Top 10 Japanese Street Food – The ultimate food guide
Food is a very important aspect in the Japanese lifestyle. Presentation and smell are definitely key elements in Japan to a succesfull meal. High standards have to be met before being able to serve Japanese food. The street food is therefore a very important one. During the dozen of Japanese festivals held every year and also just during your regular stroll in Japan, you will find many food stalls selling delicious finger food. The often cheap, but delicious and high quality dishes are a great start for those wanting to experience the Japanese food culture! This guide will tell you my top 10 favourite street foods, because I want to educate you in the different types of street food, because I know some foods may look a little intimidating to try even though they are delicious! I hope you enjoy this guide and the amazing street foods while in Japan...
Nikuman, or meat-bun in English, is as the name suggest a dumpling like flower dough bun filled with pork meat inside. This bun is delicious in all seasons, but foremost in Winter time when the steaming hot bun will warm you up from the inside. The nikoman can be bought on the food stalls on the street, but are also a popular snack at the 7/11 stores, where you can always find a delicious nikuman on the go!
Dango are dumplings sold on a stick made from firm glutinous rice flower and water. They are served on a skewer and are boiled until the dango has a firm texture. Afterward the dango is sprinkeled with a variety of sauces or pastes, making dango a very versatile street food dish to try. Dango flavours may not appeal to everyone, but are definitely a must to try!
Taiyaki are fish shaped cookie/pancake like sweets. Traditionally the Taiyaki are filled with red bean paste, a very popular paste in Japan. However, in recent days the taiyaki is also often filled with custard or chocolate, making it more appealing for a bigger crowd! And they are sure delicious!
Crepes, which didn’t originate in Japan as most people will know, are a huge success in Japanese street food. The French treat has been modified to Japanese standards and in my opinion are even improved versions than the original crepes. Crepes are a thin pastry made of wheat flour and are filled with other ingredients. In France, most of the time, this includes chocolate or nutella!
However, in Japan all sorts of sweets and fruits can be used in a crepe. My ultimate favourite crepes are found in Takeshita Dori in Harakjuku on a crepe place called Santa Monica Crepes.
Here you will find over 70 different kinds of crepe fillings with high quality flour and premium ingredients. My favourite one is the green tea, chocolate crepe which costs around 500 yen.
Takoyaki are fried octopus battered balls. It is a very popular dish in Japan where octopus parts together with onions and ginger are baked in batter to form nice round balls. They are usually sold in groups of 6 and are topped with some green onions, fish shavings and mayonnaise. You will find a long line at the Takoyaki stand and the best Takoyaki is said to be found in Osaka. Because this is such a popular dish, I believe a trip to Japan is not complete without trying these Takoyaki at least once.
Senbei are rice crackers which can often be found at Japanese festivals. The base is made from a combination of rice and shrimp and is a delicacy on its own. They are usually topped with different flavours. One of my favourite senbei is the egg cracker or Tamago senbei. The tamagosenbei is not as famous as the takosenbei (see below), but is so delicious that it was worth mentioning in this guide. The tamago senbei is topped with crunchy tempura, mayonnaise and a cooked egg on top. The best part of this dish, besides its original and delicious flavor is the price. For only 200-300 yen this cracker is worth a try!
Gyoza is originally a Chinese dish, but they are also very popular in the Japanese cuisine. The deep-friend dumplings are filled with a mixture of pork and different types of greens, mostly onions and cabbage. They are served with soy sauce and are a popular dish to eat at Japanese festivals or as finger food in Izakayas.
Takosenbei is an Enoshima favourite. Even though you can buy Takosenbei in stores in Tokyo, I recommend to visit Enoshima, which is only an hour away from Tokyo, and treating yourself to a freshly made Takosenbei. This octopus cracker attracts a lot of visitors and long lines are expected. However, these are definitely worth it. The Tako senbei is prepared in front of your eyes where a small octopus is battered in flour and pressed into a hot press for a few minutes. The outcome, a flat cracker with the outline of an octopus still visible. Sounds disgusting? Not at all! This cracker is so delicious it made me wanna queue again after finishing my first takosenbei. The cracker is really sweet and the octopus flavor gives it a salty tone as well! And the best part… Octopus is a low fat, high iron, calcium and vitamin, which makes this street food favorite also a very healthy one.
Okonomiyaki is sometimes referred to as the Japanese pizza, because it is prepared like a pizza. It has a firm base and is stacked with all types of vegetables and meats on top. The base is made of flour, eggs and cabbage and is baked on a grill. Okonomiyaki is a very popular dish in the Kansai area and the best Okonomiyaki is said to be found in Osaka or Hiroshima. However, street vendors in Tokyo also sell this dish with a very good quality and for a decent price.
This healthy snack shouldn’t be missed! (It is my favourite Japanese food!)
My favourite street food of all times is Agemanju. This street food, found in the Nakamise Dori in Asakusa, Tokyo, intrigued me with the first bite I took. The smell of the Agemanju pulls you towards the stop where you will find all different types of colored round confections. The outside layer is made from flouw, rice powder and buckwheat and the original filling is the anko (red bean paste). I recommend you trying this originally flavoured agemanju. However, also a lot of other flavours are available. I usually bought 2-3 agemanju at a time. The hot agemanju with a crunchy outside and the creamy inside make it a perfect food for every season, but winter is still the best! Because I have never tasted anything like this outside Japan, I recommend you trying this delicacy whenever you are visiting Asakusa!
Please comment below if you feel like I have missed out on a dish! I would love to know which ones you like best so next time I'll visit Japan I can try those as well!