Can You Pass This Japanese Food Test?


By: Olivia Cantor

6 Min Quiz

Image: Yuji Kotani / DigitalVision / Getty Images

About This Quiz

New to Japanese food? Don't fret; we've got you covered!

So what is the specialty of Japanese cuisine, you might wonder. Primarily, it's seafood. As an archipelago, bodies of water surround Japan. With over 6,000 islands, fishing became a major industry throughout the centuries. That's why certain regions specialize in serving specific seafood delicacies featuring certain fish species. Salmon lovers, rejoice; the Japanese love eating them, based on so many dishes that highlight this fish. Pacific bluefin tuna and different mackerel types are popular, too. Can you also imagine eating an eel or an octopus? Come on; challenge yourself. It's delish!

Not big on seafood? The Japanese have you covered with meat stuff, too. Japan produces one of the most exquisite and also one of the most expensive kinds of beef. It's wonderful to taste it grilled or fried. There's even an option to cook the meat yourself, as certain restaurants have that kind of setup in their tables.

The Japanese also know how to make comfort food. We're talking about soup here. Combined with five different noodle types and almost a dozen types of broth, you can take your pick!

Craving carbs? Feast on various rice preparations, too. You can have it plain, fried or with vinegar. You can also have it super chewy and super sticky; that's what "glutinous rice" means.

Did we whet your appetite enough about Japanese cuisine in general? Good! Now let's get down to the specifics. Our quiz will discuss these delicacies in detail. 

Yummy trails, quiz lovers!

The Japanese love their battered and fried stuff, as this dish will attest. Do you know what this is?

Deep-fried food fans should try this light battered shrimp called ebi tempura. You can dip it in special tempura sauce. Vegetables also come in tempura style; check first to see what kind they have.


They serve these veggies as appetizers or bar chow. High-five if you know this one!

When in Japan, try going inside a small bar they call izakaya. This budget-friendly bar serves alcoholic beverages with edamame soybean appetizers. This bar chow is usually given to customers for free.


They're all compact and tasty. But they're made with raw food sometimes. What's this?

When ordering sushi, remember to be specific; it comes in different forms and shapes. The one with the fish slice atop a small rice wedge is nigiri. The ones wrapped in cone-shaped seaweed are temaki.


Now this one's the raw ones minus the wrappings and rice. What's it called?

Brave foodies out there should try sashimi since it's all raw ingredients. The most common fish types used for sashimi are tuna (maguro) and salmon (sake). If you want to be more adventurous, try the octopus sashimi (tako) or the caviar-like salmon roe (ikura).


Use this spicy paste sparingly lest you want to offend the chef. Do you know this one?

That green paste beside your sushi order is wasabi but it's often made of horseradish. Even in Japan, the real wasabi plant is hard to grow; this makes it very expensive and limited. It's advisable to put tiny amounts of it on your food item; never mix it with your dipping sauce.


This one's very healthy to the core. What's this soy-based product?

This abura-age food product is tofu, but the fried version. Generally, tofu comes in steamed white versions mixed into many dishes and soups. There are also stand-alone tofu dishes like the chilled dish called hiyayakko.


Don't get fooled by this heavy dessert; it's made of glutinous rice. It's known as what?

If you want a fun intro to mochi, get the ice cream-filled kind now available in Costco and Whole Foods Market. The sticky glutinous rice will be chewy at every bite; the ice cream inside will give you the home run taste. You can try the non-ice cream mochi desserts in Japanese restaurants, too.


You may have seen this tea flavor used in other products like chocolates. What's it called?

If you've been seeing food items with the term "matcha" on them, that means they infused powdered green tea in it. Matcha is the high-grade tea with a higher caffeine content than steeped tea. Aside from drinking it, you can eat matcha-flavored food like macaroons, ice cream, doughnuts and cakes.


The Japanese have their own version of dumplings, too. What do they call theirs?

While other dumplings are either deep-fried or steamed, the gyoza can be both. One side of it gets fried first before steaming the whole thing. Vegetarians can enjoy no meat versions of this popular food, too.


No Japanese menu is complete without offering this delicious noodle dish. Know this one?

Buckwheat is soba's main ingredient, so it comes in a darker color than most noodles. When served cold, most soba dishes come with sauces where you dip the noodle strands; don't pour it on! For hot soba, spoons aren't needed; you can grab the bowl and slurp away.


This clear broth sometimes gets served together with appetizers. Can you name it?

Some Japanese restaurants offer miso soup as a complimentary starter for the meal. The soup comes from mixing the fermented soybean paste called miso with fish stock. Depending on the restaurant, they'll add cubed soft tofu or deep-fried ones in it.


Let's have a toast to great Japanese food with this one. What's this drink called?

Even rice becomes alcoholic beverages in Japan, thanks to this invention called sake. If you've tried this rice wine already, sample the shochu instead. That one's made from rice, sugar cane and sweet potatoes combined.


It's the Japanese comfort food for the soul, soupy edition. Can you name this bowl of yum?

There are about five common kinds of noodle dishes in Japanese cuisine; ramen is one of them. Make sure to ask which kind of broth they use for the ramen if you have food allergies. They can have salt, soy sauce, seafood, chicken or pork broth base.


You can order this kind of beef in non-Japanese high-end restaurants, too. What's the term?

Wagyu steaks are from specially bred Japanese cattle that come with a certification process. It's more flavorful due to the higher marbling or fats within the meat. Be that as it may, chefs say it's a healthier option since it's got more monounsaturated fats than other beef types.


This soup tastes great even when it's cold. Do you know what the thick noodles are?

When you see super-thick white noodles on a bowl, that's udon. The Japanese prefer them hot during wintertime and cold during summertime. Udon that's great either hot or cold includes kitsune udon, tanuki udon and tempura udon.


If they have very raw food, they also have very fried ones. This one's like that; name it!

When you say katsu, that refers to the breaded meat that's deep-fried like German schnitzels. To be specific, tonkatsu refers to pork slices prepared in this manner. You can eat it as is; but there are rice and noodle dishes with tonkatsu served on them, too.


Fried noodle fans, this one's all yours. What is it?

If Thailand has their pad thai offered as street food fare, Japan has its yakisoba. The noodles get fried together with other ingredients like meat and veggies. Contrary to its name, these noodles aren't made of buckwheat like the usual soba.


You can find its original form under the sea. Name this delicacy!

That dark green sheet holding up your sushi is nori, the seaweed type popular in Japanese cuisine. It's also available as a stand-alone snack which comes in dried up or sheet versions. They're marketed as roasted seaweed; health trainers are pushing it as a "superfood."


Eek, it's eel! But it's savory, OK? What's this grilled delicacy called?

Japanese cooks use two kinds of eel in their dishes, but the freshwater type is more popular. It's called unagi, the twice-grilled seafood that's crispy outside but tender inside. The saltwater eel kind is anago; don't get confused!


No need to dunk this in sauce; they pour them all over it! Do you know this?

Takoyaki balls are as exciting to eat as it is to watch them get made. Its original filling is octopus balled inside flour and egg batter. This cute food started appearing in Osaka streets during the '30s.


The Japanese love making snacks from rice like this one. What is it?

Yes, they're referred to as rice balls even though they appear triangular in shape. They're called onigiri, a rice snack with special fillings. Certain preparations feature one nori leaf underneath; others have the nori wrapped all around it.


Japanese food lovers who also love pancakes order this one. What is it?

It's prepared like pancakes but its mixture reminds you more of pizza with many toppings. That's okonomiyaki for you; its base is flour batter mixed with cabbage. Other ingredients can include shrimp, cheese, pork, other veggies, mushrooms and even octopus.


If you're on a roll, then this is perfect for your Japanese food craving. Know what it's called?

Sushi comes in rolls, too; norimaki is the most authentic Japanese roll of 'em all. Notice that the seaweed holds all ingredients in; this is how you know it's traditionally Japanese. Rolls prepared inside out are often Japanese-western fusions already like the California roll.


It's got more stuff than miso but it's got different flavorings than ramen. What is it?

Ramen eaters might find sukiyaki a tad sweeter; that's because sugar often gets added into the mix. Aside from that difference, this beefy broth uses glass noodles. Plus you have to crack a raw egg open and add it onto the mix right before eating it.


The Japanese don't think that omelet and rice are overkill. Name this delish dish!

The Japanese also have fusion dishes on their menu. These are food items with foreign influences which they already made into their own. Omuraisu is an example; it's a rice-filled omelet dish that's also filled with chicken strips or veggies.


This sweet fowl can come in grilled form or broiled form. Know what it is?

This tempting dish is teriyaki chicken; but the term "teriyaki" applies to other food items, too. This food preparation style mixes soy sauce, sugar and mirin rice wine. Meat, fish or fowl are then marinated or directly cooked with this mix.


The Japanese language has many repeating terms like this one. Moshi moshi, what do you call this group meal?

If you enter a Shabu-Shabu restaurant, prepare to cook your own food on your table. Shabu-Shabu refers to the hot pot style of Japanese cooking. Slices of beef, veggies, mushrooms and even noodles get dipped in boiling broth set up on the table.


They're moving! They're writhing! What do you call this fishy garnish?

If you get served a hot dish with thin, flaky garnish that moves, don't fret; they're not alive! They're smoked fish shavings called bonito flakes. It's the cheaper version of the katsuobushi which is often made of skipjack tuna.


When in Japan, order this traditional sticky-looking breakfast for fun. How do they call it?

Specially fermented soybeans make up the traditional natto dish popular as breakfast food. The Japanese dump it on top of cooked rice before eating it. If it's your first time to taste it, prepare for its very pungent smell.


If skewered things are your thing, try one of these! What do you call this barbecued yumminess?

Asian cuisine features different kinds of grilled food skewered on wooden sticks or bamboo. The Japanese version is yakitori, but this refers to chicken parts only. If you've got good cholesterol levels, try the torikawa kind; that's pure chicken skin, yo!


Buns are fun in Japan, hon! What do they call this sweet bread?

World cuisine lovers will recognize "pan" in this Japanese delicacy; it means "bread." "Kashi" means sweet so any Japanese-made kashi-pan pastry will indeed taste sweet. The traditional kind is round and filled with sweet bean paste.


Yep, even the Japanese have their own version of curry. What do they call theirs, you think?

When you see karē, kare or kare kaisu in the menu, that's Japanese curry. It's often consumed with rice so that's the raisu part. Compared to other countries' curry mixes, the Japanese kind isn't very spicy to the taste.


Asian culinary traditions often include various seasonings. What's this popular Japanese kind?

The Japanese can eat their rice plain or sprinkled with seasonings. One favorite sprinkle is the furikake dry seasoning kind. It's a mix of sugar, salt, nori slivers, ground sesame seeds and other flavorings; careful since it also has MSG for added taste.


This fishy cake has sweet, sweet filling. What do you call this street food?

When you see a fish-shaped snack or dessert sold as street food, that's called taiyaki. They're prepared like waffles; batter gets poured onto two fish-shaped plate molds. The filling is then placed on one side before closing them together like a sandwich.


Can you imagine finishing a bowl of this using chopsticks? What's this rice-heavy meal called?

Pictured here is gyudon, a kind of donburi dish. Generally, donburi has plain rice as its base; it's topped with various viands like meat or veggies. Gyudon has beef toppings but there's also tendon (tempura), katsudon (tonkatsu) and unadon (eel), to name a few.


Not a fan of rolled-up raw stuff? Order this "open dish" containing the same stuff instead. How do you say it?

The rice in sushi is different from typical plain rice; it's prepared using sushi vinegar. This differentiates chirashi from donburi dishes. Chirashi has mixes of raw sashimi-type seafood placed as rice toppings.


Know that side item they serve with raw food stuff? This is it. What's it called?

First-time Japanese food eaters might get surprised when trying gari. That clump which accompanies sushi and sashimi servings is ginger. It's the pickled kind used to cleanse the palate between raw food bites; so yes, you eat it, too.


Rice is a staple product in Japan, so they also use it for dry snacks. What do you call these rice cracker thingies?

The Japanese use rice flour to bake or fry rice cracker snacks called senbei. The common ones appear shiny due to the glaze-like result of added flavorings. The original versions come with nori wraps but other flavorful reinventions also exist.


Different Asian cultures have their own fried rice versions. What do you call this Japanese kind?

The Japanese chahan consists of frying rice with various ingredients. The usual ingredients are green peas, scallions, raw carrots and whatever else the chef might add. Raw egg is sometimes added into this mix, too.


This petite dish is a must-try for custard lovers. What's it called?

Custard fans shouldn't miss this chawanmushi steamed dish. Its texture is in the middle of porridge and gelatin in consistency. It's always served in a teacup because that's what "chawan" means.


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