If you haven't tried a lot of Japanese cuisine, then when you dine at a Japanese restaurant, you want to make sure you order one of the classics. These dishes are popular for a good reason. Here are four classic dishes worth ordering at a Japanese restaurant.
The awesome thing about miso soup is that it's served as an appetizer before a meal. And portions are generally small, so you can enjoy some miso soup without ruining your main course. This soup has a clear broth made with fish flakes, seaweed, and anchovies. It's flavored with miso, which is a fermented soybean paste. Most restaurants add tofu, green onions, and maybe some mushroom to the bowls just before serving, but the soup is mostly a broth — a flavorful one, at that.
Sukiyaki is a Japanese dish consisting of sliced beef and various vegetables served in a hot broth. In most restaurants, the meal will be brought out to you in a cast iron trivet known as a hot pot. The ingredients will be neatly arranged inside the pot, not stirred together. Sometimes, you'll also be given dipping sauces to add more flavor to each bite. Sukiyaki is very warming and satisfying, and it's the perfect dish to order in the winter months.
Gyoza is a type of dumpling. These dumplings are usually steamed and then pan-fried, which makes them both tender and crispy. The filling usually consists of a mixture of pork and cabbage. Sometimes a restaurant will also make a vegetarian version. Gyoza dumplings are served with soy sauce for dipping. They make a good appetizer for your table to share, but you can also order a larger portion and enjoy them as a whole meal.
Onigiri is basically a ball of white rice, sometimes wrapped with seaweed on the outside. On the inside, you will typically find small pieces of salmon, pickled plums, or salty fish. Onigiri is very attractive and fun to eat. In Japan, it is something people buy at convenience stores as a snack. But in Japanese restaurants in the US, they are typically something you order as a snack or side dish.
Each of these classic Japanese dishes has something unique about them. The best thing is to visit a Japanese restaurant with a group of friends, order several different things, and share them. This way, you get to try more dishes.