I don’t like sea food. It is simply because I don’t like the taste and the consistency of the most things out of the water. Most of my friends know about this, but if I tell other people in my home-country that I’m living in Japan without eating fish and other seafood they are shocked. They don’t believe a life without seafood is possible in Japan. But it is – it is even pretty easy for me, because there are a lot of other dishes I love to eat. Therefore, in this article I present you my TOP 10 favorite Japanese dishes as a non-seafood-eater.
# 01 Okonomiyaki (お好み焼き)
Okonomiyaki is often called the “Japanese pizza”. Actually, it is a pancake-like main dish with the main base made out of cabbage, flour and eggs. Literally the name means “grill what you like” so you are free to include any ingredients. I often mix the main base with carrots, corn, cheese, ham, mochi, … It’s your choice!! On top you put a special Okonomiyaki sauce and mayonnaise. If you order it at a restaurant, take care they are not putting Katsuobushi (bonito flakes) as topping if you don’t eat fish.
Did you know there is even a Hiroshima version of Okonomiyaki? The way of grilling is a bit different and they even at soba noodles. Pretty delicious!!
# 02 Tonkatsu (豚カツ)
Tonkatsu is a Japanese dish originated in the 19th century. It consists of a deep-fried pork cutlet and is often served with shredded cabbage, rice and miso soup. Sometimes you also find it in sandwiches or combined with curry. I also like the Katsudon (カツ丼) version, when the Tonkatsu is mixed with egg laying on a bowl of rice.
# 03 Yakisoba (焼きそば)
Yakisoba is a pretty easy Japanese dish consisting out of fried soba noodles. Especially if you want to have a quick meal at home, Yakisoba is fine for it. Here you also can freely mix what you like. I often add pork, cabbage, green paprika, bean sprouts and carrots. All is grilled in a pan and flavored with yakisoba sauce. I rarely eat Yakisoba outside, only at summer festivals like fireworks. If you buy it there, also take care of Aonori and Katsuobushi.
# 04 Oyakodon (親子丼)
Coming from the name “parent and child bowl” here you mix chicken meat and egg with some other ingredients. All is cooked and then served on top of a large bowl of rice. Oyakodon was invited in a Tokyo restaurant in 1891.
# 05 Ramen (ラーメン)
Many people say Ramen are actually coming from China. Some other says it is invited in Japan. But who cares – most important is that this soup with noodles and other ingredients such as pork, green onions and boiled egg is delicious. In Japan you can find a lof of different sorts of ramen especially regional versions.
As a non-seafood-eater you have to take care with this dish. Some restaurants make the broth out of fish. For me this is still ok, because it doesn’t really taste like fish when it is mixed with soy sauce or miso. But if you already have a problem with this, ask the restaurant stuff first. They also often put Nori and Wakame as topping, so tell them you don’t like it.
# 06 Udon (うどん)
Udon are thick wheat flour noodles which are often served as noodle soup. However, there are many ways of serving this dish. You can have them cold or hot with different toppings. I like to eat them as Kitsune Udon with deep-fried tofu or as cold Zaru Udon. Also eating Udon with curry is a great combination.
# 07 Curry (カレー)
So, here we are with the Japanese curry which is one of the most popular dishes in Japan. Here you can find many different ingredients, too, starting with the meat where pork, beef and chicken are common. Also potatoes, onions and carrots are often added. Normally you eat curry with rice, but there are even some other versions nowadays with Udon or bread. If you want to eat Curry at a restaurant, I totally can recommend CoCoIchi, a super famous curry chain restaurant.
# 08 Omurice (オムライス)
Omurice is a great combination of Western and Japanese cuisine. On the one side you have a Western omelette which is filled with Japanese fried rice. The taste of the rice can differ, but often it is flavored with ketchup. Also as topping ketchup is common, but also other sauces can be used.
# 09 Gyoza (餃子)
This time there is no question that Gyoza originally come from China, however, taste and consistence are slightly different to the Chinese original. Gyoza are dumplings often filled with meat and vegetables. In Japan you can pan-fried, steamed, boiled or deep fried versions.
# 10 Soba (そば)
One of the main dishes in Japan are Soba, buckwheat noodles. You can find them in a variety of settings: as inexpensive fast food at train stations, but also as expensive specialty in restaurants. They are served in wide variety of hot and cold dishes coming close to the Udon versions.
This was the list of my TOP 10 Japanese dishes as a non-seafood-eater. I hope you enjoyed it. For sure there are even more such dishes in Japan – Yakiniku, Yakitori, Karaage, Kyudon, Pizza, Burger, … - but the list is already long enough.
Are there dishes or ingredients you don’t like or can’t eat?
What are your favorite Japanese dishes?
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