Sukiyaki, teriyaki, tempura, and sushi are just a few of the many foods eaten in Japan. In this article, I would like to suggest three Japanese dishes for you to try. I love these dishes, but had never heard of them before visiting Japan.
1. Cold ramen
Cold ramen is served in restaurants from May to September. The ramen is boiled and then cooled in cold water. Then the ramen is poured into a bowl without broth. Sometimes the ramen is served over ice cubes or with some ice cubes. A sauce based on soy sauce or sesame seeds is generally used for cold ramen and a pinch of hot Japanese mustard is on the side of the bowl to mix with the ramen. The ramen is then topped with cold ingredients. Cucumbers, eggs, and ham or pork are the most common. They are served cut into long strips, but you can also find other toppings in your cold ramen.
Okonomiyaki is a giant Japanese pancake, but this unique pancake is not to be confused with the pancakes we eat for breakfast in America. In Japanese, okonomi means what you like and yaki means grilled. Okonomiyaki has two parts: the dough and the ingredients that are added to it. The dough includes eggs, flour, and shredded cabbage. The ingredients that are added to the dough vary widely and can be one or more of the following: pork, octopus, squid, shrimp, clams, scallops, oysters, greens, natto, kimchi, mochi, and cheese.
While okonomiyaki is made and eaten at home, eating it in restaurants is much more common. Some restaurants serve a standard okonomiyaki. That is, the server at the table brings you a plate with an okonomiyaki, but most Japanese prefer to eat their okonomiyaki in restaurants specializing in it, restaurants where you cook it yourself. The server will bring you the dough and ingredients. You can mix the batter and add the ingredients, cooking at your table on a hot grill in the middle of your table. You can cook, play and eat your okonomiyaki.
The word takoyaki uses the same yaki that you can find in okonomiyaki and many other Japanese foods. If you look up yaki in a Japanese to English dictionary, you will find it defined as roast (for pork), roast (for fish), grill (for chicken), bake (for bread), and do (for meat, fish, and chicken), as well as a number of other definitions. Like okonomiyaki, takoyaki also uses a dough. The octopus and some minor ingredients are mixed with the dough. The dough is then poured into a mold that cooks the dough into balls while heating them evenly. You could think of takoyaki as miniature octopus muffins, although they are a bit heavy for muffins. Takoyaki, unlike okonomiyaki and cold ramen, is not a meal, but a snack. You will often find it sold at festivals. Undercooked takoyaki is heavy, doughy, and sits in the stomach like lead. Well done, the hot dumpling tastes like octopus and a bread-like dough covered in a thick sauce similar to soy sauce.
As Japanese food continues to spread around the world, you are more likely to find these three tasty foods. I recommend that you try each of them. If you can’t find any of the three where you live, you might want to think about coming to Japan for a food trip.