We can all enjoy a lovely fulsome Japanese meal of Katsu curry, ramen, soba, or sushi at any time of the week, but sometimes we forget that such delicious street food exists in Japan. Street food in Japan (known as “yatai”) is relatively cheap and hygiene standards are known to be very high (unlike in some countries in Asia). Here are 12 of the very best street snacks from the Land of the Rising Sun:
You can find Yakisoba-Pan being sold as street food all over the country. It contains those delightful yakisoba noodles that are very similar to chow mein from Chinese cuisine. The sandwich version of these noodles are best garnished with mayonnaise and shreds of pickled ginger.
Quite simply, ‘fish on a stick’, Shioyaki has long been a popular street food in Japan. The type of fish used can vary, but usually you will find mackerel on which to bite!
An amount of Japanese curry is wrapped in a piece of dough, and the dough then coated in bread crumbs, before being deep fried. This creates the Kare-Pan (curry bread). On occasion it is baked instead of deep fried, but deep frying is the most common method of cooking. As well as a firm favourite snack on the streets, Kare-Pan can also be found in bakeries and convenience stores.
The Japanese believe that Kyuri (cucumbers) cool you down. Cucumbers on a stick with a little miso paste is the perfect food for hot summer nights, and along street markets and at festivals everywhere you will be able to try this local delicacy!
Although you can find Takoyaki almost anywhere, including high-end restaurants, the most authentic versions of these delightful octopus balls will be found on the roadside, cooked up by some old auntie with her precious secret recipe. Usually served with sauces and onion flakes, this takoyaki will be cooked in batter and made to order!
Yakitori is the Japanese meat (chicken) skewer. These are perfect items for street food as they can they be easily grilled by the vendor and easily consumed on the move by the consumer! Because of the popularity of yakitori, most street markets will always have countless vendors of this sumptuously smelling meat. Hurry, before they sell out!
Dango are Japanese mochiko dumplings on a stick. Typically coated in a sugary sauce. Some dango can be coated in crispy breadcrumbs for some added pizzazz! How to make your own Dango at home!
If you wanted a baked potato but fancied eating it slightly different to usual, then Jaga Bata is for you! The skin is peeled off of the potato and it is covered in butter for a sticky eat! How to make your own Jaga Bata at home!
Taiyaki are amazing fish-shaped dessert pastries typically filled with red Azuki bean or vanilla custard. They are one of the more popular street foods that you will find in Japan, and now they have been exported all over Asia! How to make your own Taiyaki at home!
Karaage Chicken must be some of the finest style of cooked chicken anywhere in the world. This Japanese speciality goes through a cooking technique in which the chicken is deep fried in oil and then marinated in a mix of soy sauce, garlic, and ginger, then lightly coated with a seasoned wheat flour or potato starch mix, after which it is fried in a light oil. So basically, karaage chicken is twice-fried – and my advice is to get as much of it as you can! How to make your own Karaage Chicken at home!
Yaki Imo are baked sweet potatoes cooked over a wood fire. Yaki Imo trucks and carts fitted with wood stoves and drive around slowly shouting “yaki imo…yaki imo…yaki imo” on a loudspeaker. They are an aspect of old Japan that is quickly fading into the past, but you can always find them roadside if you look hard enough. How to make your own Yaki Imo at home!
Finally, we get to the amazing Chocolate Banana! These are also known as Tokyo Banana, in homage to their place of origin. Bananas are coated in chocolate, sprinkled with sugar and left to harden until the next lucky guest stops by and orders one! How to make your own Chocolate Bananas at home!
Have you ever found anything delicious while on your travels in Japan? How does Japanese street food compare to street food from other countries?
And for more information on famous Japanese food, including larger meals and desserts, check out my article on Japanese Foodporn!