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15 Truly Delicious Japanese Foods You Need To Try At Least Once

Because mochi makes everything better.

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1. Onigiri

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These rice balls are the ultimate grab-and-go snack. They’re typically shaped like a triangle, stuffed with goodness — try the kombu (algae) version — and wrapped in nori so you don’t have to get your fingers sticky.

2. Unagi

3. Tempura

4. Mochi

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In Japan, texture is just as important as taste, and no texture is more enticing and bizarre than mochi. The soft, dough-like consistency is achieved by pounding glutinous rice into a paste, which is then separated into balls. Most mochi is filled with a red bean paste, but you can find varieties filled with ice cream — or, my favorite, pure balls of straight mochi.

Check out: How This 116-Year-Old Shop In Little Tokyo Makes Mochi

5. Soba

6. Wagyu Beef

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Notoriously pricey (one pound of high-grade wagyu can cost up to $200), wagyu is also said to be better tasting thanks to its rich marbling of fat and tender texture. Because the wagyu beef is high in monounsaturated fats, which have a lower melting point, it literally feels like the meat is melting in your mouth.

Watch: Japanese Olive Wagyu Beef Being Cooked Is Satisfying

7. Natto

8. Takoyaki

9. Oden

10. Gyoza

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Is there such a thing as a bad dumpling? I’d argue no, but the Japanese gyoza, which is derived from Chinese jiaozi, is a standout. The half-moon shaped dumpling has a thinner wrapper than the Chinese version, and is stuffed with savory goodness — often pork, cabbage, green onion, and mushroom. It's most commonly fried and steamed (yes, both) to crispy perfection, ready to be plunged into a dipping sauce made from rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, and spices.

Check out: How To Make Gyoza At Home

11. Fugu

12. Miso Soup

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I’d be remiss not to mention the deceivingly simple miso soup. Not only is it a daily staple in the traditional Japanese diet, but it has tons of health benefits. The broth, made using dashi and miso (fermented bean) paste, is packed with minerals, vitamins, and the bacteria needed for a healthy gut. Miso soup is usually topped with green onion, seaweed, and bits of tofu.

Check out: How To Make Miso Soup At Home

13. Okonomiyaki


You’ll find a million variants of okonomiyaki — and often you can build your own — but in general, the giant savory pancake is made from batter, cabbage, veggies, and sometimes meat or seafood, then topped with a special okonomiyaki sauce (similar to Worcestershire), bonito flakes, and mayo.

Check out: How To Make Hiroshima Okonomiyaki At Home

14. Udon

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These super-thick, chewy noodles have a texture all of their own. You can douse them in a dipping sauce and slurp them cold, or enjoy your udon in a hot, mild broth that delivers the same homey feeling as the American fix-all chicken-noodle soup.

Check out: This Small Island Is The Udon Capital Of Japan

15. Yakitori

What's your favorite Japanese food? Tell us in the comments!

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