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Japanese cuisine: A guide to 12 popular forms

Essentially, 12 types of cuisine are popular in authentic Japanese restaurants.
Essentially, 12 types of cuisine are popular in authentic Japanese restaurants.
Japanese cuisine: A guide to 12 popular forms – Created by this user with Creative Commons Licensing photo

From Takara to Takumi in Madison, and in various spots around the world, authentic Japanese cuisine is popular. The attraction is not just the delicious food, but the entire atmosphere. The nearly acrobatic preparation and colorful presentation add to the appeal.

In the Western world, in particular, Japanese steakhouses draw patrons with their entertaining and delicious hibachi dinners. Diners are seated around flaming grills, where skilled chefs juggle knives and spatulas and cook appetizers and entrees to order. The preparation is a major part of the dining experience.

Sushi bars and restaurants offer artistic uncooked fish and vegetable sushi. This may be presented on trays, or diners may be seated at counters to watch the sushi chefs prepare their orders.

In Japan, however, several different types of restaurants are frequently found.

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What is Japanese cuisine like in Japan?

Restaurants in Japan tend to specialize in one or two types of cooking. Customers may expect to remove their shoes upon entering each establishment. Often, slippers are provided for patrons’ use. In many Japanese restaurants, diners will sit on the floor or on mats at low tables.

Essentially, 12 types of Japanese cuisine are popular in these authentic settings.

Here is a simple guide to these 12 basic forms of cuisine that might be found in real Japanese restaurants.

  1. Gyodon-Ya restaurants serve economically priced beef rolls and other fast-food-like options.
  1. Kaiten-Zushi restaurants offer sushi dishes on conveyor belts. Customers select the items they wish. At the end of the meal, the plates are counted up to tally the bill. Plates may be color-coded for varying price levels.
  1. Kare-Ya restaurants are known for kareraisu (curried rice) offerings.
  1. Okonomiyaki-Ya restaurants offer okonomiyaki, a pancake-like pastry filled with seawood, vegetables and a choice of fish or meat.
  1. Ramen-Ya restaurants serve Oriental-style noodles in soup with several topping options. This is a far cry from the 25-cent dried-out pre-packaged ramen noodles you might find in a Western grocery store. The soup may be a vegetable, chicken, or beef broth. Fried rice and orzo may also be offered.
  1. Soba-Ya restaurants offer hot and cold noodle dishes with soups and dipping sauces.
  1. Sukiyaya-Ya restaurants serve sukiyaki (sauteed sliced beef) and shabu-shabu (boiled beef). These pricey spots can be hard to find, but worth the trip.
  1. Sushi-Ya restaurants seat customers at a counter, where a sushi chef prepares dishes to order.
  1. Tempura-Ya restaurants have crunchy, fried breaded seafood or vegetable offerings.
  1. Tonkatsu-Ya restaurants are famed for deep-fried pork chops with various dipping sauces.
  1. Unagi-Ya restaurants are known for bowls of cooked rice topped with cooked vegetables and fish or meat. Eel is extremely popular at such spots.
  1. Yahitori-Ya restaurants boast shish-kebobs, usually made with chicken. Beef or fish may also be offered.

Japanese cuisine offers intriguing variety – in palatability, presentation, and pricing.