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Japanese Street Food


Taiyaki, Yakisoba, and Okonomiyaki…oh my!

Two women walk down the street trying foods.
Even these ladies stop to have a snack at one of the many street food vendors in the Asakusa District of Tokyo.

Usually the best street food is found in festivals, and this is true as well in Japan.  However, there are some districts in Tokyo that always have that festival feel and the best street food can be found there any day of the week.  All of the snacks I mention here were had in the Asakusa district of Tokyo.

Takayaki is small fish shaped cakes with red bean paste.
Delicious little cakes in cute litte fish shapes. The perfect way to keep the youngsters happy!


These little fish-shaped cakes look so yummy, and they are if you love red bean paste. Some have been known to be filled with a custard, but I don’t know the difference or how to ask for the custard, so I just pass them by. Azuki, or red bean paste, is not my favorite flavor. These little cakes are so popular that you can find some shops dedicated to them in any city, and I’ve never been to a Japanese festival that didn’t have multiple stands.  There’s just no excuse, you have to try them.

One of our favorites from our first memories of Japan, yakisoba.
My sister enjoying one of her favorite foods, yakisoba.


Probably the very first Japanese food I ever tasted, yakisoba is one of those addictive dishes that you want over and over and over. Made with fried soba noodles, strips of beef, onions, and some veggies, there’s just nothing like sucking in the great taste of yakisoba. My sister, who is pictured here, has loved this dish since she first went to Japan at age 15.

Colorful Bananas in Tokyo.
Lots of colorful choices for a somewhat “healthy” snack.

Chocoate-Covered Bananas

Pink, blue, even yellow and purple, you will often find all types of fruit covered in a layer of chocolate. There’s just not too much to say about chocolate and bananas. It’s always good. Depending on the time of year, and what produce is available, I’ve seen all kinds of fruit. I think strawberries and bananas are definitely my favorites!

Okonomiyaki can be found at almost every festival.
The assembly line for the Okonomiyaki, or Japanese pancakes.


Japanese pancakes are a little different than the western counterpart. A perfect round layer of egg and batter first begins to fry, before adding all types of ingredients. In fact, in many places, you can order the ingredients you want in your Okonomiyaki, just like a pizza. The street food version is a little simpler. All Okonomiyaki have shredded cabbage and a few other vegetables at a minimum. It’s savory and delicious!

Ingredients for Takoyaki.
Beautifully baked in round balls, Takoyaki is definitely the best way I’ve ever had octopus.


A ubiquitous street food, there are even trucks that go around selling these treats because they are so hard to live without.  Tako means octopus, and that’s what takoyaki is–octopus balls.  Along with the boiled octopus, the chefs add pickled ginger, shrimp floss, and cabbage.  An unlikely group of ingredients says the western palate, but, believe me, they are yummy especially when you are having a Sapporo beer with them.

You might also like to listen to our podcast on our favorite Japanese foods as well.


As foodies, it’s important to note that there are many more types of Japanese street food, but this will certainly give you a start. I guess the real challenge is just to go out and try it. I can’t say I’ve loved it all, but I can say that I’ve loved most of it. I’m still trying to get used to that bean paste filling, though!

What types of Japanese street food have you tried? Which are your favorites? Do you like red bean paste? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section!

Author Bio: Corinne Vail is a travel photographer, food lover, and a perpetual traveler who has been travel writing for over 14 years. For many years she lived overseas in Germany, Japan, Turkey, South Korea, and the Netherlands teaching the children of the US. military. She’s visited over 90 countries, and she’s not stopping anytime soon.

Have you tried these amazing Japanese street foods?


Thursday 20th of February 2014

Oops, just saw Candace's comment above: "kahs-tah-doh"!

Corinne Vail

Thursday 20th of February 2014

Cassie, I'm sure you'll get a chance to use it! Good luck. Let me know how it goes.


Thursday 20th of February 2014

I must find out how to ask for custard in that taiyaki! :)

Corinne Vail

Thursday 20th of February 2014

Yes, Cassie, yes! You must. Personally, I'm not a fan of the red bean ones, but many people do like them, too.

Bronwyn Joy

Tuesday 7th of January 2014

Oooh, I love Okonomiyaki. I remember the first time I tasted it and thought I was going to go nuts from food-sensation overload.

Corinne Vail

Tuesday 7th of January 2014

Bronwyn, The first time I tried it was with the Sapporo Girl Scouts on an exchange. It's just so much fun, let alone that it tastes so good!


Saturday 9th of March 2013

Ohhh yakisoba is SO good. I haven't figured out a way to have it since having to go gluten free, but I'm still working on finding gluten free soba noodles just for that purpose! <3<3<3


Saturday 9th of March 2013

Kari, it's got to be hard trying to find any gluten free in a noodle-land like Japan. Good luck with that! And thanks for your comment!


Thursday 7th of March 2013

I also love all those street foods! Takoyaki is the only way I can eat tako, since it's such a small amount and covered in fried dough. I really like yakitori, or chicken skewers, if the chicken is not too fatty. Another favorite: Miso flavored kiritanpo, or slightly mashed rice formed around a round stick to make a hollow tube. Soooo good! Next time you visit Japan, I can assure you the custard version of taiyaki is very different. It's lighter than the bean paste, and yellow, and basically tastes like vanilla custard. You can just say "kahs-tah-doh" and they should understand you.


Saturday 9th of March 2013

Thank you for telling me that. I've always wanted to try the cream-filled taiyaki! I love tako, but yes takoyaki makes it that much better. I love yakitori as well, but couldn't find a vendor for the post, but yes...go for yakitori whenever you get a chance. Never tried time. Thanks so much Candace for your comments. They're so helpful!