Japanese Food and Drink Culture

06 May 2022

Japanese cuisine is renowned for its exquisite flavours and presentation. But there's more to Japanese food and drink culture than just sushi and sake. This post will explore the different aspects of Japanese cuisine and drink, from the traditional to the modern. So if you're interested in learning more about Japan's food and drink culture, read on!

Best of Traditional Japanese Foods and Drinks:

Japanese Food and Drink Culture

1. Donburi:

Donburi is a Japanese dish consisting of rice topped with meat, fish, or vegetables. It is typically served in a bowl and can be made using many ingredients. Donburi is often referred to as a "rice bowl dish," as it is typically served in a bowl (don) and includes rice (Meshi) as one of its primary ingredients. Donburi can be traced back to the Edo period in Japan when it was first mentioned in literature. The dish gained popularity during the Meiji period and became a staple Japanese meal.

2. Sushi:

Japanese Food and Drink Culture

Sushi is a Japanese dish typically consisting of cooked rice combined with raw fish or seafood. It is maybe the most common answer to "What is the most popular drink and food in Japan?", along with sake. Sushi came into common usage in the early 18th century, after it was first mentioned in the collaborative dictionary Nihon Kokugo Daijiten.

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Sushi is often served with soy sauce, wasabi and ginger. It is also popularly served on a wooden platter called a sushi boat. Sushi is often eaten as part of an okonomiyaki or teppanyaki meal in Japan.

3. Ramen:

Japanese Food and Drink Culture

Ramen is a Japanese noodle soup originally based on Chinese wheat noodles. It typically consists of wheat noodles in a meat or vegetable-based broth, often flavoured with soy sauce or miso, and topped with various ingredients such as thinly sliced pork, eggs, seaweed, and green onions. While ramen is now considered a quintessential Japanese dish, it has its origins in China.

4. Tofu:

Japanese Food and Drink Culture

Tofu is a soft, custardy cheese-like food made from curdled soy milk. It is a protein-rich food that has been consumed in Japan for centuries. It is one of the most important pieces of Japanese food culture.

There are many different ways to prepare tofu in Japan, but the most popular dish is probably tofu steak. This dish usually consists of a block of tofu that has been breaded and deep-fried until it is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Tofu steak can be eaten as an appetizer or main course, and it goes well with rice and a variety of dipping sauces.

5. Udon:

Japanese Food and Drink Culture

It is traditionally served in a broth, often with soy sauce, mirin, and Bonito flakes. Udon can also be served cold (with a dipping sauce) or in a hot pot. There are many regional variations of udon throughout Japan, so it is not one size fits all! 

The dish originated in the Kyushu region of Japan but has since become popular nationwide. Whether you enjoy it hearty and filling or light and refreshing, udon is a delicious way to enjoy traditional Japanese cuisine.

6. Onigiri:

Onigiri is a Japanese dish typically consisting of white rice formed into triangular or oval shapes and usually wrapped in nori (seaweed). It is often considered a type of sushi, although onigiri contains no fish or seafood. The most common fillings for onigiri include umeboshi (pickled plum), katsuobushi (bonito flakes), tuna mayonnaise, salmon, and pickled vegetables. 

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7. Sekihan:

Sekihan is a traditional Japanese dish made of rice and red beans. It is often served at special occasions such as weddings or births. The rice is usually steamed with red beans, which gives the rice a pink colour. Sekihan can be served plain or with other ingredients such as vegetables or meat.

8. Miso:

Japanese Food and Drink Culture

Miso soup is a traditional Japanese dish made from dashi (a type of broth), miso paste, and chopped scallions. Miso paste is a fermented soybean paste high in protein and vitamins. It has a salty, savoury flavour that pairs well with the dashi broth. 

Miso soup is usually served as a starter or side dish but can also be made into a hearty meal by adding other ingredients like tofu, mushrooms, and seaweed.

9. Gyudon:

Japanese Food and Drink Culture
Photo by Roman Bonaparte on Unsplash

Gyudon is a Japanese dish of simmered beef and rice, typically served with a raw egg. It is a very popular dish in Japan, often sold as a quick meal at restaurants or stalls. While the components of gluten are relatively simple, the dish can vary significantly in flavour depending on the quality of the ingredients used. 

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10. Natto:

Natto is a traditional Japanese dish made from fermented soybeans. It is often eaten for breakfast or as a snack and is a popular item in bento boxes. Natto has a strong, pungent flavour and a sticky texture and is rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals. Although it is technically a fermented food, natto is often consumed fresh and has a shelf life of several months when refrigerated.

11. Sake:

Japanese Food and Drink Culture

Sake is a Japanese beverage made from fermented rice. It is often made using special sake rice that has been milled down to about 30% of its original size, which gives it a larger surface area and allows for easier fermentation. Sake is traditionally drunk out of small cups or bowls called o-Choko and is served either cold, warm, or at room temperature. 

12. Tea:

Tea is consumed differently in Japan than in other parts of the world. Tea as a Japanese drink usually refers to matcha, a powdered form of green tea made by grinding the tea leaves into a fine powder. Matcha is often used in ceremonies and for traditional Japanese tea ceremonies. It has a slightly bitter taste and contains caffeine.

13. Shochu:

Japanese Food and Drink Culture

Shochu is a popular Japanese distilled beverage, typically made from rice, barley, or sweet potatoes. While it can be enjoyed straight or on the rocks, it is most commonly mixed with water or tea. Shochu ranges in alcohol content from around 25% to 35% and is slightly weaker than most Western liquors. Today, shochu continues to be enjoyed by people of all social classes in Japan. 

14. Umeshu:

Japanese Food and Drink Culture

Umeshu is a Japanese alcoholic drink made from plums, basically a plum wine. It is typically made by steeping ume fruit in shochu and sugar and then allowing the mixture to mature. Umeshu can be served cold or hot and is often enjoyed as a refreshing drink during the summer months.

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15. Tsukemono:

Tsukemono is a type of Japanese pickle. It is usually made from vegetables such as cucumbers, daikon radish, or cabbage and can be either sour or sweet.

Tsukemono is an important part of the Japanese diet and is eaten either as a condiment with rice or as a standalone dish. They are believed to not only add flavour and texture to food but also to help with digestion.

Japanese Food and Drink Culture

Typical Japanese Breakfast:

A typical Japanese breakfast consists of steamed rice, miso soup, grilled fish, and a small side dish such as tamagoyaki (rolled omelette).

Some people may also drink coffee or tea with their breakfast. There has been an increasing trend towards Western-style breakfasts in recent years, such as bacon and eggs or toast with jam. However, the traditional Japanese breakfast is still the most common type.

Typical Japanese Lunch:

Japanese Food and Drink Culture

What is a typical Japanese lunch like? It depends on the person's occupation. A white-collar salaryman might have a bento box with rice, fish or meat, and vegetables. A blue-collar worker might have a rice bowl with some pickled vegetables or fish. Some people might also have a soup called "costume", usually made with miso or soy sauce.

Typical Japanese Dinner:

Japanese Food and Drink Culture

A typical Japanese dinner usually consists of rice, some main dishes, and a few sides. Soups and pickled vegetables are also common. The main dish can be anything from fish to chicken to beef and is often cooked in a simple way that lets the ingredients' natural flavours shine through. Sushi and sashimi are also popular options for Japanese dinners. 

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While there is no set time for when people eat dinner in Japan, it is usually eaten later than in Western countries, often around 7 or 8 pm. Families typically eat together at home, although it is not unusual for people to eat out or grab something on the go. 

Best Restaurants in Tokyo, Japan:

Japanese Food and Drink Culture

1. Ise Sueyoshi:

Ise Sueyoshi is a sushi restaurant in Japan known for its delicious sushi and friendly service. The menu features a variety of sushi dishes and other Japanese food items such as soups, salads, and rice dishes.

Location: 4-2-15 Mizuno Bldg. 3F, Nishiazabu, Minato 106-0031 Tokyo Prefecture

Price Range: $50 - $120

Popular Foods: Roasted Venison

Google User Rating: 4.8

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2. Han no Daidokoro Kadochika:

Answer: Han no Daidokoro Kadochika is a Japanese restaurant specializing in teppanyaki cuisine. Han no Daidokoro Kadochika is known for its fresh ingredients, skilled chefs, and relaxed atmosphere. The restaurant offers a variety of teppanyaki dishes, including both traditional Japanese favourites and innovative new creations.

Location: 2-28-5 Dogenzaka Shuei Bldg B1F, Shibuya 150-0043 Tokyo Prefecture

Price Range: $40 - $60

Popular Foods: Wagyu set

Google User Rating: 4.5

Japanese Food and Drink Culture
Photo by Daniel Hooper on Unsplash

3. Teppan Baby Shinjuku:

Teppan Baby Shinjuku is a popular teppanyaki restaurant in Japan known for its affordable prices and delicious food. The restaurant is in Tokyo and offers a wide variety of teppanyaki dishes that are sure to satisfy any appetite. If you're looking for a delicious and affordable teppanyaki meal in Japan, check out Teppan Baby Shinjuku.

Location: 1-17-4 Pocket Bldg. B1F, Kabukicho, Shinjuku 160-0021 Tokyo Prefecture

Price Range: $20 - $40

Popular Foods: Okonomiyaki 

Google User Rating: 4.4

4. Kikko:

Kikko is a restaurant in Japan that serves traditional Japanese cuisine. The restaurant has been in business for over 20 years and is known for its fresh, seasonal ingredients and traditional cooking methods. Kikko is located in the heart of Tokyo and is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike.

Location: 2-2-13, Asakusa, Taito 111-0032 Tokyo Prefecture

Price Range: $30 - $50

Popular Foods: Double bento box

Google User Rating: 4.6

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