Street Foods You Have to Try in Japan

Sushi Chef, Tokyo, Japan.
Sushi Chef, Tokyo, Japan. Photo by Thomas Marban on Unsplash

When many travelers visit Japan, the food they most look forward to eating is sushi, but the country is actually home to a diverse culinary landscape that extends well beyond salmon skin rolls. Japanese street food, in particular, stands out as a delicious example of its rich and diverse gastronomic heritage, offering travelers a peek into an authentic, yet often overlooked facet of local culture through cuisine. If you’re planning a visit to Japan anytime soon, read on to learn more about some of the best street food dishes worth trying. 


Not to be confused with teriyaki, which is a type of sauce, takoyaki are spherical dumplings filled with pieces of octopus meat. Literally translated as “grilled octopus,” the dumplings consist of a batter made from wheat flour and miso broth, and have a crispy exterior with a chewy inside. They’re traditionally served with Japanese mayonnaise and a Worcestershire-based takoyaki sauce, with a sprinkle of bonito flakes and spring onion for garnish.


Originating from both Hiroshima and Osaka, okonomiyaki is a savory pancake with a soft, yet dense texture made from a wheat batter mixed with cabbage. They’re widely regarded as quite customizable and can be prepared with a variety of toppings ranging from meat and seafood to fried udon noodles. In Osaka, the ingredients are usually mixed to create a frittata-like pancake, while in Hiroshima, they’re layered a bit like a pizza. 


When you’ve had your fill of savory pancakes and actual fish, be sure to try taiyaki, a popular fish-shaped pastry for dessert. Taiyaki are typically filled with sweet fillings such as red bean paste, custard, or chocolate, and have a unique texture that strikes a satisfying balance between crispy and chewy. Vendors are easy to find around tourist attractions, making taiyaki a convenient option for travelers on the go.