Street food is very important to Japanese people. Served at “matsuri” (祭り) festivals such as cherry blossom viewing or fireworks festivals, we call these types of dishes “yataimeshi” (屋台飯). Sampling the street food available is one of the biggest attractions at Japanese festivals!
Every recipe can be made at home. So let’s get started!
1. Takoyaki (Japanese Fried Octopus Balls)
Takoyaki is definitely my go-to street food at festivals. It’s considered as one of Osaka’s soul foods and you see a lot of takoyaki stalls everywhere.
This small dumpling is made from a thin batter and stuffed with boiled octopus and pickled ginger. It’s cooked in a special circular mold so that it becomes a round ball shape.
2. Osaka Style Okonomiyaki
Okonomiyaki （お好み焼き）is a Japanese savory pancake-type dish made with an egg batter and filled with meat and vegetables. It is mostly popular in Osaka and Hiroshima and they always argue which one is authentic or better. I’m not from either of the prefectures, so I won’t comment on that.
Either way, both Okonomiyaki types are popular at festivals as well and it’s something I get every time.
3. Hiroshima Style Okonomiyaki (in a frying pan)
As the name suggests, Hiroshima style okonomiyaki is a variation of an okonomiyaki from Hiroshima prefecture in Western Japan.
There is no better or worse, they’re both great! On the recipe page, you can see a step-by-step guide on how to make Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki layers!
4. Yakisoba (Japanese stir-fried noodles)
Yakisoba (焼きそば) is a delicious Japanese stir-fry dish made with thick Chinese-style noodles, pork belly, and vegetables coated in a sweet, tangy, and savory yakisoba sauce. It’s usually generously topped with pickled ginger, bonito flakes, and aonori seaweed powder.
Because it’s easy to make it outside, yakisoba is often served at outdoor occasions such as festivals, sports day, fireworks festivals, and cherry blossom festivals as well as being made at home and casual diners. Not only as street food, but we also cook and eat at home regularly.
5. Authentic Chicken Karaage (Crispy Japanese Fried Chicken)
Japanese karaage fried chicken is definitely my favorite dish of all time and needless to say, a must-have at festivals (for me at least)!
Despite the term “karaage” being used for Japanese-style fried chicken, it doesn’t technically mean “fried chicken”. Karaage (から揚げ) is actually a cooking term that means to fry without a batter (unlike tempura). Usually, the meat is soaked in a delicious marinade and then coated in flour or starch.
It’s also something you always see at festivals without fail!
6. Chicken Tatsuta Age
If you want something slightly different from chicken karaage, this tatsuta age will be an amazing alternative!
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!
7. Chicken Tsukune (Japanese Glazed Meatballs)
Yakitori is surely one of the most popular choices at festivals in Japan, but the easiest kind of yakitori to make at home would be this tsukune.
Chicken tsukune is a delicious and flavourful 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!
8. Taiwan Mazesoba (Nagoya’s Spicy Brothless Ramen)
You might not associate noodle dishes with street food, but more and more stalls start to sell mazesoba (at least in my area) at food festivals.
Taiwan Mazesoba is a delicious regional noodle dish that hails from Nagoya. Made with thick, springy ramen noodles topped with spicy ground pork, crispy nori, crunchy tempura bits, fresh spring onion, and raw egg yolk, it ticks all the boxes in terms of taste and texture! Not only that, but it’s also quick and straightforward to make!
9. Crispy Pork Gyoza (Japanese Pan Fried Dumplings)
I know it’s a bit off-topic because you do not see gyoza at traditional festivals such as cherry blossom festivals or fireworks festivals. However, there are a lot of food festivals dedicated to gyoza so I thought it’s worth a mention!
These addictive dumplings are filled with seasoned ground pork and vegetables, wrapped in a thin dough, and then dipped in gyoza sauce. I’ve got a few secret tips for frying them to crispy perfection too!
10. Hanami Dango
The word “hanami” (花見) means “flower viewing” and around March and April is when people love to have picnics and gather under the beautiful cherry blossoms in full bloom.
There are usually food stands lined up along the trees so you can walk and eat delicious Japanese street food; it’s a great experience! There is even a saying in Japanese called “Hana yori dango”, which means “Dango over flowers”.
10 Japanese Street Food Recipes That Will Make You Feel Festive
- Select recipes you want to try from the list above.
- See the detailed instruction in each post.
- Enjoy the Japanese street food recipe for your next casual gathering!