Food is a unifier that makes societies come together in harmony. It makes people socialize, strengthens bonds, and keeps traditions, rituals, and cultures intact.

In Japanese culture, food is served in small bowls rather than a large plate, and a meal consists of a well-balanced diet packed with unique flavors. Let's stimulate all your senses by taking a gastronomic trip to Japan and experiencing some of its most popular delicacies.

Unagi—Fresh Water Eel

Eel grilling

Remember Ross bragging to Rachel and Phoebe that self-defense is useless without ‘Unagi: a state of total awareness’? We’re sure he meant Zanshin because, in Japan, a freshwater eel is known as Unagi. Sliced pieces of the fish are first brushed with sweet and savory sauces and then grilled until the sauce is reduced to achieve an astringent flavor.

Served with rice, this popular dish is an expensive delicacy of Japan and is most loved when cooked in the uniquely seasoned Kabayaki style. Interestingly, a Japanese custom makes Unagi special; it’s widely believed that consuming it on "the day of the ox in midsummer" increases stamina and tolerance to survive even the hottest days of the year. 

Soba—Buckwheat Flour Noodles

Buckwheat Soba noodles

Almost as thick as spaghetti, Soba noodles have a rich history of being served in bamboo strainers during what’s known as the Edo period in Japan.

Today, Soba is served with various hot and cold dishes but is mostly served in Tsuyu, a dipping sauce made with soy sauce. A special type of Soba is often consumed on New Year's Eve in Japan as a symbol of prosperity and longevity.

Udon—Wheat Flour Noodles

Udon noodles in broth

Attributed to originating in China, the white and chewy, thick Udon noodles became popular in Japan after the Tang dynasty. They’re served in a soup or dashi-based hot broth and can be cut into flat or rounded squares as well as long strands.

In western cultures, making noise while eating is considered bad manners, but in Japan, the correct way to enjoy Udon is to slurp away the delicious noodles with chopsticks.

Yakitori—Chicken Skewers

Japanese food on a charcoal grill

Known to be Japan's most famous fast food, skin, liver, heart, breasts, and other parts of the chicken are cut into small bite-sized pieces, basted with sweet or savory sauces, and then grilled on skewers on a charcoal grill.

During the Meiji Restoration period, the chicken was so expensive that it was considered a luxury. Today, the made-to-order Yakitori is an inexpensive favorite of the locals that’s enjoyed with beer.

Onigiri—Rice Balls

Homemade triangle-shaped Japanese rice balls

Another example of inventive and comforting Japanese food, Onigiri is considered the symbol of maternal love as its handmade by mothers in their unique ways, with customized ingredients, for their school-going children. Made by shaping steamed rice into balls, triangles, or other shapes by hands, this favorite snack is different from sushi, although it’s also wrapped in dried seaweed (nori).

Want to experience Japan’s delectable cuisine from the comfort of your homes? SF Mart offers high-quality organic ingredients to suit all your cooking needs. You can buy Japanese snacks and Japanese tea online and get them delivered to your doorstep within three days. Check out some of our weekly deals, and enjoy free delivery if your order winds up to $50.