Impressions of Japanese Food

Unfamiliar but tasty dishes and ingredients

By Elena Lisina    - 3 min read

Traditional Japanese kitchens are very different to what I am was used to in my own country. Though many dishes use commonly shared ingredients like rice, vegetables, chicken, pork and fish, the methods cooking and presentation are quite different.

Along with shared foods are many more that are not found back home. Because of ingredients like miso, nori, soy sauce, zunda and so on, most Japanese dishes have an unfamiliar taste for me. I like that but sometimes I'll try something that I would end up describing as... extraordinary!

Oddly, I coldn't work out if these mushrooms were nice or not...
Oddly, I coldn't work out if these mushrooms were nice or not...

Once, while eating, I noticed among the dishes on the table a plate with some very thin white mushrooms on it. They looked like toadstools and while I knew they were edible, their look didn't appeal to me. As a matter of politeness, I ate some, but strangely, I couldn't work out if they were tasty or not. I guess the appearance of what we eat is very important.

For me, this tempura was quite an unusual sight
For me, this tempura was quite an unusual sight

I like Japanese tempura, particularly large shrimp. However, I would sometimes be puzzled by some tempura ingredients like young shoots and the leaves of the wasabi plant. I found that quite curious.

Stems minced and added to inarsizushi and soba
Stems minced and added to inarsizushi and soba

A restaurant at Wasabi Farm offered dishes filled with minced stems which were also added to soba dishes. Minced stems? It was very nice though.

Tempura panicle?
Tempura panicle?

I was once puzzled to see a plant in the form of a panicle in tempura - should I eat it? I ate it, but again, I don't remember the taste.

Oh, this was absolutely delicious!
Oh, this was absolutely delicious!

A dish of vegetables with shrimps and eggs dressed with a jelly-like sauce really did look strane to my eyes. When I tried it, though, it was delicious and I was delighted by the large portions available!

Zunda beans are very popular
Zunda beans are very popular

Zunda are green soybeans and aren't grown back home. They are a popular traditional snack in Japan and often served with beer. Unfamiliar looking dried fish products also go well with beer. They must have been nice because they disappeared quickly when my friends and I shared a drink!

Roasted fish ends, though we ate the middle part as sashimi
Roasted fish ends, though we ate the middle part as sashimi

At home we do not eat raw fish, only baked, boiled or fried. In Japan, I ate raw fish, but was surprised when we were served toasted tail and head of the eaten fish - it was funny!

Bamboo shoots prepared for eating
Bamboo shoots prepared for eating

I did not know that bamboo could be eaten. I learned that in the spring the Japanese prepare young bamboo shoots to eat. I did not know that bamboo could be eaten but it turned out that bamboo shoots are very common here.

Green tea ice cream mixed with warm taiyaki
Green tea ice cream mixed with warm taiyaki

Cold green tea ice cream in a warm taiyaki-styled cone was also quite unusual for me but it was nice.

Escargo in Japan!
Escargo in Japan!

As for this dish, it turned out to be French-style escargo snail at Saizeriya, a very affordable family restaurant chain.

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Elena Lisina

Elena Lisina @shiroi.tenshi

I love Japan very much! I like small towns of Japan where I can watch people doing their business and talk to them carefully. They're always friendly. I like Japanese gardens where I can just sit or walk and take my time. Also I like Shinto Jinja as being there I feel in peace. I like to watch sunsets and then to dine in some small local places. I like to soak into onsen after a long day of wandering. I like Japanese crafts very much as all items are made with great taste and skill. Nihon wo daisuki desuyo! My photos from Japan I also place here: https://gurushots.com/f10384/photos Matane!

Join the discussion

Kim B 4 weeks ago
It's the same for me, many ingredients or meals I had never tried before living in Japan! Some things I really like, others not so much, but the presentation is what I love the most!
Elena Lisina Author 4 weeks ago
There were few things that I didn't want to taste - don't know why! And few things I definitely didn't like - yakitori from chicken skin and something from a shell. :/