Japanese Food: From Tempura to Takoyaki

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Last Updated on April 26, 2024 by Audrey Scott

Japanese food, where the dining experience is not only about the actual food consumed, but also the presentation, the design, the sheer beauty of what you're eating. From the traditional to the modern, from the quick to the drawn-out, and from the haute to the street — with a few unusual (and necessary) ideas for limited budgets to help your yen go a bit further — this is our take on Japanese food.

Japan Food, Traditional Breakfast
Starting the day right with a traditional Japanese breakfast.

Japan, where clean eating meets culinary artistry. Where raw fish and pickled vegetables sit astride seaweed strands and tempura sculptures. The place where you can eat blowfish sashimi, octopus balls and cow offal one evening, then follow it all up the next day with a 15-course meal that might qualify as one of the truly greatest eating experiences of your life. Japanese cuisine, where the food canvas employs color, where form truly follows function.

Our Japanese Food Guide allows you to learn more about the tradition and ritual behind Japanese cuisine, while also providing recommendations for Japanese dishes, sushi experiences, street food and other traditional meals so you can eat your way through Japan.

Japanese Food Components: Ritual, Rules and Tradition

In traditional Japanese cuisine, as in Japanese life, there are rules. Food rules. Meals are divided into bowls and dishes, which are then further subdivided, all in an effort to separate flavors so that they might not touch each other.

This is precision on a plate.

In Japan, aesthetic is critical, from the many porcelain plates and bowls from which you might take one meal, to the landscape of the tray upon which it is all served. There's logic, there's purpose in every facet of the dining experience, in each item in the meal. By design for design. Contrast this with other East Asian cuisines where large pots are shared from the middle of the table.

Japanese food is careful, that is, full of care. (We're certain we horrified our share of hosts by sharing with each other tastes from our respective meals.)


As in other Asian cuisine, rice is the guiding force, a requisite. In fact, the Japanese word for rice, gohan, is also the word for meal. In other words, you can’t have one without the other. Or perhaps in Japan, one is the other.

Pickled vegetables

The Japanese seem to be able to pickle just about anything and everything that grows. And they make it all taste good. Japanese picked vegetables (tsukemono) are to be eaten on their own or in condiment fashion. Beware: portion sizes are usually inversely related to the strength of the pickle.

Their artistic arc begins with their shapes and colors accenting serving plates and bowls and ends curled astride one of your courses in complement. Perhaps best of all — and we are running on intuition here — pickled vegetables serve a function to the body in better absorbing or processing the food they are served with, balancing all the protein and rice, cleansing the palate between bites.

Japanese Food, Pickled Vegetables
Japanese pickled vegetables. Small, but they pack a punch.


Often a miso soup, but you may also be served another lighter broth or clear soup.


Japan is an island, so it’s not surprising that fish is abundant and the go-to source of protein. Raw is the chosen method of preparation, but in multi-course meals you'll find an occasional piece of steamed fish topped with a light sauce.

However, a perfectly marbled beef such as Kobe beef (or the new king, Hida beef) will be served beautifully raw with the expectation that you'll cook it to taste on your own individual tabletop hibachi grill.

Take a look at this traditional meal at a restaurant in Takayama specializing in Hida beef. Can you find all the components?

Japan Food, Traditional Meal of Hida Beef
How many components of a Japanese meal can you find?

Japanese Breakfast

You’ll find the same deliberate practice in a traditional Japanese breakfast as well. Your tray will contain many small plates, each with a different flavor and purpose. They all come together to provide a substantial – and protein rich – start to the day.

Japanese Food, Traditional Breakfast
A Japanese breakfast landscape.

Where to find a Japanese breakfast: The best place to try a traditional Japanese breakfast is to stay in a ryokan (Japanese inn). Our two favorite ryokans for breakfast: Oyado Iguchi in Takayama and Tagaoogi in Kawaguchiko near Mount Fuji. Our favorite breakfast treat in all of Japan: hōba miso, grilled miso paste served atop fish on a dried magnolia leaf.

Bowing to the Alter of Raw Fish: Sushi and Sashimi

To get to the heart of raw fish, sushi and sashimi heaven, be sure to make a trip to Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo.

Japan Food, Sushi near Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo
Smiles and sashimi for breakfast at Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo.

Many of you are probably familiar with the different styles of sushi – nigiri (slice of raw fish on top of rice), maki (rolls) and sashimi (slices of raw fish, no rice). We also became fans of sashimi don – a bowl of sushi rice covered in slabs of freshly cut sashimi.

Favoriate Sashimi Dons

After learning how Tokyo manages tons of fresh seafood each day, grab a sushi or sashimi don breakfast of champions at one of the tiny sushi restaurants in the market.

Japan Food, Tuna Sashimi Don
Tuna sashimi on top of a bowl of rice (don).

Our favorite sashimi dons: We did not have time to wait in line for three hours at Sushi Dai (Daisha) but we did enjoy a great sashimi don at a small place a few doors down called BenTomi Sushi in Building #6.

Japan Food, Mixed Sashimi Don
Mixed sashimi don, breakfast of choice in Tokyo.

Conveyor Belt Sushi

Sushi purists may snub their nose at conveyor belt sushi or sushi trains, restaurants with moving belts of sushi plates where you serve yourself and pay at the end based on your pile of empty plates. However, we found that in Japan the quality of fish in these establishments could be exceptional, especially when you consider the price.

Japan Food, Conveyor Belt Sushi
Sushi go-round.

Instead of being held prisoner by what was goes around the conveyor belt, you also have a choice of ordering sushi directly from the chef for the same price. Once we figured out this trick by watching locals in their routine, we rarely picked anything off the conveyor belt and ate exclusively from custom orders.

Often, we would be stuffed to the gills with sushi goodness for around $25-$30 for the two of us. In Japan terms, that's considered a steal. And a win.

Favorite Conveyor Belt Sushi: Tototoriton Sushi Go-Round near Shinjuku station (south exit), Tokyo. Not only were most plates 130 Yen (under $2), but the custom order menu was 40+ options deep with sushi and sashimi options.

Blowfish Sashimi

Blowfish (fugu) is delicious, but it’s one of those delicacies that can kill you if it's not properly prepared. Do your research to find a trusted fugu den (i.e., a restaurant that focuses only on fugu). We opted for a sashimi plate and found the fugu to be subtle flavor, slightly sweet, a tad numbing, with the consistency of very tender squid.

Japanese Food, Blowfish Sashimi
Thinly sliced tender fugu sashimi

For even more fugu fun, be sure to get a glass of fugu sake – hot sake with fugu fins set on fire and infused into the brew. Fugu sake: intense, tasty, and also very fun to say ten times fast.

Where to find fugu sashimi: Osaka, they'll even let you hold the fugu afterwards. Just beware that the fish might begin to blow up in your hands.

Kaiseki Dinner: Traditional Japanese Cuisine at its Best

We often sing the praises of cheap eating as we travel, but we are making an exception here for a traditional kaiseki meal. If you plan to splurge somewhere in Japan, consider doing it for this. Our kaiseki meal at a ryokan near Mount Fuji was one of the most memorable and unique meals of our lives.

Kaiseki is a multi-course (6-15 courses) traditional dinner, served in the manner of samurai (we're not kidding). But it is more than just a meal, it’s an entire cultural experience. Each course is tiny, but delicately prepared and served in bowls and dishes that are well-suited to the food. And no two dishes will be the same; everything has a purpose. The presentation and service is an unforgettable experience, sheer joy.

Japanese Food, Kaiseki Dinner
The start of our kaiseki dinner, the first of many dishes.

The courses of a kaiseki meal will change based on the seasons and what is fresh, but they'll often represent all the different styles of cooking – raw, boiled, grilled, and steamed. The experience will pull influence from the mountains to the sea. There's a pace that ensures that the meal moves along, but it's slow enough as to enable the full appreciation of presentation, design, and flavor.

Recommended Kaiseki Dinner: Tagaoogi Ryokan at Kawaguchiko near Mount Fuji. Just amazing, from the quality of the food to the presentation and service.

Japanese Cheap Eats and Street Food

It is true that the words cheap and Japan don’t often go together, but there are thankfully a few tasty, healthy Japanese options that are easier on the wallet.


Japanese Food, Hiroshimia Okonomiyaki
Hiroshima okonomiyaki in the making.

A friend living in Japan told us the style of okonomiyaki is a reflection of the city where it is served. Some places are more orderly with straight streets, others are messy with curved roads. You can find this personality in the local okonomiyaki.

Okonomiyaki, roughly, is a savory pancake stuffed with sliced vegetables, seafood and other bits. Although its roots go back centuries, its popularity dates from the days of U.S. troops and post-WWII deliveries to Japan of wheat flour (used in the pancake batter). Usually, okonomiyaki is cooked on a big griddle or at your table in a cook-your-own style. Top with hanakatsuo — dried, fermented, and outrageously thin bacony looking smoked bonito (skipjack tuna) flakes that curl like mad when you place them atop hot food.

Trust us, it tastes much better than the description makes it sound. It's usually an inexpensive meal as well, especially if two people can share one portion.

Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki:

Japanese Food, Okonomiyaki Hiroshima Style
Hiroshima Style Okonomiyaki

This was the first okonomiyki we enjoyed, and it was massive. Noodles (choice of soba or udon), grated vegetables and seafood are served on top of a thin fried pancake. Usually it is topped with a sweet Worcestershire style sauce and topped with mayonnaise.

Where to get Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki: Just near the Hiroshima train station is the main street Johoku Dori. If you walk past the Post Office you'll find this place on the right side in a brick building. All locals, lots of fun.

Osaka-style Okonomiyaki:

Japan Food, Okonomiyaki Osaka Style
Okonomiyaki, Osaka Style

In contrast to Hiroshima’s signature okonomiyaki, Osaka okonomiyaki does not include any noodles, its veggies are more finely chopped, and the whole package is more tidy.

Where to get Osaka-style okonomiyaki: There are lots of places along Dōtonbori Street in Osaka that specialize in okonomiyaki. If you ask nicely, they'll even draw Hello Kitty on top in mayonnaise.

Tokyo style, okonomiyaki:

Japan Food, Monjayaki
Monjayaki in the making.

Officially known as monjayaki, all the ingredients are blended into the batter so that it is all cooked together, almost like a pancake-omelette. Our server came to the rescue when he realized we had no idea what we were doing on our grill and piled the cut cabbage and other goodies on the outside and while much of the liquid batter cooked on the inside. Then you mash the whole thing together with little metal scrapters. Rather messy, not very orderly, but really satisfying.

Where to get monjayaki in Tokyo: Just at the main crossing at Shibuya station in Tokyo. You'll have your choice of monjayaki or okonomiyaki that you cook yourself at your table. Lots of fun, terrifically social and inexpensive.


Japan Food, Takoyaki Street Food
Takoyaki from the streets of Osaka.

Takoyaki, you say? Hot octopus and herbed dough balls. All part of the experience: watching takoyaki masters quickly turn their takoyaki balls in something that looks like a cupcake pan with long toothpicks to that they are cooked evenly on all sides. Takoyaki is often topped with a sweet sauce, oregano, and ample helpings of hanakatsuo.

Where to get takoyaki:

  • Nishiki Market, Kyoto: There's a bustling stand in the covered indoor market serving up piping hot takoyaki for a great price. Fun atmosphere with lots of students hanging around.
  • Dōtonbori Street, Osaka: Several vendors sell takoyaki fresh from the grill along this busy street.

Izakaya restaurants

Izakaya are technically known as drinking restaurants, but there's usually a large menu of dumplings, salads, fried chicken and other snack bits to nosh as you drink your beer. Izakaya sometimes even offer karaoke so you can sing off all the calories. If you look around, you can find some good deals at Izakaya restaurants with dishes that run $3-$5.

Japanese Curry

Japan Food, Curry
Mixed seafood Japanese curry from Coco Ichibanya.

Although we've heard that Japanese curry originated with the British, it's nothing at all like a British or Indian curry. The best way to describe Japanese curry sauce: brown. It’s a smooth sweet and savory gravy. Although not on par with Indian or other curries, it can be a nice food break from typical Japanese fare, and it's usually pretty inexpensive.

Where to get Japanese curry: Most major cities feature inexpensive curry restaurants. We tried Coco Ichibanya in Kyoto and enjoyed a large plate of mixed seafood curry for about $10.

Japanese Soups

Japan Food, Ramen Soup
Ramen Soup at Tenkaippin Restaurant

There are quite a few restaurants specializing in soups. Often you can choose your noodle (thick udon or the thinner soba), style of broth and the meat or vegetable inside.

Where to get Japanese soups: Although a chain restaurant, Tenkaippin (or Tenka Ippin) serves a formidable bowl. Ippudo is another popular and apparently reliable soup chain.

Ootaya Restaurant

Ootoya is actually a chain restaurant, but one that features high quality food at very reasonable prices (e.g., around $8-10). A great option when you want a hearty, good-looking meal without breaking the bank. You can find Ootaya restaurants all around Tokyo, especially in and around the business disticts. We went to the one in the Subaru building in Shinjuku.

Regional Japanese Foods

Conger Eel, Miyajima

Japan Food, Anago Meshi
Anago meshi on top of a bowl of rice.

Much of the eel that you'll find in Japan is unagi, meaning freshwater eel. But in the Miyajima and Hiroshima area, the eel of choice is anago, or saltwater eel. It’s grilled slightly and then topped with a sweet sauce. We ate our anago as a rice bowl (don) just near the train station in Miyajimaguchi. Standard price is around $25-$30 per bowl.

Grilled Oysters — Miyajima

Japan Food, Grilled Oysters
Grilling oysters is a hot business on Miyajima.

You would think that with all the raw food Japanese eat they’d throw oysters into the raw eating basket. But they don’t, at least during certain times of the year when water temperatures are too high. So during the time of our visit in May, oyster vendors on Miyajima island grilled their oysters. While the oysters were not petite, they were tasty and rich, massive guys, a perfect complement to a good dry sake.


Japan Food, Tempura
Serving up freshly fried tempura at Tsunahachi in Tokyo.

Tempura always struck us as an odd Japanese food — it is fried, whereas most Japanese food is light on oil. Dig into the history of tempura and you'll find out why: thank the Portugese influence for tempura in Japan.

While tempura is often done badly – meaning overly fried or not using fresh oils – there is a beauty to it when done well. The exterior of excellent tempura is just slightly crunchy, protecting the tenderly cooked interior. And there’s no better way to appreciate the skill behind perfectly prepared tempura than by eating at a bar where you can watch tempura masters at work.

Where to eat tempura in Tokyo: We went for the lunch menu at Tsunahachi Restaurant in Shinjuku ($15-$30). The cheapest lunch menu available, while missing some of the special seafood bits, is an excellent value. Their tempura is exceptionally high quality. We also enjoyed sitting at the bar watching the chefs do their magic. This restaurant will give you eating and dipping instructions in English to be sure you eat everything correctly. Helpful, cute and delightfully Japanese.

Hida Beef

Japanese Food, Hida Beef
Chunks of marbled Hida beef ready to go on the grill.

Many people have heard of Kobe beef, but few have heard of Hida beef. This is the new top beef in Japan according to the latest food competitions. The meat is marbled with fat, making it melt in your mouth when you grill it. Not inexpensive at $25-$30 for a set meal, but worth trying. Since the town of Hida is just north, Takayama is full of restaurants specializing in Hida beef.

Japanese Drinks and Desserts

Japan Sweets, Yatsuhashi
Yatsuhashi sweets with bean paste filling in Kyoto

We had no idea that Japanese people had such a sweet tooth, but if you look around the basement food floor of any department store you will be amazed by the array and selection of sweets. Many are made with rice flour doughs and bean paste or other bits of regional fillings. The sweets that take the cake (and we almost made ourselves sick on all the free samples in Kyoto) were the Yatsuhashi sweets — rice flour dough pillows tucked with various sweet fillings.


Japan Food, Sake Tasting
Free sake tasting in Takayama. Dangerous in the middle of the afternoon…

Made from fermented rice, sake is a traditional Japanese alcohol that pairs nicely with sushi, grilled oysters and other bits of traditional Japanese fare. Obviously, not all sake is created equal, so if your first experience is not great, don't dispair. To get a sense of the range of sake available, taste and sample as much sake as you can. If you find yourself in Takayama, be sure to take part in free sake tasting in the old town near Sanmachi (or Kamisannomachi). Look for the sugidama (large cedar balls) hanging outside, indicating that sake is brewed and served inside. The best tastings include an array of sake, and also indicate which sake is best served cold or warm.

Green tea

We had never really been big fans of green tea prior to visiting Japan. Much of what is passed off as green tea in the West, can be less than noteworthy, especially in the bottled iced tea arena where tastes border on the syrupy and tea-free.

In Japan, however green tea is everywhere, and it is often exceptionally good. There is a smooth, smoky flavor that is to be appreciated without any sugar or additives. Take the opportunity to attend a Japanese tea ceremony and you'll appreciate the culture behind tea drinking even more.

Japanese Tea Ceremony
Water preparation in a Japanese tea ceremony, Kyoto.

A note for coffee drinkers: Knowing that Japan is mainly a tea-drinking society, we were surprised by the prevalence of coffee shops and espresso machines. Getting your coffee fix is possible, however, but it is not cheap (i.e., $4-7 at a Starbucks or similar type of café).

Environmental note – BYOC (Bring Your Own Chopsticks): Most restaurants in Japan will provide you with disposable wooden chopsticks. Consider bringing a pair of your own portable / foldable chopsticks or just regular chopsticks for your Japan travels to avoid all that wooden chopstick waste.

Gluten Free Eating in Japan

If you have celiac disease or a gluten intolerance there's good and bad news about gluten free eating in Japan in general. On the positive side, some of the traditional dishes like sashimi and sushi are gluten free. On the negative side, many dishes include soy sauce (or similar) or food is fried in oil that was also used to fry batter with gluten. Restaurant staff are not always educated on what ingredients contain gluten so it's important to be careful and ask questions.

To help you navigate Japanese food so that you can eat local, but also gluten free and without getting sick, check out this Japanese gluten-free restaurant card and Gluten Free Guide to Japanese Food created by our friend, Jodi. The restaurant card explains in detail, using local food names and language, your needs as a strictly gluten free eater so that you get the meal you want and need without the fear of getting sick.
© Jodi Ettenberg DBA Legal Nomads 2019

Jodi has celiac disease herself so she understands first-hand the importance of being able to communicate gluten free needs in detail and educate waiters and restaurants on what this means in practice. In fact, she got sick many times in Japan because people didn't understand what ingredients contained gluten and the problems of cross-contamination. She created her series of Gluten Free Restaurant Cards in different languages to help celiac and gluten free travelers eat local with confidence, and without communication problems or getting sick.

Note: These gluten free restaurant cards are not part of an affiliate plan or a way for us to make money. We are extremely fortunate that we can eat everything, but we've seen the challenges of others who are celiac or have food intolerances where every meal can potentially make them sick or cause pain. These detailed gluten free cards were created to help prevent that from happening and make eating out fun and enjoyable when traveling.

By no means is this an extensive Japanese food guide, but it should help you navigate the Japanese food landscape and offer a few options for budget eating in Japan.

Japan: eat it, live it, enjoy it — and share with us your favorite features and dishes in Japanese cuisine.

いただきます Itadakimasu!

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Japanese Food
Disclosure: Our Discover Japan tour was provided by G Adventures in cooperation with its Wanderers in Residence program. Some, but not all, eating expenses, were covered. As always, the opinions expressed here are entirely our own.
About Daniel Noll
Travel and life evangelist. Writer, speaker, storyteller and consultant. Connecting people to experiences that will change their lives. Originally from the U.S. Daniel has lived abroad since 2001 and most recently has been on the road since 2006. When he's not writing for the blog you can keep up with his adventures on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. And you can learn more about him on the About Page and on LinkedIn.

37 thoughts on “Japanese Food: From Tempura to Takoyaki”

  1. I’ve been waiting for this one since you first blogged that you’d be visiting Japan. Awesome post. You covered it all and then some. Glad you found Tsunahachi for tempura.

  2. Based on my five trips to my wife’s home town of Sendai, this is a great analysis of Japanese food and the associated culture. I would add that in Sendai we go each year to a friendly and atmospheric izekaya/robatayaki called “ako” – the master always comes up with some terrific dishes.

  3. This is epic! I love Japanese food and you’ve covered many of my favorite dishes here. The Hida beef in Takayama is out of this world! Tonkatsu and ramen are also great dishes -there’s even a ramen museum in Yokohama!

  4. Killing us with this and making us want to go back to Japan so badly! We got to make our own takoyaki at our hostel in Osaka, dare we say it was better than what we had in the streets. 🙂

  5. That food looks and sounds amazing. I’ve never really had authentic Japanese food but I really want to try it now.

    Thanks for the post, I’m hungry now 🙂

  6. Okonomiyaki is awesome! I have to look for it in NY….yelp says there are some here. I think I would like the one without the noodles..kinda wierd the noodles, but perhaps more filling..

  7. Fantastic blog on the Japanese food. Takoyaki is one of my favorites! Aside from it costs cheap, the taste is really delicious. Thank God, there are now street food offering Takuyaki. Your photos make me starving.

  8. ’15-course meal’ ;-), it should be not so bad for the process, but what would be the stomach feeling after scoring this record?
    I cannot forget my own Tokyo experience of a served table for 8 pax, in the center – a huge bowl of water, around it – lots of raw meat/fish, and we were supposed to prepare the soup ourselves. In the end, it was unexpectedly great.

  9. Japanese soup is always healthy with its great choice of veggies and meats. Is it true that the more sound Japanese makes when sipping the soup means they really like the soup?

  10. My God!
    I don’t know whether having bought a lot of fish this afternoon will turn out being good or bad after reading this!
    I would never be able to even get close in cooking such succulent dishes, not even with all the fish in the world in my fridge.
    Well, will taste that in Japan sooner or later…
    Thank you for sharing all this.

  11. Your article is very huge. I came here by reading a brief summary which translated into Japanese.

    “Takoyaki – octopus balls” has wide variety.
    The trad one comes from Kansai region.
    Akashi style doesn’t have thick sauce on, but you will eat it by soaking the broth instead.
    Try this, enjoy another world of Takoyaki.

    Note: The green herb like topping is not oregano, but “Aonori – dried green laver”.
    You can enjoy foods with this in “Okonomiyaki” or “Potato Chips Nori Shio flavour”.

  12. Sushi has been my favorite Japanese food ever. Nowadays, I can have it anywhere! Aside from its popularity, the distinct delicious taste has captivated my food preference.

  13. Japanese food is indeed excellent and this is wonderful portrayal of it’s beauty. Raw fish for breakfast, who’d have ever thought it? Trying new foods is such a pleasure when traveling, and it always amazes me how much variation there is out there.

  14. Hi! I just came back from Japan and reading this post makes my mouth water. I agree with everything you said. The food there is amazingly good and so well prepared. Great post! 🙂

  15. Beautiful post, I can’t think of anything better for breakfast than an incredibly fresh bowl of sashimi don. And as a lover of rice everyday of my life, I love how the Japanese word means the same as meal!

  16. @James: Thanks! Hope this comes in handy during your next visit to Japan.

    @Sutapa: Good luck finding the Okonomiyaki place in New York! We found one in Berlin, but you had to reserve in advance so we still haven’t tried it. The noodles are a rather filling – sounds odd, but it’s good.

    @Steve: We got rather hungry putting this together as well 🙂

    @Lori: Sorry to keep you waiting but hope this was worth the wait! Tsunahachi was great – a fun little place and fantastic food.

    @Phillip: Glad to hear this is in line with your experiences in Japan with your wife’s family. Izekayas are a lot of fun.

    @cosmoHallitan: I could go for a big bowl of ramen right about now 🙂 We heard about the ramen noodle museum in Yokohama, but didn’t make it there.

    @Gerard: Putting this together made me want to return to Japan as well. The food there was so good. Hard to believe that the takoyaki you made in Osaka was better than the street variety – yum.

    @Gabriel: What makes Japanese food so unique is all the special ingredients. While it is good outside of Japan, it’s really fantastic when you try it in Japan.

    @Mike: Completely agree that takoyaki is both cheap and tasty – perfect street food combination.

    @TheTuscan: Hope the fish turned out well!

    @Taro: Thank you so much for the corrections – really appreciate it!!

    @Mike: Japanese cuisine definitely contributes to the long life of people.

    @Mary: Sushi is not only delicious, but really healthy. It is nice how you can find it almost anywhere these days.

    @Addison: It is amazing how delicious raw fish is for breakfast, super healthy too.

    @Lucy Prom: Glad you had an equally good time eating your way through Japan!

    @Mark: Many people think that sashimi for breakfast sounds awful, but it’s really a wonderful breakfast. Keeps you going for hours and hours, too. After all my time in Asia, I’m also a rice lover and like how the same word is used for rice and meal.

  17. Audrey, I am determined to find Okonomiyake in NY. Will let you know if I do. Yelp says there are many…but I don’t know about how recent that is.

  18. OMG! THIS HAS BEEN MY MOST FAVORITE FOOD POST ON YOUR BLOG. I *LOVE LOVE* how you guys gave us direction and where to go. Something I can really appreciate since Tokyo is on the list of cities we’re visiting this year!

    I ALMOST woke my partner up to show him this.. thankfully I didn’t else I would never hear the last of it. hahaha 🙂


  19. This is an incredible food post!! I would like to eat so many of your pictures. Great curration.

    Your picture of Takoyaki made my mouth water! The first time I had it was a few years back at TBEX NYC when Jodi took us all, and I just went back last week with a close friend that cheered when she saw traditional festival food. Great memories of great food with great friends!

    Hope you’re both well!

  20. @Sutapa: Our first takoyaki experience was actually in New York in 2010 at a place called Otafuku, if that’s of any help. Happy takoyaki-seeking.

    @Mika: Excellent. That was the aim: cover Japanese food as wide as we could, but also give some guidance and tips. It’s a broad subject. Have fun, eat well and let us know how it goes!

    @Bessie: Good times! Definitely remember the takoyaki. In fact, just recommended Otafuku above. Glad you liked the curation. It was a bit of an effort to pick and choose, and distill it all into something vaguely intelligible and actionable (edible?). Glad it worked!

  21. @Perry: Japanese cuisine has to be one of the most thoughtfully presented, if not *the* most thoughtfully presented, on the planet. And our visit barely scratched the surface of all the facets and meaning of Japanese food presentation.

  22. I have this soft spot for Japanese food. Love it so much, the flavours, and sometimes even the way it’s eaten! Everything is so gracious and nuanced. Speaking of the Osaka-style okonomiyaki, there is this amazing shop next to the serviced apartments I stayed in while I was there (Fraser Residence Osaka, just off Namba station) that sells amazing okonomiyaki. You should try it if you have the chance!Reading your post brings back great memories! And the pictures look delicious too.

  23. @Janet: Do you remember the name of the Osaka-style okonomiyaki place? Glad our piece brings back good memories of Japanese food.

  24. WHEW!! I’m glad it was just a glitch…………I was worried that I’d lost you Kate. Great ideas and wonderful photos as always.

  25. Awesome ! Its late night as i am reading through and maybe I missed it twice but is there any mention on the Ramen noodle culture and your experience around it.

    • At the top of the Japanese Soups entry, there’s a photo of ramen from Tenkaippin, which is one of the ramen chains in Japan.

      If you have additional information or context to share regarding ramen noodles in Japan, please do!

  26. Amazing post!! I am going to Kyoto next week, and I can’t wait to eat everything!!

    Let me know if you come to Korea anytime soon , cuz the food here is damn tasty!

    • Thanks, Drew. How was your trip to Kyoto? Did you eat well?

      Korea is on our list. Will definitely let you know when we’re headed that way.


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