6 Japanese Dishes You'll Only Find in Japan
※Details accurate at time of publication. Please check the official website for up-to-date information.
Regarding Our Travel InformationDue to the COVID-19 outbreak and efforts to prevent the spread of infection, some facilities may have altered opening dates and times. Before leaving for your destination, please check its official website for the latest information. In areas still in some form of lockdown, we recommend you avoid leaving the house unless necessary. Look out for more Japanese travel information to plan future trips, new every day on Japankuru!
To some of us, it can be a lethal weapon, for others, it is a pleasure. That sharp sensation that starts by burning the mouth, then strikes up through the nose and sinuses, finally bringing tears to the eyes...
Whether you like the spice of wasabi or not, these dishes will surely wake you up! Above, you'll see a full meal of wasabi, available at the Daio Wasabi Farm restaurant in Nagano Prefecture. This tray features wasabi-don (ワサビ丼, a wasabi rice bowl), tempura wasabi leaves, and a little knob of fresh wasabi you can grind for yourself. Forget the horseradish you get overseas, this wasabi is the real thing and it doesn't get much fresher. At the same wasabi farm you can also try wasabi curry (Thai green curry style), wasabi ice cream, and wash it all down with a refreshing wasabi beverage.
There are a few places around Japan where you can enjoy these little fish fresh-caught, but shirasu are only available raw for part of the year. For a taste of the little umami-packed jewels, Enoshima is the closest spot to Tokyo.
For a more traditional take, raw shirasu (a bit like sashimi) are available for just a few months a year. Shirasu-don, a bed of rice topped with a pile of super-fresh fish fry, is a rare delicacy even for many in Japan!
Ippon udon (一本うどん, literally single-strand udon), has a history shrouded in mystery and legend in Japan. Some gastronomic historians think it's a genuine dish that existed in Japan's past. One family restaurant in Japan offers the dish, claiming that their recipe dates back to ancestors who created ippon udon long ago. Others in Japan say that there's little evidence for this claim, and it's just the stuff of myth. Whoever it was that came up with the original concept, they clearly had an impressive imagination! This particular bowl of ippon udon came from a totally different roadside restaurant, where it took the chefs three whole years to perfect the new recipe.
In the end, they came up with one chewy and flavorful noodle, with a texture almost like mochi!
Normally, shabu-shabu is mostly a meat dish, and you're more likely to find high-quality beef at a Japanese hotpot restaurant than seafood. However, in this case, delicate firefly squid (or hotaru ika, ホタルイカ) are the star of then show. Firefly squid, so named because they glow bioluminescent in the nighttime sea, are quickly cooked in the mild broth, and eaten whole! If the eyeballs freak you out a little, this might not be the dish for you, but trust us when we say it's quite a delicacy.
That's right, in Japanese negi (ネギ) means green onion, so this is literally green onion soba. It might seem hard to eat just looking at it, but after giving it a try, people often say that it's actually not too much of a challenge. You can see the negi does an alright job of picking up some noodles! The dish is a specialty of Ouchi-juku, in Fukushima Prefecture.
Don't worry, the restaurants will still provide chopsticks for those who need them.
Stay tuned for new original articles at JAPANKURU. 🐶 Make sure you follow us on our Facebook and Instagram for more Japanese stories!
For more gourmet experiences in Japan, check out the following articles:
3 Must-Try Ramens in Tokyo
JAPANESE BEEF | 4 Must-Try Restaurants in Tokyo
Exploring Japan's All You Can Eat and Drink "Houdai" Culture