Go figure why, in France when we talk about Japanese cuisine, we immediately think of sushi and miso soup. It’s a bit like if a foreigner told you that the French swallowed frogs’ legs and snails at every meal. Top 10 of the real specialties made in Japan that smash.
If like us you did Japanese in LV2, you know that Takoyaki literally means “grilled octopus”. On the other hand, what you don’t know is that it’s the best way to burn your tongue and everything around it (except your teeth, molar burns are still rare). This Osaka specialty looks like pancake dumplings stuffed with octopus. It is served borderline boiling, no doubt to prevent you from throwing yourself greedily on it like a morfal.
2. The Senbeis
For once in Japanese cuisine, you will taste a specialty that looks like something known. Senbei is presented as a grilled (or baked) glutinous rice pancake and is eaten as a snack between two meals, either sweet (with apple) or savory (with soy, pepper, shrimp, etc.). To make it local, you can cover your Senbei with a sheet of nori: the one that usually surrounds the sushi. It doesn’t really taste good, but the Japanese find it so much classier.
Without knowing it, you are probably already a fan of this Sino-Japanese specialty. Sino, because it was imported from China in the 20th century. And Japanese because this dish is so popular in the country that a fast food chain specializing in Ramens was launched in the 1970s to compete with the arrival of McDonald’s. Ramen is rice noodles (what else?) that you dip into a broth made of real pieces of fish or meat. A bit like you and your €1 freeze-dried pasta bought at the Super U, accompanied by its stinging powder sachet.
A Taiyaki, literally “cooked sea bream”, is a Japanese cake in the shape of… sea bream, or fish if you don’t know anything about aquariums. Most of the time, it is filled with a sweet red bean paste called “anko”, but can also be topped with chocolate cream, cheese or ice cream. Yummy!
This typically Japanese specialty is a cross between pizza, pie, omelet and pancake. To put it simply, Okonomiyake is dough on which you add almost anything you want, as long as it is chopped into very small pieces. Moreover, most restaurants offer you to compose your own okonomiyaki using a hot plate (teppan) integrated into the table. Nice, but you still quickly smell the grill.
6. Gohei Mochi
Would you like a rice ice cream? Gohei Mochi is a grilled rice cake served on an ice cream stick. The Japanese add a whole bunch of flavors to it as a seasoning, but quite honestly, don’t feel obligated. This specialty is very popular in the Nagano region, less so in the rest of the country. It’s stupid because it’s super good.
7. Kobe beef
Not like the basketball player… Kobe beef has the reputation of being the best in the world. The McDonald’s Signature next door (we have the references we can afford) is flip-flop soles (flip-flops in fact). To obtain such tender meat, the cows would be treated like VIPs with massages, relaxing music, and even whistle beer to improve the taste of their flesh (but don’t tell them). Result: it’s super good, but it’s not cheap… but it’s above all super good. It’s up to you to decide.
8. The Melon Pan ice cream
This stuff is killer. Imagine an ice cream burger with two crunchy melon muffins as buns… In your head, you can see that you’ve grasped the idea. In Japan, you can find Melon Pans almost everywhere, but we still advise you to bet on street food stalls.
9. The Karaage
KFC is overrated, in Japan they prefer Karaage: a cooking technique in which the ingredients previously cut into small pieces and marinated in soy sauce, ginger and wheat flour, are fried in a bath of oil. Yeah a bit like tempura, but even better. By the way, the Karaage go very well with a cold beer.
10. Katsu Kare
Do you like breaded pork? Do you like rice? Do you like curry sauce? You’re going to love katsukaré, a very popular dish in Japan, because it’s inexpensive and you can customize it according to your tastes (choice of meat, spices and accompaniments). It is in particular the favorite dish of businessmen who get together after work… to talk about work.