Must-try japanese foods when traveling to Tokyo

Top 10 foods to try in Japan

Aug 2, 2023

Japan is renowned for its colorful culture, ancient traditions, and ultra-modern technology, but it also has an unbelievable culinary scene. Seriously— of all the countries that I’ve visited so far, Japan has the best food (literally drooling as I type this). So if you’re visiting Japan, you’re probably wondering, “what are the top foods to try in Japan?!”

From little street izakayas with sizzling grills to world famous ramen shops and cinematic sushi bars, there’s something delicious around every corner in Japan. So whether you’re looking for a few must-eats in Japan or just don’t want to miss the best eats Japan, I’m dropping them below (with pictures!) to help you plan your Japan vacation! ⬇️

What are the top 10 Japanese foods?

1. Cheesy Japanese curry

best food to try in japan

Savory Japanese curry and rice is comfort food with a twist. I’m from the South, so when I tell you that the fried pork in Japanese curry is TOP notch, you can trust me! It’s juicy, salty, and unbelievably crispy yet some how still light. And unlike traditional spicy Indian or Thai curry, Japanese curry is milder, richer, and has a unique blend of spices like a gravy. For a cheesy twist, head to CoCo Ichiban (which has locations all over Japan), where you can get a generous topping of gooey melted cheese. For me, cheesy Japanese curry is the top food to try in Japan!

2. Sushi

Sushi is a globally acclaimed Japanese delicacy that needs no introduction. Even as someone who doesn’t eat ANY fish at home (I find it truly disgusting, slimy, and smelly), I have to say that it’s different in Japan. If you want an authentic Japanese food culture experience, sushi is unmissable and an obvious addition to any list of the top foods to try in Japan!

3. Souffle pancakes

top 100 japanese foods

Fluffy, jiggly, and incredibly light, souffle pancakes were perfected in Japan. They’re made with a delicate batter and cooked to perfection, and are sweet and airy thanks to egg whites, ricotta cheese, and patience! Even if you’re not a sweets person, try souffle pacakes with mild cream and matcha or a light fruit instead of syrup or gelato. For some of the best souffle pancakes, visit Micasadeco & Cafe Osaka to savor their signature stacks with powdered sugar and syrup, or with seasonal fruits and velvety chantilly cream. These beauties should be near the top of your list of the top foods to try in Japan!

4. Soba

Soba are thin buckwheat noodles and are a traditional Japanese staple known for a nutty flavor and health benefits. I was unsure about this one at first, but it tastes so much better than it sounds! You’ll find it served hot in a flavorful broth or cold with a dipping sauce (try it hot first), and it’s particularly famous in Osaka, the “kitchen of Japan.”

5. Ramen

japanese food culture

You have to eat ramen, period. Each region boasts its own variation of ramen, from creamy tonkotsu in Hakata to soy-based shoyu in Tokyo and miso in Hokkiado. I recommend walking around Tokyo at night and following your nose to down streets and alleyways, looking for ramen shops with lines out the door! There’s also Ichiran Ramen, a well-known ramen chain where you can customize your bowl with various toppings and private booths.

6. Yakitori

Yakitori, a popular Japanese street food, is skewered and grilled chicken pieces. Seasoned with salt or basted with a savory tare sauce, this is a super tasty, affordable grab-and-go snack or meal that you can find on most streets in major Japanese cities.

7. Okonomiyaki

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Think Waffle House, but cleaner and in Japan. A beloved Japanese savory pancake and famous in Japanese food culture, okonomiyaki translates to “grilled as you like it.” This dish, grilled on a huge habatchi-like grill in front of you, combines shredded cabbage, savory batter, and ingredients like pork, seafood, onions, or cheese, all cooked on a griddle. You’ll find different varieties of okonomiyaki all over Japan, but my favorite style was in Hiroshima (fried noodles)! There’s actually a multi-story building with 20+ okonomiyaki places in Hiroshima where you can follow your nose and or even do a okonomiyaki crawl!

8. Wagyu beef in Kobe

Kobe beef, considered one of the finest and most tender types of beef in the world, hails from the Hyogo Prefecture, with Kobe as its epicenter. Raised with utmost care and fed a special diet, Kobe beef is marbled with delicate fat, creating a melt-in-your-mouth experience. To taste this luxurious treat, visit “Steak Land Kobe” in Kobe, renowned for its top-quality Kobe beef. You can also find it at a more affordable price point and smaller serving skewered at street food markets around Japan!

9. Tempura

what are popular foods to eat in Japan

Tempura is lightly battered and deep-fried chicken or seafood and vegetables with a crisp and delicate texture. I know what you’re thinking- fried chicken makes your list of the top foods to try in Japan? Absolutely. I love both karage and tempura, but tempura is special. In Beppu, a famous hot spring town in Japan, is known for tempura and the chefs use the finest ingredients and techniques to create tempura that is crispy, yet not greasy.

10. Kaiseki

Kaiseki is the epitome of Japanese haute cuisine, offering an elaborate multi-course meal that beautifully showcases seasonal and regional ingredients. This culinary art form focuses on balance, harmony, and aesthetics. To indulge in kaiseki at its finest, visit “Kikunoi” in Kyoto, a Michelin-starred restaurant.

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Sarah is the passionate solo female travel blogger behind Wait, Where is She? She’s a full time traveler, scuba diver, foodie, and adventure seeker with a deep love for sharing the special places and bucket list destinations that she’s found herself in.

She LIVES for tasty street food market grills, quiet ocean sunrises, pour over coffee, long train rides with a Taylor Swift album, that feeling when you shower after a salty beach day, and living with an insatiable curiosity for the wonders of the natural world and all of its vibrant cultures. 

Wait, Where is She? serves people with the information and inspiration to confidently seek out their own adventures and make the joys of travel easier, more accessible, and budget-friendly. Come along for the laughs while she makes all the mistakes (so you don’t have to). Let’s go!

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