We get asked quite often for food recommendations in Japan and it's so hard for us to pick a favorite as everything in Japan is so delicious. Yes, we may be a little biased but every time we meet someone, who has been to Japan, they totally agree with us. We even enjoy food from convenience stores!!
We decided to put together a list of dishes that we always have to eat when we go home to Japan.
Yakiniku means "grilled meat" and it's the place to go if you are a meat lover. It's such a popular cuisine that August 29th is officially known as "Yakiniku Day". Eating Yakiniku can be a bit foreign to newbies when looking at a menu that only has a selection of raw meat. When you go to a Yakiniku restaurant, you will sit at a table with a grill where you will cook your own meat. I have gone with friends (who aren't Japanese) and they found this concept to be strange, but when they actually tried it they loved it. You can pretty much find Yakiniku anywhere in Japan, but our favorite is in our hometown, Narita, at Tanaka Shoten Kaiunbashidori.
Sushiro is a chain restaurant and it's the perfect environment for both experienced and inexperienced sushi lovers. Sushiro is the #1 Kaiten Sushi chain (conveyor belt sushi) in the domestic market and it's very reasonably priced. There are over eighty sushi dishes to select from and the majority of the dishes are priced at 100 yen (about $1.10). This isn't your "Jiro Dreams of Sushi" kind of quality, but it's decent for the price. There are traditional sushi plates, as well as, plenty of side dishes like tempura, udon noodles, and dessert.
If you want to add some fun games and prizes to your revolving sushi bar experience, we recommend Kura Sushi.
Japan is filled with ramen shops everywhere. From chain restaurants to mom-and-pop shops, it will be hard to miss a ramen shop while in Japan. But how do you know if it's any good or which ones are worth a try? We suggest going to Tokyo Ramen Street, which is located inside Tokyo train station. Only the best ramen shops, in the country, get to serve their bowl of noodles inside Tokyo station. As of now, only eight ramen shops have been rewarded a spot here. They are super selective, so you know you are really getting the best of the best.
One thing our mom cooked often at home was katsu. It's panko-breaded meat that is then deep fried to golden perfection. Katsu is usually prepared using pork, so steak katsu is a fairly new concept. Gyukatsu Motomura is located in Shibuya and the lines form before they even open. Yes, it's that good!
We couldn't leave out a dessert recommendation and one of our favorites is Shu Cream (Cream Puff). Shu Cream has a light and slightly crispy shell filled with a yummy creamy custard. We usually order Cream Puff with the traditional vanilla custard filling, but you can find a variety of fillings like green tea and strawberry. We adore the Cream Puffs at Shirohige Cream Puff Factory as they make their Cream Puffs in the shape of Totoro. That's way cuter than the standard rounded Cream Puff.
If you've been to Japan, what are some of your must-have dishes?