5 Japanese Foods You Have to Try


Lorin Teng, Staff Designer

Rice is a staple in all Asian cuisines, but there is a bigger variety of Asian dishes that aren’t centered around rice. All Asian cuisines have something worth tasting: pho (Vietnam), dim sum (China), kimchi (Korea), and pad thai (Thailand) to name a few. In this article, I will be sharing five Japanese food items I recommend trying that are full of flavor. 

1) Mochi

With a wide variety of flavors, such as matcha, strawberry, and red bean, this classic Japanese snack is sure to get your mouth watering. It is made from glutinous rice flour, giving it a chewy texture. Traditionally, mochi is made by pounding steamed glutinous rice in a large wooden mortar with a wooden mallet to get a nice, sticky texture. Although it can be eaten as both a savory and sweet snack, many prefer eating mochi as a dessert. 

“I like mochi because it tastes super good and it’s fun to chew,” Arcadia High School (AHS) junior Henrina Zhang said. “It also has a bunch of different flavors and colors which makes it fun. I love sweet things, so mochi is definitely one of my favorites.”

2) Dango

Similar to mochi, this dessert is made from rice flour, specifically rice flour mixed with uruchi (non-glutinous grain) rice flour and glutinous rice flour. Dango is served on a stick, usually three to five small balls. Subtly sweet, this dessert/snack pairs well with a cup of green tea, specifically matcha green tea. 


If you want to try mochi and dango, I recommend going to this place in downtown L.A. called “Fugetsu-Do” which sells handmade traditional mochi and rainbow dango. Little Tokyo is a pretty awesome place to visit if you’re craving any type of Japanese food, whether a meal, dessert, or snack. 

3) Sashimi with Tempura

Sashimi plus tempura is my version of the perfect lunch or dinner. Sashimi is sliced up raw seafood or meat and is eaten with wasabi, soy sauce, and pickled ginger. Tempura is seafood, meat and vegetables dipped into a batter and deep-fried until golden brown.

“I love tempura because I like anything fried, and the crispiness of it is addictive,” said AHS junior Darren Lee.

“Whenever I go out to eat sushi, I always order shrimp tempura along with it.” Just like Lee, she “ likes tempura because [she] just likes fried things in general, and fried shrimp is really good” said junior Anushka Rajendra.

4) Soba Noodles

Soba (meaning buckwheat in Japanese) noodles are noodles made out of buckwheat and can be eaten hot or cold. It’s traditionally made by combining buckwheat flour, a bit of wheat flour, and water to form a crumbly dough, rolled out the dough into a flat sheet which is then folded and hand-cut into thin noodle strands.

“I like soba because it’s really flavorful,” said AHS junior Nikini Wathuthantrige. “Plus, it has a really nice texture and is just overall pretty good.” 

5) Unagi no Kabayaki

“Unagi” is Japanese for freshwater eel and Kabayaki is a sweet and salty Japanese sauce poured over the grilled eel’s belly or back. Usually served on a bed of rice, this dish served with miso soup is perfect for a cold day. Eel is unique and a delicacy; it is also difficult to cook properly and eel chefs are a completely different profession from sushi chefs.

With over two thousand years of cultivation, Japanese cuisine has so much to offer, from sushi to green tea to mochi. The next time you try Japanese cuisine, remember that it took years of hard work and dedication to making it to perfection.


Photo by Marek Piwnicki