The flavors of Japan

Do you love the sushi and ramen in your local Japanese restaurant? It’s highly probable that it has less common with the typical Japanese food than you might expect. At least that’s my experience. Now let’s look at what you must try on your visit to the country of the rising sun.

The most iconic Japanese food is definitely sushi. There are a lot of restaurants to choose from. Some are cheap and you can get a pair of nigiri for so little as 100 yen. But there are also many fancier sushi bars where the price is accordingly higher.

In a typical sushi conveyor belt restaurant, you sit in front of the conveyor belt where the plates with sushi are doing their rounds. The color of the plate indicates the price of the sushi. But don’t just get stuffed on cheap 100 yen sushi. You won’t know what you will be missing out on. Try also some of the more expensive pieces to get the real taste of a fatty tuna or a delicious eel. Stack up the empty plaits on your table. When you are finished eating a waiter will count them to make up the bill.

What is the most typical food in Japan? It’s not sushi. It’s ramen. The various types of noodles in hot broth are the local favorite. The broth can be either clear or thick. I prefer the clear one. In a typical Japanese ramen,  there are only a few ingredients. Noodles, a few pieces of fatty meat (usually it’s pork) and scallions. Sometimes a boiled egg or bamboo is added. A hot ramen is a delicious meal after a long day of walking.

The Japanese love curry. It’s not the classic Indian curry as you probably know it. It’s the Japanese version of it which is a bit different. A popular curry house franchise restaurant is called Coco Ichibanya. You can find it basically in any larger city. Here you can choose curry with all possible ingredients, including a curry with a fried pork cutlet or a cheese filled hamburger. I tried a tomato-asparagus curry with hamburger meat and it was delicious. And what’s even better, it’s cheap.

Or you can get also various meal sets which are often quite convenient. Usually, it’s a rice bowl with meat on top and some noodles on the side (soba, udon, etc.). You can choose either cold noodles on a mat or hot noodles in a light broth. It seemed a bit strange to me to have noodles on a separate plate when you have already got rice with pork or chicken. But it will surely fill you up.

And also don’t forget to try tempura. I had it twice during our time in Japan and it was delicious both times. Not greasy at all but crispy and fresh.

There is also a large variety of street food. From sweet and savory crepes popular mainly in Tokyo, steamed meat buns, rice puff crackers to Takoyaki typical for Osaka. Each flavor was a new experience so don’t hesitate to taste whatever catches your eye.

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