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!
- Takoyaki (Japanese Fried Octopus Balls)
- Osaka Style Okonomiyaki
- Hiroshima Style Okonomiyaki (in a frying pan)
- Yakisoba (Japanese stir-fried noodles)
- Authentic Chicken Karaage (Crispy Japanese Fried Chicken)
- Chicken Tatsuta Age
- Hanami Dango
- Chicken Tsukune (Japanese Glazed Meatballs)
- Taiwan Mazesoba (Nagoya's Spicy Brothless Ramen)
- Crispy Pork Gyoza (Japanese Pan Fried Dumplings)
- Step by step recipe
- 10 Japanese Street Food Recipes That Will Make You Feel Festive
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.
Osaka Style Okonomiyaki
Okonomiyaki （お好み焼き）is a Japanese savory pancake type dish made with a egg batter and filled with meat and vegetables. It is mostly popular in Osaka and Hiroshima and they are always arguing which one is authentic or better. I'm not from either of the prefectures, so I'm not gonna comment on that.
Either way, both Okonomiyaki types are popular at festivals as well and it's something I definitely get every time.
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! In the recipe page, you can see step-by-step guide on how to make Hiroshima style okonomiyaki layers!
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 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, cherry blossom festivals as well as being made at home and at casual diners. Not only as street food, but we also cook and eat at home regularly.
Authentic Chicken Karaage (Crispy Japanese Fried Chicken)
Japanese karaage fried chicken is definitely my favourite 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 which 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!
Chicken Tatsuta Age
If you want something slightly different to 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!
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 a even saying in Japanese called "Hana yori dango", which literally means "Dango over flowers".
Chicken Tsukune (Japanese Glazed Meatballs)
Yakitori is surely one of the most popular choices to have 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 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!
Taiwan Mazesoba (Nagoya's Spicy Brothless Ramen)
You might not associate noodle dish 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 a 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!
Crispy Pork Gyoza (Japanese Pan Fried Dumplings)
I know it's a bit off-topic, because you actually 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 then wrapped in a thin dough. I've got a few secret tips for frying them to crispy perfection too!