Japan is a country full of delectable foods, and Japanese street cuisine is particularly tasty! Yattai is little food kiosks that may be found on Japanese streets and at festivals, and the food they provide is not to be missed! These vendors provide a convenient and delectable assortment of on-the-go meals that are low-cost but high-quality and appetising.
You may believe that Japanese cuisine is solely comprised of seafood dishes, however there is a vast world of street food available. These delectable recipes are inexpensive, but they don’t spare on flavour. While regular night markets are unusual in Japan, food vendors go to the streets in droves during the country’s hundreds of festivals each year, with some merchants moving from city to city every night.
There’s a limitless variety of Japanese street cuisine to sample in Japan, so here’s a list of items to try. It’s easy to become addicted to Japanese street cuisine!
When we talk about Japanese street food Takoyaki comes first. It is commonly sold by street food vendors, in depachika (food basements), and in izakaya pubs. In Tokyo, Osaka, and other Japanese cities, it is most certainly the most popular street snack.
Takoyaki are golden fried batter balls stuffed with octopus, tenkasu (tempura scraps), beni shoga (pickled ginger), and spring onions. The dough balls are fried in special cast-iron pans. You can watch as takoyaki merchants masterfully turn the balls with chopsticks at a rapid rate. Cooked takoyaki is served steam hot, somewhat crunchy on the outside and mushy on the interior, with Japanese mayonnaise, a savoury brown sauce similar to Worcestershire, aonori (dried seaweed), and katsuobushi (dried bonito fish flakes).
Takoyaki is frequently served with katsuobushi fish shavings and a drizzle of special sauce (similar to Worcestershire sauce). It’s crunchy on the outside and soft and gooey on the inside, making it ideal for an afternoon snack or a beer.
Takoyaki costs 400 to 600 yen on average, and it can be found on practically every corner and street in Tokyo. Go to Gindaco if you want to try one of Tokyo’s most popular takoyaki chains.
Takoyaki is delicious and addictive, but be careful not to burn your mouth.
Yakitori is traditional Japanese street food, consisting of grilled chicken skewers over charcoal. It is popular across Japan. All portions of the bird, including the thigh meat, tail meat, and even the skin, are used to make yakitori, each with its own distinct flavour. Tare (soy grilling sauce) and shio (salt) are the most frequent condiments, but yakitori vendors also sell wasabi, umeboshi (sour pickled plum paste), and karashi (Japanese mustard). From momo (thigh meat) to tebasaki (breast meat), skewers of various bird parts are available (chicken wings). Tsukune (chicken meatballs) and negima (chicken skewers) are two other popular chicken yakitori skewers (pieces of chicken breast or thigh alternating with slices of negi).
Sunagimo (chicken gizzard), nankotsu (cartilage), and reba (chicken liver) are some of the more adventurous options (liver). These delectable chicken skewers can be found at market street food stalls as well as izakaya across the country.
Without the unmistakable sizzle of yakisoba, no Japanese holiday would be complete. This is a traditional food item at any gathering of yatai because it is quite simple to prepare. Wheat noodles, pork, cabbage, and onions are fried on a griddle before being topped with benishoga, katsuobushi, aonori, Worcestershire sauce, Japanese mayonnaise, and, on rare occasions, a fried egg. This dish’s intensely flavorful flavours appeal to a wide range of people.
Stir-fried noodles with pig pieces and veggies like cabbage, onions, and carrots. It’s then covered with fish flakes, seaweed flakes, and pickled ginger before being drenched in sauce.
Try yakisoba-pan (yakisoba bread), a bun stuffed with delicious stir-fried noodles, if you enjoy carbs on carbs. The average cost of yakisoba is 350 to 700 yen, and it is offered by street food sellers all around Japan.
Yaki tomorokoshi are full cobs of corn that have been chargrilled and drizzled with a glaze of soy sauce, mirin, and butter, which gives the corn a sweet, salty, and creamy richness. Summer is when corn is at its peak, and yaki tomorokoshi can be seen in plenty at yatai on Japanese streets and at festivals at this time. Grilled corn is a lighter, healthier alternative to other fried and sugary Japanese street food.
Corn (tomorokoshi in Japanese) is commonly found on pizzas, bread, and pasta in Japan, much to the astonishment of most international visitors. Cobs on a stick are frequently seen being grilled by street vendors at festivals when they are in season.
Try yaki imo for a flavour of old-school Japan. Satsuma-imo (a type of Japanese sweet potato) is baked in brown paper packets and served over a wood fire. To get to the soft, fluffy meat of yaki imo, bite through the pleasantly chewy skin, which has a caramel-like flavour. Though yakiimo is more commonly associated with the autumn and winter seasons, it can also be seen in other seasons. Not only are these snacks sold during festivals and other events, but they are also typically sold directly from a yakiimo truck that roams the streets looking for clients. Follow the delicious aroma of potatoes drifting down the street to find a yakiimo vendor, or keep your ears peeled for the trademark song played by vendors to entice passers-by.
Crepes, which originated as a French dessert, have been absorbed totally by Japanese cuisine and adapted to Japanese preferences. They have also become a popular street food snack in Japan, thanks to the buzzing Harajuku district in Tokyo. Crepes are formed with a batter that is fried on a griddle and then filled with sweet ingredients such as whipped cream, chocolate, fruit, and even ice cream before being folded into a cone shape and wrapped in a paper case for convenience. These are now available not only in yatai, but also in stores in malls and other shopping areas.
Dango is a skewered rice dumpling made with uruchi and sticky rice flour that is popular as a street food snack. It has a chewy mochi-like texture and can be coated or glazed in a variety of ways.
Dango is created from sweet glutinous rice flour and water in its most basic form. The dough is formed into spherical balls, which are then boiled until they are done. The cooked dango is chilled in cold water before being skewered and grilled, basted, and garnished. Different types of dango are popular at different times of the year, but Mitarashi Dango is consumed all year. Mitarashi Dango is reported to have originated in Kyoto’s Kamo Mitarashi Tea House and consists of five white dumplings impaled on bamboo sticks and served with a sticky sweet soy sauce glaze.
Hanami dango (three-colored dango), kinako dango (dusted with toasted soy flour), and anko dango are all popular forms of dango (covered with red bean paste).
Some forms of dango are typically served with green tea, depending on the coating. They’re also popular as a dessert or snack, as well as food for festivals.
Imagawayaki is a grilled, packed pastry that is claimed to have originated in a bakery near the Imagawa Bridge in Tokyo during the Edo Period in the early 1800s.
The batter, composed of flour, eggs, sugar, and water, is mixed up to a creamy consistency. Then poured into a metal mould and stuffed with either a sweet or savoury filling, depending on the type of filling. Imagawayaki is filled with delicious, scarlet adzuki bean paste and baked in circular moulds. Some historic bakeries have come up with their own variations of the original, including a chocolate-covered pastry for the summer!
Imagawayaki is also known as taiko-manju in the Kansai region and is named after an Edo-era bridge in Tokyo where they were first sold.
Imagawayaki is one of the first desserts to sample in Japan for people with a sweet tooth. There are savoury variations as well, including ones loaded with meat, potatoes, curry, or cheese, making this a street food snack that you’ll never grow tired of ordering.
Taiyaki is a fish-shaped Japanese cake that is widely sold as street food. It is named after the tai (red seabream) after which it is modelled. Red bean paste, prepared from sweetened azuki beans, is the most frequent filler. The soft interior of the taiyaki, which has a beautifully crunchy surface, can be filled with custard, chocolate, or Nutella. Sweet potato, cheese, sausages, or veggies may be used to make savoury variants of the snack. The batter for taiyaki is made out of flour, baking soda, salt, and sugar. It’s cooked in intricate fish-shaped moulds to give the finished product its distinctive look. Kingyoyaki (baked goldfish) are smaller, variably shaped variations that are commonly sold in packets of five, ten, or more.
Imagawayaki, which are thick round cakes filled with sweet azuki bean paste or custard, are comparable to taiyaki.
Rice crackers that come in a variety of flavours, shapes, and sizes are known as senbei. Although packaged senbei is available in supermarkets, the crackers are best purchased on the street and cooked over a charcoal barbecue. Senbei in Tokyo are dense and crispy due to the type of rice used, whilst senbei in Kyoto are lighter in texture due to the use of mochigome rice. The majority of senbei are savoury, with soy sauce or salt as seasonings, but sweet variants are also available.
Traditional Japanese senbei come in a variety of styles. They are sometimes sweetened and can be baked or deep-fried. Wheat flour or starch can be substituted for rice. Some types, such as sakana senbei (fish senbei), renkon senbei (lotus root senbei), and hone senbei, use foods other than grains (bone-senbei).
Senbei variations today are quite creative, and flavourings can range from kimchi to wasabi to curry to chocolate.
Senbei from Kansai are made with sticky rice, are gently seasoned, and have a delicate texture (saku saku). Kanto senbei were initially made with uruchimai, a non-glutinous rice, and they are crispier (kari kari) and have a stronger flavour.
Okonomiyaki, sometimes known as “Japanese pizza,” is a popular Japanese food. Consisting of a sort of pancake covered with sauce and toppings and typically containing cabbage, pork, and egg. Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki and Osaka-style okonomiyaki are the two types of okonomiyaki.
Layers of crepe-like batter, cabbage, beef, egg. And other ingredients are stacked one on top of the other in Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki. The Osaka-style okonomiyaki is an all-in-one dish made with vegetables, pork or seafood, eggs, and tempura leftovers in a batter.
okonomiyaki, which translates to “grilled to your liking,” is a versatile vehicle for a variety of fillings and add-ins. Okonomiyaki sauce, Japanese mayonnaise, katsuobushi (dried fish shavings), and aonori are among the toppings (dried seaweed flakes).
The name of this whimsical dessert-style street snack is self-explanatory: a banana wrapped in chocolate. The chocolate is milky, dark, or white, and it’s usually dipped in a rainbow of sprinkles. It’s like a banana split on the go, minus the ice cream. They come in a rainbow of colours and are frequently adorned with sprinkles or sweets.
There’s not much to say about this one, but a chocolate-covered banana can’t go wrong.
So there you have it: Japanese street food is a terrific introduction to the cuisine of a country known for its cuisine. It’s variety, excellent, and economical.
The list of delicious Japanese delicacies to try is vast. But here are the top Japanese street foods you must taste when visiting Japan. From the sweet Japanese dumpling mitarashi dango to the renowned savoury pancakes served “how you like it.”. However, there is a lot more street food to taste than what’s on this list. Get out there and explore the world of Japan’s tastiest meals for yourself. Find a festival or yatai, get a bite to eat and a drink to go, and you’ll soon be feeling like a native.