15 Types of Japanese Restaurants and Dishes

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When people think of Japanese restaurants, they think of sushi restaurants. The fact is, there are thousands of types of Japanese restaurants – all specializing in a different type of Japanese cuisine. Today we will see 15 of them.

Each of these Specialties mentioned below, has its wide history, culture and variety that deserves to have its own article citing all the details. Who knows in the future.

We are making it clear that there are restaurants specializing in each type, just as there are restaurants with different types of dishes on their menu. The focus of this article is to show that Japan is full of choices, with a rich cuisine, and numerous types of restaurants and choices on their menus.

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1. Ramen Restaurants [ラーメン]

There are thousands of different restaurants, types and flavors of ramen, the most common being Chinese-style wheat noodles served in a meat or fish broth. There is usually a soy sauce or miso flavoring in the soup. Ramen is often topped with chashu (grated pork), negi and nori. Virtually every region of Japan has its own unique variety of ramen.

To learn more about ramen, read: Ramen's Guide - Types, Curiosities and Recipes

15 types of Japanese restaurants and specialties

2. Yakitori Restaurants [やきとり/焼き鳥]

These are grilled chicken skewers – a very popular food, especially with drinks. This is a very common food, also found at festivals, and there are many derivations and recipes based on Yakitori.

A simple recipe that anyone can make. But don't be fooled, there are professionals. See the recipe in the video below, and understand that it can be easy and difficult at the same time.

To learn more about Yakitori, read: Japanese skewers – Know the Yakitori

3. Soba Restaurants [そば]

It is a type of Japanese noodles made from buckwheat flour, served hot or cold with a variety of toppings. 

Hot soba dishes are served with the noodles in a hot soup, usually made with fish broth, soy sauce, sugar and mirin. There are thousands of dishes derived from soba, just as there are thousands of specialty restaurants.

Read too: 15 types of Japanese noodles

15 types of Japanese restaurants and specialties

4. Izakaya [居酒屋]

Izakaya are Japanese bars. They are popular and casual places to meet after work hours. They serve a variety of popular foods such as fried chicken, edamame, yakitori and sashimi. Watch a video, showing in detail how an Izakaya works.

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5. Tonkatsu Restaurants [とんかつ]

Breaded fried pork served with shredded cabbage, rice, miso soup and Japanese pickles. It is served with tonkatsu sauce (a thick sweet sauce similar to Worcestershire sauce).

To learn more about Tonkatsu, read: Tonkatsu – Breaded Pork Chop

15 types of Japanese restaurants and specialties

6. Sushi Restaurants [すし]

For those who think that Japan only has sushi, know that sushi is more popular in western countries, such as the US and Canada than in Japan. Japanese sushi is very different from western varieties, it has its fame, and its many flavors and varieties.

Read too: 130 Types of Sushi – Urumaki, Hossomaki, Nigiri

15 types of Japanese restaurants and specialties

7. Tempura Restaurants [天ぷら]

Tempura is a classic Japanese dish. It consists of fried pieces of vegetables or shellfish wrapped in a thin batter. Like a batter, only better.

In Japan, there are a wide variety of restaurants that sell tempura. From street vendors to 5-star restaurants. Tempura is also often used as an accompaniment to other dishes.

We recommend reading: Tempura | history, curiosities and recipe

15 types of Japanese restaurants and specialties

8. Shabu-shabu Restaurants [しゃぶしゃぶ]

They are restaurants that serve a hot pot where the customer cooks a variety of fresh ingredients and meats to be eaten together with friends, accompanied by sauce and other varieties.

Shabu-shabu is a dish consisting of a meat stew (beef, pork, chicken, shrimp), vegetables (watercress, shinkiku, chard, leeks, chives, moyashi, etc.), mushrooms (shiitake and shimeji) and others. (udon, konnyaku, kamaboku, etc.).

Read too: Shabu Shabu - Curiosities and Recipes

9. Takoyaki Restaurants [たこ焼き]

Takoyaki [たこ焼き or 蛸焼] (literally fried or grilled octopus) is a popular Japanese round dumpling that looks more like a seasoned pancake made with a very soft, almost liquid dough and fried on a special Takoyaki griddle.

It is usually stuffed with chopped pieces or a whole small octopus, tempura shavings (tenkasu), chopped ginger and chives. Present at festivals, street sales and even in specialized restaurants.

Read more: Takoyaki – Curiosities and Octopus Cake Recipes

15 types of Japanese restaurants and specialties

10. Kare Restaurants [カレー]

Kare or Curry, is one of the most popular foreign ingredients in Japanese cuisine. This spice of life to the dishes karē raisu (curry with rice), karē udon (with noodles) and karē-pan (bread).

This type of sauce in Japan is usually thicker, sweeter, and milder than its Indian counterpart. Curry is a spice originating in India, but Japanese curry has its huge differences.

We recommend reading: Curiosities and Japanese Kare Recipe (Curry)

15 types of Japanese restaurants and specialties

11. Udon Restaurants [うどん]

A thick noodle made from Japanese wheat flour. Udon is usually served as a soup, in a hot broth based on dashi, soy sauce and mirin.

On top of basic udon, one or more ingredients are added, and these ingredients give rise to various types of udon. Most of them are minced negi (scallions).

See too: Udon – Japanese thick noodles

15 types of Japanese restaurants and specialties

12. Okonomiyaki Restaurants [お好み焼き]

Okonomiyaki evolved from the practice of cooking leftovers in a Japanese pancake batter. In many okonomiyaki restaurants you can choose the ingredients to put on your pancake.

Common ingredients include cheese, mochi, vegetables, noodles, pork and seafood. Customers often make their own okonomiyaki. See a video of our friend Santana.

Read too: Okonomiyaki – Japanese Pancake – Curiosities and recipe

Okonomiyaki - Japanese pancake - curiosities and recipe

14. Gyuudon Restaurants [牛丼]

Gyudon consists of thinly sliced fried meat with onions and a special sauce over a bowl of rice sometimes accompanied by miso soup and other special and delicious ingredients.

Despite appearing to be a simple dish, it is very popular and delicious with different variations. In these restaurants you can also find similar dishes with pork or unagi. Gyudon restaurants are usually fast and cheap style Fast Food Restaurants.

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15 types of Japanese restaurants and specialties

15. Kushiage Restaurants or kushikatsu

It is a Japanese dish of seasoned and grilled skewered meat. In Japanese, kushi [串] refers to the skewer used, while katsu means the chop of meat.

Kushikatsu can be made with chicken, pork, seafood and seasonal vegetables. They are skewered on bamboo kushi, dipped in eggs, flour and panko, and fried in vegetable oil.1 They can be served plain or with tonkatsu sauce.

We also recommend reading: Kushikatsu - Meat on a skewer

15 types of Japanese restaurants and specialties

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