Japanese Food Bucket List: 70 Foods to Eat from Japan

Though the first things that may pop into your mind when thinking about food from Japan may be sushi and ramen, you’ll be happy to know the Japanese cuisine is a lot more diverse than just those two things! It’s an intriguing and lovely combination of old traditional dishes and new modern recipes, as well as influences from China and various European countries, such as Spain, Great Britain, and France. Compiled below are more than 70 foods from Japan that you’ll want to give a try in this lifetime.

I bet you’ll be salivating so much by the end you’ll be eager to book your tickets to Japan right away, or at the very least head to the closest Japanese restaurant in your hometown!

Japanese Food Bucket List: Names of the Best Dishes to Eat from Japan Cuisine

1. Anago

Anago translates as saltwater eel (see unagi for freshwater eel), and it is a crucial ingredient for traditional Japanese food. It is most commonly eaten as sushi topping, where it’s first simmered in a sweet and savory sauce as opposed to being served raw, or as a deep-fried tempura-style dish. 


2. Anko

Also sometimes called adzuki bean paste, this red bean paste is a food from Japan that is also made in a very similar fashion in Korea and China. There are five different types of red bean paste in Japan, the most common way being passing the red beans through a sieve in order to remove the skin, called koshian. Anko is used in around a dozen different desserts in Japanese cuisine. 

Recipe: Red Bean Paste (Hong Dou Sha) | Anko Recipe by Amaya Oke

Red bean paste or red bean jam or anko

3. Anmitsu

Made from red agae, cubes of agar jelly are central to this dessert. The jelly is served in a bowl, together with various other ingredients, such as anko, boiled peas, and gyuhi (which is a softer form of mochi). In addition, various fruits are usually included in the dessert, most commonly peach, cherries, pineapple, and satsuma. Before eating, sweet black syrup – called mitsu – is poured on top of the dish to complete the dessert. The dessert got its name, anmitsu, from anko and mitsu.

Recipe: Anmitsu by Namiko Chen

4. Basashi

Basashi is what Japanese call a horse meat dish, where the meat is served raw in sashimi-style, and eaten by dipping it in soy sauce, with onions and ginger typically mixed into the sauce. This is a popular dish to eat at izakayas – Japanese style casual bars – in some regions in Japan. If you want to challenge yourself even further by adding a little bit of edible adventure to your next travel experience, you can also check out some of the dishes on this weird food list.

5. Buta-No-Shogayaki

In this delicious food from Japan, thinly cut slices of pork are marinated in a marinade made out of ginger juice and soy sauce, after which they are grilled on the pan. Although it’s a newer dish in Japanese cuisine, due to the ease of cooking it, it’s quickly become a staple dish in Japanese households. 

Recipe: Buta-No-Shogayaki (Japanese Stir Fried Pork Slices) by Setsuko Yoshizuka

6. Castella

Known in Japanese as Kasutera, this is a Japanese style sponge cake, with a moist texture due to the use of mizuame – a Japanese type of sugar syrup – in the recipe. Castella Cake was imported to Japan from Portugal in the 16th century, although the modern day’s version of it is considered a specialty from Nagasaki.

Recipe: Castella Cake by Namiko Chen

delicious Japanese sponge cake Castella

7. Champon

This is a noodle dish that originated from the Nagasaki region in around 1899. According to the creators of the dish, it is based on a similar dish found in Fujian cuisine, a regional Chinese cuisine. In champon, pork, seafood, and vegetables are fried in lard, and then mixed into a soup with chicken and pig bones. Finally, ramen noodles, made specifically for this soup, are added, with the ramen noodles being boiled whilst in the soup.

Recipe: Champon by Namiko Chen

8. Chawanmushi

Chawanmushi is a Japanese egg custard dish. Differing from many other custard dishes around the world, chawanmushi includes savory ingredients rather than sweet ones, and is typical to eat as a meal. So, instead of sweet ingredients, the custard is made with eggs, soy sauce, dashi, and mirin, as well as numerous additional ingredients like shiitake mushrooms, kamaboko, and boiled shrimp. It is one of the few Japanese foods that you’ll eat with a spoon rather than chopsticks. 

Recipe: Japanese Chawanmushi by Adam Liaw

Chawanmushi or tea cup steamed egg

9. Curry Rice (Kare-Raisu)

Japanese style curry is one of the most popular dishes in Japan, whether it’s served with rice, udon, or as a pastry filled with curry. Curry was introduced to Japan by the British Empire, which brought it to the country from India. However, the curry eaten in Japan today barely resembles the original Indian curry, as it has been tweaked and tweaked until it fits Japanese cuisine in terms of taste and use of ingredients, which is why it can be seen as one of Japan’s national dishes.

Recipe: Japanese Curry Rice by Shihoko

Japanese Curry Rice

10. Donburi

Donburi itself translates as “bowl”, easily marking this food from Japan as a bowl dish. It is actually a sort of an umbrella term for various donburi dishes, with rice as base, and the topping changing in each different don-dish. Therefore, technically any dish that has rice in a donburi bowl, and some ingredients added on top, may be called donburi. Most often the toppings used are different kinds of meat and seafood.

Recipe: Oyako Donburi by allrecipes

rice-bowl dish donburi

11. Doteni

Made from beef tendon and intestines, along with daikon radish, all of which are simmered together in a Hatcho miso dish, doteni is a specialty dish from Nagoya. It’s a staple among Nagoya’s izakaya pubs, full of flavor thanks to the miso, and perfect to pair up together with some sake or other local drink.

12. Edamame

Edamame, aka not fully matured soybeans in a pod, are considered to be an East Asian superfood. They’re cooked either by steaming or boiling. There’s also the option to sprinkle some salt on top, but that’s not typically done in Japanese cuisine. They make for a great snack or a side dish, but you can also find them in your bento (Japanese lunch box), for example.

Recipe: 10-Minute Restaurant-Style Edamame Recipe by Kevin&Amanda

soybeans in the pod or Edamame

13. Fugu

Fugu refers to pufferfish, one of Japanese cuisine’s most celebrated dishes. Because fugu contains a neurotoxin called tetrodotoxin, and can therefore pose fatal for a human eating the fish, there are strict laws put in place in Japan for how restaurants can prepare the fish, with chefs who have undergone rigorous training being the only ones allowed to make it. Usually fugu is served as sashimi, or possibly in the form of chirinabe, which is a hot pot dish.

pufferfish or Fugu

14. Fukagawa Meshi

You can find this traditional food from Japan to be especially popular around Tokyo prefecture, born during the Edo period. In it, rice is boiled, with clam miso soup, typically made from short-neck clams, added on top to complete the dish. It’s one of the most important and commonly eaten rice dishes in Japan.

Recipe: Fukagawa-meshi Recipe by Cooking with dog

Fukagawa Meshi

15. Furutsu Sando (Fruit Sandwich)

Furutsu Sando is a Japanese style fruit sandwich, usually made in such a picturesque fashion you’ve probably come across numerous photos of them on Instagram and Pinterest before. Made using milk bread, whipped cream, and seasonal fruits, it makes for an excellent breakfast, snack, or dessert. Most commonly, a mix of kiwi, orange, and strawberries are used, but you can also find furutsu sando filled with strawberries only.

Recipe: Japanese Fruit Sandwich by Jamie

A fruit sandwich or fruit sando

16. Gyoza

These are Japanese style dumplings, made with thin dough, and usually filled with ground pork and various vegetables, namely cabbage, garlic, ginger, green onion, and nira chives, and sesame oil and soy sauce are commonly used as well. Their roots are in Chinese jiaozi, but they’re also an extremely popular dish in Japan. You can also check my adventure in Tokushima, Japan where I ate gyoza and ramen.

Recipe: Japanese Gyoza by Nagi

17. Gyudon

Gyudon is one of the aforementioned donburi dishes. In it, the rice is topped with thinly sliced beef and onion, both of which have been simmered in a sauce flavored with dashi, mirin, and soy sauce. It’s not uncommon for the gyudon to be served with additional green onions on top, or even raw or poached eggs. It’s then served with miso soup on the side. Gyudon is an extremely popular food in Japan, and you can find even whole fast food restaurants specializing in the dish.

Recipe: Gyudon  by Sarah

Japanese dish Gyudon

18. Gyukatsu

Traditionally, Gyukatsu is a cutlet made using wagyu beef, which has been breaded and deep fried, served in bite-size slices, with cabbage salad, rice, and miso soup on the side. Although the cutlet has been deep fried before cutting, it remains in medium rare state when served. The eater will then continue grilling the meat on a small burner in front of them, until the meat has been cooked to the eater’s liking. Finally, there are two special sauces the piece of meat can be dipped into before consuming. This dish exploded in popularity in the mid 2010s. 

Recipe: Gyukatsu Recipe by Cooking with Dog

19. Gyutan

Gyutan is another food made from beef, this time utilizing beef tongue specifically. Gyutan is grilled, and therefore typically served in yakiniku (Japanese grill houses) restaurants. However, its origins are in Sendai region in the year 1948, and it’s still served with barley rice, tail soup, and pickles in the area today. If you want to read about my Gyutan experience you can check this article: Sendai Bucket List: 16 Things to Do

Recipe: Gyutan (BBQ Beef Tongue) by Namiko Chen

20. Hida Beef Sushi

Hida beef is a specialty beef coming from Gifa Prefecture, and you’ll likely want to make the trip to Takayama specifically to give it a try. There are a couple of ways in which the hida beef can be prepared and consumed, sushi being a popular one among them. In this case, the hida beef is likely served as a medium rare thin slice, with some sweet sauce on top. 

Hida Beef Sushi on a hand

21. Jingisukan

Essentially, jingisukan is a dish in which lamb meat and mutton is grilled over a skillet or other type of a grill. You’ll usually grill it yourself in the restaurant, together with big cuts of onion and other vegetables. It’s unclear where jingisukan originated from specifically, but today it’s regarded as a Hokkaido specialty, although the meat may be imported from abroad.

Recipe: Ultimate ’Jingisukan’  by simakterus

Japanese grilled mutton dish Jingisukan

22. Kaiseki

Unlike most other Japanese food on this list, kaiseki does not consist of just one singular dish; instead kaiseki is multiple dishes, served together over a traditional Japanese dinner, in a sequential manner. Think “haute cuisine” in the West, if you will. There are two types of kaiseki meals that can be served. In the first one, there is a set menu with a specific food selection, and each dish is served separately. The other version of kaiseki is much simpler, served before a ceremonial tea.

23. Kaisendon

Kaisendon comes from two words, “kaisen” meaning seafood, and “don” meaning rice bowl. So, simply put, kaisendon is a dish of seafood served over white rice that has been left unseasoned, with the seafood typically being served sashimi-style, so raw. A variety of different fresh seafood are put together for this meal.

Recipe: Kaisendon Recipe by Ryukoch

Kaisendon or seafood rice bowl

24. Kakuni Manju

If you ever find yourself on the streets of Nagasaki, then you better search up a vendor serving this popular street food. In it, stewed pork belly is stuffed in a steamed bun. It’s a warming and comforting delicious but simple dish that you can primarily find in Nagasaki. Kakuni manju is based on Shippoku cuisine, which is a culinary style in Japan that has drawn heavy influences from Chinese cuisine.

stewed pork belly sandwich or Kakuni Manju

25. Karaage

Karaage refers to a technique of cooking where food, usually meat, is first marinated, then lightly coated with flour or starch, and finally deep fried in oil. It differs from tempura a fair bit, since tempura is battered rather than lightly coated, and is also not otherwise marinated. The most popular karaage dish is made with chicken. 

Recipe: Karaage Fried Chicken by Rie McClenny

Karaage or Japanese Deep fried chicken

26. Kashipan (Melon Pan)

Kashipan is a sweet bread that is considered good to eat as a snack. There are a handful of different types of kashipan. Some of them do not have a filling, but many of the popular ones do. Possible fillings include anko (sweet red bean paste introduced above), strawberry or apple jam, or creamy custard. An extremely popular variety is “melonpan”, which has gained its name from the melon-like appearance. Melonpan is covered thinly with cookie dough, and among possible fillings you can find chocolate chips, maple syrup, and whipped cream.

Recipe: Japanese Melon Bread by Shihoko

Japanese sweet bread Kashipan

27. Katsudon

Katsudon is another hugely popular version of donburi. In this dish, the bowl of rice is topped with a deep fried breaded pork cutlet. To make the dish even more delicious, there’s also egg, and vegetables like green onion, added in, with miso soup on the side. In some regions in Japan, the egg is removed, and some sauce included instead, such as the addition of demi-glace in Okayama. 

Recipe: Katsudon Japanes Pork Cutlet and Egg Rice Bowl by Sarah

fried, panko-breaded pork cutlet with egg over rice called Katsudon

28. Korokke

With its roots in the French dish croquette, korokke mixes together cooked and chopped meat, seafood, or vegetables with mashed potato, before rolling these fillings in a mix of flour, eggs, and breadcrumbs. All of this is then deep fried before serving. The mashed potato can also be replaced by white sauce.

Recipe: Japanese Croquettes (Korokke) by Namiko Chen

Japanese Potato & Meat Korokke Croquettes

29. Kushikatsu

Kushikatsu is another deep fried dish. In kushikatsu specifically, the deep fried meat and vegetables are skewered. The meat used are most commonly different parts of pork or chicken, but on occasion horse meat is also used. For seafood, you can find prawn, octopus, or even oysters used, among other options. A lot of different vegetables can also be deep fried in kushikatsu style.

Recipe: Kushikatsu (Kushiage) by Namiko Chen

30. Matcha

Perhaps one of the most famous foods from Japan is matcha, which refers to green tea leaves that have been finely powdered. Matcha is a central ingredient in Japanese tea ceremonies, and there are a few specific ways in which matcha tea should be prepared. In addition to its traditional use, together you can find matcha powder as an ingredient in various desserts like cake or shaved ice. Matcha lattes and matcha-flavored Kit Kats are also popular all around the world.

Recipe: How to Make Matcha Green Tea by Love & Lemons

finely ground powder green tea leaves called Matcha

31. Mentaiko

Mentaiko is a traditional seafood ingredient in Japan, along with tarako. It is made of Pollock roe coming from Alaskan Pollock, although it’s referred more so as cod roe since Alaskan Pollock actually belongs to the cod family instead of being a Pollock fish. While tarako, also made from the same roe, is left plain with only salt for flavor, mentaiko is marinated in powdered chili and other spices, giving it a flavorful taste.

Recipe: Classic Mentaiko Pasta by Namiko Chen

Mentaiko spicy pollock/cod roe

32. Miso Katsu

Miso Katsu is a form of tonkatsu, which is a breaded and deep fried pork cutlet. However, in miso katsu, the regular sauce tonkatsu is topped or served and is replaced by a miso sauce, made using a dark red miso paste called hatcho miso. This is a specialty dish in Nagoya.

Recipe: Miso Katsu by Namiko Chen

version of tonkatsu Miso Katsu

33. Miso Soup

Now, this traditional soup is perhaps the most famous use of miso, at least outside of Japan. This soup, served as a side dish over numerous different Japanese meals, is made from dashi stock, with miso paste mixed in. There are additional ingredients that can be added in, such as onions, or even tofu, depending on the region and season, as well as personal preference.

Recipe: Miso Soup by allrecipes

traditional Japanese soup Miso soup

34. Mochi

Mochi is a Japanese style rice cake, usually with a sweet flavor. It is a traditional food to eat during Lunar New Year celebrations, although it can be served and eaten any day of the year. Usually, in addition to the use of sweet rice flour, a couple of other ingredients are used to make mochi, namely water and sugar, as well as corn starch. Additionally, anko and other sweet filling options may be used to fill the mochi.

Recipe: How to Make Japanese Mochi Ice Cream by Gemma Stafford

Japanese rice cake mochi

35. Monburan

Named after the French mountain Mont Blanc, monburan is the Japanese version of the popular French dessert. In Japanese cuisine, the chestnuts may be replaced altogether, instead using pumpkin or squash. Alternatively, in addition to the chestnuts, cocoa or matcha may be included. Fruit versions, using strawberry and mango, are also common to make.

36. Monjayaki

Monjayaki is a type of pan-fried batter, with wheat flour being the central ingredient. The flour is mixed in with dashi or water to give it a consistency similar to melted cheese. Much like okonomiyaki, a variety of additional ingredients, such as various vegetables like cabbage, meat, and seafood, are used to create the final dish, which is then cooked on and eaten from a teppan grill. This is a dish you can find mainly in Tokyo, specifically its Tsukishima region, which is said to be the birthplace of the dish. 

Recipe: Monjayaki by Lisa

Japanese pan-fried batter Monjayaki

37. Motsunabe

Much like nabe below, motsunabe is a hot pot dish. Its broth is either made using miso, or a mix of soy sauce with garlic and chili. The meat used is either pork or beef tripe, or alternatively offal of either meat. For vegetables, cabbage and garlic chives are primarily used. Motsunabe originated from Fukuoka.

Recipe: Hakata-style Motsunabe by Easy Recipes

type of nabemono in Japanese cuisine Motsunabe

38. Nabe

Nabe – officially nabemono – refers to basically all one pot hot pot dishes in Japan, including the above-mentioned motsunabe. There are over half a dozen varieties, including shabu shabu, that are classified as a nabe dish, in addition to which regional variations exist as well. Nabe dishes can be made using either light stock or thick stock; the key to a nabe dish is that it is cooked and served in a hot pot. 

Recipe: Chanko Nabe by Namiko Chen

39. Natto

This is a traditional food from Japan, which is made from fermented soybeans. It is typically eaten for breakfast, together with karashi mustard and some type of sauce – either soy or tare. And on occasion green onions are added into the dish as well. Even among the Japanese, natto isn’t considered to fit everyone’s palate but to be more of an acquired taste, with it being mostly eaten in some of the eastern regions of the country.

Recipe: Seriously Asian: Natto Recipe by Chichi Wang

40. Nikujaga

In nikujaga, thinly cut meat – typically beef or pork – is mixed together with potatoes and onion in a stew. The stew is given a sweetened taste through the use of soy sauce and mirin. Occasionally, some translucent Japanese noodles and additional vegetables are added into the stew. Potatoes play a central role in nikujaga, and the meat is mostly added there for additional flavor. It is often served with white rice and miso soup on the side.

Recipe: Nikujaga (Japanese Meat and Potato Stew) by Namiko Chen

Japanese dish of meat, Nikujaga

41. Oden

Oden is also a type of a nabe dish. The main ingredients in oden are boiled eggs, fishcakes, daikon, and konjac. It is served in a soy-flavored dashi broth. It’s also popular to use karashi mustard in the dish for some additional flavor. You can find this sold at shop stands in Japanese markets, but it’s also an easy find in a convenience store, and some izakayas serve it as well.

Recipe: Oden (Simmered One Pot Dish) by Yumiko

Japanese one-pot dishes Oden

42. Okonomiyaki

Much like monjayaki, okonomiyaki is a Japanese style savory pancake-kind of a dish that’s prepared and eaten from a teppan pan. The batter for okonomiyaki, consisting mostly of wheat flour and cabbage, is thicker and firmer in comparison to the more liquid monjayaki. There are numerous different toppings and fillings that can be added to an okonomiyaki dish, like meat and seafood, as well as Japanese mayonnaise. Okonomiyaki is a popular dish to eat all around Japan, but for the best dining experiences, you better head over to Hiroshima and Osaka.

Recipe: Okonomiyaki by Love & Lemons

43. Omurice

Omuraisu is a popular everyday and comfort dish in Japan, in which fried rice is topped with an omelet and some ketchup. As it was influenced a lot by Western cuisines, it’s also most commonly found in Western diners in Japan, although it’s often cooked at home as well, especially in households with children.

Recipe: Omurice (Japanese Omelette Rice) by Namiko Chen

japanese omelette Omurice

44. Onigiri

Also known as omusubi, onigiri is a Japanese rice ball, often made in a triangle shape out of white rice and a nori – dried edible seaweed – wrapping. Traditional fillings for onigiri are katsuobushi, mentaiko and tarako, pickled ume, and salted salmon. However, various other fillings and flavor combinations exist. You can find onigiri from any convenience store in Japan, but also many take out shops specializing in onigiri exist.

Recipe: Easy Onigiri – Japanese Rice Balls by wandercooks

Onigiri rice ball

45. Ramen

This Japanese noodle soup is, of course, one of the staples of Japanese cuisine, and one of the most famous Japanese foods known worldwide. Its roots are in Chinese cuisine, and therefore consist of Chinese-style wheat noodles as its main ingredient. These noodles are served in meat broth, which is further flavored with miso or soy sauce, and common toppings include pork, nori, and scallions. Each region in Japan has its own variation of the dish.

Recipe: Japanese ramen noodle soup by Lina Croft

Japanese noodle soup ramen

46. Robatayaki

Robatayaki translates as fireside cooking, and is a method of cooking in Japanese cuisine, which is similar to barbecue. There are numerous restaurants, both in Japan and abroad, that specialize in this technique, cooking various foods from seafood to vegetables, over hot charcoal one a wide and flat open fireplace.

47. Sake

Sake is Japanese rice wine, which is made by fermenting white rice. Although it’s called a “wine”, it’s produced in a way that more closely resembles the brewing process of beer rather than wine. Undiluted sake usually has an ABV of 18% to 20%, but most sake is sold diluted at 15% ABV. Sake is Japan’s national drink.

Recipe: Sake by 2 Guys & a Cooler

Japanese rice wine sake

48. Sashimi

Sashimi is a delicacy dish in Japan, consisting of raw fish – and occasionally meat – that is served thinly sliced, usually together with a soy sauce to dip the slices into. It is typically served as the first meal in a formal dining setting, although it can also be eaten as a main course, in which case it’s served with white rice and miso soup on the side.

Recipe: Salmon Sashimi by Aubrey

fresh raw fish or meat sliced into thin piece sashimi

49. Shabu-Shabu

Shabu-shabu is a hot pot – aka nabe – dish in which thin cuts of meat are cooked in a boiling broth, together with vegetables, as well as tofu. The meat and vegetables are then dipped into various sauces before eating. This dish is very similar to sukiyaki, introduced below, but is not quite as sweet in comparison. 

Recipe: Quick Shabu-shabu by wandercooks

50. Soba

These are thin noodles made from buckwheat flour. They can be served both hot in a noodle soup, or chilled and together with some dipping sauce. Soba is a diverse dish in the sense that you can find it in any style of a restaurant, from fast food joints to fine dining.

Recipe: Cold Soba Noodles With Dipping Sauce by Mark Bittman

thin Japanese noodle Soba

51. Somen

Somen is another kind of thin noodle variety, made of wheat flour, using vegetable oil to stretch the dough in order to form thin strands that will be air dried before cooking. Somen is usually served cold, together with a dipping sauce. These noodles also exist in Chinese and Korean cuisine, although they may be eaten differently. 

Recipe: Japanese Cold Somen Noodles by Namiko Chen 

52. Sukiyaki

As mentioned above, sukiyaki is a nabe dish similar to shabu shabu. It also features thinly cut pieces of meat – usually beef – that is boiled or simmered in the hot pot, together with vegetables and tofu. The broth is made out of a mix of soy sauce, mirin, and sugar, which is why there’s a sweet flavor to it. Also, unlike the dipping sauces in shabu shabu, the ingredients in sukiyaki are dipped into raw, beaten eggs before eating.  

Recipe: Sukiyaki by Sarah

Japanese dish sukiyaki

53. Sushi

Sushi is a traditional food from Japan that’s famous worldwide. There are a variety of different styles of sushi, primarily divided between nigiri and maki, and dozens upon dozens of different toppings, most often raw fish like salmon. The unifying factor with each type of sushi is the specific sushi rice used. 

Reccipe: Futomaki Sushi by uncutrecipes

traditional Japanese dish sushi

54. Takoyaki

Made from a wheat flour-based batter, takoyaki are a ball shaped snack food, usually filled with minced or diced octopus, green onion, and other ingredients, and cooked in a pan specially molded in takoyaki shape. After cooking, the balls are brushed over with Worchester sauce and Japanese mayonnaise, with katsuobushi sprinkled on top before serving.

Recipe: Takoyaki Easy Home Recipe by Shihoko

takoyaki or octopus balls

55. Tamagoyaki

Tamagoyaki is a Japanese style omelet, where several layers of fried egg are rolled together, with sugar and soy sauce added into the mix. The eggs are typically fried in a rectangular shaped pan. This is most often eaten for breakfast, but it can also be served on top of a nigiri sushi or as an ingredient in a sushi roll.

Recipe: Tamagoyaki (Japanese Egg Omelet) by Rie McClenny

type of Japanese omelette tamagoyaki

56. Tebasaki

Tebasaki are Japanese style chicken wings, with origins in Nagoya. The wings are fried crisp, and then glazed in a sweet and savory sauce. No breading is used and, unlike other Japanese fried chicken, the bone isn’t removed. The sauce in tebasaki is similar to teriyaki, except it has been spiced further with garlic and ginger.

Recipe: Tebasaki by Marc

Japanese chicken wing Tebasaki

57. Teishoku

Teishoku refers to a set meal, and it is easy to find one in a Japanese restaurant. It combines together different ingredients to make a meal that an average Japanese person might eat on a daily basis; so, white rice, soup like miso soup, pickles, and then some sort of a “main” dish that usually focuses on meat or seafood.

58. Tempura

Tempura can be made using meat, seafood, or vegetables. The key to creating a tempura dish is to first batter the ingredients with a batter made from eggs and wheat flour with iced water, and then deep fry them. It was introduced to Japanese cuisine, in Nagasaki specifically, by Iberians as early as the 16th century. You can eat tempura by dipping them into soy sauce or something similar, or by combining them into another meal, such as a noodle dish or in donburi.

Recipe: Tempura by Shihoko

deep fried Tempura

59. Teppanyaki

Teppanyaki is one Japanese method of cooking food, which has become widespread in Japan since post-World War 2. In it, the food is cooked on an iron griddle. Teppanyaki can be used to refer to any food that’s cooked on a teppan pan, including okonomiyaki, yakisoba, and steak. Side dishes and fried rice can also be cooked and served on a teppan grill with the meal.

Recipe: Teppanyaki  by Namiko Chen

60. Tonkatsu

Tonkatsu is a pork cutlet, where the cutlet has been breaded and deep-fried. It’s most often served with a cabbage salad and white rice, plus some miso soup on the side. Originally the dish was made using beef, but now it’s primarily made using pork, although chicken and fish versions also exist.

Recipe: Pork Tonkatsu by Grace Parisi

deep-fried pork cutlet Tonkatsu

61. Tsukemono Pickles

The word tsukemono stands for “pickled things”, and describes all Japanese vegetables that have been preserved, typically pickled in salt, brine, or rice bran. They are either served as a side dish, or as a snack to eat over a drink. Tsukemono pickles can also be used to garnish a dish.

Recipe: Pickled Daikon (Tsukemono) by Shihoko

Tsukemono Pickles

62. Udon

Udon is a noodle made using wheat flour, and is thick in size. It is considered a comfort food among the Japanese, usually made in a mild-tasting broth, with scallions on top. It can also be paired with dishes like tempura, and is common to use in shabu shabu. Udon can also be made in a fried form, where it’s called yaki udon, or it can be served in a curry dish.

Recipe: Udon Noodle Soup by wandercooks

thick noodle Udon

63. Unagi

Unagi is what the Japanese call freshwater eel. It is a common food to eat in Japanese cuisine, especially in a donburi dish called unadon, where it is served sliced. There are numerous restaurants in Japan specializing in unagi dishes, and even a sweet biscuit including powdered unagi exists. Unagi is considered so special in Japan it even has a day dedicated to eating it on the yearly calendar.  

64. Wagashi

Wagashi refers to traditional Japanese confections. They are typically served with matcha, and in a tea ceremony, and especially the confections made with mochi, anko, and fruit are popular and common. Overall there are nearly 30 different types of traditional confections in Japan, all of which vary in use of ingredients and appearance. 

Recipe: How To Make Japanese Wagashi : Nerikiri Recipe by DWELL

traditional Japanese confections wagashi

65. Wagyu

Any of the four breeds of beef cattle raised in Japan can be called wagyu, and many different regions like to attach their own name to the beef, for example Kobe beef in Kobe. Majority of wagyu in Japan comes from the Japanese Black cattle breed. Wagyu is most often eaten as a steak.

Japanese breeds of beef cattle meat wagyu

66. Yakiniku

Yakiniku refers to grilled meat in general. Initially, the term was coined to mean Western-style barbecued meat, but now it technically compasses any type of grilled meat cuisine in Japan, with some restaurants specifically specializing in yakiniku. When in a yakiniku restaurant, you’ll get to choose your cut of meat, and then cook it on the grill – either gas or electric or charcoal heated – yourself with the vegetables that come with the meat.

Recipe: Beef Yakiniku  by Morning Biscotti

Japanese grilled meat yakiniku

67. Yakisoba

This is a Japanese style fried noodle dish. Despite the name soba, the noodles used here are actually Chinese wheat flour noodles that are more alike with ramen noodles. Yakisoba is prepared with small pieces of pork, various vegetables, and Worchester sauce for flavor. It was introduced to Japanese cuisine after World War 2, and can be eaten both as a side dish and as a main dish.

Recipe: Simple Yakisoba Noodles by Momsdish

Japanese stir fry noodles yakisoba

68. Yakitori

These are Japanese style chicken skewers, prepared by grilling the skewered meat over a charcoal fire. The meat is often seasoned with tare sauce, or possibly salt, before serving. You can find yakitori sold at small shops and street vendors specializing in the dish, with take-out being often the only option.

Recipe: Yakitori by Shihoko

Yakitori or skewered chicken

69. Yakizakana

As you may guess by the name, yakizakana is another grilled food from Japan, in this case made with fish. It can be any type of fish, and with the fish always being served whole. This dish can be enjoyed whatever time of day it is, usually with rice and miso soup on the side.

70. Zuke

Zuke refers to sashimi with soy sauce. It encompasses all the possible seafood sashimi, as well as raw meat. It is one traditional way to prepare the topping for sushi, deriving from the Edo period. Zuke is especially popular to use with tuna, and the process of marinating the piece of fish in soy sauce can take as little as a couple of minutes, depending on one’s preferences.

Each part of Japan seems to have its own distinguished food culture going on, making each day you spend in Japan a discovery of new delicious dishes. And although a lot of the food from Japan is meat-based, many dishes are vegetarian and even vegan friendly! Unfortunately, the majority of the restaurants you’ll come by in Japan are specialized on a specific dish, so you may not get to sample an array of different dishes in one restaurant visit, but in turn you’ll always get to eat what the chef knows how to do the best! Are you as excited to check off all the delicious food items on this Japanese food bucket list as I am?

You Might Also Enjoy

German Food Bucket List: 45 Names of the Best Traditional Dishes to Try
American Food Bucket List: 60 Foods in the USA to Eat
Tokyo Bucket List: 50 Top Things To Do in Japan’s Coolest City
4 of the Best Day Trips from Tokyo
Japanese Culture, Traditions and Customs: 15 Lifestyle Facts to Know
Best Quirky Café in Japan? Tokyo’s Calico Cat Café in Shinjuku
Century Egg: Asia’s 1000 Year Old Tradition
About Japanese Mochi Snacks

7 thoughts on “Japanese Food Bucket List: 70 Foods to Eat from Japan”

  1. Hi Annette,

    As a foodie, I am always looking for new foods and dishes to try out. Japanese cuisine is one of my favorite cuisines in the world. But you were right, sushi does come to mind when thinking about Japanese food. I have tried the curry rice, and they are really delicious. Looking forward to trying out more dishes from your list. All of them sound delicious. Thank you for taking the time in putting together this list.

  2. I love Japanese food and the closest thing to ramen that I can get here in America is nikuman. It’s like FastFood Japan, but without all of those pesky calories!


Leave a Comment

Annette White the Owner of Bucket List Journey
Hey Bucket Listers!
I'm Annette.

I’m a goal obsessed mid-lifer, traveler, experience collector, fear crusher, digital marketer and author with big bucket list dreams. Let's Connect!

GET MY 2,000 free bucket list ideas

Jump right in and you will get your printable ideas by email: