Japanese food is life, Japanese food is love.

I had heard and read many stories about Japanese cuisine before I came to Japan. If someone I knew had visited Japan and asked them about the food, their eyes go wide open. And their smile is from ear to ear, and a tsunami of details about all the food they have tried and how incredibly delicious it was. I have to admit, I have become such a person now :p.

The food is indeed amazing, and the Japanese are magicians when it comes to food. They will make something straightforward into something beautiful. There is also no lack of food whatsoever. Food is a massive industry in Japan. In 2015, Japan’s food industry was valued at $261 billion (USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, 2016). Rightfully so, as food is everywhere in Japan. In the darkest and weirdest alleys, you will find a place to eat. So in this blog post, I will share with you my personal top 5 Japanese food:

5: Chicken curry
I was stunned when I learned that the Japanese LOVE curry with rice. When you think of Japanese cuisine, you probably thinking about the classic/stereotypical food sushi. But the Japanese are fond of curry. The first time I went to a supermarket, I saw a section all dedicated to curry. I cannot name half of them, but there were all sorts of curries such as beef, chicken, pork, fish, and vegetable from what I could see. The Japanese use rice as their main dish; they love to add curry to their rice. The curry is very easy to prepare. They come in an aluminum sealed package. All you need to do is either put the aluminum package in a pan with water and boil it for a few minutes or put it in a bowl and microwave it for 6 minutes. Within minutes you have a great dish. There are big curry chains in Japan fully dedicated to curry rice. One of the biggest is Curry House CoCo Ichibanya. They have all curry versions, and if you love spicy food, they can make it extremely spicy for you. Even though I am very used to spicy food, I could barely handle level 5. A friend of mine took number 8, and he was crying and sweating like a pig the entire lunch. You are warned :p.

For me, I love the (halal) chicken curry that is provided by the shop at my school campus. The chicken curry is creamy, smells fantastic, and I love the chicken because it is heavily spiced. The chicken curry is already in a small plastic bowl with rice, and I only need to microwave it. Since my stay here in Japan, I have tried several curries as in my country, curry is not a real common thing to eat. But this spicy chicken curry rice really takes the cake :).

Chicken curry

4: Okonomiyaki
The first time I tried okonomiyaki was by accident. A friend of mine thought the restaurant was making udon soup, but it turned out to be okonomiyaki. Okonomiyaki is a batter of flour, eggs, shredded cabbage, green onion, octopus, and other vegetables. Though there is no one standard. Okonomiyaki is derived from 2 words ‘okonomi,’ which means ‘whatever you like’ and ‘yaki’ means ‘grilled.’ You sit on the table, and you can ask the waiter to bring you the okonomiyaki, and you grill it yourself. The table where you sit has a hot grill. The experience is excellent. You are your own cook, and you can make funny ‘pancakes’ of your favourite ingredients.
If this is your first time, you can ask the restaurant to make the okonomiyaki on your behalf. So what about the taste? Mamma mia… it is delicious and healthy. Your body will be overjoyed for all the vitamins it gets. Your tongue will be overjoyed as well as the balance in the taste is excellent. The grilled flavour of the batter gives it an extra edge. The interesting part is that you can add the things you love. I always add squid, octopus, and cheese. Oishi!

Okonomiyaki.jpg

3: Ramen
If you have watched the anime show Naruto you know that Naruto could not start his day without eating ramen. Naruto would go crazy about ramen every time he walked past the shop. If you lost Naruto, you would find him at the Ichiraku Ramen shop. This show amazed me and made me curious about ramen. The first time I tried ramen was, funny enough, in Amsterdam at the Sapporo Ramen Sora. Fortunately, for me, the ramen was cooked in a miso base. For your information, the vast majority of ramen has a broth made without pork. When my friend introduced me to this ramen, I remember the first bite quite clearly. IT WAS AMAZING. The ramen was unbelievably good. The number of vegetables, the (miso) broth, and the spices had a perfect balance. No wonder Naruto would go crazy with the thought of eating Ramen.
Unfortunately, Japan is not very on the hype when it comes to providing food for vegetarians. The vast majority of food has either pork, beef, or chicken. We Muslims cannot eat pork, but we can also not eat beef and chicken that is not prepared the Islamic way. This is called ‘Halal,’ or perhaps you are more familiar with the Hebrew term ‘Kosher.’ Luckily, there is one restaurant that provides ramen prepared with soy milk and fish stock instead of pork in Beppu. As such, Muslims can also eat ramen at Ittoryu. The ramen is fantastic. There is an egg, noodles, seaweed, and various vegetables in the big bowl of ramen. But the magical power of ramen is the broth. You do not go for the noodles, but for the robust, tasty soup. Even if you would, you cannot leave a single drop in the bowl as you want to drink all of it.
Tip: For my Muslim brothers and sisters; download the app Halal Navi. This app will show you the places that have halal food available to you in Japan :). For Android users. For IOS users.

Ramen.jpg

2: Sushi
A bit of a cliché, I know. But I cannot deny my true feelings towards this. I just love sushi. The quality of sushi you will get in Japan really differs from what I had in Europe. I can tell in the way the fish is prepared and the taste of rice. The texture is amazing. Not only that, but the experience of eating sushi in the restaurant is also fun. Some of the restaurants have these sushi treadmills where you can pick your sushi that waggle around. Though the sushi is all random, so you have to wait until your favourite sushi comes. The Japanese found a solution to that. Each table has a tablet where you can select your favourite sushi. When you finished picking your sushi, the sushi will then come on a train directly to your table. The sound the tablet makes and the sound the train makes are hilarious!

WhatsApp Image 2018-01-15 at 17.04.24 (1).jpeg

WhatsApp Image 2018-01-15 at 17.04.24 (2).jpeg

WhatsApp Image 2018-01-15 at 17.04.24 (3).jpeg

WhatsApp Image 2018-01-15 at 17.04.24.jpeg

WhatsApp Image 2018-01-15 at 17.04.24 (4).jpeg

1: Takoyaki
Just give me a second… I need to align myself. I am not sure where to start… This is the best thing since sliced bread. For those who do not know what takoyaki is, it is a small ball made out of flour batter inside with a piece of octopus, minced ginger, dried shrimp, and small chopped onions. The batter is grilled on a ball-shaped grill, which intensifies the taste. It is quite similar to the Dutch ‘poffertjes,’ but the Dutch ‘poffertjes’ are sweet and have nothing inside. Takoyaki after it is grilled, the chef cook would then put some mayonnaise, bonito flakes, and green aonori seaweed on the takoyaki.
The first time I tasted takoyaki, a friend of mine introduced it to me during Animecon in The Hague. The takoyaki was just prepared, and I tried to take a bite, but the takoyaki is hotter than two volcanoes. The inside of the takoyaki is like magma. So be very careful when you take your first bite. But when the takoyaki lands on your tongue, sweet lord have mercy on my soul, the taste is heavenly. I am addicted to the taste. Whenever I see takoyaki, I cannot resist the urge, and I have to buy it. Takoyaki can be found almost anywhere. This dish is making me broke. It is relatively cheap, though, but I keep buying it. Takoyaki costs around ¥500 for 8 takoyaki balls. It is worth it! When you have the chance to eat takoyaki, please do. You cannot miss this opportunity.

Takoyaki.jpg

I hope this blog has triggered your appetite to try some new Japanese food other than just sushi. Japanese cuisine is very diverse, and there is much to discover. Take your tongue on a voyage of incredible taste :D.

As a bonus for my readers, below, you will find all kinds of Japanese delicacy that my friends and I had stumbled upon on Nagasaki. There was a big festival going on in October. The food came in different colours and forms. Enjoy!

GOPR0920.JPG

GOPR0921.JPG

GOPR0927.JPG

GOPR0929.JPG

GOPR0930.JPG

GOPR0931.JPG

GOPR0933.JPG

GOPR0934.JPG

GOPR0928.JPG

GOPR0894.JPG

GOPR0896.JPG

GOPR0897.JPG

GOPR0898.JPG

GOPR0899.JPG

GOPR0901.JPG

GOPR0902.JPG

GOPR0903.JPG

GOPR0905.JPG

GOPR0908.JPG

GOPR0909.JPG

GOPR0910.JPG

GOPR0911.JPG

GOPR0912.JPG

GOPR0895.JPG

Masha’Allah

References:

Otsuka, M. Approved by Nelson. R. (2016). Japan HRI Food Service Sector Report 2016. USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (2016). Retrieved from: https://gain.fas.usda.gover

I had heard and read many stories about Japanese cuisine before I came to Japan. If someone I knew had visited Japan and asked them about the food, their eyes go wide open. And their smile is from ear to ear, and a tsunami of details about all the food they have tried and how incredibly delicious it was. I have to admit, I have become such a person now :p.

The food is indeed amazing, and the Japanese are magicians when it comes to food. They will make something very simple into something beautiful. There is also no lack of food whatsoever. Food is a massive industry in Japan. In 2015, the food industry in Japan was valued at $261 billion (USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, 2016). Rightfully so, as food is everywhere in Japan. In the darkest and weirdest alleys, you will find a place to eat. So in this blog post, I will share with you my personal top 5 Japanese food:

5: Chicken curry
I was stunned when I learned that the Japanese LOVE curry with rice. When you think of Japanese cuisine, you probably thinking about the classic/stereotypical food sushi. But the Japanese are fond of curry. The first time I went to a supermarket, I saw a section all dedicated to curry. I cannot name half of them, but from what I could see, there were all sorts of curries such as beef, chicken, pork, fish, and vegetable. The Japanese use rice as their main dish, they love to add curry to their rice. The curry is very easy to prepare. They come in an aluminum sealed package. All you need to do is either put the aluminum package in a pan with water and boil it for a few minutes or put it in a bowl and microwave it for 6 minutes. Within minutes you have a great dish. There are big curry chains in Japan fully dedicated to curry rice. One of the biggest is Curry House CoCo Ichibanya. They have all curry versions, and if you love spicy food, they can make it extremely spicy for you. Even though I am very used to spicy food, I could barely handle level 5. A friend of mine took number 8, and he was crying and sweating like a pig the entire lunch. You are warned :p.

For me, I love the (halal) chicken curry that is provided by the shop at my school campus. The chicken curry is creamy, smells fantastic, and I love the chicken because it is heavily spiced. The chicken curry is already in a small plastic bowl with rice, and I only need to microwave it. Since my stay here in Japan, I have tried several curries as in my country, curry is not a real common thing to eat. But this spicy chicken curry rice really takes the cake :).

Chicken curry

4: Okonomiyaki
The first time I tried okonomiyaki was by accident. A friend of mine thought the restaurant was making udon soup, but it turned out to be okonomiyaki. Okonomiyaki is a batter of flour, eggs, shredded cabbage, green onion, octopus, and other vegetables. Though there is no one standard. Okonomiyaki is derived from 2 words ‘okonomi,’ which means ‘whatever you like’ and ‘yaki’ means ‘grilled.’ You sit on the table, and you can ask the waiter to bring you the okonomiyaki, and you grill it yourself. The table where you sit has a hot grill. The experience is excellent. You are your own cook, and you can make funny ‘pancakes’ of your favourite ingredients.
If this is your first time, you can ask the restaurant to make the okonomiyaki on your behalf. So what about the taste? Mamma mia… it is delicious and healthy. Your body will be overjoyed for all the vitamins it gets. Your tongue will be overjoyed as well as the balance in the taste is great. The grilled taste of the batter gives it an extra edge. The interesting part is that you can add the things you love. I always add squid, octopus, and cheese. Oishi!

Okonomiyaki.jpg

3: Ramen
If you have watched the anime show Naruto you know that Naruto could not start his day without eating ramen. Naruto would go crazy about ramen every time he walked past the shop. If you lost Naruto, you would find him at the Ichiraku Ramen shop. This show amazed me and made me curious about ramen. The first time I tried ramen was, funny enough, in Amsterdam at the Sapporo Ramen Sora. Fortunately, for me, the ramen was cooked in a miso base. For your information, the vast majority of ramen has a broth made without pork. When my friend introduced me to this ramen, I remember the first bite quite clearly. IT WAS AMAZING. The ramen was unbelievably good. The number of vegetables, the (miso) broth, and the spices had a perfect balance. No wonder Naruto would go crazy with the thought of eating Ramen.
Unfortunately, Japan is not very on the hype when it comes to providing food for vegetarians. The vast majority of food has either pork, beef, or chicken. We Muslims cannot eat pork, but we can also not eat beef and chicken that is not prepared the Islamic way. This is called ‘Halal,’ or perhaps you are more familiar with the Hebrew term ‘Kosher.’ Luckily, in Beppu, there is one restaurant that provides ramen prepared with soy milk and fish stock instead of pork. As such, Muslims can also eat ramen at Ittoryu. The ramen is amazing. In the big bowl of ramen, there is an egg, noodles, seaweed, and various vegetables. But the magical power of ramen is the broth. You do not go for the noodles, but for the robust, tasty soup. Even if you would, you cannot leave a single drop in the bowl as you want to drink all of it.
Tip: For my Muslim brothers and sisters; download the app Halal Navi. This app will show you the places that have halal food available to you in Japan :). For Android users. For IOS users.

Ramen.jpg

2: Sushi
A bit of a cliché, I know. But I cannot deny my true feelings towards this. I just love sushi. The quality of sushi you will get in Japan really differs from what I had in Europe. I can tell in the way the fish is prepared and the taste of rice. The texture is amazing. Not only that, but the experience of eating sushi in the restaurant is also fun. Some of the restaurants have these sushi treadmills where you can pick your sushi that waggle around. Though the sushi is all random, so you have to wait until your favourite sushi comes. The Japanese found a solution to that. Each table has a tablet where you can select your favourite sushi. When you finished picking your sushi, the sushi will then come on a train directly to your table. The sound the tablet makes and the sound the train makes are hilarious!

WhatsApp Image 2018-01-15 at 17.04.24 (1).jpeg

WhatsApp Image 2018-01-15 at 17.04.24 (2).jpeg

WhatsApp Image 2018-01-15 at 17.04.24 (3).jpeg

WhatsApp Image 2018-01-15 at 17.04.24.jpeg

WhatsApp Image 2018-01-15 at 17.04.24 (4).jpeg

1: Takoyaki
Just give me a second……. I need to align myself. I am not sure where to start…. This is the best thing since sliced bread. For those who do not know what takoyaki is, it is a small ball made out of flour batter inside with a piece of octopus, minced ginger, dried shrimp, and small chopped onions. The batter is grilled on a ball-shaped grill, which intensifies the taste. It is quite similar to the Dutch ‘poffertjes,’ but the Dutch ‘poffertjes’ are sweet and have nothing inside. Takoyaki, after it is grilled, the chef cook would then put some mayonnaise, bonito flakes, and green aonori seaweed on the takoyaki.
The first time I tasted takoyaki, a friend of mine introduced it to me during Animecon in The Hague. The takoyaki was just prepared, and I tried to take a bite, but the takoyaki is hotter than two volcanoes. The inside of the takoyaki is like magma. So be very careful when you take your first bite. But when the takoyaki lands on your tongue, sweet lord have mercy on my soul, the taste is heavenly. I am addicted to the taste. Whenever I see takoyaki, I cannot resist the urge, and I have to buy it. Takoyaki can be found almost anywhere. This dish is making me broke. It is quite cheap, though, but I keep buying it. Takoyaki costs around ¥500 for 8 takoyaki balls. It is worth it! When you have the chance to eat takoyaki, please do. You cannot miss this opportunity.

Takoyaki.jpg

I hope this blog has triggered your appetite to try some new Japanese food other than just sushi. Japanese cuisine is very diverse, and there is much to discover. Take your tongue on a voyage of incredible taste :D.

As a bonus for my readers, below you will find all kinds of Japanese delicacy that my friends and I had stumbled upon on a trip to Nagasaki. There was a big festival going on in October. The food came in different colours and forms. Enjoy!

GOPR0920.JPG

GOPR0921.JPG

GOPR0927.JPG

GOPR0929.JPG

GOPR0930.JPG

GOPR0931.JPG

GOPR0933.JPG

GOPR0934.JPG

GOPR0928.JPG

GOPR0894.JPG

GOPR0896.JPG

GOPR0897.JPG

GOPR0898.JPG

GOPR0899.JPG

GOPR0901.JPG

GOPR0902.JPG

GOPR0903.JPG

GOPR0905.JPG

GOPR0908.JPG

GOPR0909.JPG

GOPR0910.JPG

GOPR0911.JPG

GOPR0912.JPG

GOPR0895.JPG

Masha’Allah

References:

Otsuka, M. Approved by Nelson. R. (2016). Japan HRI Food Service Sector Report 2016. USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (2016). Retrieved from: https://gain.fas.usda.gov

5 thoughts on “Japanese food is life, Japanese food is love.

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