Taiyaki, Yakisoba, and Okonomiyaki…oh my!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.