La Japanese gastronomy It is one of my favorites. Very few things I do not like and I encourage everyone who travels to the land of the rising sun to let go of prejudices and be encouraged to try everything. Absolutely everything.
The truth is that Japanese gastronomy it is much more than sushi, So if you are thinking of going on a trip or going out and trying Japanese restaurants, here we will talk about the tastiest of the Japanese food.
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Japan and its cuisine
European cuisine has us used to meat and a table with few and abundant dishes. Japanese cuisine is different: there is little meat and a multitude of dishes. It happened to me to sit at the table and think that I was going to end up hungry ... but nothing could be further away.
Japanese cuisine has many seasonal dishes, regional specialties and many restaurants that specialize in a single dish, with which they have reached an extraordinary level. Basically when we talk about eating in Japan we talk about sushi, tempura, ramen, soba, udon, yakitori, sashimi, curry, tonkatsu, okinomiyaki, rice, tofu and pickles. What names!
Let's start with the sushi. Is he most popular dish outside of Japan but within the country, one more, which appears, especially, on special occasions. The plate has rice which is prepared with sushi vinegar and following a certain technique, and fish. There are many types but among the most popular are the following:
- norimaki: it is the typical roll, many variants, and it is even bought in the kombini (Lawson, 7/11).
- nigiri: they are the most squashed rice balls with fish or shellfish on the cover. there are also many varieties.
- temaki: it is the long and large roll covered in nori seaweed and filled with rice, vegetables and fish.
- inari: it is a cheap sushi where the rice is put inside bags of fried tofu.
Here we talk about fried vegetables, fish and seafood. It is a food of Portuguese origin that appeared in the country in the XNUMXth century, in Nagasaki, and that over time spread to the rest of Japan with great popularity. It is usually the main dish and there are restaurants specializing only in tempura, but sometimes a tempura like topping of udon or soba.
There is tempura of fish, prawns, aubergines, mushrooms, pumpkin, sweet potatoes and there is even a variety that mixes vegetables and fish and seafood called kakiage. Tempura is usually served, when it is made in individual forms, with a little salt and accompanied by a sauce or wasabi or a small bowl of daikon, white turnip.
Shipping is wheat noodles, thicker than soba, white and very tasty. They can be eaten hot or cold and there are also more popular combinations than others.
Among the hot odon is the kamage, accompanied by sauces and vegetables that are sometimes served in familiar servings, the kake with broth and chives, popular in Osaka, of curry (it is so intense that you have to be careful not to stain it), the chikara served with a mochi (rice cake) and the nabeyaki Which comes with a tempura topping.
Among the varieties of cold udon is the zaru, served on a special bamboo plate, the tanuki It can also be served hot and with tempura, the kitsune and the tempura the same. The truth is that they are all very tasty, you have an aroma and the broths are the best of the best, it is impossible not to leave the bowl empty.
There are many restaurants specializing in udon and also many strings with cheap prices, between 500 and 1000 yen.
Shipping is buckwheat noodles, more rustic and sticky. Are served hot or cold and they are also very popular throughout Japan. There are even restaurants that prepare their own and do not buy them, achieving special masses and for that reason, with more fame than other stores.
The most basic soba is I died soba, with soba noodles that are boiled and cooled and eaten with soy sauce. Some soba dishes are eaten only at certain times of the year, for example on New Years Eve. In supermarkets they are bought in packages, dry, like here we buy pasta, but they are always better if they are fresh.
Other varieties of soba are the kake soba with a broth made from plant ingredients, the kitsune soba with fried tofu, the tanuki soba with tenkatsu and tempura or the nanban that has chicken or duck broth.
As with the udon restaurants too there are soba restaurantsThere are even places that offer both on the menu. The prices are similar and the varieties may not be very differentiated. You just have to know that you are going to love it.
The noodle and broth dishes are somewhat imported from China. Ramen is the cheap and popular food par excellence, there isn't a corner in Japan where you don't get this. The ramen It is classified according to the base soup so there are many types of ramen, some more popular than others.
For example, the shio ramen it is light, salty, with chicken broth or sometimes pork. The miso ramen is flavored with miso paste and is born in Hokkaido, the shoyu ramen it tastes like soy sauce and may have fish or pork broth. And finally the tonkotsu which is made with pork bone to flavor the broth. It is thicker and very, very tasty.
The noodles are made from wheat and there are long and thick but also thin noodles. On the ramen you can order grilled pork, bamboo, spring onion, bean sprouts, boiled egg, marinated or raw, seaweed, fish cakes called kamaboko, buttered corn or dry butter. And if that were not enough, the menu usually includes dishes as an accompaniment such as gyosas (delicious dumplings), rice ...
If you like meat and you are not a fan of soups and noodles, the yakitori is for you. Simple, inexpensive, tasty. It is skewers of chicken, meat and viscera, that are cooked on the grill. The menu is extensive in specialized restaurants and very cheap so with an ice cold beer you order many times.
There are also popular yakitoris such as momo, chicken thigh, the negima, tsukune with chicken meatloaf, vegetables and egg, the torikawa quite greasy or the reba, chicken liver. Sometimes you can even choose them between salty or sweet. A delight!
If fish is your thing and you are not afraid to eat it raw then sashimi is for you. It is as popular as sushi and although the fish it is undoubtedly the main ingredient There is also sashimi with beef, horse or venison.
There are many sashimi restaurants and many variants. They will serve you a tray with several dishes of Raw Fish, cut into soft slices and always very well presented with vegetables or daikon and lots of ice to keep them fresh. It is usually eaten with soy sauce, you wet the piece and the mouth, or with wasabi or grated ginger.
Variants? Sashimi Sake, magurotaisaba, katsuo. Katsuo is a popular fish in Japan. Other sashimi are not fish but seafood such as octopus, squid, prawns, clams and caviar.
My favorite! It is a dish that is made hot grilled with lots of cabbage and masa that has different ingredients on top. Depending on what you have, okonomiyaki is called differently and is a tremendously popular in Osaka and Hiroshima, although in Tokyo you can also eat it.
The dark sauce that is very typical of this dish has a certain flavor similar to Worcestershire sauce, but also lines are made with mayonnaise and grated bonito that with the heat that the food gives off, it moves as if it were alive. There are places where you can prepare it yourself but in general you see the cook doing it in front of you.
Do you think of curry as a spice in a jar in your kitchen? Nothing to see here in Japan. It's quite a dish and it smells so intense that at lunchtime you sometimes walk down a street and it overwhelms you.
There are curry restaurants although you can also buy the curry in the supermarket. The plate it's some rice and meat with potatoes and onions. The sauce has curry and it is very thick and dark and rather sweet, not as spicy as the Indian curry from which it comes. The meat can be chosen between pork or beef and the dish is usually accompanied with some pickles.
Finally, this dish that has its fans. Is about thick slices of breaded and fried pork. They serve you in general as part of a set, from a menu, where there is also miso soup, pickles and cabbage. There is mustard or tonkatsu sauce, type Worcestershire sauce.
It is also served in the katsudon, which is more impressive as it is a bowl of rice with a mixture of eggs and chives. If you are hungry, this is your plate. And finally it is common to see sandwiches, katso sando, at convenience stores and trains.
As you see, Japanese cuisine offers a bit of everything, always cool, always well done. You can feel something better cooked than anything else, but even the most popular and cheap chains are not going to disappoint you. Turn your vacation into a gastronomic vacation too. In Japan, you won't regret it.