Winter has arrived in Japan and signals lots of time soaking in a steamy onsen or sitting around a kotatsu (a low table with a heated blanket) to stay warm. So how can one make the most of the cold weather in Japan?
Unfortunately you DO have to eventually get out of the bath and you can’t spend your entire winter around a table…plus there are so many beautiful winter sights in Japan to enjoy!
Venture outdoors to explore all kinds of delicious Japanese food to keep yourself warm while tasting all the winter food that Japan has to offer!
The most famous noodle soup dish in Japan would be the popular ramen. Ramen is made with a simple soup base (usually soy sauce, salt or pork) and meat, noodles and vegetables are added – providing endless variations that can be found all over the country. Prices for ramen will range from the economical ¥700 to the hugely expensive ¥10,000 ensuring options for every kind of traveler.
A much thicker wheat noodle than it’s ramen cousin, udon noodles are a lot more subtle in flavor and usually a better option for vegans. Udon noodles are made without eggs, whereas ramen noodles traditionally are not. Just be sure to check the soup base is also vegan-friendly!
Oden is a Japanese dish of various items cooked in a soy broth. Usually combined of types of meat, vegetables and fishcakes, you will often see a ‘choose-your-own’ section in conbini (convenience stores) in take-away containers.
A bubbling hotpot of various types of vegetables and meat shared with good friends is an ideal way to warm both your stomach and your heart on a cold winter evening. Among the various types of nabe, the most famous one is chanko nabe, typically eaten by Sumo wrestlers because it is rich in protein and helps boost their training.
Where nabe is cooked all together at once, shabu shabu is a similar dish that is cooked by dipping each item into the soup little by little. A popular option of shabu shabu is tabehoudai (all you can eat) where there is a time limit on how many dishes you can order and consume!
Nikuman, or meat buns, are the Japanese version of baozi, Chinese steamed buns, or pork buns, in English. While they are mainly made with pork, nikuman can come in many different varieties from standard pork buns to elaborate spicy Korean barbecue buns to chocolate fillings. Many of the varieties on sale in convenience stores and supermarkets are seasonal ones that are available for a limited period of time every year. It is a great choice for a quick snack to warm yourself up during winter season!
This isn’t food but still worth a mention. Sake – Japan’s famous alcoholic rice drink is enjoyed cold in the summer and hot in the winter! Be aware, however, that top-quality sake will not be served hot as the heat destroys the flavor and aroma of the drink. Kanpai!
Which is your favorite winter dish? The winters are cold here but the food options make up for it. Click here to read about the best season to visit Tokyo.