When the World’s Worst Food Blogger goes to a place like Japan, he’s going to do one thing – eat! I now consider myself an expert on all Japanese food, so I’m happy to present to you my comprehensive guide to Japanese cuisine.
Before you read on, go ahead and grab yourself a bib, because this list will be sure to make you drool.
A steaming-hot bowl of heaven. A bowl of ramen comes with noodles of the same name in a thin broth. The flavours of a good ramen broth are subtle, umami, and extremely moreish. It also typically comes with toppings of meat (thinly sliced pork is the best) and lashings of shallots. A perfectly boiled, soy-soaked egg on top is a special treat.
A hot ramen on a cold and rainy day is a thing of pure joy! A good one will sit perfectly in your stomach – not too heavy, but certainly not leaving you feeling hungry. The best part? It’s cheap – find a good local diner (head off the beaten path and look for the ones with people in their work clothes) and enjoy the simple things in life!
Ramen’s thicker cousin. Still noodles in a broth (although usually stronger flavoured), topped with meat (or other things… apparently). Tasty, but somehow not quite as brilliant as ramen.
Mr Fancy-Pants of the noodle world. Sometimes served hot, sometimes cold. Tasty, but trying too hard. My advice? Stick to good-old honest ramen. It doesn’t try to be fancy, just delicious.
Rice, with stuff on top (or inside). Sounds simple, but it’s an art-form that takes years to master.
With proper sushi, each tasty morsel has been intricately planned by the chef to be a perfectly balanced and flavoursome mouthful of goodness. There are a thousand different types of sushi, most of which are delicious (watch out for raw horse, I didn’t have the stomach for that one).
Sashimi is thinly-sliced raw meat – usually (but not always) seafood. Good sashimi is extremely fresh and extremely tasty. I tend to stick with the fish. Raw squid, octopus, prawn and other shellfish is hard to stomach (although sashimi scallop is very good)! My advice? Give it a go. You only live once, so you may as well try something new when you get the chance. You never know, you may just be surprised.
Tastiest beef on earth. Better take out a second mortgage if you plan on eating the highest grade Kobe beef in a fine-dining restaurant. Lower grades can be found relatively cheaply in street stalls and is still like no other beef you’ve ever tasted. The secret to good wagyu? Marbled fat. The more, the better. Also, have it cooked by someone who knows what they are doing.
Meat, crumbed then deep-fried. Schnitzel on ecstasy. Common themes include pork and chicken. Katsu bacon was a special treat/heart attack.
The dumplings eaten in heaven. The Japanese have got this 100% right – take something already delicious… and pan-fry it and drown it in sauce. Perfection!
Tasty things, battered then deep-fried. Best way to make vegetables a junk food. Makes prawns even better than they already are.
Octopus balls! Crispy on the outside, gooey on the inside. Big chunks of octopus in the middle. Cooked on a hot griddle, perfect for a cold, rainy day! Have to be tasted to be believed. Head to Dontonbori and find a place with a giant octopus on the wall outside.
The Japanese took the pancake and made it interesting. Batter, cabbage, toppings and sauce. Cooked and served on a hotplate. Somehow, the end result is far greater than the sum of its parts. Has to be tasted to be appreciated. Head to Dontonbori in Osaka for the real deal.
Rice wrapped in tofu skin. As gross as it sounds. Yet, for some reason Hannah can’t seem to get enough of the stuff. Each to their own…
There’s 1500 million different types of the stuff. Some of it is gross, some of it is delicious. As with all things in life, fried is best.
Like your school lunchbox, but instead of a soggy ham sandwich, there’s an array of tasty treats from the selection above. Bento boxes are tiny compartments packed fully of good things. Pick one, you can’t go wrong.
A bento box from a train station, designed to be consumed on the train. Bento boxes are even better when eaten on a Shinkansen.
Not bad, not great, but really terrible when mistaken for chocolate. Learn the symbols for red bean and avoid great disappointment when craving chocolate. Better yet, just learn the katakana for chocolate.
Green Tea Ice Cream
Delicious. Eat whenever available. Practically a health food.
Go to McDonalds for a Big Mac if you need your fix, then dive right back in. Avoid Japanese attempts at Western foods, they inevitably turn out not-quite-right. Especially cheese… for some reason the Japanese suck at cheese. Brie, mozzarella, cheddar – it’s all the same. Picture something the consistency of a Kraft single, just squished into different shapes.
Comes in cans. Best served cold. Embrace it, there’s nothing better than scoring your morning cup of Joe for the equivalent of a dollar from the vending machine outside your front door (there is a vending machine outside every front door in Japan*). Don’t waste your money on coffee shops. If you wanted an overpriced café late, you could have stayed in Sydney.
*Slight exaggeration. Slight.