Japan’s cuisine is not limited to traditional Japanese food. Japan has many restaurants that have excellent Italian, French, Korean barbecue and virtually any other type of food you could possibly imagine. They also have fast food restaurants, such as McDonald’s or Wendy’s, that are found nearly everywhere. However, those who visit Japan may want to steer away from the comfort of something familiar and try one of the following meals:
In recent years, sushi has greatly increased in popularity, especially in the U.S. When people think of Japan, they often immediately associate it with sushi. So what better time than when you’re in Japan to eat it?
There are a number of people who are turned off at the idea of eating raw fish (that’s wrapped in rice and SEAWEED!? Ew, no thanks). Unfortunately, many fail to realize that there are several varieties of sushi that have only vegetables or have fully cooked fish. For a first-timer, a cucumber “maki,” or roll, or a fried grouper roll may be a good choice.
Sashimi is another dish that a sushi aficionado should try. It is much like sushi – sashimi is often raw fish, though it can be cooked or marinated – and is served without rice.
For those who are not quite ready for that leap of faith in eating raw fish, shabu-shabu may very well be the answer. This dish is thinly sliced meat and vegetables, often served with dipping sauce and rice. The best part about shabu-shabu is that you cook it yourself! Restaurants boil water in a “nabe,” or a big pot, that cooks the meat in seconds when you dip it in the boiling water. In Japanese, shabu-shabu means “swish swish,” which is the sound the meat makes as you are cooking your food.
Sukiyaki is another type of nabe dish that is popular in Japan. This dish is typically reserved for colder days.
Okonomiyaki is yet another type of do-it-yourself meal. Basically, it is a pancake, stuffed with ingredients of your choice (usually vegetables and meat, shrimp or squid). “Okonomi” means “what you want,” and “yaki” means to grill or cook. Literally, okonomiyaki means “cook what you want.”
At a restaurant, the ingredients are brought out to the you, and you mix them into the batter and cook it on a “teppan,” or hot plate, although there are places that do it for you. Okonomiyaki is a delicious and safe choice for visitors who are unfamiliar with Japanese food.
If you’re running late and you need to catch the bullet train to your next destination, Japan has many fast food places to stop by if you’re hungry and on the run.
You can stop by an “obentoyasan,” or a lunch box shop, which serves home-cooking styled lunches. Also, most convenience stores serve meals that are similar to those of an obentoyasan.
Although there are many McDonalds’ in Japan, a visitor may want to try different kind of fast food chain, such as First Kitchen. First Kitchen serves everything from burgers to pizzas to noodle bowls, all for a reasonable price.
And if you do insist on going to a McDonald’s, at least try one of their teriyaki chicken burgers instead of a Big Mac.
A Good “Tip”
It is important to know that tipping is not a common practice in Japan. Restaurants and their employees are expected to meet the standard of excellent service (without tips as an incentive).