We all know at least of some delicious Japanese foods. Sushi is super popular worldwide, and you may know about some other Japanese delicacies, such as miso soup, tempura, ramen, and soba noodles, or matcha and sake when it comes to drinks. But perhaps you may be less familiar with some of the popular Japanese dishes that have a Western influence. Western-Japanese dishes, or “yoshoku,” were created with an influence from Western culture and tastes that started coming into Japan after the late Edo period when the closed country started opening to the world. But it’s more than simply adopting Western foods as they are like burgers for instance. These ‘Westernized’ dishes are a blend of tastes and are new dishes that can only be found in Japan. In fact, some of these Westernized Japanese dishes are eaten more regularly at home or school than signature Japanese foods like sushi!
Here are just some of the most popular yoshoku dishes that Japanese people eat regularly.
Omurice is a very popular yoshoku dish in Japan. The dish is basically an omelette with fried rice, hence the name, and is usually seasoned with ketchup. The rice if fried with bits of chicken, mushroom, onion and so on. It’s a simple, but tasty and filling dish, popular with everyone and often seen on kid’s menus in restaurants. One bite, and you are hooked for life.
Japanese curry is very different from Indian curry – it is milder in flavor and thicker. The classic Japanese curry usually consists of potatoes, onions, carrots, and meat such as chicken, beef, or pork. From there, there are many variations. The meat can also be in a form of topping like fried chicken nuggets, tonkatsu cutlet, burger patty, even seafood. There can also be extra vegetables like eggplant, asparagus, broccoli etc.
In Japan, of course curry is eaten primarily with rice, but it is also served with udon noodles instead of rice (curry-udon), or the curry is stuffed in deep-fried bread (curry bread). It’s such a popular dish that is can literally be found in anywhere, and instant curry can be bought in the convenience store.
This dish was inspired by the French croquette. Korokke is made by mixing mince meat and onion with mashed potato or white sauce, and then deep-frying it after rolling it in eggs, flour, and panko breadcrumbs. There are also varieties like cream crab korokke, or vegetables only korokke.
Korokke is very popular as a snack on the go and convenience stores sell it freshly made and hot at the counter. It is also sold in izakaya pubs, festivals and so on.
Doria is basically French gratin with a rice base. Usually, white sauce, and sometimes meat, seafood, and cheese, is layered over pilaf (a rice dish which originated in Turkey), and is quickly cooked in an oven to bring everything together. It is said that a Swiss chef working in a Japanese hotel in the 1930s came up with this dish and to this day no one really knows where the name ‘doria’ came from as it doesn’t mean anything else in Japanese.
Although it may look like curry rice, hayashi rice is a completely different dish. Also known as “hashed beef rice,” hayashi rice is basically demi-glace sauce (often containing red wine and tomato sauce), usually with beef, onions, and mushrooms, served with rice. The sauce is sometimes topped with some cream. It is definitely considered a bit more elegant than everyday curry rice.
These are only a few of the many must-try yoshoku dishes in Japan, with other we didn’t cover. Above all, give these a try and don’t judge them as not Japanese for having roots in foreign cuisine. Ramen and gyoza are Chinese origin but their Japan version is unique, so the same applies to these Westernized Japanese or Japanized Western foods. Itadakimasu and Bon apetit!
: AC photo/