When you think of Japanese food, dishes like sushi, sashimi, tempura, udon, ramen, and chicken teriyaki will probably immediately come to mind. Some unusual Japanese dishes that aren’t so well-known have been gaining popularity, such as takoyaki, okonomiyaki, natto, and yakiniku. However, there are still many other Japanese dishes that have not made it to the West. To all the foodies out there planning to travel to Japan, or to those who like to be adventurous, here are some interesting bizarre food dishes in Japan that are not necessarily hard to find while in the country, but could be easily overlooked if you didn’t know about them.
Bizarre Foods of Japan
Some consider funazushi a luxury dish. this weird food in Japan is kind of a fermented carp – taking more than a year to prepare. It’s said that sushi originated from funazushi. When you saw Karl Pilkington trying it on the TV show An Idiot Abroad you may have heard of funazushi. He was so repulsed by it that he vomited. Funazushi is regional to Shiga prefecture but it’s hard to find. Funazushi is made from the carp caught in the lake, so if want to taste it head on over to Lake Biwa in Shiga.
Natto is a traditional but unusual food in Japan consisting of fermented beans. It’s slimy with a strong and distinct flavor; it’s also often compared to smelly cheese. It’s often found disgusting by foreigners for its repugnant taste, smell, and texture. Natto is a very common delicacy that can be found throughout Japan from convenience stores to supermarkets. However, if you love natto, you should head over to Mito, Ibaraki, the natto capital of the world.
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Comparable to a stew, Motsunabe is a type of “nabe” or Japanese hot pot. Nabe is a common dish served in the cold winter months and is essentially a mixture of ingredients simmered in one big pot of stew. This unique dish in Japan is kind of a mixture of soup bases made of soy sauce and miso is combined with garlic chives, tofu, cabbage, and the main ingredient: beef innards! The beef innards are often said that they melt in your mouth like snow because it is very soft and chewy.
4. Kujira (Whale Meat)
Whale meat is another one of the most unusual foods in Japan, that is even believed to help fight dementia. Contrary to many other countries, where whaling is banned and a controversial topic, commercial whaling still occurs in Japan and many Japanese people are not as opposed to the consumption of whale meat. It is still available in some restaurants while it is no longer a staple in the Japanese diet. Apparently, as whales are mammals, the taste is more similar to land animals rather than fish.
This one of the most unusual foods that only exist in Japan come along is known in English as pollock roe or the internal egg masses from the pollock fish. This unusual dish has a very distinctive taste that is salty and sometimes spicy. This dish originated in Korea and was introduced to Japan around the time of the second world war. Since then it has become a very common side dish but it’s also used in onigiri, pasta, or as a sauce.
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Basashi is thinly sliced horse meat in the form of sashimi, a specialty from Kumamoto prefecture, and is available in several restaurants and sushi places all over Japan! In many other nations, people see horses as riding and wouldn’t even think of eating them, but this is not the case in Japan. Especially together with soy sauce and garlic, Japanese people love horse meat. This weird food from Japan is commonly referred to as Sakura Niku (cherry blossom meat) due to the vibrant color of the meat when it is freshly cut and the time of year when it is in season and tastes best.
7. Torisashi (Raw Chicken)
This strange food of Japan would be unheard of anyone to eat raw chicken, let alone have a restaurant serve it on purpose. Lawsuits and health risks with eating raw chicken make it hard to believe that in Japan not only can you find raw chicken sashimi in restaurants but many people eat it and it’s delicious. In other countries where eating raw foods may seem strange, here in Japan the art of cooking, or not cooking things has made dishes using raw meat popular. Much like fish sashimi, it is dipped in soy sauce and eaten raw.
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8. Nama Tamago (Raw Egg)
Unlike eggs from The States, for example, Japanese eggs arrive much sooner to market since the shipping distances are shorter. But the main reason this one of the weirdest foods to eat in Japan is safe to eat is that the egg’s natural, protective germ barrier is not removed from the shell by washing, as they are with western eggs. Just to be on the safe side though, always be mindful of expiration dates. Aside from being concerned about getting sick, I was concerned about the texture. It’s true the slimy texture can be unfamiliar, but with time (and an open mind), I grew quite used to it, actually.
9. Horumon or Horumonyaki
A trend we are seeing with interesting and unique Japanese dishes is innards! Here is another one for you: horumonyaki. Horumonyaki is basically barbecued or fried innards. In many western countries, where consuming innards is not very common, this part of the animal is left as scraps or given to the dog but Japanese people are not opposed to eating innards. In horumonyaki, a mixture of small and big intestines, and stomachs of several animals are fried on the barbecue to make what is commonly referred to as a “stamina building” food.
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10. Nankotsu (Chicken Cartilage)
Similarly to consuming innards, many people in the west wouldn’t consider eating cartilage, but in Japan people love it! This one of the strangest foods to eat in Japan is crunchy and it feels as if you’re eating a bone. Since it doesn’t have a strong flavor it is probably the texture that people enjoy most. Cartilage is often found in izakayas (Japanese bars) and yakitori (fried chicken) restaurants.
Uni looks really scary. It definitely qualifies as a weird Japanese food, and it may be the scariest-looking food ever. In the shops near where the old Tsukiji Fish Market was, they serve it to you on paper plates inside the actual, spiky urchin: The soft lobes of meat inside are a dark orange color. It’s slippery and fleshy, and when you bite into it, the flavor pops in your mouth. Do you know how liver (especially foie gras) has a coppery taste and a creamy texture? Well, uni has those qualities too, but it also reminds me of the way the ocean smells. You should try it because it’s so unique and tasty. Uni is often served in nigiri alongside salmon roe (ikura), which helps to balance out the strong flavor. When you see it like this, it’s not nearly as scary, right?!
Sometimes called hot pot, shabu shabu means “swish swish.” When you order this strange food from Japan at a restaurant, you’re expected to cook plates of thinly-sliced beef by swishing them around in a pot of broth. Often, you get to choose two different broths. The traditional broth is dashi-based, which is a common soup base used for miso soup too. Usually, you get assorted vegetables to add to the broth too.
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13. Torisashi (Chicken Sashimi)
The thin slices of beef cook really fast in the broth, like 30 seconds, and they pick up a huge amount of flavor. You swish a slice around, then take it out and drop it on your little bowl of rice. They give you various sauces to add too, like chili garlic oil and sesame oil and salt. Eat one mouthful of beef-rice-sauce-vegetables at a time out of your rice bowl. This strange street food in Japan is a casual, comfort food that will make you feel warm and relaxed inside.
Fugu is a pufferfish dish that can be prepared in many ways. The consumption of fugu has resulted in a lot of cases of poisoning. As a result, it’s strictly regulated. One must undergo a three-year apprenticeship to be a fugu chef. Additionally, this fugu chefs-in-training has to pass a series of rigorous exams to become fully certified. It’s said that only 35% of applicants pass. Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi is most famous for its fugu. Despite this, this odd food in Japan can be found throughout the country in restaurants specializing in fugu.
Shirako is considered one of the delicacies in Japan and sold at restaurants and also at more expensive supermarkets. Upon first glance, this bizarre food in Japan may appear a little odd but it is only when you discover what it is that makes many people lose their appetite. Shirako is a fish’s sperm sack! The texture is soft and creamy like pudding and it doesn’t have that much of a flavor. It is a very versatile dish and can be served raw, fried, steamed, or as a topping on other dishes.
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So far we have discussed the unusual foods in Japan, which contains the proper information regarding all the famous strange foods in Japan. I hope you might have loved reading this article and if you love to know more about Japan then kindly head to our other articles as well which will help you to get knowledge about.