Japanese cuisine is fast becoming a crowd favourite the world over. Sushi bars, ramen restaurants and donburi cafés are popping up all over the place, and, it seems the world can’t get enough. We have run exclusive gourmet food tours of Japan for many years. We have ignited the appetites of all our guests and given them a newfound love and appreciation for the finest Japanese cuisine. We carefully design and craft our tours to feature the very best of Japanese cuisine. We have made extensive relationships with top chefs to ensure each guest experiences the culinary adventure of a lifetime.
So, what is the taste of luxury? The following ten dishes, produce and products are simply the very best and if you want to experience the true Japan you can’t go without.
1. Nigiri-Zushi (Sushi)
Nigiri-zushi made by sushi masters are unmatched for flavour and quality. The very finest, purposely prepared seafood adorns these mouth-sized pieces of vinegared rice. Eaten with your hand and devoured in a single bite, perfect. There is an abundance of nigiri-zushi available all over Japan, and of a quality that exceeds anything in the west; however, to ensure you have the very best, a trip to a three-star Michelin restaurant or better is needed. Chefs at these high-end establishments produce nigiri-zushi that showcases their supreme skill sets. Lucky diners whisked away on a journey through the very best Japanese seafood as their palates explore never before experienced flavours. Eaten with your hands nigiri-zushi are the pinnacle of Japanese cuisine. Check out Cherry Blossom Tours to have this experience.
2. Otoro Sashimi
Japan is home to the very best sashimi on the planet. Fresh, delicious, expertly prepared seafood that is of the highest quality; there is no eating experience available anywhere else. Otoro is the belly of the bluefin tuna and is by far the finest example of sashimi you will ever have the privilege to sample in Japan. Prized for its almost butter like flavor and texture, otoro is absolutely divine. Popular to contrary belief otoro is no best fresh, in fact, the flavor profiles are almost non-existent. Expert sushi masters age otoro, much like beef, for anywhere from 2-5 days to develop a rich flavor. The best place to try otoro is at a high-class restaurant. Luxury Japan Travel knows the best places to try otoro and as such are part of our exclusive tours.
Salmon Roe not caviar, is adored by the Japanese and rightly so. These glistening red pearls of flavour impart a luxurious creaminess that is out of this world. Ikura are without a doubt a luxury addition to any dish or meal. With the best ikura coming from the pristine cold waters of Hokkaido a trip there is well worth the journey. Ikura are often served as part of sushi and sashimi courses and when in season are always presented as part of a high-end kaiseki feast. Fresh ikura are not salty in taste but rather impart a creamy subtle ocean flavor that is to die for. Don’t settle for an imported version, make sure you have fresh Hokkaido ikura as part of your dining experience.
Uni is the Japanese word for Sea Urchin Roe which is prized for its creamy texture and subtle ocean flavour. This sublime example of ocean produce is as good as it gets. Used as part of sushi courses and kaiseki cuisine in high-end establishments, uni is a flavor like no other. Uni is also used for the ultra-luxurious uni cream pasta that is simply amazing. Fresh uni doesn’t taste salty, but rather is subtle and incredibly creamy. If you are after the very best then you can’t go past Hokkaido uni as its level of creaminess is unsurpassed by any other produce.
Unagi is a Japanese eel that has been meticulously prepared using ancient techniques to create a luxurious product. Unagi is dipped in a rich sauce of soy, sake and mirin and is carefully grilled over a charcoal fire. The finished product is served as part of sushi courses, kaiseki and just as itself adorning a rice bowl. Unagi is a premium product and an absolute favourite of the Japanese. Whilst there is an abundance of eels coming from other parts of Asia, and often passed off as Japanese Unagi, the real thing is becoming rare and expensive.
World-renowned, sophisticated and sublime. Kaiseki is Japanese cuisine at its most elevated. There is no other example of a meal on earth that attracts the level of detail and deliciousness that a kaiseki meal does, as such only the finest chef’s can produce a true kaiseki feast. Immaculately presented over a multitude of courses, Kaiseki showcases and highlights the best local and seasonal produce. A kaiseki meal is very special and as such it is best experienced at the finest traditional ryokans and restaurants.
True Japanese Wagyu is an ultra-luxurious, flavour-packed, moreish delight. Delicious soft red beef segmented with seemingly thousands of hair-like strands of marbled fat make wagyu a truly unique product. Wagyu means Japanese Beef and is often misquoted outside of Japan. Don’t be fooled by restaurant menus in the west that claim the beef is wagyu, it is not. Authentic wagyu is extremely expensive and unique in its flavor and texture profiles. Whilst there are a number of places and varieties of wagyu throughout Japan, Kobe Wagyu is certainly the most famous. We recommend experience Kobe Wagyu in Kobe at a high-end teppanyaki restaurant. The chefs here are meticulously trained to showcase wagyu in the very best way.
A delicate and expensive shellfish that is pure luxury and pure indulgence. Grilled over fire with butter and shoyu this dish is a unique flavour of Japanese luxury. Seldom is abalone ever available on western menus as it is a shellfish that isn’t understood, what a shame this is. Abalone is delicious and is a crowd favorite in high-end establishments all over Japan. The best place to experience abalone is in a traditional ryokan in Hokkaido as part of a kaiseki meal. The abalone is so fresh it is cooked in front of you.
9. Taraba Gani (Kani)
Kani is the Japanese word for crab and Taraba Gani is the Japanese word for King Crab. The very best King Crab is from the deep, icy waters of Hokkaido where the crab grows to massive sizes. Taraba Gani is the quintessential luxury product and as such is available in the very best restaurants and kaiseki feasts. Prepared simply with some soy and butter you will never forget this rich flavoured crab.
One of the most famous of all Japanese dishes the world over is tempura. These delicious lightly battered morsels of seafood and vegetables are unique in texture and flavor. Tempura is designed to showcase the true flavours of the produce and should never be oily. There are many tempura restaurants throughout Japan; however, to experience the very best tempura, which uses ultra-luxurious produce such as Japanese tiger prawns, unagi and uni, one must venture to Michelin-starred or better establishments.