Japanese Foods you may not know about but definitely should.

Tokyo Nomad

Japanese Foods you may not know about but definitely should.
2015.11.03

Everyone who comes to Japan knows about it's famous culinary prowess, from fresh sushi that just melts in your mouth to ramen that will have you slurping like a local. While these two are well known to foreigners coming to Japan for the first time, there are plenty of dishes maybe less known but equally delicious.

Chicken Nanban
Essentially Chicken Nanban is fried chicken soaked in a sweet and sour nanban sauce usually served with a side of Japanese style tartar sauce. I first came across while eating in a restaurant chain that specialises in chicken dishes called Tsukada Nojo. My co-worker enthusiastically ordered a plate of this delicious food insisting I try some. As I took a bite the sweet sour chicken melted in my mouth which was quickly followed by the rich creamy tartar sauce. It's fair to say I from that point I was hooked and now emphatically love this dish.
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Chicken Nanban topped with Japanese style tartar sauce.

Sukiyaki
Out of the various hot pot dishes I've tried in Japan Sukiyaki is one of my favourite with its sweet and salty taste somewhat akin to teriyaki sauce and mix of thinly sliced meat and vegetables. This delicious pot of goodness was first introduced to me by a share house mate and one of the surprising things I noticed that after cooking your meat in the hot sticky sauce they dipped it in a raw egg-wash and promptly ate it. I was a bit taken aback because British people rarely ever eat raw egg let alone use it as a dipping sauce. But if you can get past the mental barrier telling you how weird it is you can enjoy the extremely delicious sweet-sour (eggy) meat taste. Trust it tastes better than I'm describing it.
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Beef Sukiyaki hot pot with tofu, udon and various Japanese vegetables.

Rafute
Rafute I only recently discovered after my aunt insisted I go try some Okinawan food, a lot of which was extremely delicious and will continue to eat in the future, and in particularly a plate of Rafute. Rafute is pork belly which has been slowly cooked and infused with a soy sauce and brown sugar mix to make it extremely soft and delicious. Rafute comes apart with minimal effort and will literally melt in your mouth.
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Rafute - thick chunks of pork belly slowly stewed in soy sauce and brown sugar.

Tsukemen
Tsukemen - Ramen's close cousin is essentially everything delicious you would normally find in a warm Ramen bowl just served slightly differently. Tsukemen essentially takes the soup and concentrates all the complex meaty flavours into a small dipping bowl which you can use to coat your noodles and pork slices in a rich heavenly sauce. Few foods leave me counting the days down until the next bowl like Tsukemen does, but it is as you might have guessed an very heavy only ready for those prepared both mentally and physically.
Tsukemen
A large serving of Tsukemen from my favourite shop Kodo in Kichijoji featuring pork slices akin to Rafute.

Okonomiyaki
Okonomiyaki a food almost as confusing to describe as to pronounce. This savoury pancake / pizza hybrid make me suspicious at first glance to what appeared to me as a cabbage disguised in simple batter surprised me with its filling and diverse flavours. A lot of Japanese food's unique taste can be attributed to Dashi, a cooking stock made from Katsuobushi and Kombu, and Okonomiyaki is no exception. The dish loosely translated means "what you like" as people will make various combinations and mixtures ranging from pork belly slices, prawns, beef, egg, seafood and even cheese. My first experience eating okonomiyaki was a delight from the entrancing Katsuobushi flakes that seem to dance from the ambient heat to the contrasting flavours of the okonomiyaki sauce, mayonnaise, katsuobushi and anori.
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A typical Kansai style Okonomiyaki topped with Okonomiyaki sauce, Mayo, Katsuobushi and Anori.
Date posted :
2015.11.03
Poster :
Sangey

Author profile

My name is Sangey Lama and i'm currently living in the Oakhouse 2 in Kichijoji, I work as an English teacher in Japan where I teach anyone from Salarymen to Kindergarden students. I spend my free time reading sci-fi books, cooking large meals with/for my housemates and when the season is right snowboarding on one of Japan's many mountains.

Life in Japan is weird and wonderful a lot of the time, where the people are extremely friendly and helpful. Beautiful country views and vast sprawling cityscapes where I you can find almost anything if you can imagine it. The place to be if you want to experience a different way of life and a chance to rediscover yourself.