14 Incredible Japanese Street Foods

When compared to other Asian nations such as Thailand or Taiwan, street food culture is less popular in Japan. While regular night markets are unusual, Japanese food sellers go to the streets in droves during the hundreds of festivals held around the country each year, with some merchants traveling from city to city every night. Here are some of Japanese street foods to look for.

1. Takoyaki

Takoyaki literally translates to ‘fried octopus,’ an appropriate term for this famous meal of fried batter balls stuffed with octopus, green onions, ginger, and tempura bits. The crispy takoyaki balls are typically topped with extra green onions, fish shavings, mayonnaise, and a special takoyaki sauce, which is similar to Worcester sauce. Although the octopus gives the dish a strange flavor, it is actually surprisingly mild and gooey. Takoyaki sellers are most common on the streets of Osaka, where the cuisine originated, although they can be found in almost every Japanese city.


2. Kare Pan

Kare pan is a form of okazu pan, which refers to breads stuffed with various savory contents. A kare pan is made of somewhat sweet dough that has been breaded and deep fried, with a creamy Japanese curry in the center. Japanese curry is distinct from other Asian curries in that it is dark in color and has a mild taste. A kare pan, with its beautifully crispy surface and soft middle, is an uncommon yet excellent Japanese delicacy.

Kare Pan

3. Crêpes

Although crêpes did not originate in Japan, they are a very popular street meal that is generally served wrapped in a cone so that it is convenient to consume on the move. Japanese crêpes are commonly made with fresh ingredients such as sweet fruits or savory eggs, and they are often crisper than their French equivalents. Many are made with particularly Japanese ingredients, such as azuki beans with whipped cream or teriyaki chicken. One of the most well-known venues in Tokyo to sample one is Marion Crêpes on Takeshita-dori in Harajuku.

4. Gyoza

Gyoza originated in China and are known as jiaozi there, but they are also popular in Japan. These deep-fried dumplings are usually stuffed with minced pork, green onion, nira chives, cabbage, garlic ginger, soy sauce, and sesame oil. The dumplings are often served in groups of six and accompanied by an unique dipping sauce composed of soy sauce and vinegar. They are commonly offered at izakaya and ramen cafes, but they also appear at festivals and street markets.


5. Korokke

Korokke, like crêpes, is a Japanese take on a traditional French dish. Korokke are inspired by French croquettes and consist of mashed potatoes or cream sauce surrounded by a breaded and deep-fried patty. Korokke is a casual and satisfyingly greasy dish that may be served with a number of various contents, with certain regions of the country specialized in regional variants. A korokke is served wrapped in paper by street sellers, making it simple to grasp and consume.


6. Yaki Tomorokoshi

Corn (tomorokoshi in Japanese) is frequently found on pizzas, breads, and pastas in Japan, much to the astonishment of most international visitors. Cobs on a stick are frequently barbecued by street sellers at festivals when they are in season. The corn is cooked before being grilled with miso to give it a nice smoky char. The grilled corn is buttered before being seasoned with soy sauce. Yaki Tomorokoshi is most commonly associated with Hokkaido, the province where the majority of Japan’s maize is cultivated, although it can be found all around the nation.

Yaki Tomorokoshi

7. Shioyaki

Shioyaki is a simple but unexpectedly tasty snack made of cooked fish served on a stick. Because mackerel (saba) is a regular catch off the coast of Japan, it is frequently used to make this meal. To improve the flavor of the flaky flesh, the fish is just seasoned with salt. While saba shioyaki is frequently served at festival street booths, a similar dish known as tai no shioyaki (salt-grilled sea bream) is actually served at traditional New Year’s feasts.

Shioyaki (Credit: solomencafe)

8. Dango

Dango are circular dumplings made from sticky rice flour and water that are cooked till firm. Typically, three or four dango are served on a skewer and seasoned with a variety of sweet or savory sauces or flavored pastes. Mitarashi dango is a popular variant of the meal, with the rice dumplings grilled and topped with a soy-based sauce. Outside Shinto temples, you’ll typically find sellers grilling up these delectable treats.

Mitarashi dango

9. Sweet Potato

Japanese sweet potatoes are often sweeter than Western sweet potatoes. They’re most commonly seen on the streets throughout the fall and winter seasons, and they may be cooked in a variety of ways. Daigaku imo (university potato) is made composed of deep-fried sweet potato pieces that are topped with sweet syrup and toasted sesame seeds. Other merchants may roast the entire potato over hot stones or chop it into thick chips that are then salted and sugared.

Sweet Potato

10. Okonomiyaki

Okonomiyaki is commonly referred to as a “Japanese pancake” since it is made on a griddle, just like a pancake. The delicious meal is made out of flour, eggs, cabbage, and a range of different vegetables and meats. Okonomiyaki is often cooked ‘Kansai Style,’ with the contents blended together before being placed on the grill. The meal can alternatively be prepared ‘Hiroshima Style,’ in which the batter and other components are cooked separately before being layered on top of yakisoba noodles. The completed meal is typically topped with dried seaweed, pickled red ginger, mayonnaise, and savory okonomiyaki sauce in both types.


11. Yakitori

Yakitori is a Japanese term that refers to little pieces of chicken that are skewered and barbecued on a bamboo stick. While chicken thighs and wings are commonly utilized, skewers may also be made from chicken liver, skin, small intestine, or cartilage. Typically, the meat is seasoned with salt or a savory sauce. Additional than chicken, some skewers include other components, such as tsukune, which consists of balls composed with minced chicken, egg, vegetables, and seasonings, or negima, in which the chicken pieces alternate with bits of leek.


13. Senbei

Senbei are rice crackers that come in a variety of flavors, shapes, and sizes. Although packaged senbei is available in supermarkets, the crackers are best purchased on the street, where they are grilled over a charcoal fire. Senbei in Tokyo are thick and crispy due to the kind of rice used, whilst senbei in Kyoto are lighter in texture due to the usage of mochigome rice. The majority of senbei are salty, seasoned with soy sauce or salt, but sweet variants are also available.

Senbei (Credit: Wikimedia)

14. Yakisoba

Yakisoba is created using ramen-like noodles that are stir-fried with tiny bits of pork and vegetables like as cabbage, carrots, and onions. This comfort-food meal is based on Chinese chow mein and is seasoned with an unique sauce that gives the noodles their distinct sour and spicy flavor. The noodles are generally topped with seaweed flakes, fish flakes, and red pickled ginger and are ideal as a light meal or snack. The noodles are also occasionally served hot dog-style in a bun, topped with mayonnaise and pickled ginger.


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