Skewers are iconic Japanese street food dishes
Among the traditional dishes of Japanese street food, meat skewers (yakitori) come in endless varieties.
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Our Top Five Japanese Street Food Dishes to Try

05/05/2023
4 minutes

When people think of Japanese cuisine, the first thing that comes to mind is often sushi. But there’s so much more! Don’t miss out on the country’s amazing street food. Japanese street food will wow you with its huge range of mouth-watering nibbles. Here are five you should definitely try!

Table of content

The Origins of Japanese Street Food

Street food carts in Japan are called yatai and have been around for hundreds of years. With Korean and Chinese influences, as well as Portuguese (tempura was brought to Japan by the Portuguese), there’s so much to choose from with Japanese street food

Want to enjoy Japanese tempura? Why not try one of the 6 versions suggested by the restaurant Sushi Salsa in London or the assorted tempura in Iro Sushi and Bar?

Now discover our top 5 iconic street foods in Japan.

Japanese street food restaurant
Street food restaurant in Japan

#1. Japanese Street Food for Meat Lovers: Yakitori

Perfect as a quick bite after a night out, yakitori are chargrilled meat skewers. You can pick up this Japanese street food and enjoy it on the go as a delicious snack. The meat is often chicken, but you can get beef or pork skewers, too. They’re so tasty you’ll be back for more before the night is over!

You can taste a wide range of yakitori at Junsei restaurant, London or at Âpé Yakitori Ba, Newcastle.

Man cooking meat on skewers: traditional Japanese street food
Yakitori grilled meat skewers are a popular Japanese street food.

#2. Japanese Street Food to Satisfy a Sweet Tooth: Dango

If you’re hankering for something sweet, you won’t be disappointed with this classic Japanese street food. Dango are sweet dumplings made from rice flour and served in threes or fours on a stick.

During cherry blossom season, street food vendors make dango in pink, white and green like the famous flowers. Pleasing to both the eye and the palate, what’s not to like?

 Two sets of sweet Dango dumplings on sticks: a popular Japanese street food
Not all Japanese street food is savoury; these dumplings are deliciously sweet.

#3. Japanese Street Food for Noodle Lovers: Yakisoba

A popular Japanese street food that people have often heard of is yakisoba. It’s tasty and filling, perfect if you need a quick bite full of flavour. 

Noodles are a Japanese staple, and this street food dish
combines wheat noodles with pork and vegetables, cooked in a special savoury-sweet and sour sauce. 

Some say the sauce has a similar taste to Worcestershire sauce. Toppings may include dried seaweed flakes or red pickled ginger: 

Grey bowl with noodles, meat, and vegetables: an iconic street food in Japan
Yakisoba is a must-have when you try street food in Japan.

#4. Exotic Japanese Street Food: Takoyaki

These deep-fried balls don’t just look amazing; they taste pretty good, too. Like a kind of exotic fritter, takoyaki are made from a batter mixed with chopped octopus, green onions, and ginger. 

Japanese street food stalls use special pans
to fry takoyaki until they’re crispy and golden.

The result? Mouth-watering perfection in each bite-sized ball. 

Why not try the snack “Pea Miso Takoyaki, Wasabi Curry Leaf Oil Emulsion” prepared by the chef Ramael Scully of the restaurant Scully Saint-James, London? Or the spicy ones at Shoryu Shoreditch, London?

Moulded pan with deep fried Takoyaki, a Japanese street food
Takoyaki is an exotic Japanese street food featuring octopus.

#5. The Cutest Japanese Street Food: Taiyaki

Another option for the sweet-toothed. Taiyaki is a waffle made in a special fish-shaped mould and filled with chocolate, custard, or sometimes red bean paste. This deliciously sweet Japanese street food makes the perfect dessert treat. It’s sticky, gooey, and super cute to boot. Who can resist a chocolate treat that looks as good as this?

 Fish-shaped waffles, cute and original Japanese street food
Check out this super cute Japanese street food, shaped like a fish!

There’s so much to choose from with Japanese street food. Culinary influences from the Far East and Europe combine to create a range of Japanese street food dishes that suit any palate, from spice addicts and meat lovers to those with a sweet tooth. 

Discover further Japanese foods
at your favourite restaurants in London or Manchester, Brighton, or Leeds!

Book a restaurant with TheFork

Perhaps you’ll even be tempted to venture further and go on a culinary tour: Thai street food and English street food could be your next stop!

More about Japanese street food!

One of the most popular street foods in Japan is yakitori. They are skewers of chicken that are cooked over a charcoal grill. They’re served with a sprinkling of salt or a semi-sweet sauce.

Street food vendors in Japan are known as yatai. Street food is not as common in Japan as in other Asian countries, but it’s growing in popularity as more and more tourists visit the country.

Some popular Japanese dishes are sushi and sashimi, tempura, and ramen. Tempura is usually seafood that has been battered and deep fried. It was introduced by the Portuguese in the 16th century and is now a favourite street food dish.

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