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Japanese Food Glossary
Here is an A-Z glossary of Japanese food words and phrases.
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In Japanese, nabe (pronounced "nah-beh") simply means pot. Nabe ryori (pot cooking) has become a generic term for meals cooked in a pot - vegetables, meat and noodles or rice cooked at the table in
Kissaten, Japanese retro cafes
In the land of green tea, there is no shortage of coffee enthusiasts or "Kissaten", coffee shops. Imported to Japan in the late 1800s and the first cafe opened in the early 1900s.
Tsukemen are the ideal dish for anyone who cannot do without noodles during the hot and humid summers of the Japanese archipelago.
Kaiseki ryori, Japanese gourmet cuisine
Japanese cuisine is renowned around the world and one of its most refined and sought-after expressions bears the name of Kaiseki ryori , the Japanese gourmet meal comprised of several cour
The Melon Pan, the Japanese brioche
By its round and generous shape, the melon pan invites you to indulge. Its cracked appearance looks like a melon, but does it taste like it?
Wagashi, traditional Japanese sweets
The term wagashi refers to traditional Japanese sweets. Usually small, the size of just a few mouthfuls, they come in many shapes, textures and using various ingredients.
Dango: the kawaii mochi balls
The dango is a small ball of mochi served in a skewer.
Okonomiyaki: A Japanese Omelet
A cross between an omelet and a pancake, cooked with numerous ingredients and drizzled with a thick, savoury sauce. Okonomiyaki is a typical treat of Osaka, Hiroshima and Tokyo.
How to cook sushi?
Sushi is an iconic Japanese delicacy and comes in countless forms today.
Dorayaki, the Japanese "sponge cake"
Dorayaki is perhaps one of the most well-known and popular Japanese pastries.
Karaage, Japanese fried chicken
Karaage (fried chicken) is one of the great classic Japanese dishes which is very popular. You will find this dish on menus in an izakaya or for sale in a konbini.
Mochi, the traditional Japanese dessert par excellence
Very popular in Asia, mochi is a traditional pastry made from sticky rice. It is also paired or filled with anko (red bean paste) and other ingredients.
Tonkatsu, Japanese breaded pork
Tonkatsu, a Japanese culinary specialty, is a very common Japanese dish, which consists of a piece of fried breaded pork. It is found in different forms in all types of restaurants.
Râmen, the famous Japanese noodles
It was love at first sight for the Japanese and the Ramen: A love story that started over a century ago. Served directly at the counter, ramen is king with its undisputed flavors!
Donburi: the unique Japanese dish
Rice and a garnish: this is a simple, hearty, and accommodating dish that can be served universally from one end of the to the other. What are these toppings?
Breakfast in Japan: between tradition and new trends
Whether taken with the family or alone, on the go or in a restaurant, breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
Taiyaki, Japanese waffles
For the Japanese, this fish-shaped cake, commonly sold as street food, in the shape of tai (sea bream) traditionally filled with red bean paste evokes the festivals and me
Daifuku mochi, the delicious Japanese pastry
Round, soft and sweet, daifuku "great happiness", is one of the most represented in the world of wagashi, traditional Japanese pastries.
The Art of Sashimi
As simple as it can appear to the naked eye, sashimi is a complex culinary art.
Udon noodles, typical Japanese dish
But where do these thick, springy noodles come from that are so hard to eat with chopsticks?
Soba, buckwheat noodles
Along with ramen and udon, soba is the most consumed noodles in Japan, forming an integral part of many dishes.
This soup is a central element of Japanese cuisine: having a meal without miso soup is almost unthinkable in Japan.
Sake: the alcohol of Japan
Sake is not only one of the most consumed drinks in Japan, but it is also one of the oldest. From religious rites to feats, sake is an essential part of Japanese culture.
Unagi, the Japanese eel
Eel is not consumed much out of Asia, being a rather fatty fish. However, the Japanese make it a finger-licking good: unagi is often eaten grilled and brushed with a delicious sauce.
Eating Japanese crab
If you're in Japan during winter, you'll no doubt admire the snowy temples and enjoy the various festivals, but make time to try the local specialties! Crab is a staple in winter dishes.
Tofu, a Japanese soy specialty
Whether it's cut into small cubes in miso soup or fried, wrapped around inarizushi, tofu is a very common ingredient in Japanese cuisine.
Daikon, the Japanese winter radish
In Japan, it is quite common to see a pair of vegetables, leeks, and daikon, in a shopping basket at a supermarket.
Gyozas, Japanese dumplings
Gyoza is one of the most popular dishes in Japan, a country with a huge culinary culture. Gyoza is also already very present around the globe.
Winter culinary specialties made with Zuwai crab
There are several varieties of crabs in Japan and winter is the best season.
The Bento: the Japanese lunch box
Compact, aesthetic, and healthy, the bento is the essential asset for a healthy and delicious lunch. The box containing a balanced meal can sometimes appear to be a real work of art.
Onigiri: the essential rice balls
Onigiri (rice balls) also called omusubu, are to the Japanese what sandwiches are to the French: a practical, inexpensive snack that sticks well.
Takoyaki: A Specialty of Osaka
Osaka is known for its many delicious dishes and street foods, the most famous undoubtedly being takoyaki! This is a must-try dish when you visit Japan.
Where to take cooking classes in Japan?
Maki, Tempura, or even Okonomiyaki, all these dishes are emblematic of Japanese cuisine.
Kawaii cakes and sweets
As the country that invented kawaii, Japanese cakes and sweets often come in adorable little animals or famous anime characters.
Different types of sushi
You probably already know nigiri sushi and makizushi (often just called "maki").
Originally created to satisfy a varied clientele, family restaurants are very popular in Japan. What are they and where can you find them?
Strawberry: seasonal specialties
Although strawberries can also be found during summer in Japan, the strawberry season traditionally extends from January to April.
Cooking with tea
Whether it's consumed ceremonially, or simply bought in a can from a vending machine or konbini, tea is an essential part of daily life in Japan.
Cherry blossom specialties
The change of season is always a good time to discover new products in Japan and spring is no exception.
Eating seafood, Japanese style
In Japan, fish isn't just eaten raw with rice. A Japanese man eats an average of 70 kilos of fish a year, so thankfully there are many ways to prepare it.
Kaitenzushi restaurant chains
There's no sushi master meticulously preparing fish in front of you, nor eye-watering bill when you're done.
Fish, tigers, birds or even pandas, these lollipops sculpted by Japanese craftsmen on sugar can take all possible shapes.
In Japan, there are many kinds of edible mushrooms.
Japanese Fall specialities
Renowned for its landscapes of gold and red, autumn is a beautiful season to discover Japan. Especially food-wise, since fall heralds the arrival of many delicious seasonal products.
Iwakuni-zushi or thousand leaf sushi
Originating in the city of Iwakuni, Iwakuni-zushi are a variety of sushi made in a large wooden box and mounted on several floors, making them look like mille-feuilles of rice.
Umibudo, or "sea grape," is a culinary specialty of Okinawa prefecture. Its crunchy texture and finely iodized flavor makes it a unique dish sometimes called “sea caviar”!
Tabehodai and nomihodai!
In Japan, it is possible to eat and drink much at a given time for a reasonably modest sum.
The other, lesser known star of beef in Japan is located almost 2,000 kilometers from Tokyo, on the island group of Okinawa.
Tofu in Japanese cuisine
Tofu is an extremely versatile ingredient, much appreciated by the Japanese and often used in their culinary specialties.
Fruit culture in Japan
In Japan, fruits are considered a special commodity and hold a special place in society.
You might want to taste the local Sake, or even bring back a bottle as a souvenir! But how to choose among the many varieties of rice wine? Especially when the label is in Japanese...
Torikizoku, yakitori at low prices
With a busy and vibrant atmosphere and a menu specializing in chicken skewers at an unbeatable price: Torikizoku is sure to make your night a memorable dining experience!
Kuro ninniku, black garlic
The true origins of black garlic are unknown. According to some sources, it originated in Korea more than 4,000 years ago. According to others, in Japan.
Like rice, noodles are a staple of the Japanese diet. They are often served in soup, fried, or eaten cold with a dipping sauce.
Yamazaki Whisky Museum & Distillery Tour
Yamazaki Whisky Museum & Distillery Tour: the home of Japanese whisky is Yamazaki near Kyoto where you can visit the Yamazaki Japanese Whisky Museum and take a tour of Japan's oldest distillery
Both natto and umeboshi are often mentioned among the most challenging Japanese specialties for the Western palate!
Awamori is the traditional alcohol of the Okinawa archipelago. This drink, distilled using a unique method since the 15th century, is deeply rooted in the culture of the region.
The Three Fives of Japanese Cuisine: Gomi Goshoku Goho
The three "fives" of gomi goshoku goho are fundamental to traditional Japanese kaiseki cuisine.
Popular konbini candies
Feeling peckish? Make a stop at konbini (Japanese convenience store) to find something to nibble!
Niigata salt: the coast of northen Niigata has become famous for its production of salt from the sea.
Japanese Kit Kats
Have you ever tasted a matcha tea-flavored Kit Kat? How about cherry blossom flavor? Sweet potato? If you can imagined a flavor, Nestlé have probably made it into a Kit Kat... in Japan, at least.
Soft and refreshing, umeshu is THE Japanese summer drink. One year after its manufacture, this very popular plum alcohol is invading the terraces of Japanese bars.
Spring 2018: sakura-flavored food and drinks
Drinks, cakes, ice cream, there's no end to cherry blossom-themed foods this time of year in Japan. Here is the list of the biggest products for spring 2018.
You may not know it by name, but if you're a fan of Japanese cuisine, you'll have surely tasted it.
Consumed for centuries in Asia, konnyaku, pronounced "konjac", has for some years become synonymous with diet in the West. But what is it exactly?
5 Japanese winter drinks
In Japan in winter, cold and snow abound in most of the country.
Japanese citrus fruits
Yuzu, the yellow Japanese citrus fruit, is known around the world.
Japanese winter specialties
As the temperatures drop, what better than a good steaming dish to warm up? Discover the winter culinary specialties of Japan!
Deer aren't the only cultural feature of Nara, which has much more to offer than just these kawaii animals. Relatively unknown outside Japan, this sushi from Nara is a culinary marvel!
Rice in Japan
Rice is a staple ingredient of Japanese cuisine, and has been cultivated for over 2,000 years in Japan. Look back on its history and its place in Japanese culture.
Mirin is a must for Japanese cuisine. Whether used as a seasoning or for cooking simmered vegetables, this sweet rice wine brings a pleasant sweetness to Japanese dishes.
Sesame in Japanese cuisine
The Japanese are the largest consumers of sesame, with nearly 160,000 tonnes imported each year from Latin America.
The top 3 ekiben in the JR East region
Traveling by train in Japan makes it easy to get around the country.
5 Japanese sweets you must try
Sugar has long been a rarity in the archipelago before exploding in modern times into a multitude of tastes, shapes, colors, to the delight of children and adults alike.
Sake is not only one of the most consumed drinks in Japan, but also one of the oldest. From religious rites to gastronomy, sake is a key element of Japanese culture.
Yakitori, grilled meat skewers, are one of the most popular dishes in Japan, as well as abroad.
Natto: Mito in Ibaraki is a natto capital of Japan and traditional wara natto (natto wrapped in rice straw) is its signature product.
Beni imo, sweet potato from Okinawa
The Okinawa archipelago contains many treasures, both in landscapes and culinary specialties. One of them is a special local sweet potato called "beni-imo". What's so special about it?
Made by fermenting rice, rice vinegar (yonezu in Japanese) is an essential ingredient in today's Japanese cuisine. It is known around the world for its vital role in the preparation of sushi.
Manju is a very popular confectionery throughout Japan. It is available in hundreds of different versions.
Do you find table service overrated at restaurants? Does ordering over the counter feel too restrictive?
Street food in Osaka
Osaka abounds with culinary specialties. The third largest city in Japan has an overwhelming appetite that makes it a true street food capital, ideal for cheap meals!
Furikake is a nutritional condiment of seaweed and dried fish that the Japanese sprinkle on rice.
Castella is a sweet yellow sponge cake, known in Japan as a specialty of Nagasaki.
Soybeans are, along with rice, one of the staples of Japanese cuisine. Consumed in bean, sauce, curd or fermented paste form, soya is enjoyed as much for its taste as its nutritional qualities.
Now recognized as one of the basic tastes along with salty, sweet, sour and bitter, umami nevertheless remains a somewhat mysterious flavor of Japanese cuisine.
Dashi is the basis of Japanese cuisine and is used in many dishes, such as miso soup, ramen broth, okonomiyaki, and Japanese pickles.
Nori, whose culture developed during the Edo era (1603-1868), is one of the ingredients that contributes to the legendary longevity of the Japanese people.
Restaurants in Japan
Arriving in Japan and finding yourself spoilt for choice in front of a dizzying array of different restaurants - it's a situation well known to visitors of Japan!
Aperitif in Japan
The aperitif "à la française" does not have its equivalent in Japan.
Shojin ryori, the food of Buddhist monks
A special vegetarian, often vegan, diet is followed by monks and believers in areas influenced by Chinese Buddhism.
10 Japanese cooking utensils
If Japanese cuisine is considered special, the utensils for its preparation are too! Coming from a long tradition, they are made of fine materials and always of very high quality.
How much do you know about the different vegetables commonly used in Japanese cuisine? Take a little time to learn more about these tasty foods.
Culinary specialties of Kanto
Each part of Japan has its own culinary specialties.The Japanese take great pride in them and they are often mentioned in Japanesetravel guides.
Dagashi, Japanese candy
It's not just ramune that evokes the image of childhood and summer in the Japanese. Dagashi are also part of the Japanese food culture.
Ramune (pronounced "la-moo-nay") is THE refreshing summer drink in Japan. But more than just a drink, it's a taste of childhood for many Japanese.
Soft, thick and sweet, Japanese pancakes are a more generous version of the famous recipe from the United States.
Understanding a Japanese menu
You've finally found a good restaurant to eat at - but the menu is only in Japanese... and without pictures. Don't panic!
Often reduced to sushi and yakitori, Japanese cuisine actually has many regional differences. Take a tour of the culinary specialties of southern Japan.
Need a snack? Try a Japanese bakery! They are quite different from those found in the west. Surprisingly original, you'll soon get addicted to the quality and variety of Japanese bread.
Japanese craft beers
With a consumption of about 40 liters per year per capita, beer has become the favorite drink of the Japanese in recent years.
Specialities of Hokkaido
Known for its open spaces, varied flora and fauna, winter ski resorts and its cool, dry climate in summer, Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan, is a popular tourist destination.
Who doesn't know this famous green paste that comes with your favourite sushi? Mouth-burning wasabi is a symbol of Japanese cuisine.
Kansai culinary specialties
With Osaka, the Japanese street food paradise, and Kyoto, kingdom of great cuisine, the Kansai region offers a variety of culinary delights.
Does matcha tea need any introduction? This Japanese green tea, ground to a fine green powder full of flavor and energy, has already amassed thousands of fans worldwide.
Like sushi? What am I saying, of course you do! We have what you need. Buckle up, we're headed to sushi heaven...
For centuries, edible seaweed has been consumed in Japan daily; and with good reason, because these "sea vegetables" have great qualities - they're tasty and nutritional.Really!
McDonald's in Japan
Shrimp or soy sauce burgers, tofu nuggets, and bacon pie: at McDonald's in Japan, the menu is adapted to the Japanese palate.
The concept of nabemono contradicts the frugal image stew sometimes has: this hearty Japanese hotpot is cooked and served on the table in a large pot that everyone shares.
Deliciously light and crisp, this famous Japanese way of frying was first made popular in Japan by Portuguese travelers.
Boiled in their pods and eaten warm, edamame are a culinary treat not to be missed!
One of the basic ingredients of traditional Japanese sweets is often one of the most surprising tastes for our western tastebuds...
Five Japanese Vegetarian Dishes
Rice, soybeans and vegetables, three staples of Japanese cuisine that make life easier for vegetarians in Japan!
Vegetarian in Japan
In a country where eating meat is only quite recent, being vegetarian in Japan isn't so hard.
The Japanese are crazy about these sticky fermented soybeans! They are extremely beneficial to your health, yet hard to export outside of Japan.
Vegetarian Food in Japan
Japan cultivates a culinary tradition very focused on the use of non-animal products: seasonal vegetables, herbs, citrus, and soy, of course! A paradise for vegetarians.
This Japanese specialty is a dish that will make you love the cold.
Seasonal Fall Dishes in Japan
A lot of effort is put into meals to reflect the change of seasons in Japan, and Fall is no different.
How To Eat Sushi
Here are a few simple tips on how to enjoy sushi.
Japanese Table Manners
Customs and habits during meals in Japan are sometimes very different from ours. So don't get caught out!
Matsutake Mushroom Season in Japan
Matsutake Mushrooms 松茸 (literally pine mushroom), known as mycorrhizal mushrooms in English, is a very tasty species of mushroom in Japan.
In Japan, it might be hard to find any burger vans or chicken shops, but why not visit a yatai instead, the original Japanese street food.
O-cha: Japanese green tea
Green tea is often misunderstood by westerners visiting Japan. Yet this is the most typical Japanese taste, which is found everywhere: in drinks, pastries, and noodles and more.
Tsukemono are one of the key specialties of Japanese cuisine. You rarely find a meal that does not contain them in some form, including bentos. Get to know and enjoy them!
Konbini: 5 Specialties to Try
All those who have traveled to Japan know the famous konbini (convenience store), stores open 24/7 and ever-present in the Japanese urban landscape. Here are some specialties not to be missed!
Drinks To Try This Summer
It is true that Japan is known for it's sake, as well as beer after work. But it is especially known for its millions of vending machines and soft drinks.
The depachika: a kitchen in the basement
In Japan, the basements of department stores are devoted to food. These floors offer a huge array of Japanese dishes, perfect for satisfying all your cravings!
6 Strange Japanese Dishes
Dishes featuring strange foodstuffs: unusual creatures, slimy or even still alive, Japanese cuisine is considered bizarre by some foreigners.
In Japan, the omelet has many variations. It can be thick, very thin or cut into strips. This dish is one of the basics of Japanese cuisine.
Four Amazing Japanese Sweets
Japanese cuisine is known for its subtlety and refinement. However, the Japanese also like to move away from classic and invent new culinary concepts, especially when it comes to desserts!
Matsuri Food Specialties
True celebrations of street food, Japanese matsuri give you an initiation into popular Japanese food, from takoyaki to cotton candy.
Kakigori: Traditional Shaved Ice
While it is possible to find the most eccentric of ice creams in Japan, some stand out because of their simplicity.
Fugu in Usuki
Fugu in Usuki: read a guide to eating fugu (blow fish) in Usuki in Oita Prefecture, Kyushu, Japan which is famed for this deadly delicacy.
Vegetarian Sushi: as sushi becomes more popular all over the planet tremendous pressure is placed on surviving fish stocks.
Curry is a culinary institution in Japan. But its fans are often unaware of its foreign origins: it was the British who made it popular in the archipelago.
Momo: The Peach in Japan
Peach in Japanese is momo 桃, a word that is said to maybe derive from the phrase mami 真実 or true fruit, or from moemi 燃実 or burning fruit in reference to its flame-like coloring, or perhaps from th
Sado Doburoku Sake
Doburoku sake is unfiltered sake traditionally made right after the rice harvest in autumn; Kaifu Hakko produces fine sake on Sado Island, Niigata.
Sayama Tea: read a guide to the history and harvest of Sayama Tea near Tokorozawa in Saitama Prefecture, near Tokyo.
Making Mochi in Japan
Mochi: a traditional food eaten during the Japanese New Year’s celebrations, mochi was once a commonly produced food at home and was eaten by the samurai on the battlefield.
Jigoku Mushi Cuisine
Jigoku Mushi: read a guide to the steamed hot spring cuisine of Jigoku Mushi found in Kannawa, Beppu, Oita.
Sakai Japanese Knives
Sakai Japanese kitchen knives: read an introduction to the different kinds of Japanese knives produced in Sakai, Japan.
Umibudo Sea Grapes
Umibudo (sea grapes) is a type of seaweed snack harvested on the Okinawan island of Miyako.
Ishigaki Salt is a delicious and healthy sea salt harvested from the crystal clear waters of this beautiful Okinawan island.
Western Food in Japan
Western Food in Japan: read a history of the introduction of Western provender in the Japanese kitchen: okonomiyaki, beef, sukiyaki
Sasebo Burgers: read about Sasebo Burgers which started in the 1950s outside the US Navy base in Sasebo, Kyushu and have become a national food phenomenon.
Shirouo: eating live fish. Read a review of a shirouo restaurant and the experience of eating live fish in Fukuoka, Japan.
Eating Out In Osaka
Eating Out In Osaka: find recommendations for eating out and enjoying the nightlife in Osaka.
Japan's Traditional Food Styles
Japan's Traditional Food Styles: read an article on Japan's traditional food styles including kaiseki ryori and shojin ryori.
Japanese Beer: The Big Four, Asahi, Kirin, Sapporo, Suntory. Read an overview of the big Japanese brewing companies and their products.
Noodling around Osaka: read a feature on raamen noodles in the Japanese diet. Including how to make and where to slurp noodles.
Japanese sake. Sake is Japan's most famous variety of native alcohol. However, it is losing out in popularity to shochu. Learn how and where to find the best sake and how to drink it.
Takoyaki and Osaka
Takoyaki (literally 'octopus bake') are delicious little hot savory wheat-flour balls on sticks with a piece of boiled octopus in the middle.
Kirin Beer. Kirin Beer is considered the archetypal Japanese brew. Brewed though it is in Japan, Kirin Beer was actually began by an obscure Norwegian immigrant.
Seaweed in Japan
Nori Seaweed: read a feature on seaweed (nori) in the Japanese diet and the health benefits of seaweed and laver.
Japanese Food - Fugu
Fugu. Information on fugu (blowfish) a poisonous fish eaten as a delicacy in Japanese restaurants.
Drinking in Japan shochu: Read an article on shochu a distilled beverage which is increasingly popular in Japan.
Japanese Food & Cuisine
A beginner's guide to food and eating in Japan: an overview of Japanese food and Japanese cuisine with sections on dining out in Japan, sushi, ramen and other dishes plus drinking and restaurants.
Read an article on The Waribashi Conundrum: Japan and the use of disposable chopsticks.
Japanese Food Types
Japanese food and cuisine: what to eat in Japan: see an explanation of the following dishes: donburi, izakaya, kaiseki, sushi, katsu, nabe, okonomiyaki, ramen, soba, udon, sashimi, tempura, yakitor
Tea in Japan
Japanese Tea: read a feature on the history and political/cultural significance of tea in Japan through the ages.
Drinking Culture in Japan
Read an article about the drinking culture in Japan and Japanese people's drinking habits. This covers beer, sake and shochu.
Rice in Japan: read an article on present-day rice farmers and rice-growing techniques in Japan. The cultivation of rice has shaped the politics, geography, economy and culture of Japan.
Read an article on soy sauce, an intrinsic ingredient of Japanese cooking, culture and cuisine.
Drinking in Japan - Sake, Beer, Shochu
Japan drinking: information on entertainment, nightlife and drinking habits and bars in Japan including beer, sake and shochu.
Michelin Guide Japan
Read about the Michelin Guide's reviews of some of Japan's best restaurants. Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka all have three-star rated restaurants.
Aomori Apples Varieties & Tours
Aomori Apples: Aomori is known for its apples. These thrive in the cooler climate and extreme diurnal temperatures. 50% of Japan's apples grow here.
Kagami Mochi Rice Cakes
Kagami Mochi: The ushering in of a New yYear means that many in Japan will again partake in the eating of kagami mochi (mirror-shaped rice cakes).
Onsen Tamago Hot Spring Eggs
Onsen tamago are eggs placed in rope nets and left in the hot water of a hot spring for around 30-40 minutes to be poached by the low temperature heating.
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