Most Iconic Street Foods In Japan

Feb 28, 2019 | Japan, TASTE

Awaodori Festival – Japan ©George N

Here’s the ultimate guide to Japan’s tastiest street foods.

Japan has a lot to offer – scenic tourist spots, quirky fashion, squeaky-clean surroundings, polite locals, and of course, one-of-a-kind cuisine. Japan is home to some the best culinary experiences.  The city of Tokyo alone still reign supreme as having the most Michelin stars in the world. The food scene is prolific in Japan, from sidewalks, malls to the most extravagant. You will never go hungry in this country thanks to its endless array of food spots.

Starting with street foods, Japan is known to have yummiest street foods you would surely not want to miss. Also known locally as “yattai”, these food stalls are popular especially during summer and festivals. You can choose between “sweet” or “savory” snacks that are affordable, clean, and safe to eat.

If you’re planning to go to Japan, here are some of the best street foods you should try!

1. Yakitori

Yakitori is a popular Japanese street food you would not want to miss. It is chicken skewers that are cooked by grilling. Yakitori is made from different parts of the chicken such as the thigh, breast, gizzard and even the skin. However, many yakitori skewers also use pork or beef.

Nonetheless, the result is a hot, juicy, and flavorful savory snack you’ll get addicted to. You can season it with wasabi, Japanese mustard, soy sauce, and salt for added flavor.

2. Takoyaki

Takoyaki is made from cut octopus pieces, ginger, spring onions, and tempura scraps known locally as tenkasu. The ingredients are then filled with batter and placed on molded iron pans until it forms into golden balls. You will be amazed at how the takoyaki is flipped and cooked to perfection right in front of your eyes.

This savory snack is said to have originated from Osaka and has since gained a lot of fans in and out of the country. A perfectly-cooked takoyaki should be slightly crispy on the outside and a mix of gooey and mushy on the inside. Add Japanese mayonnaise, brown sauce, dried seaweed, and dried fish flakes, and you will surely experience a festival of flavors in your mouth. 

3. Imagawayaki

Named after an ancient bridge in Tokyo, this yummy sweet snack is somewhat similar to a pancake – only smaller. In Kansai, this dessert is also known as taiko-manju.

Aside from the size difference, this has different filling options including chocolate, custard, or red mung paste. The filling is then stuffed into the batter and cooked in molded pans. You will love eating this dessert while walking around the city. The imagawayaki carts along sidewalks, night markets, and festivals.

4. Yakisoba

Yakisoba is considered one of the staples of Japanese street foods. In fact, you will always see at least one cart selling yakisoba in any district. No wonder this dish is a top favorite among locals and tourists alike.

It is a mix of wheat noodles, meat, onions, and cabbage, and is easy to whip up. Ingredients are mixed and cooked on a griddle and then top with soy sauce, seaweed, Japanese mayo, Worcestershire sauce, and a fried egg if you want. This savory snack is nutritious, filling, and flavorful at the same time.

5. Yakiimo

This snack has been around for centuries and is still a favorite especially among locals. This sweet dessert is made from a type of Japanese sweet potato called the Satsuma-imo. These are then wood-baked and served in brown paper.

This native potato – roasted to perfection with its chewy skin and soft flesh is often compared to the taste of caramel. You can usually find these yummy treats sold in street stalls and by yakiimo trucks. Most yakiimo vendors play a distinct musical tune similar to ice cream trucks while selling yakiimo.

6. Black Ice Cream

The Black ice cream had become a cult favorite since it’s inception within the last decade. Black Ice Cream in Japan normally uses black sesame paste as the main ingredient. It has a hint of a nutty, roasted flavor and just the right amount of sweet balance. And did we mention it is black? This is one dessert that should be on your list when you go to Japan.

7. Japanese Souffle Pancakes

It is not your typical pancake – it is fluffy, airy, and tastes and feels like soufflé; you’ll agree that it’s one of the most iconic Japanese desserts ever. This is one of the most instagrammable desserts in Japan.  The heavenly and fluffy texture is due to the generous amount of eggs and whipped egg whites, toppings can vary from fresh fruits to ice cream.