Traditional Japanese cuisine is quite different from the image America paints of it, and these dishes are what you’re likely to find in Japan.
The United States has embraced Japanese cuisine and now hosts endless high-quality Japanese establishments in every city. But while the dishes offered at Japanese restaurants in the United States tend to revolve mostly around sushi, fish sashimi, vegetable tempura, udon noodles and miso soup, the food served in Japan can often be very different. One of the things travelers should know about Japan before visiting is that the food will be amazing but it might be a little different from what you expected. Check out these Japanese dishes that look nothing like what they serve in America.
Torisashi: raw chicken
In Japan, you’ll find some dodgy foods (from an American perspective, anyway) that only daring eaters would try. One of them is torisashi, or raw chicken. While raw fish is served in Japanese restaurants in the United States, raw chicken sounds crazy to many Westerners who have always been taught to avoid it. The dish is actually prepared from the inner part of the chicken breast, which has the least chance of being contaminated.
Torisashi is actually cooked for a few seconds and eaten like fish sashimi in that it is dipped in soy sauce and eaten raw. This Japanese dish that most people outside of Japan don’t know on amazingly tastes like tuna sashimi.
Gyutan: cow’s tongue
Most Americans are not offered cow tongue, or gyutan, when visiting Japanese restaurants at home. But this delicacy is very popular in grilled meat restaurants in Japan. These days, you’ll find the dish all over the country, but it’s most popular in Sendai, a city in the north of the country.
The tongue is served in thin slices after being grilled and soaked in lemon juice. Most often it is served with a bowl of rice but you can also find it as an accompaniment to ramen noodles or curry.
Kare Pan: curry bread
Japanese curry bread, or kare pan, is an authentic Japanese treat that you’ll wish was more widespread in the United States once you try it. It is often eaten for breakfast or as a snack between meals and can be found in bakeries across Japan.
This dish resembles donuts and is prepared similarly in that the dough looks like balls and is fried. However, curry bread is a savory dish, obviously filled with curry instead of a sweet filling. Before being fried, the curry bread is coated in breadcrumbs to add another layer of texture and flavor.
Monjayaki: fried dough
From the description alone, many comfort eaters would like to have monjayaki as a staple in Japanese restaurants across the United States. There isn’t actually an equivalent English translation for this specialty commonly found in the Kanto region of Japan, which can best be described as deep-fried dough.
There are many ingredients you can add to your monjayaki. Some of the most popular are pork, seafood, cheese, and curry. Ingredients are scrambled with water and heated until hard on the grill. The taste is said to contain hints of barbecue flavor combined with your chosen ingredients, while the texture is delicious and crispy.
Americans are used to yakitori or grilled chicken skewers which are widely served in Japanese establishments. In the United States, chicken breast or thigh meat is most commonly used. In Japan, however, no part of the animal is wasted. What makes it one of the weirdest japanese dishes to try while you’re here is the fact that it is sometimes composed of various entrails.
While in Japan, you might come across yakitori skewers made from liver, tongue, knee joints, intestine, or heart. Those brave enough to try them often note that when perfectly grilled, they don’t taste much different from fillets used in Western cultures.
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