If your awareness of Japanese cuisine consists mainly of sushi and sake, a trip to Japan will show you that your dining options extend far beyond those items. Expand your food knowledge — and palate — with these 10 dishes.
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1. Ramen - There are more than 10 varieties of this popular noodle soup dish. Noodles can be long and straight or thick and wavy.
2. Okonomiyaki - Cooked on a griddle, this dish layers cabbage, bean sprouts, noodles, egg and pork.
3. Tempura - Tempura is a crispy medley of lightly battered and fried seafood and vegetables. The concept was brought over by the Portuguese.
4. Takoyaki - Takoyaki is a ball-shaped snack made of bits of octopus, green onions and ginger with a flour base. It's cooked on a special molded pan that gives them their easily recognized look and texture.
5. Kawara Soba - Kawara soba consists of green tea-infused buckwheat noddles, seasoned beef and a shredded egg crepe garnish.
6. Shabu-shabu - This DIY hot pot meal gets its fun name from the Japanese onomatopoeia for "swish, swish."
7. Tonkatsu - Similar to schnitzel, this deep-fried pork cutlet gets coated in panko flakes or breadcrumbs.
8. Wagashi - Wagashi are Japanese confections with various consistencies and tastes.
9. Yuba - A vegan Buddhist delicacy, yuba (a.k.a. tofu skin) is a film that forms on the surface of boiling soy milk. Don't let its description discourage you from trying it, though.
10. Yakitori - With this inexpensive dish, bite-size pieces of chicken get placed on skewers and cooked on a grill. It gets a good coating of tare, a soy and rice wine sauce that gives it a nice flavor.
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