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Updated by Joanna James on Feb 11, 2018
Headline for 10 Amazing Japanese Street Food – When the Yatai Come Out to Play
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Joanna James Joanna James
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10 Amazing Japanese Street Food – When the Yatai Come Out to Play

Japanese street food is a rare delight, usually only available during their festivals. Here’s a list of the top 10 foods offered by Japan’s street vendors (Yatai) that you should definitely try out.

1

Takoyaki

Fried balls of batter stuffed with octopus sound rather bizarre but Takoyaki is a wonderfully surprising mix of crispy and pleasantly gooey. Takoyaki comes topped with green onions, mayonnaise, fish shavings and a special sauce, that is an absolute delight to the taste buds. The dish is particularly abundant in Osaka where it originated.

2

Kare Pan

This unusual and scrumptious snack is the Japanese equivalent of a curry bun; it is made of slightly sweet dough that is breaded and then deep-fried (or baked). A rich, Japanese curry is added to the centre that provides a mild, yet lovely flavour. These snacks can usually be found in bakeries and convenience stores as well.

3

Gyoza

Gyoza are deep-fried dumplings stuffed with a delectable mix of green onion, cabbage, nira chives, garlic ginger, sesame oil, soy sauce and ground pork. They are often served with a special dipping sauce comprised of vinegar and soy sauce. Gyoza can frequently be found at festivals and street markets and are also served in ramen shops and Izakaya (Izakaya are a form of informal, Japanese pubs).
Shinjuku’s Golden Gai neighbourhood is widely known for being the most popular spot in Tokyo for tiny bars, restaurants, nightlife and unique Izakaya. If you’re a foodie and enjoys an action-packed night out you should definitely stay in Shinjuku and visit the 200 odd pubs, bars, stalls and restaurants there! Plenty of accommodation is available in Shinjuku, from luxury or budget hotels to hostels. You can even get a service apartment in Tokyo or within Shinjuku itself such as Citadines Shinjuku Tokyo.

4

Korokke

Inspired by French croquettes, korokke is made of either cream sauce or mashed potatoes enclosed within a breaded, deep-fried patty. The korokke filling often differs from region to region, with each area boasting its own specialised variation of the crispy treat.

5

Shioyaki

This appetising, easy-to-make treat is created by merely seasoning fish (usually mackerel or ‘saba’ in Japanese) with only salt, baking it and serving it on a stick. Often during festivals vendors are also seen grilling the fish instead of baking it.

6

Dango

Often served outside Shinto shrines (sacred places of worship that house Kami, gods of the Shinto religion), this flavoursome snack is a round dumpling that’s made by boiling water and glutinous rice flour. Pieces of dango are seasoned with flavoured pastes or an array of sweet and savoury sauces and served on a wooden skewer.

7

Okonomiyaki

This savoury dish is prepared on a griddle much like a pancake, thereby earning itself the nickname ‘Japanese Pancake’. The dish, created using a variety of vegetables, meats and a flour and egg batter, can be prepared in two different styles, ‘Kansai Style’, which is the most prevalent, and the ‘Hiroshima Style’. The finished dish is topped with flavourful okonomiyaki sauce, pickled red ginger, mayonnaise and dried seaweed.

8

Yaki Imo

Heaven for your taste buds, Yaki Imo is essentially baked sweet potato cooked over a wooden fire. Yaki Imo trucks and carts equipped with wood stoves were once prevalent in old Japan, and vendors would drive slowly down streets repeatedly calling ‘Yaki imo’.

9

Taiyaki

These treats are exquisitely crispy on the outside and soft and gooey on the inside. The sweet snack is cooked in detailed, fish-shaped moulds using a flour, baking soda, sugar and salt batter. The interior is usually filled with red bean paste but can also contain chocolate, custard or Nutella or even vegetables, sausages, sweet potatoes and cheese.

10

Yakisoba

Inspired by China’s chow mein, this heavenly dish is made using ramen-like noodles. The noodles are stir-fried with a variety of vegetables like carrots, onions and cabbage and small pieces of pork, and seasoned with a special sauce that gives it a distinctive tang and a bit of spice. The light snack is great comfort food and is often topped with fish, seaweed flakes and red pickled ginger.