On this blog, I will introduce you to must-try Top 5 Street Food dishes in Japan that can be found all year-round.
There is a wide range of choices in the Japanese food scene from yatai* and izakaya style local pubs to Michelin starred restaurants. You will also be amazed by varieties of packed obento boxes, sandwiches and sweets at convenience stores in Japan. If food is one of the top reasons you visit Japan you do not want to miss experiencing street food during your stay. Therefore, I am focusing on top street food in Japan today.
*Yatai is a small, mobile food stall that can be found on the streets and at festivals. As yatai food is cheap and fast but very tasty, you can enjoy many kinds of street foods such as kakigo-ri (shaved ice dessert), ikayaki (grilled squid), karaage (deep fried chicken), yakisoba (noodles) and grilled corn on the go. You will usually see a lot more varieties of speciality yatai during the festival seasons.
Street Food Top 1: Takoyaki
Takoyaki (octopus balls) is known as a soul food for people in Osaka. It is so popular and would be on anybody's top 5 street food list! Takoyaki is a round, made from batter with a piece of octopus in it and fried. Must-try food when you are in Osaka. But, be careful not to burn your mouth!
You can watch how they are made at any yatai and you will be surprised how fast those experts can make lots of balls of takoyaki. There is also a DIY takoyaki restaurant where you can try your own creation at your table. You will have so much fun making them!
Street Food Top 2: Yakitori
Yakitori is a grilled chicken on skewers with variety of vegetables and chicken parts such as chicken thigh, wings, skin, and meatballs.
“Yaki” means grilled and “Tori” actually means chicken, however you might also find choices of beef and pork.
They are usually cooked over charcoal grill and freshly made with your choice of shio (salt) or tare (special sauce). Yakitori is the best match with a glass of cold beer!
Street Food Top 3: Taiyaki
Taiyaki is a fish shaped sweet cake filled with red beans. You will also find other flavours such as custard cream, chocolate or matcha cream fillings at some shops. Taiyaki is a traditional street snack, crispy outside, and warm and soft inside.
You find them pretty much anywhere in Japan, but my recommendation is a shop in an old shopping street where local people go. Why not have a short break with taiyaki and a cup of green tea while sightseeing or shopping in Japan?
Street Food Top 4: Ramen
Ramen is one of the most popular Japanese foods in the world today. If you have not tried Hakata Ramen yet, I highly recommend you go to Hakata in Fukuoka prefecture.
Hakata is also famous for their yatai food culture and as well as ramen you will also find lots of nice food stalls there. The open-air food stalls “yatai” are set up on the street from early evening till after mid night. Ramen is a popular dish at a yatai around midnight. Why? It is a kind of Japanese culture that people eat ramen after drinking alcohol before going home.
As a yatai is small, usually less than 10 people can be seated at one time, it is a great opportunity to have a chat with friendly local people and enjoy drinking together!
Our Food & Cherry Blossom Tour of Kyushu includes Yatai experience in Hakata.
Street Food Top 5: Crepes
Crepes are obviously not Japanese food but worth trying while you are in Japan!
They first appeared in Tokyo in the late 1970s and become one of the popular street foods that spread throughout the country today. There are so many flavours to choose from but probably the sweet crepe filled with whipped cream and lots of fruits or chocolate banana is the more popular one. You will also find savoury crepes filled with ham, bacon, cheese, egg, lettuce and so on. Interesting example of Japanised French food!
Have you tried some or all of the memorable street foods in Japan?? They are all perfect sweet or savoury snacks to eat on the go! Our local guides know their town inside out, and will show you the best street food in town and tell you their secrets.
If your reason to visit Japan is food, Journey to the East offers a number of Food Tours exploring whole range from excellent street food, modern fusion food and right through to gourmet dining at Michelin-starred restaurants.
Each of our 2021 and 2022 Japan Food Tour itinerary is regionally specific, allowing you to appreciate the depth of the local food culture. The food trips also focus on seasonal variety. Through our expert knowledge and special connections, you will visit a selection of producers and interact with locals. All of these tours are carefully balanced for you to discover the Japanese culture, history, spectacular scenery and unexpected special encounters in Japan.