Yatai – Discover Japanese street foods

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Have you ever eaten street food in Japan? They are called yatai (屋台) which literally refers to carts that sell food. Japan is a country rich in festivals, events and sights, it is normal to imagine that more than 200,000 events take place every year in Japan. Festivals like matsuri, hanami and fireworks is one of the opportunities to eat delicious street food.

Street foods are not usually found in regular restaurants, but some can be bought at fairs or even made at home with ease. Japanese street foods are based on old dishes from the 20th century or earlier and can be prepared with ease. In this article, we are going to look at the main street dishes found at festivals in Japan.

The substitutes for some street foods that are highlighted in the article are links that take you to the specific article talking more about this food. Just click to access!

Yaki Imo and Stews

Yaki Imo are sweet potatoes cooked in a wood-fired oven. Trucks and trailers equipped with wood-burning stoves can be found all over Japan. Trucks can drive around slowly repeating “yaki imo… yaki imo… yaki imo” over a loudspeaker.

In addition to the sweet potato cooked in a wood stove, you will find the Jaga Bata, a peeled potato boiled and covered with butter. Needless to say, it's common to find too chips, popcorn and other vegetables at street festivals in Japan. Something more extreme are the onsen tamago, which are eggs that have been boiled in a natural hot spring, or onsen.

Yatai - discover Japanese street foods

Japanese street crepes

Crepes are quite popular in Japan as street food or even specialty stores. You can find all kinds of sweet and savory crepes, they can be in strategic places and tourist spots. It is very common to find small stores, full of models throughout their window. One of the most popular street foods in Japan.

Yatai - get to know japan crepe street food

Okonomiyaki – Japanese pancakes

Okonomiyaki – お好み焼き – Japanese savory pancakes stuffed with meat, seafood and vegetables. They can be topped with mayonnaise, katsuobushi, nori, pickled ginger and a sauce similar to tonkatsu sauce. This dish is very popular throughout Japan and has several regional variations. He can easily be found on the street. Okonomiyaki is one of the most sought-after street foods in Japan by foreigners.

Yatai - get to know okonomiyaki japan street food

Dango – Candy on a skewer 

Dango (団子?) is a Japanese dumpling made from mochiko (rice flour). It is served on a skewer with 3 or 4 dangos, and is usually eaten with Green Tea. Dango is a classic dessert that is available in endless varieties, its texture is similar to mochi. He is very popular in shrines and temples and tends to stand out at certain times of the year. During the Mitarashi festival at Shimogamo Shrine, dango is the main offering to the deities.

In addition to dango, any kind of mochi can be a good choice during a festival in Japan, especially at the end of the year.

Yatai - discover japan dango street food

Senbei and Ramune

Senbei are simple biscuits (or crackers) made from rice with a variety of sweet and savory flavors. At festivals you can find fresh and grilled senbei, city of nara tourists buy senbei to feed the city's deer.

You can accompany these cookies by having a famous drink called ramune. A lemon soda that comes in a different glass bottle with a ball on top. This drink is also quite popular at street festivals.

Yatai - get to know senbei japan street food

Takoyaki – Grilled Octopus

Takoyaki (たこ焼き), 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 griddle. It is quite common to find stalls with these dumplings at festivals, cultural fairs and also in specialized places in Takoyaki. It is usually stuffed with cut pieces of a small whole octopus, tempura shavings (tenkasu), chopped ginger and chives.

  • Kare Pan – It's a fried bread stuffed with kare. These are just some of the many types of bread found at street festivals in Japan;
  • Baby Kasutera – miniature Japanese cake that ends in one bite;
Yatai - discover Japanese street foods

Shioyaki and things on skewers

Fish roasted on a skewer (usually mackerel). It is usually saltier than salt itself. In addition to grilled fish, it is also worth mentioning another popular street food called Ikayaki, which are grilled squid.

To delve deeper into the skewer, let's cite some dishes on the skewer such as chocobanana which consists of a banana covered in chocolate and confetti on a stick. We also have grilled corn with miso, butter and soy sauce on a skewer called tomorokoshi. Even cucumbers have not escaped and can be found on a skewer with miso paste by the name of Kyuri. Not to mention several yakitori or other things on a skewer.

Yatai - discover street food from chocobanan japan

Taiyaki – Fish-shaped cake 

The taiyaki is a sweet (or savory) cake made with flour dough, water and yeast… It is usually stuffed with sweet red bean paste (azuki) and grilled in a shape shaped like snapper fish. Taiyaki is basically a regular fish-shaped pancake or waffle. It is placed on a grill with mold on both sides. It is very similar to those Swiss crepes. It can contain sweet and savory fillings!

Yatai - discover Japanese street foods

Other Japanese street foods

Finally, I cannot fail to mention the traditional and famous yakisoba fried noodles that are grilled and found on the street all over Japan. It is worth remembering that the traditional ramen can also be found at street vendors and festivals. There are thousands of other street foods in Japan, if you remember any, you can mention them in the comments. We appreciate the comments and shares. xD

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