Popular Japanese Street Food Ideas

Whether you’re hosting a special occasion party or treating loved ones to a themed dining experience, delicious bite-sized morsels like chicken yakitori are the perfect snack foods to serve to your guests. There are so many awesome, popular Japanese street food ideas to try at home that you may have to plan multiple feasts to enjoy them all!

Meat Options:

Small, dainty and ever so tasty, chicken yakitori is one of the most recognisable Japanese street foods. Chunks of dark chicken thigh meat are basted in a sublime, finger-licking sauce that blends soy sauce, mirin sweet cooking wine, brown sugar, rice vinegar, and fresh ginger and garlic. To intensify the flavour of this unami rich, savoury snack, it’s worth taking a little extra time to double baste the bamboo skewered chicken before grilling them over hot BBQ coals.

Many people find deep-fried chicken hard to resist. When you serve up Japanese style karaage, there will be empty plates in no time! The bite-sized chicken morsels are marinated in herbs and spices, and deep-fried to order. No sticks required. The signature street food chicken treat is so popular that there’s even an annual Karaage Festival in Japan.

Traditionally filled with shredded pork, cabbage, shiitake mushrooms and sliced spring onions, nikuman are Japanese steamed buns that are usually served during the winter months. The soft and fluffy buns can be filled with a variety of your favourite ingredients.

Seafood Sticks:

Filled with diced octopus, tempura scraps, green onions, and pickled ginger, takoyaki are mini spherical dumplings that are lightly battered and deep-fried. In Japan, special moulded pans are used to create the tempting delectable delicacy. To give the seafood balls an authentic street food appearance, sprinkle with bonito flakes, mayonnaise and takoyaki sauce (similar to Worcestershire sauce) before serving.

Simple and delicious grilled squid on a stick is known as ikayaki. This popular Japanese street food can be served whole (without tentacles), or sliced into rings. The dark and sweet soy sauce that is brushed all over, before grilling, gives the seafood an intense meaty flavour.

Chilling overnight and grilling over hot flames the following day, enhances the flavour of salty shioyaki that’s served on a stick. This salt-grilled mackerel dish is a popular breakfast food in Japan, but you can serve it as an alternative to a salty pork scratching snack to accompany a glass of ice cold beer.

Chopsticks Required:

Not all of the most popular street foods in Japan are served up on bamboo skewers. Some require the use of chopsticks to devour. The simple and super easy to make stir-fry dish of yakisoba combines chicken, veggies and thick noodles in a sweet and savoury sauce. Cabbage, spring onions, carrots and shitake mushrooms are commonly chosen for their colour, taste and texture, but you use whatever veggies you have available, and your favouite type of noodles.

Surprise your loved ones with a savoury treat that’s unique to Japan. Okonomiyaki is a griddled batter pancake filled with cabbage, meat and seafood, and topped with a special okonomiyaki sauce, mayonnaise, bonito flakes, seaweed flakes, and pickled ginger. It’s the perfect popular Japanese street food dish to make when you have leftovers, as anything goes into the mix!

Veggie Variations:

Vegetarians and vegans don’t have to miss out on an authentic Japanese street food feast that includes delicacies like chicken yakitori. There are many popular veggie variations to whet appetite and fill the belly.

Freshly baked yaki imo sweet potatoes are deliciously soft, warm and comforting, and smell heavenly.

Yaki tomorokoshi is the Japanese version of corn on the cob. Before the skewered cobs are grilled over an open flame, they’re basted in miso, soy sauce and butter to enhance the flavour of the golden sweet kernels.

Often filled with diced meat or fish, korokke are soft and fluffy mashed potato balls that are panko crusted and deep-fried to golden perfection. You can easily make this tempting treat veggie and vegan-friendly by swapping out the meat or fish in favour of fresh vegetables, tofu, or a meat-free alternative.

Sweet Treats:

Once you’ve had your fill of moreish chicken yakitori, delight your guests with a platter of sweet Japanese street food ideas…

Made from uruchi and glutinous rice flours, dango is a Japanese steamed dumpling that is spherical and multi-coloured. The sweet on a stick is traditionally served in a trio of pink, white, and green balls that represent the colours of cherry blossom in season.

Anyone with a super sweet tooth will love munching on a yummy choco banana. To make the simple but highly popular Japanese street food snack, skewer half a frozen banana and dip it in melted chocolate before rolling in colourful sprinkles. Have fun experimenting with milk, dark and white chocolates and a variety of different toppings!

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