All About Japanese food

We are still newbies when it comes to the vast choice that Japanese cuisine offers, but we at Oishya have eaten enough of it to know that it’s damn tasty. From the streets of Tokyo to the fishing villages of Hokkaido, Japan’s culinary landscape is as diverse as it is delicious. And let us tell you, they take their food seriously.

What sets Japanese cuisine apart is its emphasis on quality ingredients and attention to detail. The Japanese have a way of making even the simplest dish into a work of art. Take sushi, for example. It’s just raw fish on a bed of rice, right? Wrong. The fish has to be impeccably fresh, the rice perfectly cooked and seasoned, and the presentation flawless. One bite of a well-made piece of sushi is enough to make your taste buds sing.

But Japanese cuisine is about more than just sushi. There’s ramen, soba, udon, tempura, yakitori, and countless other dishes that showcase the depth and complexity of Japanese flavours. And let’s not forget about the umami, that elusive fifth taste that the Japanese have mastered. Whether it’s in a bowl of miso soup or a spoonful of soy sauce, umami adds a richness and depth to the food that is hard to replicate.

Another thing we love about Japanese cuisine is its focus on seasonality. Japanese chefs take pride in using ingredients that are in season, and you can taste the difference. From the sweet, plump strawberries of spring to the hearty root vegetables of winter, each season brings a new set of flavours and textures to the table.

But what really makes Japanese cuisine special is the people behind it. Whether it’s the sushi master who has been perfecting his craft for decades or the ramen vendor who serves up bowls of steaming noodles with a smile, there is a sense of pride and dedication that permeates the entire industry. And that’s what makes eating in Japan such a memorable experience.

In the end, Japanese cuisine is more than just food. It’s a reflection of the culture and traditions of a nation that takes pride in its culinary heritage. So if you ever have the chance to visit Japan, do yourself a favour and explore the amazing world of Japanese cuisine. We promise you won’t be disappointed.

Today, we would love to explore for you the exciting world of Japanese cuisine and its diverse range of flavours, textures and cooking styles.

Cooked rice

sushi rice gohan

At the heart of Japanese cuisine lies the humble bowl of cooked rice, a staple in most Japanese meals. From simple white rice to fragrant mixed rice, rice forms the base of many classic Japanese dishes such as sushi, onigiri and donburi.

Sushi

sushi

Sushi is the jewel in the crown of Japanese cuisine. It’s not just raw fish and rice – it’s a delicate art form that requires years of training and dedication. The sushi chef, or itamae, is a master craftsman, using his knife like a samurai sword to create perfect slices of fish that melt in your mouth. The rice is just as important, cooked to perfection and seasoned with vinegar and sugar. Eating sushi is a sensory experience – the smell of the seaweed, the texture of the rice, and the taste of the fish all combine to create a culinary masterpiece. If you’re a sushi lover, you know that there’s nothing quite like it.

Onigiri

onigiri

Onigiri may seem like a simple snack, but it’s a staple of Japanese cuisine that has been enjoyed for centuries. These small rice balls are typically filled with a variety of ingredients, such as salmon, tuna, or pickled plum, and wrapped in nori seaweed. But don’t let their humble appearance fool you – onigiri is a carefully crafted work of art. The rice is seasoned with salt and vinegar, then carefully moulded into a perfect shape by skilled hands. Onigiri is not only delicious, but it’s also portable and convenient, making it a popular choice for a quick snack or lunch on the go. Whether you’re a fan of traditional fillings or like to experiment with new flavours, onigiri is a must-try for any lover of Japanese cuisine.

Donburi

donburi

Donburi is a hearty Japanese dish that is perfect for a satisfying meal. It consists of a bowl of steamed rice topped with a variety of ingredients, such as beef, pork, chicken, or seafood, and often includes vegetables and a soft-boiled egg. The result is a colourful and flavourful one-bowl meal that is both filling and comforting. Donburi is also versatile, with many regional and seasonal variations available. From the rich and savoury flavours of a beef bowl to the refreshing taste of a seafood bowl, there’s a donburi to suit every taste. Whether enjoyed in a restaurant or made at home, donburi is a true classic of Japanese cuisine.

Takoyaki

takoyaki

Let’s talk about Takoyaki, one of Japan’s most beloved street foods. These little balls of goodness are made with batter, green onions, tempura scraps, pickled ginger, and most importantly, octopus! The batter is poured into special Takoyaki molds and cooked until golden brown. The result is a crispy, savoury exterior with a piping hot, gooey centre.

Takoyaki is more than just a snack; it’s a social experience. You’ll find Takoyaki stands all over Japan, where friends gather around, sipping on cold beers, and chatting while watching the Takoyaki being made. It’s a simple dish that has become a cultural phenomenon and a symbol of Japanese street food.

So, if you’re looking for a delicious, portable snack to satisfy your hunger while exploring the streets of Japan, look no further than Takoyaki. One bite and you’ll understand why it’s a national obsession. And don’t forget to try it with a squirt of mayonnaise, a drizzle of Takoyaki sauce, and a sprinkle of bonito flakes on top. Trust me, it’s a game-changer.

Kare Raisu

kare raisu

Kare Raisu, or Japanese curry rice, is a dish that has become a beloved staple in Japanese cuisine. It’s a rich and flavourful curry that is milder than its Indian counterpart, often made with potatoes, carrots, and onions, and served over a bed of fluffy rice. The curry roux used in Kare Raisu is the secret to its unique flavour, made with a blend of spices and seasonings that can vary depending on the recipe. It’s a comforting and hearty meal that can be enjoyed on its own or with a variety of toppings, such as fried chicken or shrimp tempura. Kare Raisu is a dish that brings together the best of both worlds – the comforting warmth of curry and the comforting comfort of rice.

Chazuke

chazuke

Chazuke is a simple yet satisfying Japanese dish that has been enjoyed for centuries. It consists of a bowl of steamed rice topped with a variety of toppings, such as grilled salmon, pickled vegetables, or seaweed, and then covered with hot green tea or dashi broth. The result is a comforting and flavourful soup that is both filling and refreshing. Chazuke is a versatile dish, as toppings can be easily customised to suit personal tastes, and it can be enjoyed as a light snack or a full meal. It’s a perfect choice for a comforting meal on a cold day or as a refreshing lunch during the hot summer months. Chazuke is a true classic of Japanese cuisine that embodies simplicity, comfort, and flavour.

Kayu

japanese porridge

Kayu is a traditional Japanese rice porridge that is often served as a comforting breakfast or light meal. It’s a simple dish made by boiling rice in water until it breaks down and becomes soft and creamy. Kayu can be flavoured with a variety of ingredients, such as salt, soy sauce, or dashi broth, and can be topped with a range of toppings, such as pickled vegetables, seaweed, or dried fish flakes. It’s a versatile dish that can be enjoyed on its own or as a base for more elaborate dishes. Kayu is a favourite among Japanese people, especially during the cold winter months, as it is a warm and comforting dish that soothes the soul.

Sashimi

sashimi

Sashimi is the ultimate expression of Japanese culinary excellence. It’s a dish that showcases the purity of raw fish, served in its most natural state, without any adornment or interference. The fish is carefully selected, sliced with precision, and presented on a platter like a work of art. The taste is delicate, yet complex, as the flavour of the fish shines through, and its freshness is evident in every bite. Sashimi is not just a dish; it’s a sensory experience that connects the diner to the sea and its bounty. For anyone who loves seafood, sashimi is a must-try, as it will change the way you think about raw fish forever.

Yakizakana

yakizakana

Yakizakana, or grilled fish, is a quintessential Japanese dish that is simple yet elegant. It’s a dish that celebrates the natural flavours of fresh fish, cooked over an open flame until the skin is crispy and the flesh is juicy and tender. The secret to a perfect Yakizakana lies in the quality of the fish, as well as the skill of the cook in controlling the heat and timing the cooking process. Whether it’s salmon, mackerel, or sea bream, the fish is often seasoned with salt or soy sauce to enhance its natural flavour. Yakizakana is a dish that epitomises the beauty of Japanese cuisine, as it combines simplicity, elegance, and respect for ingredients.

Soba

soba

Soba is a humble yet extraordinary dish that captures the essence of Japanese culinary culture. It’s a noodle that is steeped in tradition, with a history that dates back centuries. The art of making soba requires skill and patience, as the buckwheat flour is carefully mixed with water and kneaded until it forms a smooth dough. The dough is then rolled out and cut into thin noodles, which are cooked to perfection in a savoury broth or served cold with a dipping sauce. The taste is delicate yet complex, as the nuttiness of the buckwheat flour is balanced with the umami flavour of the broth or sauce. Soba is a dish that is both comforting and nourishing, and it represents the best of Japanese cuisine – simplicity, elegance, and respect for ingredients.

Udon

udon

Udon is a simple yet sublime dish that exemplifies the soul of Japanese cuisine. It’s a thick, chewy noodle that is made from wheat flour, and it can be enjoyed hot or cold in a variety of preparations. Udon is often served in a savoury broth made with dashi, soy sauce, and mirin, and it can be topped with an array of ingredients, such as green onions, tempura, or sliced beef. The texture of udon is what sets it apart, as it has a satisfying chewiness that requires a bit of effort to eat, but is ultimately worth the effort. Udon is a dish that is beloved by Japanese people of all ages, as it is a comfort food that nourishes the body and soul.

Ramen

ramen

Ramen is the ultimate comfort food of Japan, and its popularity has spread worldwide. It’s a dish that is a perfect marriage of flavours and textures, and it’s been elevated to an art form by passionate ramen chefs. The heart of ramen lies in the broth, which is often simmered for hours or even days to extract the maximum flavour from the ingredients. The noodles themselves are also a work of art, made from a blend of wheat flour, water, and kansui, a mineral-rich alkaline water that gives them their unique texture and flavour. Ramen can be served with an almost endless variety of toppings, such as pork belly, bamboo shoots, and nori seaweed. It’s a dish that is both comforting and exciting, as each bowl of ramen is a new adventure, with a unique combination of flavours and textures. Ramen is a dish that embodies the spirit of Japanese cuisine, with its focus on craftsmanship, quality ingredients, and the pursuit of perfection.

Somen

somen

Somen is a delicate and refined dish that represents the pinnacle of Japanese culinary artistry. It’s a thin, white noodle that is made from wheat flour and has a silky texture that is almost ethereal. Somen is often served cold, either with a dipping sauce or as a salad with a variety of toppings, such as cucumber, shrimp, and sesame seeds. The beauty of somen lies in its simplicity, as it is a dish that allows the quality of the ingredients to shine through. The noodles are the star of the show, with their delicate texture and subtle flavour, while the toppings provide a burst of freshness and crunch. Somen is a dish that is often enjoyed during the hot summer months, as its refreshing and light flavour is the perfect antidote to the heat. It’s a dish that represents the elegance and refinement of Japanese cuisine, and it’s a testament to the artistry and dedication of Japanese chefs.

Oden

oden

Oden is a dish that is steeped in tradition and history, and it’s a staple of Japanese cuisine during the colder months of the year. It’s a simmering pot of various ingredients, such as daikon radish, konnyaku, boiled eggs, and fish cakes, that are cooked in a savoury broth made with dashi, soy sauce, and mirin. The key to a great oden is in the broth, which should be rich and flavourful, yet not overpowering, allowing the individual ingredients to shine through. Oden is a dish that is often enjoyed with a cold beer, and it’s a perfect meal to warm the body and soul on a chilly evening. The beauty of oden lies in its simplicity, as it’s a dish that is made with humble ingredients, yet it’s bursting with flavour and warmth. Oden is a dish that embodies the essence of Japanese cuisine, with its focus on simplicity, respect for ingredients, and the pursuit of perfection.

Suki Yaki and Shabu Shabu

shabu shabu

Shabu shabu and sukiyaki are two popular Japanese hotpot dishes that have been gaining popularity in the UK. Shabu shabu involves thinly sliced meat and vegetables that are cooked by dipping them in boiling broth, while sukiyaki is cooked in a sweet and savoury sauce. Both dishes are a fun and interactive way to enjoy a communal meal with friends or family, and are often served with rice, noodles, or dipping sauces. They are also considered healthy options as they involve fresh ingredients and are often low in fat. Shabu shabu and sukiyaki have become popular choices for dining out or cooking at home, offering a taste of authentic Japanese cuisine.

Yakitori

yakitori

Yakitori is the quintessential street food of Japan, and it’s a dish that has captured the hearts and palates of people around the world. Skewered and grilled over hot coals, the chicken is cooked to perfection, with a crispy exterior and a juicy and flavourful interior. The secret to a great yakitori lies in the quality of the chicken, as well as the skill and precision of the grill master. Yakitori is a dish that embodies the spirit of Japanese cuisine, with its focus on simplicity, quality ingredients, and attention to detail.

Teppanaki

teppanaki

Teppanyaki is the ultimate theatrical dining experience, and it’s a style of cooking that has become synonymous with Japanese cuisine. The sizzling and smoking hot plate is a stage for the chef’s culinary artistry, as they skilfully cook up a variety of meats, seafood, and vegetables with flair and precision. The magic of teppanyaki lies in the chef’s ability to engage the diners with their cooking, making it not just a meal, but an unforgettable experience. It’s a style of cooking that embodies the energy and innovation of Japanese cuisine, and it’s a feast for the senses that leaves a lasting impression.

Miso Soup

miso soup

Miso soup is the ultimate comfort food, and it’s a dish that has been a staple of Japanese cuisine for centuries. Made with miso paste, dashi, and a variety of ingredients such as tofu, wakame seaweed, and green onions, it’s a simple yet satisfying dish that warms the soul. The key to a great miso soup lies in the quality of the ingredients, as well as the balance of flavours in the broth. Miso soup is a dish that embodies the simplicity and elegance of Japanese cuisine, and it’s a true comfort food that’s perfect for any occasion.

Hiyayakko

Hiyayakko cold tofu

Hayayakko is a simple yet delicious dish that’s a staple of Japanese cuisine. Made with soft tofu, green onions, ginger, and a drizzle of soy sauce, it’s a dish that’s bursting with flavour and texture. The key to a great hayayakko lies in the quality of the tofu, which should be soft and silky, yet firm enough to hold its shape. Hayayakko is a dish that embodies the simplicity and purity of Japanese cuisine, and it’s a perfect dish for any time of day, whether as a snack or a light meal. Agedashidofu and Yodofu are other tofu dishes, typically served hot with a variety of toppings and sauces.

Korokke

karokke

Korokke is the ultimate comfort food, and it’s a dish that has become a beloved staple of Japanese cuisine. These crispy and delicious potato croquettes are filled with a variety of ingredients, such as ground beef, shrimp, or cheese, and are coated in panko breadcrumbs before being deep-fried to perfection. The magic of korokke lies in the balance of flavours and textures, with the crispy exterior giving way to a creamy and flavourful interior. Korokke is a dish that embodies the warmth and heartiness of Japanese cuisine, and it’s a true crowd-pleaser that’s perfect for any occasion.

Omuraisu

omuraisu japanese omlette

Omuraisu is a dish that’s full of surprises, and it’s a testament to the innovation and creativity of Japanese cuisine. This delicious dish features a bed of fried rice, filled with ingredients such as chicken, shrimp, or vegetables, and is then topped with a fluffy and perfectly cooked omelette. The magic of omuraisu lies in the balance of textures and flavours, with the rich and savoury rice perfectly complemented by the light and fluffy omelette. Omuraisu is a dish that embodies the creativity and playfulness of Japanese cuisine, and it’s a true delight to experience.

Hayashi Raisu

hayashi raisu

Hayashi Raisu is a dish that’s steeped in history and tradition, and it’s a true classic of Japanese cuisine. This hearty dish features a rich and flavourful beef stew, cooked with onions and mushrooms, and is served over a bed of steaming hot rice. The magic of Hayashi Raisu lies in the depth of flavour and the complexity of the sauce, which is made with a combination of red wine, tomato sauce, and Worcestershire sauce. Hayashi Raisu is a dish that embodies the warmth and heartiness of Japanese cuisine, and it’s a true crowd-pleaser that’s perfect for any occasion.

Hambagu

hambagu

Hambagu is a dish that’s both simple and sophisticated, and it’s a true representation of the beauty and elegance of Japanese cuisine. This delicious dish features a juicy and flavourful hamburger patty, made with a blend of ground beef and pork, and is served with a rich and savoury sauce, made with a combination of ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, and soy sauce. The magic of Hambagu lies in the balance of flavours and textures, with the tender and juicy patty perfectly complemented by the rich and savoury sauce. Hambagu is a dish that embodies the elegance and simplicity of Japanese cuisine, and it’s a true delight to experience.

Bento

bento japanese food

Bento is a popular Japanese lunchbox meal that has gained popularity in the UK in the recent years. It consists of a compact and convenient container that is typically divided into compartments to hold a variety of foods such as rice, vegetables, meat, and fish. Bento boxes can be purchased ready-made or prepared at home for a convenient and healthy meal on-the-go.

Tempura

tempura

Tempura is a dish that’s steeped in tradition and precision, and it’s a true testament to the mastery and skill of Japanese cuisine. This delectable dish features a variety of seafood, vegetables, or even meat, coated in a light and crispy batter, and deep-fried to perfection. The magic of Tempura lies in the balance of textures and flavours, with the crunchy and crispy exterior perfectly complementing the delicate and flavourful interior. Tempura is a dish that embodies the precision and mastery of Japanese cuisine, and it’s a true delight to experience.

Okonomiyaki

okonomiyaki

Okonomiyaki is a dish that’s both humble and bold, and it’s a true representation of the creativity and versatility of Japanese cuisine. This hearty dish features a savoury pancake, made with a blend of flour, eggs, and shredded cabbage, and is topped with a variety of ingredients, such as seafood, meat, or vegetables. The magic of Okonomiyaki lies in the endless possibilities for customisation, with each region of Japan offering its own unique twist on this beloved dish. Okonomiyaki is a dish that embodies the creativity and versatility of Japanese cuisine, and it’s a true delight to experience. There are two main styles of Okonomiyaki – the Osaka and Hiroshima style. The main difference between them is the order in which the ingredients are cooked. In Osaka-style, all the ingredients are mixed together and cooked on a hot grill, resulting in a pancake-like dish. In contrast, Hiroshima-style Okonomiyaki involves layering the ingredients, with the batter and cabbage forming the base, followed by the addition of meat, noodles, and other toppings, and then finally topped with a fried egg. The result is a more layered and complex dish, with each ingredient retaining its distinct texture and flavour. Both styles of Okonomiyaki are delicious and a must-try when visiting Japan.

Monjayaki

monjayaki

Monjayaki is a dish that’s often overlooked in the world of Japanese cuisine, but it’s one that deserves far more attention. This Tokyo street food staple is a cross between Okonomiyaki and a savoury pancake, featuring a gooey mixture of flour, vegetables, and seafood, all cooked up on a hot grill. It’s not the most visually appealing dish, but the flavour and texture more than make up for it. Monjayaki is a true comfort food, and it’s one that should be experienced by any adventurous foodie looking to expand their culinary horizons.

Gyoza

gyoza

Oh, gyoza! These little pockets of pure deliciousness are an absolute joy to eat. Whether you’re dipping them in soy sauce or slurping them up with a spoonful of hot broth, gyoza never fail to satisfy. We’ve had them in high-end restaurants and from street vendors, and every time, they’re a perfect combination of crispy and juicy, with a perfectly seasoned filling that bursts with flavour. To us, gyoza are the ultimate comfort food and a true celebration of the artistry of Japanese cuisine.

Yakiniku

yakiniku

Yakiniku is a celebration of meat, fire, and flavour. It’s a Japanese-style BBQ that’s all about getting the best cuts of meat and grilling them to perfection. Whether you’re in a fancy restaurant or a small hole-in-the-wall joint, the smell of sizzling meat is enough to make your mouth water. And when you take that first bite, you’re hit with a burst of savoury, umami flavour that’s pure heaven. It’s an interactive dining experience, where you’re in charge of grilling your own meat to your liking, and every bite is a celebration of the art of Japanese grilling.

Chawanmushi

egg custard

Chawanmushi is a savoury Japanese egg custard dish that is steamed and served in a small bowl called a chawan. It typically contains ingredients such as chicken, shrimp, shiitake mushrooms, and ginkgo nuts, and is flavoured with dashi, soy sauce, and mirin. Chawanmushi is a delicate and subtle dish that is often served as an appetiser in traditional Japanese cuisine.

Tsukemono

japanese pickles

Pickles, or tsukemono, are an essential part of Japanese meals, often served as a side dish or topping. They are made using a variety of vegetables, such as cucumbers, daikon radish, and eggplant, and are pickled in salt, vinegar, or a combination of both. Tsukemono are served as a side dish or condiment and are believed to aid in digestion.

Sweets

Lastly, let’s talk about Japanese sweets. From traditional sweets like mochi and wagashi to modern desserts like matcha-flavoured ice cream and crepes, Japanese sweets offer a wide variety of flavours and textures. In fact, when it comes to Japanese sweets, we are huge fans. These little bites of heaven are unlike anything you’ll find in the Western world. They’re delicate, they’re subtle and they taste like heaven.

What makes Japanese sweets so special? For starters, they’re made with simple, natural ingredients. You won’t find any artificial colours or flavours here. Instead, Japanese sweets rely on the natural flavours of ingredients like matcha, red bean paste, and mochi. These ingredients are then crafted into little works of art, each one carefully designed to please both the eyes and the taste buds.

But what really sets Japanese sweets apart is their texture. Mochi, for example, is a type of sticky rice cake that has a chewy, almost gummy texture. It’s unlike anything you’ve ever tasted. And then there’s anko, or sweet red bean paste, which has a smooth, silky texture that’s both comforting and indulgent.

What we love about Japanese sweets is that they’re not overly sweet. They’re subtle, almost understated. And yet, they pack a flavour punch that will leave you wanting more. It’s a delicate balance that the Japanese have mastered.

So if you’re ever in Japan, do yourself a favour and seek out some of these little gems. You won’t regret it. And if you’re like us, you’ll find yourself craving them long after you’ve left the country and your local Japanese supermarket will become your second home.

Mochi

mochi

In conclusion, Japanese cuisine offers a diverse range of flavours and cooking styles, with something for everyone to enjoy. At Oishya, we understand the importance of quality ingredients and products in cooking, which is why we are committed to providing the best Japanese knives and kitchenware for home cooks and professional chefs alike. Come and visit our store to find the perfect tool to create your next Japanese culinary masterpiece.

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