These foods may seem familiar, but are slightly different from how you would imagine them. Japanese people enjoy their food, and enjoy trying new things, but like any people, they do have the Japanese taste that they want to cater to.
The foods below are some of the most famous examples of Japanese “western food.”
“Yoshoku” literally means “west food.” In Japanese there are 2 major divisions of food: “washoku” (Japanese food) and “yoshoku” (Chinese food and other foods do exist, but most people here will ask you a choice between these two first).
Upon first inspection, this might seem to be just a gigantic omelette topped with sauce, but open it up and you will find it filled with chicken rice seasoned with ketchup. The sauce on top will either also be ketchup-based, or it will be demiglace. Omu-raisu is a dish famously served in maid cafes (I introduced it previously in my article about maid cafes).
The origin of omu-raisu is disputed but there is an origin story about a chef that had a customer who ordered only an omelette and rice every time he came by. The chef wanted to serve the guy something new and decided to wrap the rice in the omelette.
One of the first places to serve this dish is a place called, “Rengatei” in Ginza.
If you are in the mood to go omu-raisu hunting, there is a list of the most popular places here (with pictures!)
“Napolitan” sounds like it must come from Naples, but in reality it has never been in Naples (until recently). This was another dish that came to Japan after the war. The name apparently comes from the French naming things that have tomato in it “Naples style.”
The tomato used in this dish comes from ketchup. The main ingredients are usually hotdogs, green peppers, onions, and mushrooms. The pasta is also cooked notoriously long, making the noodles soft. Napolitan was one of the first pasta dishes to come to Japan and is now on a bit of a decline. But if you want to still go out and try to get some there is a list of supposedly good places here (with pictures)
Doria is what happens when you introduce the concept of gratin to a nation of rice-eaters. You may be surprised that the chef that is responsible for doria, and many other East-meets-West creations was actually not Japanese.
A gentleman named Sally Weil is credited for first making the rice-gratin dish. Weil was a Swiss-born chef at the Yokohama New Grand Hotel for 20 years. He is well-known on the Japanese internet, but mysteriously not present when you search in English…Conspiracy? Probably not, but I wonder if Swiss people care that he was an important influence on French cuisine in Japan.
4. Honey Toast
I hesitated for a very very long time in trying this. But when I did muster the courage to go and eat honey toast, I was rewarded. As the name would suggest, the imposing loaf of bread is toasted and warm, it is then cut on top and honey is drizzled liberally on top. The rest is up to the store, but the classic honey toast is topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and some whipped cream.
Apparently it was first served as a fancy dessert during the 1980s. It somehow caught on and continued to spread its influence.
Good honey toast can be found at the karaoke store chain, Pasela Resorts. If you aren’t too keen on karaoke they have a café in Akihabara called, Honey Toast Pasela where they bake the bread fresh.
Curry is one of those things that you would think Japanese people, a people who generally have no tolerance to spicyness, would hate. Well, you would be completely wrong.
They LOVE it.
Curry came over to Japan from India during the British colonial rule. The curry that the British introduced to Japan was made with Indian curry spices and the Western preparation of eating it like a stew. Japanese curry is brown, mostly mild and slightly sweet, and usually contains pork or beef with veggies. But really anything can become a curry topping.
Want to eat curry until you explode? Visit this top 100 curry house ranking to get your fix.
If you don’t live in Japan or don’t plan on going anytime soon you can also make your own Japanese curry really easily. They sell the rue for it in boxes.