. Were the late Julia Child starting out today, it’s likely that she would be mastering the art of slicing sashimi as well as whipping soufflés. Beyond sushi and teriyaki, here is a glossary of the 10 most popular Japanese dishes you’re likely to encounter in Japan.

Shabu shabu is a Japanese hotpot dish of thinly sliced meat and vegetables boiled in water, then dipped in one of a selection of sauces. The term is onomatopoeic, derived from the sound emitted when the ingredients are stirred in the cooking pot. The food is cooked piece by piece by the diners at the table and is a favorite with groups.

Okonomiyaki which literally means ‘grilled as you like it’ is a savory version of Japanese pancake, made with flour, eggs, shredded cabbage, meat, chicken or tofu and topped with a variety of condiments. Often called as ‘Japanese pizza’ in the US, you can definitely prepare the filling and toppings however you like it.

Tonkatsu, or pork cutlet, is a Japanese dish which consists of a breaded, deep-fried pork cutlet. It is served with a special BBQ sauce and shredded cabbage.

Sukiyaki consists of thinly sliced beef which is simmered alongside vegetables in a sweet broth in a shallow iron pot at the table. The cooked ingredients are usually dipped in a small bowl of raw, beaten eggs and then eaten. Generally sukiyaki is a winter dish and it is commonly found at Japanese year-end parties.

Bento is a single-portion take-out or home-packed meal common in Japanese cuisine. A traditional bento holds rice or noodles, fish or meat, with pickled and cooked vegetables, in a box. An eki ben is a bento bought at a train station (the Japanese word for station is eki) and eaten while traveling.

Oden  is a Japanese one pot winter dish consisting of several ingredients such as boiled eggs, daikon, konyaku, and fishcakes stewed in a light, soy-flavored dashi broth. Ingredients vary according to region and between each household. It is a popular street food. 

Yakisoba  which literally means “fried buckwheat noodles,” is a Japanese stir-fry dish typically flavored with a condiment similar to oyster sauce, and served with pickled ginger.

Donburi is a rice bowl dish consisting of fish, meat, vegetables or other ingredients served over rice. Beaten raw egg is cracked over the contents of the rice bowl and the heat of the food cooks the egg.

Takoyaki is a ball-shaped Japanese snack made of batter mixed with diced octopus, tempura scraps, pickled ginger, and green onion and cooked in a special molded pan.

Tempura is a classical Portuguese dish brought to and popularized by Japan, consisting of seafood or vegetables deep fried in a very light batter.



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