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Typical Japanese Food


Noodles are to Japan what hamburgers are to America and pork pies and pasties are to England. (And of course, what pasta is to Italy). Available everywhere and very popular for lunch with busy workers, the Japanese can eat them icy cold with a dipping sauce as well as hot with an assortment of vegetables, meats, fish and eggs. Noodles must be eaten quickly before the hot broth makes them too soft.

Two main types of noodle are available. Soba is made from buckwheat flour and is slightly brown in colour. Udon is a thick white type of noodle and is made from white flour.


The Japanese have never been great meat eaters until the turn of this century. A typical meal would probably consist of rice with vegetables or fish. Red meat is now consumed more readily but in those days fish and soya beans were perhaps the only form of protein consumed. Fish still predominates in the Japanese diet nowadays, however.

Most people will have probably heard of sushi. This is not for the light-hearted as this dish consists of raw fish which has been laid onto vinegered rice which has been pressed into bite-sized cakes.

The range of sushi available is large as it comes in all different shapes and sizes and toppings. Sushi bars or take-aways are abundant in Japan where it is served with liberal amounts of beer or sake. Those which cater for tourists often have plastic replicas of the different types of sushi from which you can make your choice.


Sashimi, also raw fish, comes in the form of thin slices and is eaten with a dip of horseradish-flavoured soy sauce.


Brought to Japan by the Portuguese, tempura is yet another famous delicacy, best eaten at a tempura bar. It is a deep fried fritter. Prawn or shrimp tempura is the most common but other types are made from squid, pepper, sweet potato, lotus root and onion. Only the freshest fish and vegetables are used. A special sauce ten-tsuyu is used as a dip.


Often eaten with sake in a bar is yakitori. This is similar to a shish kebab and is generally made from chicken and grilled on bamboo skewers over charcoal. As the meat is grilled, it is dipped into a sweetened soy-based source to give it a very Japanese flavour.

Shabu Shabu

A dish which is cooked at the table will create a cosy, friendly atmosphere. Shabu Shabu is a typical example of such a dish and is particularly suitable for a large gathering. At the centre of the table is a large pot of simmering stock. The guests are invited to dip slices of beef and vegetable in the stock to cook them. The cooked food is then dipped into a choice of sauces. When all the meat and vegetables have been cooked, the enriched stock is served as soup. Sukiyaki is very similar to shabu shabu in that it is another dish cooked at the table.

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