When thinking of Japanese food, sushi, tempura and miso soup may be some of the first that come to mind. Whilst Japan’s traditional food culture runs deep and remains a pervasive part of its food scene, Japan is also home to a unique fusion food culture.
Japanese Fusion Food
Fusion cuisine is created when one country uses the ingredients or cooking techniques from another and blends it with its own. What is created is a hybrid-like dish, fusing the best parts from each country’s foods and creating an original dish.
Having taken inspiration from a number of different countries and cultures, Japanese food fusion is a whole cuisine on its own. Some of these dishes are so quintessentially Japanese you might not realise that they’re not originally from Japan.
Here's a look at some of the Japan's most popular fusion food dishes.
If you’ve ever been to Japan, you will have probably seen this dish being cooked on the streetside by a charming little vendor, or on the menus of almost every restaurant. Yakisoba is a type of stir fried vegetable and noodle dish cooked in the distinctly flavoured yakisoba sauce. It has its origins in China, taking inspiration from Chinese chow mein. The exact origins of this dish are unknown, however since its creation, it has become a staple in Japanese restaurants and family dinners.
Omurice, a combination of the words omelet and rice, is a fusion food said to have originated in Ginza, Tokyo in 1900. Omurice typically consists of ketchup flavored rice covered by a silky smooth, yet fluffy omelet. Another popular combination includes omurice with curry.
Pizza in Japan is often of the thin crust variety, and toppings range from the classics like margherita and pepperoni to the infamous corn and mayonnaise. Many of the pizza flavours have been crafted for Japanese tastes as well as take advantage of Japan’s strong seafood industry. A trip to a Japanese pizza shop can be a fun little side trip to see all of the interesting flavours on offer!
Taco rice is a popular Japanese-Mexican fusion dish which originated in Okinawa, Japan's southernmost tropical islands. Instead of taco meat being served in tortilla shell, it is instead served over a bowl of rice and topped with cheese and shredded cabbage or lettuce. It was created to cater to the US-military in Okinawa but has since expanded throughout the country and has almost become a symbol of the islands.
Whilst a seemingly ubiquitous part of Japanese cuisine, ramen actually originated in China but has developed over decades to take on its own original Japanese flavour and style.
Complimentary to ramen, is gyoza - a type of dumpling which is also originally from China.
While fusion food is certainly not the first idea that comes to mind when Japanese cuisine is mentioned, it is nonetheless worth a try for anyone visiting Japan.
About the author:
Ailsa van Eeghen
Ailsa has been living in Japan since 2015 all the while enjoying the rich beauty of Kagoshima prefecture. She finds the most joy in exploring little villages, driving around the countryside and exploring the lesser known parts of Japan. Keenly interested in Japan’s regional diversity, you can often find her at michi-no-eki admiring all the local produce. You can find more of her travels and deep dives into Japanese culture on her Instagram @daysofailsa where she writes about her life in Japan.