By Carolyn Ballard
Japan has a weak street food culture as compared to its Asian counterparts. It stems from the fact that the Japanese abhor eating while on the move. Many consider it as being rude and uncultured. A large part of the population prefers sophisticated dining, and this attracts the attention of food lovers from around the globe. It is not surprising that street food has occupied the backseat in Japan for a long time.
As the number of tourists increases, the popularity of street foods is on the rise. It is cheaper and convenient for those who don’t desire the full restaurant experience. Street foods are especially popular at night and during festivals. Food stalls, commonly known as yatai, serve a variety of savory delights that reflect the Japanese culture and are a hit with both locals and visitors.
Here is our list of 6 must-try street foods in Japan for anyone planning to visit the country.
This dish originated in Osaka and eventually spread across the country. Also known as octopus balls, it is made up of a piece of octopus cooked in pancake batter and made into golf ball sizes.
A special hotplate with round holes is used to cook takoyaki. The process is fun to watch as the vendors put on display their exceptional takoyaki making skills. The pancake batter, consisting of green onions, pickled ginger, and leeks, is prepared and cooked first, then the chef proceeds to add the piece of octopus and whisk the mixture to make a ball.
The result is a round ball that is crispy on the outside and soft inside. Japanese mayonnaise, fish shavings, and sauce often accompany this dish as toppings.
The shape of this snack can fool anyone to imagine that it tastes like fish. In reality, this fish-shaped dessert tastes nothing like fish. Perhaps the person who came up with it wanted to showcase the Japanese attachment to seafood.
The usual pancake or waffle batter that consists of flour, a raising agent, sugar, and salt is used to make taiyaki. It is then baked in fish-shaped molds to bring out its characteristic shape. In typical Japanese fashion, taiyaki has unique fillings with the most celebrated being the sweet red beans paste. Other traditional fillings include; sweet potato, custard, cheese, vegetables, and chocolate.
The preparation of taiyaki ensures that the exterior is crispy and the core is soft. It allows you to appreciate the two contrasting textures as they enjoy the filling inside. Taiyaki is best enjoyed while still warm.
This dish fits the description of a complicated pancake due to the many ingredients incorporated into it. When loosely translated, okonomiyaki means ‘grill what you like.’ The customer specifies what he or she wants, and the vendor goes ahead to cook it to produce a pancake-like dish.
There are a variety of ingredients that go into making this food. The primary components are flour, cabbage, seaweed stock, eggs, Japanese yam, and pork. These ingredients can be mixed in a bowl and put on a hot griddle to cook, or they can be added one by one in layers to complete the dish.
The resulting delicious dish is topped with okonomiyaki sauce, Japanese mayonnaise, and seaweed.
Yakitori is chicken cut into small pieces, skewered by bamboo and grilled over charcoal. Carefully selected chicken parts provide the meat used in a deliberate attempt to bring out unforgettable flavors.
Marination of the chicken meat in special sauces occurs first before being skewered for the grilling process. Once done, salt or yakitori sauce is used to flavor the chicken depending on the preference of the consumer.
The next time you visit Tokyo, take a walk down Piss Alley which is home to street food restaurants that serve some of the best yakitori in the country. Take time to sample what they have as you enjoy the Tokyo evening.
It is made up of stir fried noodles with pork and a variety of vegetables such as cabbage and carrots. Spices are also incorporated to give it a distinct taste. The garnish is made up of sweet and sour sauce. Other ingredients such as pickled ginger, mayonnaise, seaweed and fish flakes function as toppings for extra flavors.
This dish can be eaten alone or as a hot dog bun filling.
Ikayaki is an unusual dish that may catch many by surprise. It is a grilled squid with the entrails removed. It is then cut into pieces and arranged to mimic a whole squid complete with the tentacles. There is also the option of having the meat skewered on a bamboo stick. Soy sauce is the only ingredient used to season this simple dish.
The grilled squid is a favorite among the locals because it is moist and tender and goes down well with a glass of beer after a long day.
My name is Carolyn Ballard. I’m a passionate traveler and the founder of DesToDis as well.
I created the blog with the main aim to share guidelines, tips and my personal experiences on all things travel. By this way, I hope to inspire and help people to wander around the world safely and easily.