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What to eat and drink in Japan

What to eat in Japan:

Without any doubt the most popular Japanese food amongst Westerners is sushi. But you will be surprised to find that itâ??s not that easy to locate places to eat it! Throughout the route we will tell you of our favourite places to have sushi in Japan, and also of other sites where you can taste traditional Japanese food.
The typical Japanese meal which you will be served at restaurants and cafeterias consists of: a bowl of rice (gohan), a bowl of miso soup (miso shiru), pickled vegetables (tsukemono) and meat or fish served in different ways. Amongst the typical dishes you will find:
  • Tonkatsu: 1 or 2 cm wide pork chop, breaded and fried. It is cut in slices so that itâ??s easy to eat with sticks and itâ??s served with a Worcestershire kind of sauce which is great.
  • Katsudon: a bowl of rice with a tonkatsu on top, scrambled eggs and seasoning. A very wholesome meal!
  • Okonomiyaki: many call it â??the Japanese pizzaâ?? although itâ??s more like a crepe or tortilla made on the pan and with lots of ingredients. Very tasty and filling!
  • Tempura: of Portuguese origin, it consists of buttered and fried shellfish or vegetables, served with sauce and daikon (turnip).
  • Sukiyaki: tasty stew of cooked meat and vegetables, prepared in a bowl and cooked on soy sauce, sugar and sweet rice wine (mirin).
  • Ramen: is the traditional thin noodle soup (soba). There are restaurants that specialise in this dish.
  • Udon: although it literally means thick flour noodle, this term is used to refer to the soup made with this type of noodle.
  • Yakisoba: thin spaghetti made on a pan, seasoned with different ingredients such as meat, fish or vegetables and yakisoba sauce,if what you like is thick noodles, then order Yakiudon.
Types of sushi: even though we call everything â??sushiâ??, we actually should differentiate between:
  • Sashimi: thin slices of raw fish or shellfish, served with the spicy Japanese horseradish (wasabi) and soy sauce (shoyu)
  • Sushi (also called niguiri): the sale elements as before but served on vinegared rice, also including cooked seafood, vegetables and egg
  • Norimaki (sushi rolls); the contents are wrapped in rice and seaweed leaves
Sushi etiquette:
  1. Eat sushi in one, maximum two bites, but donâ??t leave it on the plate once you have taken it.
  2. Use little quantities of sauce, just to build up the taste. In the case of niguiri, it is best to just moisten the fish on top and not the whole piece of rice.
  3. Use the towel you are given ("oshibori�) to clean your fingers, before and after the meal.
How to use the sticks:

Place a stick between the base of the thumb and towards the ring finger, like you're holding a pen, and the other one hold it with the tip of the thumb and the index and middle fingers. To take the food you will only move the stick that is above, while the one below will be like your anchor.

What to drink in Japan:

  • Green tea: it goes with every meal, they will serve it in all the classic mid-day menus.  
  • Sake: itâ??s a drink made from rice. Although quite strong, it is usually taken with meals as a type of wine.
  • Beer: in Japan there is not much beer tradition. It is rare to see Japanese drinking beer, although it is common to see them drinking it when they meet with friends at a bar. At restaurants they usually serve big bottles (like litre-size) and itâ??s normal to be asked if you want only a glass or the whole bottle. The most well-known brands are Kirin, Asahi and Sapporo, although depending on the area you will also find others like Suntori o Yebisu.