18 Must Eats When Traveling Around Japan

When In Japan, Eat Like The Japanese...

Japan – Land of the Rising Sun and for us, Island of Incredible Eats!

Last week, I came back from a life altering trip, exploring Japan via a Contiki Japan Unrivalled tour. Traveling through 5 cities, this trip gave me a more open mind, a bigger friends list and the opportunity to eat some amazing and weird things. An experience I recommend you do for yourself.

Firstly, for those of you who have no idea what Contiki is or who they are – they are firm believers that life’s greatest experiences are made better by the people you share them with. That’s why Contiki invented group travel for young people in 1962 and have spent the past 53 years perfecting it. You’ll explore amazing destinations with a group of 18-35 year olds from around the world who share your passion for adventure, good times and creating memories that define what it is to be young, wild and free. So basically, they put together memorable and awesome trips around the world where you can explore insane places, do incredible things, eat some delicious food and make amazing new friends. If you want a life changing experience, do a Contiki trip.

Secondly, don’t diss till you try it. Though it might not look so appetising, it may well be the best damn thing ever. Leave your fears at the airport, give the food a try and if you don’t like it – be boring and go to McDonald’s.

Let’s start with…

1. Ramen

What is Ramen? It is a Japanese noodle soup dish consisting of Chinese-style wheat noodles served in a meat or fish based broth, flavoured with soy sauce or miso, and topped with goodies such as sliced tender pork, dried seaweed, kamaboko, boiled eggs and green onions. Almost every region in Japan has its own variation of ramen so do yourself a favour and try to taste a few of them.

Most Ramen houses/restaurants in Japan are small, seating approximately 5-20 people and turn around these dishes pretty quickly. To order, there is a vending style machine at the front where you choose what you want, pay in cash and it spits out a ticket for each item. The waiter/waitress will grab the tickets off you and make sure you order is served to you properly and promptly. A glass of craft beer, either Asahi or Kirin, and a plate of pork Gyoza turns it into an epic feast.

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If you’re in Kyoto, be sure to visit the Ramen Alley located a few levels above Kyoto Station – I lost count on how many Ramen restaurants there were in there.


2. Ama Ebi/Sweet Shrimp

So succulent and so sweet, these Ama Ebi or Sweet Shrimps are to die for. After a couple of days in the refrigerator, they turn very sweet – leaving you to lick your fingers craving more.
 DSC03175 DSC02895Usually found in salads or sashimi platters in Japan. Ask for an extra serving of these, you’ll thank us later.

3. Takoyaki

A ball shaped Japanese snack, Takoyaki is made of a wheat flour based batter and cooked in a special takoyaki pan. Generally filled with minced or diced octopus, tempura scraps, pickled ginger, and green onion. It is then brushed with takoyaki sauce, similar to Worcestershire sauce, and mayonnaise. The takoyaki is then topped with shavings of dried bonito.

DSC03903 DSC03904 DSC03906 DSC03908 DSC03902Again, many Japanese regions have their own variations of Takoyaki, with the city of Osaka being the main hub for these delicious balls of wonder!

4. Kuro-Tamgo/Black Eggs

Tastes just like your regular boiled egg, the Kuro-tamago (黒卵 lit. “black egg”) is a local specialty where they are hard-boiled in the active sulphur vents and hot springs of Ōwakudani Valley of Hakone. 

The boiled eggs turn black and smell slightly sulphuric; and consuming the eggs is said to increase longevity. 

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That guy above is Hayden Quinn, MasterChef Australia Contestant 2011 and a pretty cool bloke.

5. Cherry Blossom Ice Cream

You know those trees whose gorgeous flowers are pink and blossom around the spring time every year?
Well, they are also used to make a pleasant ‘light raspberry/rose-like’ ice cream flavour which you have to try for yourself. The green stuff is green tea/matcha powder.

6. Kit Kat Burger

It’s amazing what you can find when wandering around a city, clueless as to where to go, stumbling across something life changing. Like this Kit Kat Burger I stumbled upon at First Kitchen in Osaka.
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Soft Buns, Crunchy Kit Kat, Fresh Cream and Candied Orange Bits.

7. Ramen Burger

Or this insane bad boy. Boiled Ramen Noodles between Soft Buns dipped into a Pork broth/soup/whatever you want to call it. Found this at a chain called Lotteria in Shibuya, Tokyo.

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Don’t diss it till you try it because it was pretty damn fantastic.

8. Fried Fish Paste Stick Wrapped in Cheese and Bacon

Anything wrapped in cheese and bacon ought to be epic – just like this deep fried stick of fish paste I devoured at Miyajima Island. It was perfect.
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Damn it, I’m craving this now.

9. Rice Burger with Fried Oysters or Fried Pork

Another Miyajima Island find was this Rice Burger filled with Fried Oysters or Fried Pork.
The rice buns held together perfectly with no falling grains.
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10. Grilled Oysters Topped with Cheese

Ah damn it, so cheesy and delicious. Another great find at Miyajima Island.
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11.Rice Ball Skewers Soaked with Sweet Soy Sauce

Found these at Miyajima Island, the lady at the stand said these were rice balls soaked with a sweet soy sauce.

12. Okonomiyaki / Japanese Savoury Pancakes

Eating this pancake feels like a 3 course meal in itself.

The Okonomiyaki is usually made with a batter of flour, grated nagaimo (a type of yam), water or dashi, fried eggs and a lot of shredded cabbage. And contains other ingredients such as thin pork belly, squid, octopus, vegetables or cheese.

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13. Grilled Calamari and Squid Skewers

As soon as you get off the ferry at the Hakone Boat Wharf, you’ll see a two chaps grilled away some fresh calamari rings and squid skewers. Get some!

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14. Custard Filled Strawberry Macaron

It’s from a dessert store called Gion Sakai and it’s in the Gion District of Kyoto, Japan.
Luscious custard filling between two swoon worthy strawberry macarons biscuits.

15. Green Tea Oreo Bits

You’re bound to jump on the Bullet Train so why not grab a few snacks, such as these Green Tea Oreo Bits Sandwiches.


16. Pocky Sticks

Or these Almond coated sticks of joy.

17. Green Tea and Citrus Kit Kats

Maybe this as well?

18. KFC Potato Crisps

You’ll definitely want a bag of these. They don’t taste like real chicken of course, but still tasty.
 Check out the video below for a few of our food adventure clips.


Founder of Food Porn From the rocky beaches of Batroun, Lebanon, to the streets of Sydney, Australia: Khalil has seen it all. His travels has given him a broad scope of knowledge, an eclectic taste and passion for food unlike any other.
  • 2 Hungry

    Did Contiki pay for all this food for you as well?

    • http://www.fdprn.com/ Food Porn

      Nope, all on our credit card. Maybe you can join us for lunch some time, my shout?

  • http://meetthebff.blogspot.com/ Amanda

    OMG all that food :O

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