Food I Want My Kids to Experience in Japan

31 Jan

image from yaizu-uonaka.or.jp

I am a list-maker. And I have been making a lot of lists in preparation for our trip to Japan. One little list is “Food I Want My Kids to Experience in Japan.” You will NOT find us eating at McDonald’s or KFC while we are there… no away! Japanese food and restaurants ONLY!

Food I Want My Kids to Experience in Japan

1) Okosama Lunch (お子様ランチ): This is the Japanese version of a “kid’s meal” and usually includes fried rice, ebi-fry (tempura), purin, etc. (Click HERE to see my version)

2) Sushi (すし): My kids currently LOVE ikura-sushi (salmon roe). I bet they would love a kaiten-sushi restaurant!

3) Taiyaki (たいやき): My daughter has a taiyaki-making toy set, but she’s never tasted a real taiyaki.

4) Takoyaki (たこやき): The frozen kinds don’t compare to the fresh, hot, crispy-on-the-outside takoyaki sold on the streets.

5) Choux-Cream (シュークリーム) : The Japanese make the best cream puffs.

6) Kasutera (カステラ) : Yummy spongy cake.

7) Melon Pan, An-pan, Cream Pan (メロンパン、アンパン、クリームパン): We’ll probably eat these for breakfast a lot.

8) Ramen (ラーメン): I want them to know the difference between real ramen and instant ramen.

9) Calpis drinks/other Japanese drinks (カルピス): They’re available in the U.S. but they’re really expensive here so I never buy them.

10) Mochi (もち): all kinds!


(Shinkansen sushi train at a kaiten-sushi/ 回転寿司 restaurant)

What should I add to my list? Am I missing anything major? I didn’t add curry, gyoza, etc because I know how to make those at home. What Japanese foods are you craving right now?

P.S. Are you afraid that there might be radiation in your food? How do we know what’s safe and not safe to eat in Japan?

21 Responses to “Food I Want My Kids to Experience in Japan”

  1. Sayaka January 31, 2012 at 12:52 PM #

    I love the cute and delicious specialty treats sold in fancy boxes that are specific to each prefecture. Also you can collect rare hi-chew flavors while you’re there. I also love the super hard surume that’s hard to find here in the States. And you should come home with some boxes of furu-che. In addition to Calpis I like Nacchan and Qoo… they have awesome flavors like momo and mascat (green grape?) and acerola. Aaa, the list goes on and on.

    • Hiragana Mama January 31, 2012 at 4:55 PM #

      I think a lot of your foods can go on another list I have… “Foods I (myself) want to eat in Japan”. Which reminds me… I’ll have to get a hold of some dried hotate while I’m there– yum! I’ll try those drinks when I’m in Japan!

  2. Rachel January 31, 2012 at 1:25 PM #

    I really miss Taiyaki (cream’s my favorite)! It’s my favorite treat in Japan. Sad thing is, there’s no place to sell it in America and it can’t really be homemade. So I have to wait to go to Japan to eat it. Maybe that’s why I love it so much.

    • Hiragana Mama January 31, 2012 at 4:56 PM #

      I KNOW, I wish they’d start selling them here! I think you can make your own at home as long as you can get a hold of a taiyaki-maker (sometimes Amazon.com has them). Wish I could mail you some from Japan.

  3. Bicultural Mama January 31, 2012 at 9:23 PM #

    I am totally a list making, too! So what do you think of okonomiyaki? I tried that while in Hiroshima when my sister was living there. I know the style there is slightly different than in other places in Japan.

    • Hiragana Mama February 1, 2012 at 9:05 AM #

      I love okonomiyaki, and definitely plan to eat one Hiroshima-style (has noodles mixed in) while I am there.

  4. nseino February 1, 2012 at 12:28 AM #

    I miss eating in Japan soo much. They seriously have the best food. Yeah I think you guys should visit an okonomiyaki place. We went to one in both Hiroshima and Osaka and they were both so good. Also even though you don’t want to eat American food while you’re there, sometimes it’s interesting to visit Mcdonald’s just to see how the menu differs from here.

    • Hiragana Mama February 1, 2012 at 9:11 AM #

      Yeah, I know… last time I was in Japan, I ate in McDonald’s (I think I got the chicken nuggets with the wasabi sauce?). BUT as interesting as McDonald’s in Japan might be, I’d rather have REAL Japanese food🙂 Maybe I’ll visit one just to look at the menu and take a picture, haha. Japan’s KFC’s are a big NO WAY. I thought America’s KFC’s are better.

  5. Marisa February 1, 2012 at 10:06 AM #

    Yum! Your list is making me hungry.
    Yes to taiyaki, mochi (especially ichigo daifuku!) and kasutera!

    I would add – tebasaki from Yama-chan (my favourite Nagoya specialty), curry from Coco Ichiban (I make it at home too, but I would never make the chicken katsu / cheese curry we end up having at Cocoichi.), Mr. Donuts pon de ring donuts. Unusual flavours of soft cream.

    It’s always fun to pick out special treats from the ever changing conbini selections or a special bento from a department store food section. Japanese bakeries are amazing (and make for a fast & easy meal)! And if I was there in the summer, I’d definitely be looking my favourite festival foods – yaki soba / kakigori.

    I could go on…😉 Happy eating!

    • Hiragana Mama February 1, 2012 at 1:33 PM #

      I love reading everyone’s list of foods they want to eat! What is tebasaki? I’ll have to look that up. I wish I could go to Japan during every season to eat all their yummy seasonal foods too!

      • Marisa February 1, 2012 at 1:48 PM #

        Tebasaki are the most delicious chicken wings! Can be quite peppery – so not sure if they are that kid-friendly. But super delicious!

        It’s a Nagoya specialty, but I think you can find them other places now. Yama Chan is our favourite -> http://www.yamachan.co.jp/index.html

  6. Ai Sakura February 1, 2012 at 12:23 PM #

    Hello! I’ve been reading your blog for some time🙂 I’ve been sourcing for ideas on how to teach my Lil girl Japanese too. So stuck! She knows some simple words like おやすみや愛してるやおはようとか though. But now I just want her to experience and enjoy the culture first, hopefully as she grows to love it, she will enjoy learning the language to find out more about the culture.

    Which part of Japan are you going? I love Misdo donuts too! Especially Pon de Ring, and remember to eat Kyoto yatsuhashi, suppon, yakiniku tabehoudai, Kyoto kaizen ryouri, matcha ice-cream, kuro goma ice cream, parfait etc etc.!!

    I’m not Japanese but I lived in Kyoto a few years and kept strong ties with my close friends and “families” there🙂 Enjoy your trip!

    Ai @ Sakura Haruka

    • Hiragana Mama February 1, 2012 at 1:31 PM #

      Thank you for your comment! I haven’t heard of Misdo donuts or Pon de Ring, I’ll have to keep my eye out for them! We’ll be in Kyoto for a few days… so excited.

      • Ai Sakura February 1, 2012 at 8:06 PM #

        Kyoto is such an amazing place and really is my fave Japanese city. I did a lot of 国内旅行 but I always love returning to Kyoto. Remember to see kinkakuji, ginkakuji, climb all the way up in Fushimiinari, shop in teramachi/sanjyo/shijyo… I hope you make it there for ohanami. It’s gorgeous!

        Ai @ Sakura Haruka

  7. yseino February 2, 2012 at 11:53 AM #

    This post and comment thread are making me so hungry!

    One of my favorite things I ate last year was their “soft cream” ice cream… I don’t think I’d had it before. The ichigo and sakura flavors were amazing. I bet the kids will love it! Speaking of sakura, there are all sorts of yummy sakura-flavored things in April. Freshly made sakura mocha is amaaaaazing. I’m sure the kids will love trying all the Japanese candies too since they are so much better than anything here–anything ramune, melon, momo, strawberry, or yogurt flavored. I would suggest not being shy about buying stuff you want in Japan! I was and I regret it so much now😦

    • Hiragana Mama February 2, 2012 at 2:19 PM #

      I am already planning to buy some sakura essense while I am in Japan so I can make sakura-flavored things! I think I better extend my trip to Japan so I have time to eat all of this yummy food…

      And about being a conservative shopper: I know. I know I’m going to want to buy everything, and the sensible part of me is going to say, “No, you have a finite amount of money, and not enough space in your luggage”. It will be hard to find a balance between the two! The hard part about traveling with two little kids is that they add a lot of extra luggage, yet they can’t help with carrying stuff around😦

  8. Sharon February 2, 2012 at 5:17 PM #

    I vote okonomiyaki too.

  9. Sayaka February 3, 2012 at 11:00 PM #

    I forgot to say you should get gyuudon from Sukiya, it’s a pretty cheap donburi chain restaurant everywhere and delicious. I always got mine with yamaimo. I miss it so much!

  10. coffeegrljp March 6, 2012 at 7:11 AM #

    My daughters love hanami dango. We love to eat as much mochi as possible when we’re here (which is about half the year), kushi katsu, sushi, Japanese cheesecake (so hard to find in the US!), taiyaki (and anything with anko). Sakura soft cream is also a big hit with the girls!

    • Hiragana Mama March 6, 2012 at 9:24 AM #

      I love mochi too! Your comment is making me hungry🙂

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