Anime fans around the world think about visiting Japan someday. Anime fans around the world are often drawn to Japan not only for the famous sites found in anime but also for the amazing food culture. Japan has a rich culinary tradition, and its unique cuisine is enjoyed by people all over the world.
Most anime people want to see famous sites that are found in anime, like like Tokyo Tower, the Ghibli Museum, and the famous Shibuya crossing. There are lots of real life locations in Japan found in anime, including, for example, Akihabara, frequently referenced in anime and known for its electronics and otaku culture, Kamakura featured in Slam Dunk and various other anime, known for its historical temples and shrines, Fushimi Inari-taisha, Kyoto featured in the anime Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha and known for its thousands of torii gates, K-On! school, Toyosato Elementary School featured in the anime K-On! and now a popular destination for anime fans.
But let’s not forget about the amazing food in Japan. Sometimes I want to go to Japan for the food more than the anime!
Japanese cuisine is world-renowned for its quality, taste, and presentation. There are so many delicious dishes to try, from sushi and ramen to tempura and yakitori. And if you have a sweet tooth, Japan has plenty of options for you too, including mochi, dorayaki, and matcha desserts.
One of the most well-known Japanese dishes is sushi. This popular dish consists of bite-sized pieces of raw or cooked fish, vegetables, and other ingredients, wrapped in seaweed and rice. Sushi can be found all over Japan, from high-end restaurants to casual food stands.
Here’s our staff getting sushi after AniMinneapolis, with plates stacked halfway to the ceiling. Now the sushi in America is pretty good, but the sushi in Tokyo is to die for. The sushi in Japan is better there because of the high quality of the ingredients and the skill of the sushi chefs. In Japan, the seafood is incredibly fresh and is often caught the same day it’s served. The chefs also undergo years of rigorous training to perfect their craft, resulting in sushi that is both visually stunning and absolutely delicious.
In addition to sushi, Japan has a wide variety of amazing food options to offer. Ramen, udon, and soba noodles are popular and can be found in many restaurants throughout the country. Tempura, yakitori, and okonomiyaki are also delicious options that shouldn’t be missed.
Ramen noodles are made from wheat flour and come in many different styles and flavors. The soup broth can be made from pork, chicken, or fish, and is often flavored with soy sauce, miso, or other ingredients. It’s way different than the “Top Ramen” or “Maruchan” or “Cup Ramen” that you’ve had in America. Real Japanese ramen has a richness, thickness, and savoryness that just can not be compared. It also usually comes with thin slices of pork belly and thicker noodles.
Hot pots are another popular thing in Japan. Hot pot, or nabe, is a Japanese dish where a pot of boiling broth is placed at the center of the table and various ingredients such as thinly sliced meat, seafood, vegetables, and tofu are cooked in the broth. The broth can be made from a variety of ingredients such as miso, soy sauce, dashi (a type of soup stock), or spicy chili pepper paste.
Hot pots are popular in Japan, especially during the colder months, as they are a warm and comforting dish to share with friends and family. There are also regional variations of hot pots, such as the famous sukiyaki from the Kanto region and the motsunabe from the Fukuoka region.
Many restaurants in Japan specialize in hot pots, and it is also common for families and friends to make hot pots at home using portable gas stoves. Hot pots are not only delicious but also a fun and communal dining experience, making them a must-try for anyone visiting Japan.
This picture shows how some of the hot pot ingredients come, and you can dump them into the boiling soup right at your table to enjoy a delicious meal.
Gyoza is another food I love in Japan, and its delectable combination of flavors and textures never fails to satisfy my taste buds. Gyoza, ie Japanese dumplings, is a culinary delight that has gained immense popularity both within Japan and around the world. These delectable bite-sized treats are typically filled with a savory mixture of ground meat (such as pork or chicken), vegetables, and aromatic seasonings, all wrapped in a thin and delicate dough wrapper.
What makes gyoza truly special is the way it is prepared and cooked. The traditional method involves pan-frying the dumplings to achieve a delightful crispiness on one side, while keeping the filling juicy and tender on the inside. The combination of the crispy bottom and the soft, steamed top creates a satisfying contrast in textures that adds to the overall experience.
Apart from the classic pan-fried style, gyoza can also be enjoyed steamed or boiled, offering variations that cater to different preferences. The dipping sauce served alongside gyoza, typically a mixture of soy sauce, rice vinegar, and chili oil, complements the flavors perfectly and adds a tangy and slightly spicy kick to each bite.
Often you’ll mix your own dipping sauce right at your table.
Yakiniku is another favorite dish for me when I’m in Tokyo, especially where you grill it yourself. The experience of grilling the meat yourself at a yakiniku restaurant makes it FUN!
Yakiniku, which translates to “grilled meat,” typically features a variety of high-quality cuts such as beef, pork, and chicken. The meat is often marinated or seasoned with a delectable combination of soy sauce, garlic, sesame oil, and other flavorful ingredients, enhancing its taste and tenderness.
When dining at a yakiniku restaurant in Tokyo, you’ll find a table equipped with a grill in the center. The grill allows you to take control of the cooking process, ensuring that each piece of meat is grilled to your preferred level of doneness. Whether you like it rare, medium, or well-done, you have the freedom to customize and savor your meat just the way you like it.
Apart from the mouthwatering meat, yakiniku spreads its charm through an array of accompanying side dishes. From crispy cabbage and kimchi to savory dipping sauces and fragrant steamed rice, the assortment of flavors and textures on the table creates a delightful symphony for your palate.
Beyond the scrumptious food, yakiniku dining in Tokyo also offers a vibrant and convivial atmosphere. Many yakiniku establishments have a lively ambiance, with the sizzle of meat on the grill and the animated chatter of diners adding to the overall experience. It’s a fantastic way to bond with friends, family, or even fellow travelers as you grill, share, and enjoy the meal together.
One of the first places I would visit when I stayed in Takadanobaba Shinjuku was a Wagyu-black beef street restaurant, and it was amazing.
I hope you’re as hungry as I am when it comes to Japanese food!
If you ever want to go to Japan, I’ve broken down the costs for you. I hope you get a chance to explore the world along with me some day!