Before I came to Japan I didn´t care much about food, just filling my stomach every day with some junk food was totally fine. Since I´m living in Japan, I realized how much the people here love their food and how much time they spend talking about food, recipes and which is the best restaurant. Especially on TV you will find millions of shows where people just try food and of course there are also many cooking shows.
In my hometown, the food is usually very heavy and greasy, not really healthy. In Japan the food is often very light and healthy (of course there are exceptions). That is one of the reasons why the people here live way longer than in other countries of the world.
As a big fish lover, Japan is really a paradise for me. You can get reasonable and good quality fish at every corner in the city. Also meat got very popular especially around the young generation.
But let´s have a look at my favorite Japanese dishes:
1. Sashimi/Sushi (刺身/寿司)
Always when my husband ask me about what I want to eat, my answer is always Sushi or Sashimi. I really love raw fish! Especially I´m a big fan of salmon sushi and all kind of shells. The very good fish quality even if you are going to a cheap chain restaurant is really great. I really like to try new Sushi or Sashimi variation. There are so many different kinds of fish and shells that I guess I will never make it to try all kinds.
2. Tempura (天麩羅)
If you don´t like meat or seafood, tempura might be a good alternative for you. Tempura is made from crust of flour and egg fried in oil. You can use all kind of vegetable and of course fish/meat if you like. The typical tempura set at restaurant is a mix of vegetables (mushroom, pumpkin, aubergine…) and fish like shrimps. I like to order the only vegetable tempura set, which comes often with many different kinds of mushrooms. Often restaurants serve tempura together with soba noodles or on top of a big bowl of rice. The typical source for dipping in the tempura is Tensuyu (a mix of rice wine and soy sauce), also comes with ginger and radish. Some places just offer a small plate of salt for dipping.
My favorite Japanese food is yuba. Yuba is made from tofu skin and can be eaten in many different ways, like in a soup, natural way, fried and so on. The texture and tastes is a little bit like fresh mozzarella cheese, but also like cheese the taste depends on the good quality of the yuba. Nikko is well known for their good yuba restaurants, but you can also find it in other areas of Japan. I ate the most creamy and delicious yuba in a small store in Kimitsu (Chiba). So whenever you find a restaurant who offers yuba as a dish, just give it a try!
4. Mochi soup/Ozoni (雑煮)
Every year on 1 st January Japanese family usually eat osechi and mochi soup for the first breakfast of the year. I´m a big fan of the mocha soup, which comes with a big piece of mochi in a very simple clear broth and some vegetable. But you should watch out to just make small bites. Every year many people die from eating that soup. Especially older people can have problems to chew the very sticky mochi.
5. Tonkatsu (豚カツ)
Tonkatsu is the typical japanese pork cutlet, which is usually cut in small strips and served with white cabbage. The taste is very similar to “Wiener Schnitzel”, but there are also some variations with different kind of meat (like more greasy part, or softer meat).
6. Tamagodon (卵丼)
Tamagodon is one of my favorite dishes for cooking it at home. It is very easy to make. Just put some slices of pork and onion in a frying pan with a spoon of dashi and fry it a little bit. At the end put some scramble eggs and green onions and mix it with the meat. Served with a big bowl of rice, you will have a big good simple dish for the day.
7. Oden (おでん)
Oden is a typical dish for the winter season in Japan. Oden is a light soup made from soy sauce/dashi and several ingredients such as boiled eggs, daikon and processed fishcakes. You can buy it at every convenience store or just at the supermarket.
8. Chicken Teriyaki (鶏の照り焼き)
Chicken Teriyaki usually served on a bowl of rice with small chicken pieces with teriyaki sauce. It is also a typical easy food for cooking it at home.
9. Kakifry (かき揚げ)
Every autumn it is oyster season in Japan. You can eat oyster raw, boiled or fried. Kakifry (fried oyster) is very typical oyster dish in Japan. I´m not a big fan of raw oyster, but fried one is very delicious and I can eat mountains of it.
10. Yaki Dango
The end of my list will be a typical dessert. You can find Dangos in many different kinds and tastes (Goma dango, Anko dango, Hanami dango..) . But I prefer the grilled one covered with a syrup made from soy sauce, sugar and starch.
The best way of trying out most of the dishes from my list is to eat a Teishoku set at a restaurants. A typical meal set includes rice, miso soup, a main dish, a side dish, and pickled vegetables. They variety depends on the restaurant and price. I like to try many different kinds of food, that´s why I prefer to eat those Teishoku sets.
How about you? Do you like Teishoku?