Top 10 strange tastes of the Japanese
Many people who have never been to Japan, but who are fond of the Land of the Rising Sun, are the regulars of Japanese restaurants. Before the first time, I visited Japan, I had a very typical idea of Japanese cuisine: sushi, rolls, seafood, miso, rice … and other goodies. Based on the experience of visiting Japanese restaurants in Russia, I had the opinion that Japanese food is always very tasty food. It cannot be otherwise!
And when I first came to the Land of the Rising Sun and saw an abundance of unusual food in supermarkets, cafes, and restaurants, I, of course, started buying everything in a row. To try. And here bitter disappointment awaited me. I suddenly realized that Japanese food is not only tasteless: it is very, very strange for a foreigner who is not used to Japanese taste experiments. Often it even happened that I gave money for the next, as it seemed to me, “delicious” and after the first bite in frustration I wanted to throw it out of the garbage can … How can I eat this? Who would ever think of eating this? These and other questions regarding Japanese food did not let me go in restaurants when I was once again disappointed when ordering something “like that.”
weird Japanese food
In the end, by trial and error, I came to the conclusion that some Japanese food should still be avoided if you do not want to stay hungry and upset.
In fact, everything is not so bad with Japanese food: having learned to more or less understand some of the Japanese favorite dishes and additives, you can predict in advance which dish should be discarded in time or what can be expected from this or that sweetness. “Forewarned means armed,” I think.
That is why I decided to make the top 10 of the strangest, in my opinion, Japanese food, in order to help you if you are going to the Land of the Rising Sun. Immediately make a reservation that this is not an exhaustive list of Japanese taste oddities. I’m sure there’s one million more in the Japanese food industry and one thing that surprises foreigners. And I also note that not everything listed by me is disgusting and tasteless. That’s why I called this list “strange Japanese food”: these are very specific tastes that may surprise, may not like, but someone will like. Therefore, if you like experiments, then do not be afraid to try dishes from this list!
1. The strangest Japanese food. Natto
One of the most popular Japanese dishes that foreigners find strange is natto, which is fermented (in other words, fermented) soybeans. The Japanese usually eat natto in the morning, as in fact, this food is full of vitamins and healthy nutrients. Residents of the Land of the Rising Sun add various types of sauces to Natto, mix the beans thoroughly to form “threads” and absorb them with great pleasure.
Japanese food natto
Many Japanese people like to joke about foreigners and tattoos. Most of them, getting to know you, will certainly ask if you already ate natto, whether you love it. They know that the very specific taste of this traditional Japanese food scares many gaijins. However, many foreigners who have lived in Japan for a long time, get used to the taste of natto and even find this Japanese food delicious.
Natto is added to many dishes and sweets. So in sushi bars, you can meet sushi and gunkans with natto. Therefore, if you are not sure whether you like the taste of fermented beans or not, then it is better to give a separate time to acquaintance with natto: good, you can buy it in almost any store.
2. Anko Azuki Bean Paste
Another no less popular food in Japan is Anko – angled bean boiled with sugar or honey. Usually, it is brown-red, it is very easy to recognize it. Adzuki bean paste can be of different textures: with large pieces of beans and without, with the addition of green tea (in this case, the paste is already dark green), etc. Invariably, this paste is added to most Japanese sweets: daifuku, mochi, odango, to various buns, pancakes and much more.
Some varieties of bean paste are more or less edible in taste. Especially if only a small layer of this delicacy is added to the dish itself. However, often the Japanese do not skimp on adding bean paste: often it is so rich in filling that it interrupts any taste. Therefore, if you are not sure that sweets with bean paste are to your taste, it is better to choose the types of the same sweets with less exotic fillings. Fortunately, the Japanese always have a very wide selection.
3. Goya (or goya). The Bitter Japanese Food
goya Japanese food goya is a bitter melon that is a vegetable that looks like a big bubble cucumber. In Japan, the goya matures in the summer and in the summer becomes a frequent guest in plates. Goya has a bitter taste that does not become less astringent either during cooking, during frying, or during any other processing. Therefore, if during the “tasting” of Japanese food you felt the bitter taste of the medicine and found some pieces of green vegetable in a plate, then most likely you were lucky enough to try a dish with goya.
The Japanese themselves believe that the taste of goya refreshes in the heat, so they love this variety of bitter melon. By the way, dishes with goya in Okinawa are especially popular.
4. Karasirenkon. Japanese naval strike food
Karasirencon is Japanese national food and is especially popular on Kyushu Island. This dish is a fried lotus root with soy, flour and plenty of mustard. There is so much mustard that it certainly hits the nose (the Japanese call this feeling “tsun”), so it’s very difficult to eat karasirenkon … you hold on to your nose all the time and look for something to drink this “treat” in order not to suffocate.
5. Tororo. Able to kill the taste
In the menu of many cafes of traditional Japanese food, as an addition to some dishes, you can find the mysterious “Tororo”. Before ordering such a dish, it is better to think a few times. Tororo is a grated yamaimo sweet potato that looks like cream cheese. The taste of this supplement is very specific and not only not like many foreigners, but also many Japanese. I will say even more: the presence of Tororo in a dish can completely ruin the taste and impression of what is eaten.
Now let’s move on to unconventional Japanese food (and drinks), which may also seem strange to foreigners.
6. Tomato fever. Tomato-flavored water, tomato jelly, and ice cream.
Tomatoes are the pride of Kumamoto Prefecture, so tomatoes are added everywhere in this place. In addition to more or less familiar dishes from tomatoes, here you can find such goodies as, for example, tomato jelly, ice cream and … even water with a tomato flavor.
As for me, Japanese tomato food is not the worst thing I’ve ever tried. The same water with a smack of tomato seemed quite pleasant to me. However, when the rest of the foreigners tried it, they were, to put it mildly, not happy. So yes, as for me, tomato sweets and tomato water are weird.
7. Spring madness. Sakura-style sweets
In the spring, when the flowering period of cherry and plum trees begins, all kinds of sweets with the taste of sakura petals come into fashion: candy and chewing sweets, ice cream, chocolate, lemonade and much more.
Japanese food with sakura
For me personally, the “taste of sakura” sounded attractive until then, until I decided to try such sweets and ice cream. And you know, as a rule, when you eat these sweets, you get the feeling that you really pushed flower petals into your mouth. I add that to someone this may seem not only tasteless but also nasty.
8. Sweets with the taste of fish or chicken, candied seafood
“Combine incongruous” – this phrase could become the motto of modern Japanese food, because on the shelves of Japanese combi and supermarkets you can also find chewing sweets with taste, for example, salmon, and candied squid – and many other “samples” of food, when combined in one dish sweet and salty. Needless to say, the taste of these “new products” is incredibly strange.
9. Pepsi with the taste of cucumber and yogurt, chips with fruit flavors
To the previous paragraph about the combination of incongruous, you can add an amazing Japanese interpretation of the usual drinks and snacks. So it was for the Land of the Rising Sun that the Pepsi line was developed with the taste of cucumber and yogurt. And chips with the taste of tangerines, strawberries, bananas, peaches, etc. have long been a legend among people interested in Japan and Japanese food. Interestingly, the Japanese themselves love such fruits of “experiments”?
10. Japanese food powder
In almost every Japanese food store you can find so-called do-it-yourself kits. As a rule, such sets are just the very legendary Japanese powder food – fun for children and adults. The composition of such kits includes various molds, dyes, and, in fact, the powder itself, which when in contact with water turns into marmalade. You can make different hamburgers, Bentos, and sushi from the powder … however, the taste will be the same for everyone – synthetic-marmalade-sour, but the main thing in Japanese food from the powder is not to taste, but the cooking process.
As a rule, making such a marmalade is very exciting. Perhaps I would classify Japanese food from a powder as positive oddities that cause good emotions and joy. Moreover, such sets are a great souvenir for friends and acquaintances who want to surprise with something original. Unfortunately, another “strange Japanese food” either spoils quickly or does not cause positive emotions for those you bring it to.
So, today we met with a list of strange Japanese food, which is often found in shops or cafes in Japan. This list will help those people who do not like food experiments. However, if you like to try new things and are open to new tastes, then you should not limit yourself and especially abandon any strange Japanese tastes. Perhaps that which I did not like, you will love from the first bite. So go ahead, look, experiment!