They say one of the best ways to learn of a country’s culture is by eating the food. If you’re going to Japan, it’s a must to sample the delicious cooking. You might have already tried the usual fare that the country is known for, such as sushi, ramen, or teppanyaki, in your home country. However, it’s different when you try their authentic counterparts.
No matter what season you’re going to Japan, there are many dishes you should try. Among some of the most popular and accessible are the street foods. You can literally buy and eat from small food stalls called yatai. Here are some of the essential street eats that you should try at least once.
You might already know of this or at least seen this in commercials or Japanese dramas. Takoyaki balls are basically fried batter filled with bits of octopus and topped with brown sauce and mayonnaise and then garnished with spring onions and dried bonito fish flakes. These also come with pickled ginger on the side.
Takoyaki is originally from Osaka, but it can be enjoyed in different parts of Japan, especially during festivals. Like many street foods, they are made to order, and it can be mesmerizing to witness the vendors make this well-loved snack. It is best eaten hot, but be careful because it can burn your tongue.
Roasted Sweet Potatoes
This is a seasonal street food also known as yakiimo. The winter months can be brutal, and roasted sweet potatoes are a delicious reprieve from the blistering cold. Not only do they provide warmth, but they are filling as well. Vendors typically serve yakiimo in brown paper bags, and with that you get warm and tender sweet potatoes.
Japanese crepes are not unlike the usual French dessert. The Japanese have adopted it and put their own spin to suit the local taste, which is why it is a wildly popular street food. The crepe wafer itself is sweet, and the toppings include seasonal fruits like strawberries and blueberries. It is fashioned into a cone, and the fillings can also include whipped cream, chocolate, or ice cream.
Another popular street food in the summer is the kakigori, or shaved ice. As its name suggests, the dessert is made literally with shaved ice in a variety of flavors, such as lemon, green tea, strawberry, or matcha. There are vendors who add a topping of whipped cream, sweet red beans, or jelly.
There are many variations of this classic sweet across Japan. Fruits are drenched in sugary syrup and sold skewered on a stick. The most popular candied fruits that can be found in the streets are apples and apricots. Seasonal fruits such as strawberries and mikan (mandarin) are available too, so if you see any of them, be sure to grab some for yourself to try.
Red Bean Cake
This Japanese dessert is a staple in festivals around the country. It is locally known as imagawayaki, or taiko-manju in some places in Japan. It is a round sweet cake made from a batter of flour, eggs, water, and sugar and filled with red beans. There are other variations filled with custard or chocolate.
Flavors of Japan
Japan is an amazing country with a lot of interesting things to offer, particularly with their food. The best way to experience all these flavors is to visit the country. If you’re in the middle of planning for the trip but want something to get your experience started all the way from home, then consider getting a candy and snack subscription box directly from Japan!
These boxes are great starters on the different sweets and snacks that you can get when you visit. You don’t have to worry about the language barrier if you haven’t studied the language (although a few key phrases can help you once there) because each monthly box comes with a special booklet that tells you about the contents of your package. You’re free to choose how many items you want as well.
Published by Lara Buck