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Japanese Food 101: All the Basics You Need to Know

One of the most amazing things about learning Japanese culture is learning how to eat it. With so many options, it’s hard not to be overwhelmed by all the choices available, but eating Japanese food can also be incredibly fun and rewarding! So let’s get started with some basics on Japanese cuisine!

There are different styles of Japanese cuisines depending on region; for example, Osaka is famous for its street food called takoyaki (octopus balls) while yakiniku (grilled meat) in Kyushu is known far and wide. However, there are three major kinds of traditional Japanese dishes that you’ll probably end up trying at some point or another if you’ve had Japanese food before: ramen, sushi and teriyaki.

Ramen is a dish that consists of ramen noodles served in a meat or fish-based broth with toppings like sliced pork, seaweed and boiled eggs. A classic example of this dish is tantanmen, Chinese-style ramen noodles topped with sesame seeds and chili oil. If you’re looking for some more delicious types of ramen, check out the “Types of Ramen” section below!

Sushi often comes in rolls wrapped with dried seaweed called nori while some others are rolled around rice and fillings such as raw seafood (known as sashimi) or pickled ginger and wasabi. You can eat it either plain or dip it in soy sauce with a slice of ginger. Popular types of sushi include nigiri, which is an oblong mound of rice topped with seafood or other ingredients like egg omelet (tamagoyaki) and sashimi, but there are many kinds of sushi you can find depending on the region.

Teriyaki is commonly yakitori-style grilled chicken marinated in sweetened soy sauce. There are different kinds, including pork katsu served with tonkatsu sauce or beef steak served with teriyaki sauce. It usually comes as part of a set with miso soup, salad and rice.

Types of Ramen

There are so many varieties to try! Here’s just a sampling:

  • Miso ramen – the most familiar type of Japanese ramen. Its broth is made from soy sauce and miso paste, giving it a slightly sweet taste. The noodles are thin and curly while the toppings include sliced pork or menma (bamboo shoots).
  • Shio ramen – its salt-based broth gives this variety of ramen a more delicate flavor than other types, making it easy for people who find that regular ramen is too heavy. The noodles are thin and straight while the toppings usually include chashu (sliced barbecued pork), green onions, bean sprouts and boiled egg.

However, there are also some things you should know before you dive into Japanese cuisine.

 Miso Soup Isn’t Always Vegetarian

Not all miso soups are vegetarian because dashi (fish stock) is commonly used. That’s why you should always ask if the miso soup contains fish stock before eating at a restaurant.

You Can’t Order More Than One Entree at Many Restaurants

Many Japanese restaurants will not allow you to order multiple entrees for dinner because the emphasis in Japan is on one dish per person. This is why some sushi restaurants in the US charge for more than one piece of nigiri. This isn’t common at all places, but it’s important to be aware that some do this.

Drinking Cold Water with Meals is Common

You should definitely try living like a local and drinking green tea while eating your meals! However, you can also drink cold water with your meal.


Tipping Is Rare

Tipping is not common in Japan and many Japanese people are confused when they come to America and their servers don’t “just know” that they should be tipped. It’s important to note that there is no set standard for tipping, so if the service is good, a 10% tip is generous.

The Menu Could Be All In Japanese!

If you go into any restaurant that serves Japanese food then they might have an entire menu in Japanese with no English translations whatsoever. This is often the case at izakayas and ramen restaurants. However, they will usually have an English menu or you could always ask if they have one (in Japanese, of course).

You Can’t Bring Your Own Booze to Restaurants!

It’s pretty common in the US for people to BYOB places like restaurants and bring their own alcohol. This is not done in Japan! You can only drink alcohol at restaurants that sell alcohol.

It’s Not Bad To Ask For Your Food “Well Done”

Many Japanese people are surprised when they hear that not everyone in America likes their meat well done. This is because the common way to eat meat in Japan is medium-well or even burned! So, don’t be shy to ask for your meat to be well done if you want it.

You’ll Need to Know How To Use Chopsticks

You might be surprised by how many people in the US don’t know how to use chopsticks! Many Japanese restaurants will have knives, forks, and spoons available for this reason. However, I always recommend learning how to use chopsticks because it will really help you with your Japanese food experience.

The Japanese Don’t Eat Breakfast or Brunch

Although this isn’t completely true for all Japanese people, the most common thing for Japanese people to eat is a bowl of rice with something on top for breakfast, especially when they’re in a rush. This often makes them the perfect meal to bring to work or school!

It’s All About The Rice

Although you might think that Japanese cuisine is all about the main dishes, most meals also come with a bowl of rice. This is the perfect example to show that Japanese food isn’t just about one dish, but all the parts combined.

Are You Looking for Delicious Japanese Food and Some Family-Friendly Entertainment?

You’ve never had food this good! Kimono Restaurant offers a great place to take your family for entertainment, delicious eats, and fun. We start with the highest quality ingredients before grilling them right in front of you on our hibachi grill–the perfect way to get involved by watching as we prepare it just how YOU want it so there will be no surprises at all when they bite into your meal. This experience also gives us an opportunity to show off some amazing tricks which is where being entertained comes into play; our talented chefs will astound you even further by flipping meats around wildly or doing some other intricate, spectacular feats. If you’re looking for the perfect place to take your family for food, fun and entertainment. Kimono Japanese Restaurant in Benicia and Pleasanton, California, can’t be beaten! Join us today and experience the Kimono difference.