Dishes in Japan

23rd April 2024

23 Best Dishes in Japan that You Can’t Miss in 2023

Hey there, foodies and adventurous souls! Are you ready for a scrumptious journey through Japan’s culinary wonderland? If so, you’re in for a treat as we uncover the best dishes in Japan.

From our past experience of leading group trips here, we’ve tasted the true essence of Japan’s food culture, and we can’t wait to share it all with you!

Get ready to tantalize your taste buds with the finest flavors, experience the artistry behind each dish, and embark on a delicious adventure that will leave you craving for more.

So, fasten your chopsticks and join us as we take you on a mouthwatering journey through the streets, restaurants, and local hotspots to savor the very best of Japan’s culinary delights.

Best Dishes in Japan

1. Sushi: The Jewel of Japanese Cuisine

Step into the world of sushi, where skilled chefs transform the freshest catch of the day into edible masterpieces. Delight in the interplay of textures and tastes as you savor nigiri, delicately draped in velvety fish slices, or relish the fusion of flavors in vibrant maki rolls.

Whether you opt for a traditional sushiya or a modern twist on this timeless classic, your culinary adventure is sure to be unforgettable.

  • Where to Eat: Sukiyabashi Jiro in Tokyo for an authentic sushi experience.
  • Opening Hours: 12:00 PM – 2:00 PM, 5:30 PM – 8:30 PM.

2. Ramen: A Heartwarming Bowl of Noodles

Wrap your hands around a steaming bowl of ramen, and let its soul-soothing warmth envelop you. The rich, savory broth, slow-cooked to perfection, harmonizes with the springy noodles, creating a comforting symphony of flavors.

From the bustling ramen stalls in the vibrant streets to the hidden gems tucked away in quiet neighborhoods, every slurp takes you deeper into the heart of Japanese culinary culture.

  • Where to Eat: Ichiran Ramen in Fukuoka for a private ramen booth experience.
  • Opening Hours: 24/7.

3. Tempura: Crispy Delights from the Deep

In the world of tempura, simplicity meets sophistication to deliver a delightful crispy experience. Savor the exquisite golden-brown coating, a testament to the perfect balance of lightness and crispiness.

As you take a bite, the delicate flavors of the ingredients inside burst forth, leaving you in awe of the culinary artistry that elevates tempura to an unmatched level of deliciousness.

  • Where to Eat: Tenya in Tokyo for affordable yet delicious tempura.
  • Opening Hours: 11:00 AM – 11:00 PM.

4. Sashimi: A Symphony of Raw Freshness

Prepare to be entranced by the elegance of sashimi, where the freshest catch of the sea takes center stage. Each slice, a testament to the skill of the chef, tantalizes with its natural flavors and exquisite presentation.

A drizzle of soy sauce and a hint of wasabi enhance the taste, allowing you to relish the essence of the ocean in every delicate bite.

  • Where to Eat: Tsukiji Outer Market in Tokyo for an extensive sashimi selection.
  • Opening Hours: Varies by the shop, generally early morning till afternoon.

5. Takoyaki: Osakan Street Food Extravaganza

In the bustling streets of Osaka, takoyaki beckons with its delightful aroma and playful round shape. As you sink your teeth into these savory octopus-filled balls, you’re greeted with a burst of flavors, a dance of umami and tanginess.

Experience the joy of indulging in this Osakan delicacy, a street food marvel that captures the essence of Japanese street culture.

  • Where to Eat: Takoyaki Wanaka in Osaka for a truly local experience.
  • Opening Hours: 11:00 AM – 9:00 PM.

6. Okonomiyaki: A Fusion of Flavors

Venture into the heart of Japanese soul food with okonomiyaki, a harmonious blend of savory pancakes, and an array of mouthwatering toppings.

The sizzling pancake, cooked to perfection on the teppan grill, invites you to create your masterpiece by adding ingredients to suit your palate.

As the aroma fills the air, you’ll savor the communal spirit that surrounds this cherished dish.

  • Where to Eat: Mizuno in Osaka for mouthwatering okonomiyaki.
  • Opening Hours: 11:00 AM – 8:00 PM.

7. Udon: Comforting Chewy Noodles

Indulge in the heartwarming embrace of udon, where the velvety strands of thick wheat noodles immerse you in a comforting broth.

Whether you opt for the simplicity of kake udon or the indulgence of kitsune udon with sweet fried tofu, every bowl promises a delightful journey of flavors.

As you take your first bite, you’ll feel the essence of Japan’s culinary heritage, passed down through generations with love and care.

  • Where to Eat: Tsurutontan in Tokyo for an array of udon choices.
  • Opening Hours: 11:00 AM – 11:00 PM.

8. Tonkatsu: A Crispy Pork Delight

Satisfy your cravings for a delectable crunch with tonkatsu, a succulent pork cutlet enveloped in a golden breadcrumb crust.

Each bite reveals a tender center, complemented by the tangy-sweet tonkatsu sauce that adds a burst of flavor to this iconic dish.

Whether paired with a bed of shredded cabbage or nestled between fluffy white rice, tonkatsu is a symphony of textures that will leave you yearning for more.

  • Where to Eat: Maisen in Tokyo for top-tier tonkatsu.
  • Opening Hours: 11:00 AM – 10:00 PM.

9. Yakitori: Skewered Delicacies

Embark on a journey of culinary discovery with yakitori, where succulent skewered chicken steals the spotlight. Each skewer, grilled to perfection, captures the essence of simple yet exquisite flavors.

From tender tsukune to savory negima, the options are as diverse as they are delectable, making yakitori an irresistible choice for food enthusiasts and connoisseurs alike.

  • Where to Eat: Toriki in Tokyo for an authentic yakitori experience.
  • Opening Hours: 6:00 PM – 11:00 PM.

10. Sukiyaki: A Heartwarming Hot Pot

Gather around a simmering pot of sukiyaki, where thinly sliced beef, tofu, and vegetables bathe in a sweet soy-based broth. As the ingredients cook, their flavors meld together, creating a symphony of taste that satisfies both the stomach and the soul.

The communal spirit of sukiyaki, often enjoyed with family and friends, adds an extra layer of warmth to this comforting dish.

  • Where to Eat: Imahan in Tokyo for a sumptuous sukiyaki meal.
  • Opening Hours: 11:00 AM – 8:30 PM.

11. Miso Soup: Essence of Japanese Dining

Embark on a culinary ritual with miso soup, a simple yet profound concoction that accompanies every Japanese meal.

The umami-rich miso paste, combined with dashi and a medley of ingredients, creates a nourishing elixir that warms the body and calms the mind.

Whether enjoyed at a bustling eatery or in the tranquility of your home, miso soup embodies the essence of Japanese dining.

  • Where to Eat: Anywhere! Miso soup is a staple in Japanese cuisine.
  • Opening Hours: Anytime you crave a warm, nourishing sip.

12. Kaiseki: An Artful Culinary Journey

Elevate your dining experience with kaiseki, a masterful symphony of seasonal ingredients and artistic presentation. Each meticulously crafted course is a testament to the chef’s skill and dedication to the culinary arts.

Immerse yourself in the beauty of this traditional multi-course meal, where flavors, textures, and aesthetics harmonize to create a sensory feast.

  • Where to Eat: Gion Karyo in Kyoto for an unforgettable kaiseki experience.
  • Opening Hours: 11:30 AM – 2:30 PM, 5:00 PM – 9:30 PM.

13. Onigiri: The Portable Rice Ball

Discover the charm of onigiri, a handheld rice ball enveloped in a delicate sheet of nori. Whether stuffed with umeboshi, tuna, or other savory fillings, onigiri is the perfect travel companion or quick snack.

Embrace the convenience of this simple yet delightful treat that has been cherished by generations of Japanese people.

  • Where to Eat: Convenience Stores like 7-Eleven and Lawson, where you can find various onigiri options.
  • Opening Hours: 24/7.

14. Chawanmushi: The Silky Egg Delight

Uncover the velvety allure of chawanmushi, a savory steamed egg custard that delights the senses. Embellished with tender seafood, chicken, or seasonal vegetables, each spoonful is a revelation of silky texture and subtle flavors.

Savor this delicacy as it embodies the elegance and grace of Japanese culinary art.

  • Where to Eat: Yakitori Marukoma in Tokyo for exemplary chawanmushi.
  • Opening Hours: 5:00 PM – 11:00 PM.

15. Shabu-Shabu: A Hot Pot Dance

Prepare for an interactive dining experience with shabu-shabu, where thinly sliced meat, fresh vegetables, and delicate noodles take center stage in a bubbling hot pot.

As you swish the ingredients in the flavorful broth, each morsel absorbs the essence of the broth, resulting in a medley of exquisite tastes. Share laughter and conversation with loved ones as you partake in this communal feast, a culinary celebration of togetherness.

  • Where to Eat: Seryna in Tokyo for an authentic shabu-shabu indulgence.
  • Opening Hours: 11:00 AM – 10:00 PM.

16. Teppanyaki: A Sizzling Spectacle

Unleash your senses at a teppanyaki grill, where skilled chefs perform a captivating culinary dance on a hot iron griddle.

Revel in the sizzle and aroma as premium cuts of meat, succulent seafood, and seasonal vegetables are expertly seared to perfection.

As you watch your meal come to life before your eyes, you’ll discover that teppanyaki is not just a meal—it’s a mesmerizing show.

  • Where to Eat: Keyakizaka in Tokyo for a teppanyaki experience with a view.
  • Opening Hours: 11:30 AM – 2:30 PM, 5:00 PM – 9:30 PM.

17. Yakiniku: Grilled Delights

Unleash your inner carnivore and embrace the art of yakiniku, where you take control of the grill and cook premium cuts of meat to your desired doneness. Savor the smoky aroma and the tantalizing charred flavors as you indulge in tender slices of beef, pork, and even offal.

A symphony of dipping sauces elevates the experience, making every bite a tantalizing delight.

  • Where to Eat: Gyukatsu Motomura in Tokyo for melt-in-your-mouth yakiniku.
  • Opening Hours: 11:30 AM – 3:00 PM, 5:00 PM – 9:00 PM.

18. Unagi: Eel Extravaganza

Delight in the rich, succulent goodness of unagi, a delicacy that showcases the unique preparation of freshwater eel.

Grilled and basted in a sweet soy-based glaze, the tender eel fillets offer a divine combination of flavors, creating a dish that has been revered in Japanese cuisine for centuries.

  • Where to Eat: Nodaiwa in Tokyo for an unforgettable unagi experience.
  • Opening Hours: 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM, 5:00 PM – 8:30 PM.

19. Oden: A Winter Comfort

As the winter chill sets in, warm your soul with a hearty bowl of oden, a comforting hot pot filled with an assortment of ingredients simmered in a soy-based broth.

From tender daikon radish to soft-boiled eggs and savory fish cakes, every bite brings comfort and nostalgia, a reminder of cherished family gatherings and festive winter nights.

  • Where to Eat: Izakayas across Japan, especially during the colder months.
  • Opening Hours: Varies by the establishment.

20. Gyoza: Dumpling Delights

Embark on a delectable journey of gyoza, where crescent-shaped dumplings are pan-fried to perfection, boasting a crispy bottom and a juicy filling.

Whether you opt for the classic pork and cabbage filling or adventurous variations, these delightful bites promise an explosion of taste with every bite.

  • Where to Eat: Harajuku Gyoza Lou in Tokyo for an authentic gyoza experience.
  • Opening Hours: 11:30 AM – 10:00 PM.

21. Donburi: Flavorful Rice Bowls

Satisfy your appetite with donburi, a vibrant assortment of ingredients generously heaped over a bed of steaming rice.

From the savory slices of beef in gyudon to the luscious tempura in tendon, these hearty rice bowls offer a quick and fulfilling meal that is sure to please every palate.

  • Where to Eat: Yoshinoya in various locations for a convenient and tasty donburi.
  • Opening Hours: 24/7.

22. Taiyaki: A Sweet Fishy Treat

Delight in a whimsical dessert experience with Taiyaki, adorable fish-shaped cakes filled with an array of sweet fillings like red bean paste, custard, or chocolate.

As you take a bite of these warm, crispy delicacies, you’ll understand why Taiyaki is a cherished treat enjoyed by locals and tourists alike.

  • Where to Eat: Street food stalls across Japan, especially near tourist attractions.
  • Opening Hours: Varies by location and event.

23. Matcha Desserts: A Green Tea Symphony

Immerse yourself in the world of matcha desserts, where the vibrant green tea powder takes center stage.

From creamy matcha ice cream to delicate matcha-flavored cakes and traditional wagashi, each dessert captivates with its earthy, bittersweet taste, offering a delightful finale to your culinary journey in Japan.

  • Where to Eat: Tsujiri in Kyoto for a matcha lover’s dream come true.
  • Opening Hours: 11:00 AM – 9:00 PM.

Conclusion – Best Dishes in Japan

And there you have it, folks – a tantalizing tour through the best dishes in Japan! From the delicate artistry of sushi to the heartwarming embrace of ramen, each dish offers a glimpse into the rich culinary heritage of this vibrant country.

So, the next time you find yourself in Japan, let your taste buds be your guide and dive headfirst into this gastronomic wonderland. Arigatou gozaimasu for joining us on this flavorful journey – until next time, sayonara and happy eating!

FAQs – Best Dishes in Japan

What are the must-try dishes in Japan?

If you’re a food lover stepping foot in Japan, you’ve got to indulge in the classics! Start with the iconic sushi and sashimi, followed by a heartwarming bowl of ramen. Don’t miss the crispy delights of tempura and the savory wonders of okonomiyaki. And of course, you can’t leave without trying the soul-soothing udon and the crispy perfection of tonkatsu!

Where can I find the best sushi in Japan?

For the ultimate sushi experience, head to Sukiyabashi Jiro in Tokyo. This legendary sushiya is a hidden gem that will take your taste buds on an unforgettable journey. From the freshest fish to the delicate rice, every bite at this world-renowned spot is a masterpiece.

What’s the deal with ramen variations?

Ah, the beauty of ramen lies in its regional diversity! From the creamy tonkotsu in Fukuoka to the miso-based bowls in Sapporo, each region boasts its own take on this soul-soothing dish. So, get ready to slurp your way through a variety of flavors and toppings!

Where can I try authentic tempura in Japan?

For a taste of tempura perfection that won’t break the bank, head to Tenya in Tokyo. This popular spot offers a delightful array of lightly battered and crispy goodness, making your taste buds dance with joy.

What’s the best spot for sashimi lovers?

If you’re a fan of pristine raw fish, the Tsukiji Outer Market in Tokyo is your haven. Here, you’ll find an extensive selection of sashimi, sliced to perfection, showcasing the pure flavors of the sea.

Tell me more about okonomiyaki variations.

Oh, you’re in for a treat! From Osaka’s hearty style with layers of savory toppings to Hiroshima’s version with noodles, okonomiyaki offers a fusion of flavors that will leave you craving for more. Head to Mizuno in Osaka for an authentic experience.

Where can I enjoy a traditional sukiyaki feast?

To warm your soul with a heartwarming hot pot, head to Imahan in Tokyo. This place serves up a sumptuous sukiyaki meal, complete with thinly sliced beef, tofu, and vegetables simmered in a sweet soy-based broth. A true taste of Japanese comfort!
  1. 29 Best Things to Do in Japan: Bucket List Edition (2023)
  2. 16 Best Family Destinations in Japan: Whisk Your Family Away (2023)
  3. The Ultimate Best Time To Visit Japan: Don’t Miss Out
  4. 10 Best Beaches In Japan That You Can’t Miss In 2023
  5. 11 Best Waterfalls in Japan: Experience Natural Wonders
  6. 10 Best Hiking Trails in Japan: Paths to Pure Bliss
  7. 11 Best National Parks in Japan: Nature’s Hidden Treasures! (2023)
  8. 11 Best Zoos in Japan: Get Ready for Cuteness Overload
  9. 11 Best Nightlife Spots in Japan: Party All Night (2023)
  10. 11 Best Lakes in Japan Revealed: Nature’s Masterpieces
  11. 10 Best Hill Stations in Japan for Tranquility: Escape to Paradise (2023)
  12. 23 Best Dishes In Japan That You Can’t Miss In 2023
  13. 19 Best Souvenirs from Japan: Epic Finds to Cherish Forever
  14. 15 Reasons to Visit Japan Today (2023)
  15. 15 Top Festivals in Japan: Must-Attend Events!
  16. 29 Best Things to Do in Tokyo: Bucket List Worthy Sights (2023)
  17. 17 Best Things to Do in Kyoto Revealed: Wanderlust
  18. 21 Best Things to Do in Osaka: Life-Changing Experiences! (2023)
  19. 15 Best Things to do in Hiroshima: Wanderlust Alert (2023)
  20. 18 Best Things to do in Nara: Get Ready to be Amazed
  21. 19 Best Things to do in Sapporo: Must-Try Activities
  22. 21 Best Things to Do in Yokohama: Bucket List-worthy Escapes!
  23. 17 Best Things to Do in Nagoya: From Culture to Thrills
  24. 20 Best Things to Do in Kamakura: Bucket List Alert

Check out our other trips