Japanese Culture - Food

Japanese cuisine has various appealing points such as its usage of fresh seasonal materials, beautiful arrangement and its delicate seasoning. Also Japanese food is healthy thanks to its low fat and low calories. Let’s explore Japan's deep food culture.


SushiOne of the most famous Japanese dishes is sushi which is a combination of vinegared rice and seafood. The most popular varieties of sushi are as follows:
Nigiri-zushi (Hand-formed Sushi)
A slice of fish or shucked shellfish is put on a bite sized piece of vinegared rice shaped by hands. It is popular to eat this type of sushi by spreading grated wasabi between the rice and the seafood and dipping it into soy sauce.
Maki-zushi (Rolled Sushi)
Rolled sushi is made by spreading vinegared rice onto a nori sheet (dried laver seaweed), arranging various ingredients on top of the rice and then rolling it.
Chirashi-zushiChirashi-zushi (“Scattered” Sushi)
Vinegared rice is topped with various ingredients. Another recipe for this sushi is by mixing vinegared rice with various finely chopped ingredients.
This sushi is made by stuffing vinegared rice into a cooked bag made of fried bean curd. Carrot and shiitake mushroom are sometimes added to the vinegared rice.


TempuraTempura is slices or strips of seafood, vegetables and sansai (edible wild plants) that are coated with a batter made from flour and eggs and then deep-fried. You can enjoy tempura by dipping it in tentsuyu sauce, which is a mixture of ingredients such as soup stock, mirin (sweet sake) and soy sauce, or it can otherwise be enjoyed by using salt or citrus juice as seasoning. It is said that tempura originated from a dish imported from Portugal and adopted into Japanese cuisine at the end of the 17th century.

Donburi (rice bowl)

Donburi is a casual dish served in a donburi, a bowl. It consists of various ingredients heaped on rice. There are a diverse variety of donburi, including una-don (eel), ikura-don (salmon roe), uni-don (sea urchin), oyako-don (sliced chicken and onion cooked with stock and beaten eggs) and katsu-don (fried crumbed pork cutlet cooked with eggs). There are some restaurants specializing in donburi in Auckland.

Japanese Noodles

The main types of Japanese noodles are as follows: (Even though there are some fried types of noodles, soup noodles are more popular)
Udon is a relatively thick noodle made of flour. Udon is usually enjoyed in a warm soup but can also be enjoyed as sarada-udon (cold with salad ingredients) or hiyashi-udon (in a cold soup). You can add a wide range of materials such as meat, vegetables, seafood or tempura to the noodles.
Soba is made from buckwheat seeds. A popular way to eat soba is by boiling the noodles, rinsing them with cold water, and then placing them on a serving dish. They are then eaten by the mouthful after dipping them into a cold noodle soup. You can also enjoy soba in a hot soup. The materials added to soba are as diverse as those added to udon.
RamenRamen is an adaptation of Chinese noodles but eaten in a Japanese style. Ramen noodles, made of flour which has had kansui (lye water) added, are served in soup and with various ingredients. The most popular ingredients added to the noodles include chashu (a block of pork roasted or boiled after seasoning), memma (Chinese bamboo shoots), spring onions, boiled eggs and nori. There are various kinds of soup, but the most popular four types of soups being soy sauce, salt, miso (paste made from fermented soy beans) and tonkotsu (pork bone stock).


YakitoriYakitori is a dish in which meat (mainly chicken) is cut into bite sized pieces which is then cooked on skewers. The most popular seasonings are salt or a sweet sauce being a mixture of soy sauce and mirin. The dish is good as finger-food to accompany drinking.


TeriyakiTeriyaki is a cooking method in which food is coated with a soy sauce based sweet sauce and baked. Popular materials are yellow-tail, marlin and chicken. These days, teriyaki also refers to grilled dishes that have been seasoned with a commercially prepared teriyaki sauce; this method is more popular outside Japan.

Nabemono(Hot Pot)

NabemonoNabemono is a dish in which materials are cooked in a large ceramic casserole and then served without placing the cooked food into individual bowls. It is a popular dish to share with others. There are various kind of hot pot, including yudofu (hot tofu), kamonabe (duck), mizudaki (chicken), sukiyaki (beef) and chirinabe (white-meat fish). After eating the hot pot, white rice or udon is often added to the remaining soup to be served as a finale. This hot pot is especially popular in winter because it makes you warm.

Modern Japanese

Modern Japanese is a fusion of mixing traditional Japanese cooking with elements of Western dishes and new materials from other countries. There are no specific rules and the variety of menus is quite wide among restaurants and chefs, including carpaccio of sashimi, Caesar salad of sea woods and California roll.


SakeIn Japanese sake means alcohol and often refers to a liquor made from fermented rice and it is one of the most popular alcohols in Japan. Local breweries across the country brew various kinds of sake. There is also another kind of local liquor called shochu which is distilled from rice or wheat.