Being a “foodie” in Japan

I have always considered myself someone with moderate to high interest in food in general. I love trying different cuisines from all over the world. I also love preparing and cooking different dishes. My entire family and extended family including aunts and uncles, and cousins and grandmas all seem to love eating, all types of food. I was lucky to be born into this family with a mother who loves to cook and entertain others as well as my sister who married a chef who is really interested and great in creating dishes with unique flavors in creative combination of ingredients from all over the world.


Japanese cuisine showcases its strength in dishes with wide variety of locally produced fresh vegetables and fish. Many traditional dishes use stew style preparation called “nimono” or stewed stuff. If you prepare nimono with the 3 “S” ingredients; Sake (rice wine), Shoyu (Soy sauce) and Sato (Sugar), whatever you cook automatically turns into a very flavorful country style dish. You can make these country dishes with inexpensive ingredients such as onions, carrots and potatoes or any kind of squash or pumpkin. You can also add any of your favorite meat, poultry or fish in the nimono. Other traditional dishes include sliced raw fish fillets called sashimi or sushi, which is basically sashimi combined with vinegar and sugar flavored rice. Noodle soups such as udon, soba and ramen are staples for lunch or dinner. These are just a few examples of traditional Japanese dishes you will find anywhere in Japan.


When you visit pubs in Japan called “izakaya”, there are usually dozens to a hundred of delicious items on the menu, some of which may only be available seasonally. If we have 4 or 5 people in the party, we can easily consume 10-15 items from the menu which are all shared as family dinner style. That way, we can all have a few bites of each dish and talk about it while we eat and drink some beer, sake or wine. It is like creating our own “table buffet” with things we want to try.


Dishes from Ajimuso (味むそうの料理)

Just the other day, we went to a place my mother frequents with her pingpong friends after her practice, on a weekly basis. This izakaya is located under a train station, very noisy, small, old, but gets regular customers like my mother and her friends and many many others. They’re not supposed to be serving alcohol and supposed to close at 8p every night due to the semi-lockdown state that Osaka is still under. But no one complains for their not following these orders because the place is always packed with the loyal, and regular customers, who have been fans for years or even decades. I’m not a food journalist, but this would be a place representative of many old timer izakayas in Osaka. Every dish is tasty, cheap and fast. For all of these variety of dishes plus some beer and sake to accompany the flavors, the bill came out only $25 per person, which is a bargain!


If you are a foodie in Japan, and you eat at a different restaurant every single day, it would take over 71 years to make it to every restaurant that exists in just the city of Osaka alone (in 2016, there were at least 26K restaurants in the population of 2.6 million in Osaka-city according to Google. That means one out of every 100 people owns a restaurant) I think this goes to show how much people like to eat out and experience different tastes created by different minds and skills.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s