Anywhere you go in Japan, there are plenty of culinary specialities that will delight, and sometimes surprise your tastebuds. Most of us know, of course, about sushi and ramen, but Japanese cuisine is in fact a lot more varied and complex than that. In many restaurants, there is one speciality that they have been perfecting for a long time, but there are plenty of variations and original dishes depending on the regions.
An iconic Japanese dish, sushi and sashimi are dishes most of us have tried and often have in our own countries. Sushis are made with a piece of rice, various fishes, vegetables and nori (seaweed). Depending on the shape and ingredients, you can find either Nigiri sushi, Maki sushi, Oshi sushi, or Temaki sushi. Also emblematic of the country, sashimis are sliced raw fish usually consumed with soy sauce and wasabi.
Ramen is another very famous Japanese dish, consisting of wheat noodles in a soup, and usually topped with green onions, slices of pork, eggs and seaweed. But of course the most important part of ramens is the soup, as it is so flavourful and unique, and that really depends on the restaurant you get it from. The broth can be made from pork, chicken bones or even dried seafood, and can either be thick and fatty or thin and light. There are particular places to get the best ramens, so if you want tonkotsu (pork bone ramen), head to Fukuoka, as it is easily its most famous food.
Miso soup is an essential part of Japanese cuisine and is a side dish for pretty much every meal. It is composed of miso paste (fermented soybeans) and dashi (fish stock), as well as tofu, onions, wakame seaweed, and even sometimes vegetables such as sweet potatoes, carrots or radishes.
A traditional Japanese brochette or skewer, Yakitori were originally just chicken skewers, but have now evolved and can also be made with pork, beef and fish. They are usually made from meat cooked on a grill and dipped in teriyaki sauce, and are a delicious dish if you want to try out some more unusual Japanese food!
Onigiri are rice balls snacks that are extremely popular in Japan, and can be filled with chicken, vegetables, fish, pork, egg, and topped with seaweed. It means there is a lot of variety in terms of flavours, but also that they're very easy to eat and healthy, which makes it a popular choice for lunchboxes (or bento). Onigiri have supposedly been invented because chopsticks didn't exist yet, so the triangular or cylindrical rice balls were an easy way to eat food.