Check out these 25 delicious and addictive "otsumami" Japanese appetizer recipes that will bring the izakaya to your own home!
Otsumami (おつまみ) can be translated as "Finger food" or "Nibbles" to English and often associated with midnight snack or beer snack. When you go to Izakaya (Japanese bar/pub) in Japan, you will find lots of Otsumamis on the menu. It can range from vegetables like pickles to deep fried goods like fried chicken! It's like Japanese version of tapas!
An izakaya is a Japanese equivalent to a bar or a pub, a place where you can gather with friends or business associates for food and drinks. Munching and drinking are equally important there. Dishes are usually served in a small dish and shared amongst everyone.
So, here is the list of recommended izakaya style dishes!
- Chicken Tsukune (Japanese Glazed Meatballs)
- Agedashi Tofu (Japanese Deep Fried Tofu)
- Japanese Pickled Cucumber with Ginger (Kyuri no Tsukemono)
- Flavourful Edamame (with garlic and oyster sauce glaze)
- Japanese Potato Salad (Izakaya Style)
- Japanese Style Avocado Egg Salad
- Crispy Pork Gyoza (Japanese Pan Fried Dumplings)
- Chicken Karaage (Crispy Japanese Fried Chicken)
- Chicken Tatsuta Age
- Oita Style Chicken Tempura (Toriten)
- Nagoya Style Tebasaki Chicken Wings
- Ramen Egg (Nitamago/Ajitsuke Tamago)
- Chashu (チャーシュー)
- Salted Cabbage
- Ebi Mayo (Fried Shrimp in Mayonnaise Sauce)
- Saizeriya's Karami Chicken
- Tako to Kyuri no Sunomono (Octopus and Cucumber Salad)
- Salmon Ochazuke (Japanese Tea on Rice)
- Niratama (Garlic Chive and Egg)
- Hiyayakko (Japanese Cold Tofu)
- Pan Fried Tofu Steak with Japanese Sauce (vegan)
- Goya Champuru (Okinawan bitter melon stir fry)
- Chicken Zosui (Japanese Rice Soup)
- Shoyu (soy sauce flavored) Ramen
- Miso Ramen
- Step by step recipe
- 25 Japanese "Otsumami" Appetizer Recipes That Bring the Izakaya to Your Home
Chicken Tsukune (Japanese Glazed Meatballs)
Chicken tsukune is a delicious and flavourful type of Japanese meatball often served at izakayas, yakitori stands, at home and in bento boxes.
My homemade tsukune recipe is made with chicken thigh mixed with grated onion, shiso leaves, miso paste and ginger amongst other seasonings. They are then shaped, fried and coated in a delicious sticky glaze!
Agedashi Tofu (Japanese Deep Fried Tofu)
Agedashi tofu is one of my all time favourite tofu recipes! Made with firm tofu coated in a thin, light and crispy batter and served in a thick umami-rich sauce, you won't know how addictive tofu can be until you try this popular Japanese side dish!
Needless to say, it is a popular dish to have at izakaya in Japan!
Japanese Pickled Cucumber with Ginger (Kyuri no Tsukemono)
Tsukemono is the Japanese word for "pickles" and are considered an essential side to many Japanese meals along with miso soup and rice. It's no different when it comes to midnight snack. You might be surprised how many people would order pickles at Izakaya in Japan.
There's always some pickles police in the group who says "Why don't we order something refreshing, like pickles?" I mean pickles are that important!
Flavourful Edamame (with garlic and oyster sauce glaze)
Edamame are definitely another classic finger food!
Edamame (枝豆) are a type of young green soybean that are sold still in their pods. The beans are picked before they ripen which is why they are green rather than the beige or brown soybeans you might expect.
Japanese Potato Salad (Izakaya Style)
You might find it funny but Japanese people often eat potato salad at bars. A surprising amount of Izakayas serve potato salad as beer snack. In my recipe, to optimise potato salad as a drinking snack, I added black pepper, bacon and sesame oil!
It's easy and quick so it will be good as snacky salad with your beer as well as a suitable side for many dishes!
Japanese Style Avocado Egg Salad
This Japanese twist on avocado egg salad packs a punch with its delicious, creamy wasabi mayo sauce, sashimi grade salmon and bonito flakes and spring onion toppings. It only takes 5 minutes to prepare and it's ready to eat in just 20 minutes!
If you want something other than potato salad but similar, this is a great alternative!
Crispy Pork Gyoza (Japanese Pan Fried Dumplings)
Gyoza (餃子) are dumplings filled with pork, vegetables and seasonings, and then wrapped in a thin dough. Although they are eaten all across Japan, the dish originates from China and are originally called "Jiaozi".
It's definitely one of the most popular beer snacks and I love it! Japanese gyoza are juicy in the middle and perfectly crispy on the bottom, they're just SO GOOD!
I have a complete guide on how to make Japanese Gyoza from scratch, so if you're interested, please check it out!
Chicken Karaage (Crispy Japanese Fried Chicken)
Let's be honest, I think one of the dishes that is pretty much guaranteed to be on an izakaya menu is Japanese style fried chicken, Karaage. In fact, it's my favourite dish in the whole world. My first ever dream when I was kid was even to open my own karaage food stand.
Some people think it's too boring to have it at Izakayas because you see it everywhere in Japan day and night, but I don't care, it's still one of the best side dishes to enjoy with friends.
Chicken Tatsuta Age
Want something slightly different from chicken karaage? Then tatsuta age is a great alternative to the need!
Tatsuta age is a delicious variation of karaage (Japanese style fried chicken) made with succulent chicken thigh soaked in a soy based marinade, coated in a layer of potato starch and fried until golden like autumn leaves!
Oita Style Chicken Tempura (Toriten)
Want to try tempura style rather than karaage style chicken? Then try this Oita's regional chicken tempura (toriten)!
Toriten is a regional dish that hails from Oita, Japan. Made with succulent, marinated chicken breast which is then coated in a fluffy tempura batter and deep fried, it's served with a bright and citrusy dipping sauce. When it comes to flavour, this regional chicken tempura ticks all the boxes!
Nagoya Style Tebasaki Chicken Wings
Possibly my favourite beer snack! I basically grew up on these wings!
Nagoya Style Tebasaki (Nagoya style chicken wings) are delicious crispy deep fried wings that have been brushed with a special glaze and then generously dusted with a mixture of fine black and white pepper.
Ramen Egg (Nitamago/Ajitsuke Tamago)
You might be wondering "Isn't it for ramen?" Yes, it is, but ramen eggs are also a well loved beer snack.
Although sometimes this dish in translated as "Ramen eggs", we usually call it "Ajitsuke tamago (味付け卵)" or "Nitamago (煮卵)" which means flavoured egg or boiled egg. Some izakayas have this dish on their menu.
Chashu is another element of Ramen, but it can be consumed in different dishes or on its own.
Chashu is a dish made with fatty pork belly, braised or simmered in a soy based sauce. Chashu is usually slow cooked, this causes the texture to become extremely tender.
These salted cabbages are commonly known as "addictive" or "yamitsuki" (やみつき)" cabbage and are served in izakaya restaurants and yakiniku restaurants (where beer drinkers tend to go).
Like the name suggests, it is actually addictive and some places even offer a free refill service. It's very easy and cheap to make, I highly recommend it!
Ebi Mayo (Fried Shrimp in Mayonnaise Sauce)
Although Ebi Mayo can be considered as main dish, a lot of Izakayas would have this on their menus.Ebi Mayo is a simple shrimp dish that is usually fried and then coated in a seasoned mayonnaise based sauce. The word "ebi" (エビ) is the Japanese word for prawn and usually tiger prawns or king prawns are used for this dish.
With my recipe, I used beer batter to make it lighter and crispier!
Saizeriya's Karami Chicken
If you've ever been to Saizeriya in Japan, you know Karami Chicken is "The Snack".Karami chicken (辛味チキン) is one of the most loved dishes at Japanese-Italian family restaurants "Saizeriya (サイゼリヤ)" In fact, karami chicken is nothing to do with Italian cuisine, it's more like Buffalo wings.
Nonetheless, this is my recreation recipe that you can make at home!
Tako to Kyuri no Sunomono (Octopus and Cucumber Salad)
Want something sour and refreshing? Sunomono is a light and refreshing Japanese salad made with seafood and vegetables marinated in a vinegar based sauce called "sanbaizu". This addictive dish makes the perfect appetizer or side dish to cleanse the palate!
It's definitely recommended for someone who wants very light and refreshing side dish with drinks.
Salmon Ochazuke (Japanese Tea on Rice)
Ochazuke (お茶漬け) is a simple dish made by pouring hot tea over cooked rice and adding a variety of toppings. It's a quick and easy dish to make and a common way to use up left over ingredients.
Does it go with drinks? Indeed it does! One of the most common occasions to consume ochazuke these days is post late night drinking. We call this type of dishes "shime (〆)" and other example of shime is ramen. It basically means "end of the night out"
Niratama (Garlic Chive and Egg)
Another typical izakaya dish! The best thing is, it only takes 5 minutes with my recipe!
Niratama (にら玉) is a very simple dish of fried garlic chives and beaten eggs with some seasonings. The word "nira" (にら) refers to garlic chives and "tama" is short for "tamago" (卵) which means eggs in Japanese.
Hiyayakko (Japanese Cold Tofu)
Yes, it's just cold tofu with condiment. Simple and classic! Hiyayakko (冷奴) is a dish made with cold, uncooked tofu, cut into large squares and topped with condiments such as spring onions, ginger and dried bonito flakes and soy sauce.
In my recipe post, I listed 15 topping ideas for hiyayakko so that you can choose the condiment and topping depending on your preference!
Pan Fried Tofu Steak with Japanese Sauce (vegan)
This delicious tofu steak is pan fried until golden and crispy then coated in a sticky Japanese style glaze. You won't believe how satisfying a simple tofu dish can be until you try this recipe! Ready in just 15 minutes!
You might not think this as "beer snack" but the savory flavour definitely pairs well with drinks.
Goya Champuru (Okinawan bitter melon stir fry)
Goya champuru is a famous stir fry dish made with Okinawan bitter melon. It's a popular homecooked dish all across Japan due to it's unusual bitter, yet refreshing taste. It's also quick and easy to make!
If you want something stir-fried with your drinks, this is definitely worth trying!
Chicken Zosui (Japanese Rice Soup)
Zosui is a comforting dish made with cooked rice served in a delicious soup flavoured with soy sauce or miso. My recipe is made with succulent chicken thigh, crispy chicken skin and umami-rich mushrooms for the ultimate flavour. This will be the best zosui you will ever try!
This is a great dish to end your drinking session with!
Shoyu (soy sauce flavored) Ramen
Ramen is not always something we eat with drinks in Japan, but it's the most popular dish to have after drinking session.
Shoyu ramen is an absolute classic and with this recipe you will be able to make it totally from scratch! Made with chewy ramen noodles served in a chicken wing and dashi based broth, flavoured with soy sauce and garnished with quintessential ramen toppings, you can enjoy authentic Japanese ramen in the comfort of your own home!
Want something richer and easier than shoyu ramen? Then this miso ramen is a great alternative!
This miso ramen is rich, tasty and most importantly, it's quick and easy to make! Chewy noodles in a flavourful miso broth, topped with seasoned pork, beansprouts, spinach, sweetcorn and melty butter to add a decadent creaminess!
Step by step recipe
25 Japanese "Otsumami" Appetizer Recipes That Bring the Izakaya to Your Home
Collection of authentic Japanese izakaya style recipe ideas.
- Chicken tsukune
- Agedashi tofu
- Japanese pickled cucumber
- Japanese potato salad
- Japanese style avocado salad
- Pork gyoza
- Chicken karaage
- Chicken tatsuta
- Chicken tempura
- Tebasaki chicken wing
- Ramen egg (nitamago)
- Salted cabbage
- Ebi mayo
- Saizeriya's karami chicken
- Salmon ochazuke
- Niratama (garlic chive and egg)
- Hiyayakko (cold tofu)
- Tofu steak
- Goya champuru
- Chicken zosui
- Shoyu ramen
- Miso ramen
- Select recipes you want to try from the list above.
- See the detailed instruction in each post.
- Enjoy the otsumami recipe and make your home authentic izakaya!
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