What to Eat in Japan: A Guide for First-Timers



Japan is renowned for its rich and diverse cuisine, which offers a variety of flavours ranging from savoury to sweet. From sushi and ramen to tempura and soba, Japanese food has something for everyone. Traditional Japanese dining etiquette includes the use of chopsticks to eat dishes such as sushi and sashimi, while soups are typically eaten with spoon. Dining out in Japan is an experience not to be missed – come explore the wonderful world of Japanese gastronomy!




Exploring Japan’s varied culinary traditions and local cuisines is an essential part of any visit to the country. From kaiseki ryori (traditional multi-course Japanese meals) and tempura (battered and deep-fried seafood, meat, and vegetables) to yakitori (grilled chicken skewers) and ramen (Japanese noodles in a broth), there are numerous dishes to try as you explore different regions throughout Japan.












Sushi is a traditional and popular Japanese food that combines vinegared rice with various other ingredients such as fish and vegetables. Seafood is often used in making sushi, but there are also vegetarian options available. The word “sushi” actually refers to the vinegared rice itself, and the other ingredients are typically called neta, or “su toppings”.










Ramen is a Japanese noodle dish consisting of wheat noodles served in a broth containing seasonings such as miso, soy sauce and mirin, topped with various ingredients, often including pork slices and nori (seaweed). Ramen dishes have gained worldwide popularity in recent years and have become one of Japan’s most famous culinary exports.









Udon is a type of thick wheat-based noodle popular in Japanese cuisine. It is usually served hot in a light noodle soup or cold with a dipping sauce. Udon can be flavored with various sauces and condiments depending on region or personal preference. It is often topped with green onion or ginger for extra flavor.








Tempura is an iconic Japanese dish consisting of pieces of seafood or vegetables that are lightly battered then deep-fried until crispy and golden brown. It’s commonly served with grated daikon radish as well as a flavorful dipping sauce made from either soy sauce or dashi (fish stock).









Okonomiyaki is a savory Japanese pancake composed of flour, egg batter, shredded cabbage, meat (usually pork), seafood or vegetables mixed together then grilled on both sides until crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside – sometimes even oozing out bits of cheese! The pancakes are usually served with mayonnaise, fish flakes (katsuobushi), dried seaweed flakes (okaka) for extra flavourful zing along with spicy BBQ-style sauces for added kick!










Opt for shabu-shabu: Shabu-shabu is a hotpot dish made with thinly sliced beef cooked in a broth with vegetables like cauliflower and mushrooms. This is often served with dipping sauces including soy sauce, ponzu (citrus-based sauce), gomadare (sesame seed-based sauce), and miso (fermented soybean paste).






Go for yakitori




Yakitori consists of grilled chicken skewers marinated in soy sauce or other seasonings such as Worcestershire sauce or sake. The ideal accompaniment to these skewers is beer or sake – perfect for those looking to create their own izakaya night at home!





Don’t skip on soba noodles





Another classic Japanese staple is soba noodles – made from buckwheat flour they’re traditionally served cold but can also be enjoyed hot in soup form or fried tempura style!





Enjoy oden



Oden consists of various ingredients cooked together for hours like daikon radish pieces, boiled eggs and fishcake which results in delicious stews flavoured with dashi stock or any other seasoning you desire!