There’s more than just delicacies when it comes to eating abroad. Every country has its own menu when it comes to everyday food and snacks, and while plenty of these menus are similar, Japan’s is pretty special. A trip to the east will reveal traditional dishes integrated into fast food (most famously ramen), but will also show that the Japanese snack industry has a far larger selection of items than most, you will find that many of the foods you already know have taken on a new identity in Japan, and plenty of these Japanese snacks can’t be found elsewhere, online delivery excluded. Here’s a list of some of the coolest and perhaps weirdest snacks you could try:
A dish with plenty of history behind it is a great place to start. Mochi are rice cakes made from Mochigome – a sweet, sugary rice. These are popular around holidays, especially the New Year, and have plenty of variations, most famously ice cream mochi. It’s more than just a store-bought dish, as this Japanese snack is often served on the streets as well. It’s quite healthy for a sweet dish and is a staple of Japanese cuisine.
Depending on where you live, you may be able to buy some pocky from a local store! It’s gotten quite popular worldwide, after all. Pocky are crunchy cookie sticks dipped into icing. While the original is a regular cookie stick with chocolate dip, pocky has fallen victim to the Japanese snack flavor craze, and as a result you can find anything from vanilla, to tea or fruit, to multiple-flavored sticks. It’s a very accessible tourist snack.
You can probably find crepes locally or online, but this is one food that we recommend you try if you ever visit Japan. The original crepe is a French dish, but much like the snack below, it’s a dish that transformed in Japan. Crepes are a type of pancake that’s served with various fillings and toppings. Of course, where French-style crepes have a bunch of variations, Japanese crepes have upon hundreds. You will find these served in machines, restaurants or street stands, and the sheer amount of topping/filling choices is overwhelming.
The (in)famous Kit Kats
You probably already know about these, and that’s why they’re last on the list. Kit Kats are overwhelmingly popular in Japan, and this in turn caused them to…branch out. Often bought by visitors in variety packs with many different flavors, these can be a hit or miss, but you’re guaranteed to find at least a few flavors you like; perhaps ones you never thought to see in a candy bar. Some of them include: Grilled Potato, Green Tea, Salt (Yes, just salt.), Apple, Coffee and even Soy Bean flavor.
The Japanese snack industry is famous for putting new twists on existing snacks and mixing traditional dishes with modern standards. While there’s plenty more to try out, these four items are a great place to start.