5 Japanese Foods You Have to See to Believe
Japan is home to some crazy food, some delicious food, and some crazy delicious food. The following is a list I've made of some of the most interesting stuff that I've encountered while living here.
PIZZANow let's start with the familiar- pizza. For any foreigner living in Japan, comfort foods can be powerful. And they keep you going when everything around you is strange and daunting. So imagine my surprise when I bit into this. Yea, it looks like a harmless piece of pepperoni pizza- it's not. The cheese has been replaced by a thick layer of mayonnaise, and it's been covered with raw onions and what appeared to be cabbage. It didn't help that the pizza was served cold. To make matters more confusing, pizza here is commonly covered in corn as well. You've been warned, pizza in Japan is rarely what it seems to be.
This is takoyaki, also called octopus balls. It's a piece of an octopus tentacle inside a ball of partially fried dough. It is then covered with your choice of sauce- the most popular topping seems to be mayonnaise and some kind of sweet barbecue sauce. People in Japan LOVE mayonnaise. The dough is really mushy, (imagine leaving a piece of bread in water for 10 seconds) and the octopus is super chewy. And while this DID taste really good, the weird texture was just too much for me. A lot of people love this, but I doubt I'll ever try it again.
This is called korokke, a mixture of mashed potato and beef that is deep fried. You can find this stuff at convenience stores all across Japan- it's greasy, cheap, and sometimes you won't regret eating it 5 minutes later. Usually you do. However, THIS was the high class korokke- and it was AMAZING! A delicious flavor, minus the extra grease, with the perfect texture! It went great with beer and some S&B spices. Definitely wasn't cheap though.
So I never got the name of this one, if you know, please tell us! It's tuna with a raw egg on top, with two strips of nori (seaweed) along the side. It was topped with sesame seeds and what looked to be green onions. We stirred it all up and treated it like dip, using the nori strips as potato chips. It had a weird texture, but was really delicious. We ordered it at an izakaya, which is sort of like a Japanese bar, but with private tables, and a lot of food that goes well with beer. Needless to say, it went well with the beer : )
Originating in China, and common across various Asian countries, this is called Chimaki in Japan. While there can be a number of ingredients, such as chestnuts, red bean paste, or even salted duck eggs, this one has rice and pork. It's been cooked and steamed inside a banana leaf, and tied with thread. I had a lot of trouble untying the thread that held it together- but it was worth it, this slow cooked meal was awesome. Very savory, with a rich meaty taste.
I know that was 5, but I had to throw in one of my favorites. This is called Tanmen, think of it as ramen's healthier, more laid back brother. It's got a light broth, some al dente noodles, and a little bit of toknatsu (pork). But it's also got cabbage, spinach, and bean sprouts- it may sound odd, but it works very well. And unlike your typical authentic ramen, this is not greasy, and it's not heavy at all. Plus it's great for those who can't decide between soup and salad- have both!
So this has been a list of some of the most interesting food that I've eaten while in Japan. I've definitely seen weirder foods while living here, but haven't quite worked up the courage to try them. If you've got some odd Japanese foods that you've tried we'd love to hear about it!