30 Japanese Food I Live For.

I’m not sure if it’s obvious yet but, there are a few things in life I just can’t get over. Things that make my mind reel and that I’m obsessed over. Beauty, accessories, Japan and food, some people live to say…juggle, or sing, or get smashed, but those are the things I live for instead. I’ve been on a Japanese food streak lately so I thought I’d share the top 30 Japanese food I would probably, maybe, quite possibly, die without. I’m not exaggerating, I get doses of the following in regular intervals. I just sounded like a sick animal. Err…yeah. Sometimes I hunt down restaurants, sometimes I cook. I’m going to put up links of where I get what or recipes I use so if you’re anything like me, feel free to give it a try. Warning: This is a very long post.

Number One

明太子 Mentaiko

What it is: Rich, fragrant spicy marinated roe of Pollock.

How to eat it: Topping for steamed rice, filling for onigiri (you can mix it with mayo and cheese too), as a pasta sauce, topped on seafood and grilled or mixed into salads.

Number Two

烏賊飯 Ikameshi

What it is: Tender, slightly sweet, simmered squid stuffed with glutinous rice.


Number Three

クリームコロッケ(Korokke) Cream Croquette

What it is: Small cake shaped patties filled with seafood or chicken and ragout sauce served with tonkatsu sauce.

Recipe! (I don’t use the vegetables stated)

Number Four

ウニ Uni/Sea Urchin

What it is: Sea urchin roe.

How to eat it: As sashimi, as sushi, topped on pastas, topped on steamed rice with ikura.

Number Five

親子丼 Oyako-Don

What it is: Fluffy steamed rice topped with simmered chicken, egg and salty sweet oyako sauce.


Number Six

つけ麺 Tsukemen

What it is: Ramen served on the side with a rice dipping sauce.

Where to eat: 風雲児 Fuunji in Shinjuku. You have to try their 特製つけ麺 tokusei tsukemen. Go for the regular size (futsu). Adventurers, gluttons and eating competitors, go for the large. Or two. Worth the queue regardless of weather , travel and plane ticket.

Number Seven

さばの鍋照り Teriyaki Saba

What it is: Grilled mackerel in teriyaki sauce.


Ingredients: Bottled Teriyaki Sauce or 1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce, 1 1/2 tbsp mirin, juice of half a yuzu. Two slices Mackerel. Oil to cook. Salt to season.

1) Lightly score mackerel at 1.5cm intervals, skin side. 2) Mix ingredients for teriyaki sauce and marinate mackerel slices for about an hour. 3) Heat oil in a pan. I normally use a brush or cloth for this to get a very light coat of oil. Cook both sides for 8 minutes. 4) Add in the teriyaki sauce used in marinating the fish and allow to caramelize. 5) Serve with steamed rice.

Number Eight

納豆 Natto

What it is: traditional Japanese food made from soybeans fermented with Bacillus subtilis. It is popular especially as a breakfast food. (From Wikipedia.)

How to eat it: Topped on rice, with sushi, with soba, with pasta, mixed with leeks and other vegetables or mixed with chicken and stir fried with sesame oil, ginger and garlic.

Number Nine

桜海老 Sakura Ebi

What it is: Very small (maximum 5 cm) crustacean caught in the Suruga Bay of Shizuoka Prefecture. (From Shizuoka Gourmet)

How to eat it: As sushi, topped on rice and steamed, filling for onigiri, mixed into kaki-age or mixed into and topped on rice crackers.

Number Ten

東京ばな奈 Tokyo Banana

What it is: Japanese banana flavored sponge cakes with a velvety banana filling.

Where to buy: Get a friend to buy it for you if they live in or is visiting Japan. Tokyo Banana has a two week expiration date so be wary of online resellers.

Number Eleven

カレー Curry

What it is: Curry derived from the western style. Japanese adopted their version of curry after being introduced by the British Navy’s style of cooking stews mixed with curry powder.


Number Twelve

カキフライ Kaki Fry

What it is: Crispy breaded fried oysters that are deep fried and served with a dipping sauce (usually tonkatsu sauce).


Number Thirteen

ハンバーグ (Hanba-gu) Hamburger Steak

What it is: Japanese version of the hamburger. Similar to Salisbury steak with roots to steak tartar. Appeared in Japan during the Meiji Era (1868-1912).

Recipe (For 4)

Ingredients: 280g minced beef, 120g minced pork, 4g salt, 1 egg, 1 chopped white onion, 50g breadcrumbs, pepper (to taste)

1) Saute onions to golden brown. 2) Combine minced meat with 1% of salt, quickly mix meat well (with hands). The salt breaks down proteins and helps the meat ‘stick’ together. 3) Moisten breadcrumbs with water squeeze excess liquids out. 4) Knead all ingredients together and season with spices of choice ( Play around with the spices to create your own blend. Nutmeg, pepper are the most common spices used.) 5) Divide mixture into four portions and shape each portion into a patty shape by tossing between hands (this will release air trapped in the patty). Keep the thickness of each patty to 1.5cm – 2cm. 6) *Optional* Coat patties with breadcrumbs, avoid over coating. 7) Create an indentation in the centre of your patties to prevent swelling of the patty while cooking. Cook with medium to medium high heat. Ensure you are using enough oil, oil should reach slightly above the edges of the patties.

Points: Don’t press the meat while cooking, doing so will cause the meat juices to seep out.

P.S I went through hell and back to translate the recipe. Invalid, irrelevant and unnecessary points have been removed. I almost died.

Number Fourteen

お握り Onigiri

What it is: Japanese rice formed into triangular, oval or sometimes creative animal shapes. Usually filled with savory bits of ingredients and wrapped with seaweed.


Number Fifteen

牛丼 Gyudon

What it is: Simmered beef with onions served over rice.


The video is super detailed, accurate, well presented and also entertaining on so many levels! Cooking with dog. ROFLMAO. Please, please, please watch the video! Even if you can’t cook to save your life.

Number Sixteen

たこ焼き Takoyaki

What it is: Round dumplings made of batter and filled with octopus, tenkasu (tempura batter bits), pickled ginger and finely sliced green onion. There are variations with other ingredients as fillings.

Where to eat: Tsukiji Gindaco.

Number Seventeen

天ぷら Tempura

What it is: Thin slices of vegetables or seafood coated in a light batter and quickly deep fried.


Number Eighteen

鰻丼 Unagi-Don

What it is: Fresh water eels grilled with a soy based sauce.

Where/How to eat: Chako Japanese Restaurant. Not only are the dishes authentic and absolutely delicious, there’s just something about ‘home cooked’ dishes that makes you feel warm and fuzzy.

Number Nineteen

ラーメン Ramen

What it is: Chinese style wheat noodles served in a soup made of meat or fish stock. It is usually seasoned with miso or shoyu (soy sauce) but there are many variations for the soup broth. The dish is can be topped with cha-shu- (Japanese braised pork roll), kamaboko (type of Japanese fishcake), menma (fermented bamboo shoots), ajitama ( marinated half boiled eggs), roasted seaweed, green onions, corn, or bean sprouts.

Where to eat: Santouka’s Tokusen Toroniku Ramen. (I normally choose the spicy miso broth)

Number Twenty

白桃 White Peach

What it is: Japanese peaches are generally larger, softer and more expensive than Western peaches, and their flesh is usually white rather than yellow. Peaches are commonly eaten raw after being peeled. Japanese peaches are in season during the summer. (From here) Japanese white peaches are seasonal so keep a look out for them during Spring/Summer (March to August).

How to eat: Fresh, steeped in flavored syrup, as a topping for pastries, as a filling for jellies, made into sorbet.

Number Twenty

焼き肉 Yakiniku

What it is: Marinated barbequed meat with dipping sauces and side dishes.The dish has roots to the Korean bulgogi and was adapted by Koreans living in Japan to Japanese tastes.

Where to eat: Yakinikutei Ao-chan.

Number Twenty One

あさりの酒蒸し Asari no Sakamushi

What it is: Asari clams steamed with sake and konbu. Delectably light and refreshing side dish for drinking sessions or with rice.


Number Twenty Two

焼き鳥 Yakitori

What it is: Skewers of bite sized meat, innards or vegetables with either shio (salt) or tare sauce (mirin, sake, soy sauce and sugar) grilled over charcoal.

Where to eat: Kushi Yakitori Dining Bar.

Number Twenty Three

タラバガニ Tarabagani

What it is: Tarabagani or Red King Crab is caught in Autumn and Winter.
It is the most coveted of the commercially sold king crab species, and is the most expensive per unit weight. It was named after the colour it turns when it is cooked rather than the colour of a living animal, which tends to be more burgundy. (From here)

How to eat: As sushi, raw as sushi, boiled and topped over steamed rice, mixed with vegetables or seafood and topped over steamed rice, in soups, in chawanmushi (Japanese steamed egg custard), grilled, as nabemono (Japanese hot pot).

Number Twenty Four

お茶漬け Ochazuke

What it is: Japanese tea poured over steamed rice with a variety of toppings. Delicious and light meal during hangovers, as a quick snack or when sick.

I love Cooking With Dog!

Number Twenty Five

おでん Oden

What it is: A light winter stew with a variety of ingredients including hard boiled eggs, radish, fried beancurd skin, konnyaku, beef tendons, kelp, carrots, shiitake mushrooms, cabbage rolls, different types of tofu, different types of surimi (Japanese fishcakes),and tsukune (fish or meat balls). It’s a light and gratifying comfort food.


Number Twenty Six

しゃぶしゃぶ Shabu-shabu

What it is: A type of Japanese hot pot with thinly sliced beef as the key ingredient. There are many types of Japanese hot pots as it is a very popular winter dish. I don’t want to get into too many details about the differences so you can get more information here!

Where to eat: Shabu Shabu Gen. Read the review!

Number Twenty Seven

巨峰ぶどう (Kyoho Budou) Kyoho Grapes

What it is: A cross bred variety of grapes that resulted in one) extremely easy to remove skin, two) incredible sweetness and low acidity and three) giant fruit. Chilean grown Kyoho grapes are in season from February to April or May whereas Californian Kyoho grapes are in season around late July – early August to early September, sometimes late October. Kyoho grapes grown in Japan are in season during late summer to early autumn.

How to eat: Peel off skin and serve chilled. Peeled and de-seeded and layered between parfait layers. As a filling for jellies. As accompaniments to savory dishes. Made into granita. As a sauce to drizzle over desserts.

Number Twenty Eight

心太 Tokoroten

What it is: Firm, noodle like jelly dessert made from agar.

How to make tokoroten. It’s really fun and the process is rather addictive.

Tokoroten Noodle Maker here or here!

Number Twenty Nine

和菓子 Wagashi

What it is: Traditional Japanese confectioneries that are normally served with tea. They’re normally made with natural ingredients. There are more than twenty types of wagashi (each with different variations of designs and/or flavors) that are made with different ingredients. They are grouped into 3 different categories based on the degree moisture they contain. Wagashi isn’t only pretty to look at, their names are beautiful too. Their names usually consists of one word from natural beauty and another from ancient literature.

Where to eat: Unfortunately, Singapore doesn’t have much options for Wagashi and the only one I know of is Minamoto Kitchoan. The confectioneries can’t be compared in any way to those found in Japan but if you’re curious, this is a decent way to start.

For the chefs, patissiers or adventurer, here are some simple wagashi you can make (or attempt to make) at home. These are simpler recipes and shapes. If you can’t find some ingredients locally, you can probably find them online. Good luck!

Recipes for: Sakura Mochi. Kohaku-kan and Umeshu Jelly. Mitarashi Dango. Anmitsu. Satsuma Imo Ohagi. Dorayaki.

P.S If you decide you’re into the art of wagashi making, there are loads of books online as well as ready made molds if you aren’t good with your fingers.

Number Thirty

シュークリーム (Shu Kurimu) Japanese Cream Puff

What it is: Japanese cream puffs that have a crisp, fluffy exterior that is filled with rich custard cream and dusted with icing sugar.

Where to eat: Singaporeans will likely know or have tried Beard Papa.


(I’m giving away my locked-in-a-box-hidden-in-a-wall recipe. I searched and tested too many recipes to remember before finding this!)

I don’t own any of the images. All images belong to their original owners. No copyright lose intended.

Do you like Japanese food? What are some of your favorites?

Share the ♥! -Emily L.


3 responses to “30 Japanese Food I Live For.

    • Hi Robert!
      Thank you so much for the detailed information from Shizuoka Gourmet! I will definitely be checking back for more useful and accurate information as well as inspirations for new material! I will definitely link back again when I do!
      Best Regards,
      Emily L.

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