Japan is known through the world for a great number of things and Japanese food is amongst. Do you know what does sushi taste like? Have you eaten Takoyaki? If you can’t answer those questions, visit Japan now to enjoy many famous and delicious food in Japan.
While the street-food culture isn’t as developed in Japan as it is in other Asian countries, it’s no less delicious and mouthwatering.
Whether you’re planning to visit one of Japan’s thousands of festivals, where you’ll find dozens, if not hundredths of colorful yatai (street food stands) or you’re thinking about starting your trip in the Shinjuku area, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to submerge yourself in the Japanese Street Food Scene.
Chances are, you already know some of the dishes sold by Japanese street vendors (Ramen, anyone?) but we’re willing to bet that, unless you’re a well-traveled foodie, you haven’t heard of some of the following dishes.
You’re probably familiar with this finger food, if not by name then at least by sight.
These skewers are often made with chicken, though you’ll be surprised to know most of the chicken is used in the creation of these delicious skewers.
The taste varies based on what part of the chicken was used to create the skewers, what kind of vegetable is included and the seasonings used to give each skewer and unique flavor.
And if chicken is not your thing? Don’t worry. Most vendors will have at least one other kind of meat in order to please everyone’s palate.
When it comes to Ikayaki, either you love it or you hate it. After all, not everyone’s willing to eat a whole grilled squid.
The use of a whole squid gives Ikayaki their unique appearance and the flavor, which you’ll love if you’re a fan of seafood, is born out of the simplicity of the recipe: The squid is grilled over charcoal, coated with soy sauce and served with a slice of lemon.
As simple, and delicious, as that.
If you’re looking for something more filling or you’re of the school of thought that says that street food needs to be deep fried, you should try the kare pan.
This street food is a variety of okazu pan, which is a term that describes bread stuffed with different ingredients. The Kare Pan is stuffed with delicious Japanese curry, which contrasts with the slightly sweet taste of the dough.
With a crunchy and sweet exterior, and a soft and savory interior, this delicious snack is bound to please all your senses.
Yet another simple yet striking street food recipe, Shioyaki is the kind of food that makes you want to take a selfie and send it to all your friends and family.
In simple terms, shioyaki is fish on a stick.
Usually made with mackerel, the fish is grilled and seasoned with salt, which gives it a delicious smokey flavor. Sometimes, salmon is a good idea for Shioyaki recipes.
No need for extra seasonings (though the vendor will probably have some), just eat it as it is.
Food on a stick is a very common motif when it comes to Japanese street food, though it isn’t exactly surprising. After all, it’s the easiest way of eating on the go.
Dango are skewers made with boiled dumplings that are seasoned with both sweet and savory sauces.
While most dango aren’t stuffed with anything (the flavor itself comes from the dough used to create the dumplings and the sauces used to season it) you’ll find that stuffing isn’t necessary when it comes to eating something as delicious as this.
You’re probably familiar with takokayi, either because you’ve tasted them before or because you’ve seen them on TV.
Takoyaki are fried dough balls stuffed with octopus and green onions. They’re topped with fish shavings, even more green onions and a special, sweet sauce that’s made specifically for takoyaki.
Even if you’re not a seafood fan you’ll find yourself loving this peculiar dish, as the taste of octopus isn’t overwhelming and goes perfectly well with all the condiments.
Word of advice, though, before you try to bite into these. They’re SUPER hot so either poke a hole in them to let them cool or take small bites!
Yep, you’re right. This is actually a French dish but that hasn’t stopped Japan from falling in love with them and giving them a very unique twist.
Japanese crêpes are crispier than the originals and are usually wraped in the shape of a cone, as opposed to the flatter French version. They often have ingredients such as azuk beans, whipped cream, and fresh fruit.
If sweet isn’t your cup of tea then don’t worry, you can find savory crêpes as well, some of which are made with teriyaki chicken and eggs.
It seems like every culture has their particular way of cooking corn.
In the US, we have corn on the cob. In Mexico they have their “street elotes" and in Japan you can find the yaki tomorokoshi.
This is a rather simple dish that’s full of flavor. The corn is first boiled and then grilled, often with miso in order to get its delicious flavor. The corn is then buttered and served with either soy sauce or nothing else.
This simple and nutritious dish is closely related to Hokkaido, but you’ll find it in many more parts of the country.
Don’t be fooled by the fish shape, taiyaki are sweet fish-shaped parties filled with delicious ingredients.
While the traditional stuffing is red bean paste, you’ll find taiyaki made with Nutella and custard, as well as savory ingredients such as cheese and vegetables.
Japan is a country very connected to its past and this shows in their gastronomy in the shape of yaki imo.
This is a very old and very simple dish that you’re going to love.
The yaki imo is a Japanese sweet potato that has been baked, which gives it a delicious sweet flavor with a soft and tasty interior.
They’re often served wrapped in brown paper and are announced by their signature music, which you can hear here.
You won’t be able to find onsen tamago in your average street. In fact, you won’t be able to find them in the street at all.
Onsen tamago are eggs that are slowly cooked in hot springs, which gives them a very peculiar texture.
They’re usually served with soy sauce and they’re a fantastic snack to enjoy while sightseeing.
A delicious dessert, the kakigori is shaved ice covered in various flavors.
The shaved ice itself is has no flavor, as this is added later. The flavor can be lemon, green tea, cherry and more.
This delicious dessert is often topped with whipped cream and other sweets.
When it comes to street food vendors, few things will catch your eye as much as the okonomiyaki. This dish is prepared on a griddle and is made with flour, eggs and all kinds of meats.
The ingredients are all mixed and then spread on a grill which, depending on the vendor, can be small or truly enormous.
There’s more than one way of preparing the okonomiyaki (one of them involves separating the ingredients instead of mixing them all together) but regardless of which one you choose they’re all delicious and very filling!
Senbei don’t look like much but, trust us, they’re delicious.
These rice crackers are sold in different flavors and varieties. Some are crunchier while others are very light and soft. Some are sweet while others are savory.
Really, senbei are like snowflakes. You’ll never find one exactly like another.
A tip for you if you want to make Senbei at home: in order to save money, not use any ovens, you can pan fried your senbei. Lightly coated a flat-bottomed pan with cooking spray.
Perhaps you’ll be able to figure out what this dessert consists of just by reading the name.
The chocobanana is a chocolate covered banana and covered with sprinkles.
The chocolate can be dark, milk or white though you’ll often find other varieties, such as strawberry chocobananas. They’re usually covered in colorful sprinkles but those, too, tend to change from vendor to vendor.
This is an excellent treat for the summer and, while seemingly out of place amongst some of the dishes here it’s certainly popular in Japan!
Yet another sweet treat, the imagawayaki are bite-sized disks stuffed with chocolate, custard or, more traditionally, red bean.
They’re made with eggs, flour and sugar, which gives them a soft, fluffy, almost sponge-like texture that you’re bound to enjoy.
While imagawayaki are strictly a sweet treat, some street vendors like to get creative and make their own savory versions but as a rule of thumb, if you’re looking for a sweet snack or a filling dessert, this is the dish for you.
Japanese street food is as varied as it is delicious and you’ll find there’s something out there to please everyone.
There’s no way we can even begin to cover all the deliciousness that is Japanese street food but we hope these 13 examples can get you started on the wonders of this cuisine.
I’m Emma, and I’m absolutely in love with food blogs. I’d like to share the interesting recipes, food tips and top lists of kitchen gadgets. I’m a foodie at heart but being the mother of 3 kids, it’s not always easy to keep up with fancy dinners… so I rely on the support of other blogging moms like me to help along the way with my CookNovel blog.