10 Japanese Dishes Americans Wouldn't Dare To Eat & 10 They Absolutely Love

10 Japanese Dishes Americans Wouldn't Dare To Eat & 10 They Absolutely Love

Aside from your beloved Japanese dishes like sushi and ramen, did you know Japanese cuisine features some completely bizarre and wild dishes too? From fermented soybeans to dangerous pufferfish, there are several traditional Japanese dishes out there you probably would never try - and for good reason. To give you a good idea of what's out there, here are 10 Japanese dishes you probably wouldn't dare to eat and 10 that you know and love. You know, just for comparison.

1. Natto

Natto is definitely one of those dishes that has an acquired taste. It's a traditional Japanese food made from fermented soybeans and has a bad reputation for its strong, pungent smell and sticky, slimy texture. Not exactly appetizing sounding is it? However, in Japan, it's a staple breakfast dish often served with rice. On the bright side, it's high in protein and probiotics!

Natto-7048960 1280Image by R I from Pixabay

2. Shirako

Shirako, which translates to "white children," is probably the last thing you'd expect to be served on your sushi. Shirako is the reproductive sacs of fish, typically cod or pufferfish. It has a soft, creamy texture and is often served raw or lightly cooked. Although you're probably making a mental note to never eat this dish, it's considered a delicacy in Japanese cuisine.

1024Px-Shirako GunkanmakiSchellack on Wikimedia Commons

3. Basashi

Basashi is raw horse meat - that's right, raw. It's thinly sliced and served as a sashimi in Japanese cuisine. Commonly eaten in the Kumamoto and Nagano prefectures of Japan, the meat is described as sweet and tender, often served with garlic and soy sauce. However, you might be put off by the fact that it's a). raw and b). horse meat.

1024Px-Basashi (15121111029)pelican from Tokyo, Japan on Wikimedia Commons

4. Hachinoko

Did you ever think about eating bee larvae? Well, Japan did! Hachinko is bee larvae and is considered a delicacy in some regions of Japan. These are typically served boiled or cooked in soy sauce and sugar, creating a sweet and savory snack. They're praised for its nutty flavour and crunchy texture, but most Americans probably wouldn't dare to come close to it.

1024Px-Hachinoko (Wasp Larvae And Pupae) For Sale At A Grocery Store In Japan投稿者 on Wikimedia Commons


5. Fugu

Fugu is the Japanese word for pufferfish, which might not sound bad at first, but when you learn about it's potential lethality if not prepared correctly, it makes it a whole lot scarier. To prepare this dish, chefs must undergo rigorous training to ensure they can safely serve it to the public. It can be served in various ways like sashimi, in soup, or even fried, but the health risk will always loom over you.

Pufferfish-74950 1280Image by Kevin Yi from Pixabay

6. Inago no Tsukudani

Now that's a mouthful to say; Inago no Tsukudani is an interesting dish. It consists of locusts (yes, grasshoppers) cooked in soy sauce, sugar, and sake. This dish is a traditional snack that's commonly made in rural areas of Japan. The love it for its crunchy texture and its sweet, savory flavour. It can be eaten with rice or as a standalone snack, but foreigners will probably stay away from it.

Inago No Tsukudani 02Pqks758 on Wikimedia Commons

7. Shiokara

Shiokara is a salty, fermented dish that's made from ingredients you'd be better off not knowing: various marine animals' innards (most commonly squid). The organs are mixed with salt and then fermented for several weeks, resulting in an incredibly strong and pungent taste that definitely isn't for everyone. 

Ika No Shiokara With ChopsticksOkona on Wikimedia Commons

8. Tuna Eyeballs

Tuna eyeballs anyone? While you probably love tuna sashimi, you've probably never thought about eating its eyeballs before. It's a unique delicacy found in Japanese markets and restaurants, and it's typically boiled or steamed before seasoned with soy sauce. The eyeball has a jelly-like texture that certainly won't be appealing to a majority of people.

Tuna-Fish-954073 1280Image by 27707 from Pixabay

9. Ikizukuri

Ikizukuri isn't so much a dish as it is a method of preparing food. Before serving sashimi, this practice has the chef keeping the fish alive just before it's about to be prepared. While it's considered the freshest way to enjoy seafood, it's highly controversial with many calling it unethical. Although it is offered in some restaurants, it's definitely something that will shock foreigners.

Salmon-Sashimi-3637245 1280Image by Yuna Kim from Pixabay

10. Umeboshi

Umeboshi are pickled ume fruits, related to plums and apricots. They are extremely sour and salty, often used as a garnish for rice or eaten alone as a palate cleanser. Despite their harsh flavor, umeboshi are beloved for their great health benefits, including aiding digestion. It's definitely a taste unfamiliar to most Westerners though.

Umeboshi 20101209 CBatholith (talk) on Wikimedia Commons


1. Sushi

Not just in Japan, sushi has become a beloved cuisine across the world, including the United States. Because there's so much variety, it's able to appeal to many different palates. From nigiri to California rolls, sushi has transformed to fit the American palate, slowly becoming a staple and favorite in American dining.

Sushi-596930 1280Image by soledad dagotto from Pixabay

2. Ramen

Ramen is a beloved noodle soup originating from Japan, just bursting with umami. It's gained immense popularity in the US in recent years, most likely thanks to its rich flavours and comforting warmth. Besides, with so many different soup bases, noodles, and toppings to choose from, there's a special bowl for everyone.

Bars-Ramen-In-Saigon-3227779 1280Image by Văn Đặng from Pixabay

3. Tempura

If you love fried food, tempura is a beautiful mix of American comfort and Japanese craft. Tempura consists of seafood or vegetables that have been battered and deep-fried, beloved for its light and crispy texture. To make things even better, it's combined with a delightful dipping sauce that perfectly complements it.

Shrimp-Tempura-4665687 1280Image by ally j from Pixabay

4. Teriyaki

Teriyaki actually refers to a cooking technique used in Japanese cuisine. It's when foods are broiled or grilled with a glaze of soy sauce, mirin, and sugar! The result is the beloved sweet and savory flavor that Americans know and love, most commonly paired with chicken, beef, and salmon and served on a bed of rice.

Teriyaki-Chicken-3765240 1280Image by PerfectLinks from Pixabay

5. Mochi

Mochi is a delightful Japanese dessert/snack that's made out of mochigome, a short-grain glutinous rice. Making its way into the American dessert scene, mochi is often filled with sweet fillings like red bean or sesame paste. Americans love it for its chewy texture and variety of flavours.

Dolls-Festival-1235341 1280Image by xie mzc from Pixabay

6. Edamame

Edamame, young soybeans still in the pod, lightly boiled and salted, is a simple yet addictive appetizer enjoyed by Americans. Its health benefits and delicious, nutty flavor make it a popular choice for a snack or starter in Japanese restaurants across the U.S.

Edamame-5173230 1280Image by u_9vstifjx from Pixabay


7. Tonkatsu

If you love fried meat, you'll love Tonkatsu, a Japanese dish consisting of breaded, deep-fried pork cutlet. Sliced into bite-sized pieces and served on a bed of hot rice, it's often served with shredded cabbage and a savory dipping sauce. The exterior is always nice and crispy while the inside is juicy and tender. No wonder it became an American favourite!

Restaurant-1690696 1280Image by takedahrs from Pixabay

8. Okonomiyaki

Okonomiyaki, sometimes described as a Japanese savory pancake, contains a variety of ingredients such as cabbage, pork, shrimp, and topped with a variety of condiments like mayonnaise, okonomiyaki sauce, and bonito flakes. It's an incredibly vibrant dish just bursting with so many different flavours, attracting many Americans to this unique dish.

Okonomiyaki-7312548 1280Image by Johnny_px from Pixabay

9. Yakitori

Who doesn't love skewers? Yakitori, skewered and grilled chicken, is a popular street food in Japan that has gained popularity in the U.S. The skewers can feature various parts of the chicken, from breast to heart, seasoned with salt or tare sauce. Its smoky flavor and bite-sized pieces make it a perfect casual or social food.

Yakitori-3795433 1280Image by 村岡 悠司 from Pixabay

10. Matcha

By now, you've likely heard about the wild matcha craze that's creeping all over North America and other countries around the world. Matcha, finely ground powder of specially grown and processed green tea leaves, is favoured not only as a traditional drink but also as a versatile ingredient in lattes, desserts, and even savory dishes. Its distinct flavor and health benefits have made matcha a trendy new ingredient beloved by many.

Matcha-2356774 1280Image by dungthuyvunguyen from Pixabay