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With its stunning natural landscape and strong cultural identity, Japan is a once-in-a-lifetime holiday destination. The East Asian island is also home to some deliciously fresh cuisine.
Unique and beguiling, Japan is a country of binaries. It straddles both the traditional and ultra-modern, and hosts buzzing cities alongside stunning natural landscapes. Its food is notoriously nutritious, with a diet based around super-fresh, seasonal products. We’ve picked 13 delicious food that are not sushi for you
These battered and fried spheres of goodness are a popular street food in Japan. They’re typically filled with chopped up octopus, but don’t let that scare you away — once one touches your taste buds, you won’t even care what’s inside.
A traditional Japanese meal is not complete without pickled vegetables, known as tsukemono. Takuan, umeboshi and cucumber are all popular varieties of Japanese pickles, which serve to cleanse the palate and add color to the plate.
3 . Mochi
The gummy consistency of this sweet rice cake might be strange at first, but once you try it you’ll want to eat it daily for the rest of your life. The flavors, colors, shapes and filling options are endless — our personal favorite is strawberry daifuku, mochi filled with red bean paste and a juicy strawberry.
This traditional method of Japanese cooking comes in the form of a lengthy multi-course meal, so prepare your pocketbook before making reservations. Kaiseki is all about authenticity, fresh, local ingredients and painstaking attention to detail.
Step away from the ramen and dive into a bowl of udon. The thick, doughy udon noodles and hot flavorful broth are comforting as all get out. You can also order udon cold, which makes for a totally different noodle experience.
The best part about nabe is the experience of making it. The process starts with a piping hot bowl of broth. Then, you add whatever veggies, proteins, dumplings and noodles you want. Cooking the food yourself means you can make it just the way you like it — plus, it’s super fun.
Onigiri are rice balls wrapped in nori (dried seaweed), but unlike sushi, the rice is not vinegared. Some onigiri are filled with seafood or vegetables, while others have seasonings mixed into the rice. They are considered a simple and quick snack in Japan, and many onigiri aficionados mold their creations into little characters or animals. To be honest, we’re a bit obsessed.
If putting everything delicious into a batter and frying it up into a crispy pancake sounds good to you, okonomiyaki needs to be in your future. Many okonomiyaki establishments will bring you the batter and a bowl of ingredients which you then mix and cook yourself. Others will do the work for you — all you have to do is enjoy.
The Japanese take the art of candy to a whole new realm of creativity. Their KitKat flavors are off the wall, everything is crazy colorful, and some sweet treats come in miniature toilets. If you can’t find any in your neighborhood market, Japan Crate will mail you a monthly box of the weirdest sugary treats Japan has to offer.
A super fresh plate of sashimi is the ultimate way to start off any Japanese meal. Salmon, tuna, squid and pufferfish (pictured above) are all popular sashimi varieties. If you want to branch out from seafood, however, beef and horse sashimi are also considered delicacies.
This breaded, deep-fried pork dish is impossible not to love. It’s crusted in panko bread crumbs, which give it a crispy outer layer. It is typically served with rice, cabbage and tonkatsu sauce, which is similar to a thick Worcestershire sauce. Chicken katsu is similar and also very popular.
If there’s one thing that can make tonkatsu even more delicious, it’s a generous helping of Japanese curry. This particular variety of curry is salty and very flavorful. It is most often eaten over rice, with tonkatsu, or in a bowl of udon.
This refreshing and delicious dessert consists of finely shaven ice topped with flavorful syrups. Sweet azuki beans, ice cream, custard, fresh fruit and mochi balls can be piled on top for an even sweeter experience. In the case of kakigori, bigger is always better.