Signature Dishes to Try at an Authentic Japanese Restaurant

Signature Dishes to Try at an Authentic Japanese Restaurant

When it comes to dining out, Japanese cuisine offers a delightful array of flavours, textures, and visual appeal. Whether you’re a sushi aficionado or new to Japanese food, there’s something for everyone. Here’s a guide to some signature dishes you should try at an authentic Japanese restaurant like Ginza St. James’s Japanese Restaurant.

Sushi and Sashimi


Sushi is perhaps the most iconic Japanese dish. It comes in various forms, from nigiri (a slice of fish on a rice ball) to maki (rolled sushi with seaweed, rice, and fillings).

Popular Sushi Varieties:

  • Nigiri Sushi: Fresh slices of fish like salmon, tuna, or eel placed atop small mounds of vinegared rice.
  • Maki Sushi: Rolls filled with ingredients such as cucumber, avocado, crab, and raw fish, all wrapped in seaweed and rice.
  • Temaki Sushi: Hand-rolled sushi cones filled with a variety of ingredients.


Sashimi is a must-try for seafood lovers. This dish features thinly sliced raw fish or seafood, served without rice.

Popular Sashimi Varieties:

  • Maguro (Tuna): Rich and buttery, often considered a delicacy.
  • Sake (Salmon): Smooth and slightly sweet, a favourite among many.
  • Hamachi (Yellowtail): Firm texture with a mild flavour.


Tempura is a dish of battered and deep-fried seafood or vegetables. The light, crispy batter creates a delightful contrast to the tender ingredients inside.

What to Try:

  • Ebi (Prawn) Tempura: Juicy prawns encased in a crispy batter.
  • Vegetable Tempura: A mix of vegetables like sweet potato, aubergine, and bell pepper, all fried to perfection.


Ramen, a popular Japanese noodle soup, is known for its rich broth and varied toppings. It’s a comforting and hearty dish perfect for any time of the year.

Ramen Styles:

  • Shoyu Ramen: Soy sauce-based broth, typically clear and brown, with a savoury flavour.
  • Miso Ramen: Made with fermented soybean paste, giving it a rich and complex taste.
  • Tonkotsu Ramen: A creamy, pork-based broth, thick and full of umami.


  • Chashu (Braised Pork): Tender slices of pork belly.
  • Ajitama (Marinated Egg): Soft-boiled eggs marinated in a soy-based sauce.
  • Nori (Seaweed): Adds a briny flavour to the soup.


Donburi is a rice bowl dish topped with various ingredients. It’s a versatile and filling meal that showcases the simplicity and depth of Japanese cuisine.

Must-Try Donburi:

  • Gyudon: Thinly sliced beef simmered with onions in a sweet soy sauce, served over rice.
  • Katsudon: Breaded and deep-fried pork cutlet, egg, and onion simmered in a savoury-sweet sauce, all atop a bed of rice.
  • Unadon: Grilled eel glazed with a sweet soy-based sauce, served over rice.


Often described as a Japanese savoury pancake, Okonomiyaki is a fun and flavourful dish that you can customise to your liking. The name translates to “grill as you like,” reflecting the endless variations you can create.


  • Batter: Made from flour, eggs, and shredded cabbage.
  • Fillings: Include ingredients like pork belly, shrimp, octopus, or cheese.
  • Toppings: Commonly topped with okonomiyaki sauce, Japanese mayonnaise, bonito flakes, and seaweed flakes.


Yakitori consists of skewered and grilled chicken pieces, seasoned with either salt or tare (a sweet soy-based sauce). It’s a popular choice at izakayas (Japanese pubs) and pairs perfectly with a cold drink.

Popular Yakitori Skewers:

  • Negima: Chicken and spring onion skewers.
  • Tsukune: Chicken meatballs, often glazed with tare sauce.
  • Tebasaki: Grilled chicken wings, crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside.

Nabe (Hot Pot)

Nabe is a communal dish perfect for sharing with friends and family. It involves cooking a variety of ingredients together in a hot pot at the table, making for a warm and interactive dining experience.

Types of Nabe:

  • Sukiyaki: Thinly sliced beef, vegetables, tofu, and noodles simmered in a sweet soy sauce broth.
  • Shabu-shabu: Similar to sukiyaki but with a lighter, dashi-based broth. Ingredients are dipped in the hot broth, then into various sauces.
  • Yosenabe: A mix of seafood, meat, and vegetables simmered in a seasoned broth.

Udon and Soba

Udon and Soba are two types of Japanese noodles that offer distinct textures and flavours. They are often served hot in broth or cold with dipping sauces.


  • Kake Udon: Simple hot noodle soup with a light broth.
  • Tempura Udon: Udon noodles topped with tempura, adding a satisfying crunch.
  • Curry Udon: Thick udon noodles in a rich, savoury curry broth.


  • Zaru Soba: Cold soba noodles served on a bamboo tray, with a dipping sauce on the side.
  • Kake Soba: Hot soba noodle soup, light and comforting.
  • Tempura Soba: Soba noodles topped with crispy tempura.


Japanese cuisine is a vibrant tapestry of flavours, textures, and techniques. From the fresh simplicity of sushi and sashimi to the comforting warmth of ramen and nabe, there’s always something new and exciting to try. Next time you visit an authentic Japanese restaurant, explore these signature dishes and discover your favourites.

Whether you’re dining alone, with friends, or family, Japanese food offers a delightful experience that brings people together. Enjoy your culinary journey through the rich and diverse world of Japanese cuisine!

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