Japanese Street Food Favourites – That You Can Make at Home!

One of the best ways to explore culture is through the street food of a nation. Food that is freshly prepared and cooked by vendors on the street is definitely a treat in Japan.

Once you’ve eaten the delicious bite-sized dumplings, yakitori chicken skewers, and unusual savoury pancakes of the East Asia island country, you’ll never forget the taste or your associated travel memories. Being able to make these snacks at home means that you can satisfy your favourite street food cravings, whenever you want to relive your happy holiday experiences.

Yakitori Chicken

Chicken yakitori is one of the most recognisable Japanese street foods. This savoury snack presents sauce basted chicken thigh meat on a skewer, for easy eating. The dark chicken meat intensifies the flavour of this street food favourite, and retains its moisture when grilled over hot BBQ coals.

To develop flavour and colour, it’s best to brush the yakitori sauce onto both sides of the chicken. Double basting is another neat trick to try. The famous yakitori sauce blends soy sauce, mirin sweet cooking wine, brown sugar, rice vinegar, and fresh ginger and garlic, for a finger-licking coating that is umami rich, sweet and savoury.


If you love to eat Japanese street food that is served on skewers, kushikatsu offers an alternative to the ever-popular yakitori chicken. At first glance, you might be mistaken for thinking that this popular street food is a variation of tempura. Although they are both deep-fried delicacies, kushikatsu uses a stronger type of flour and panko breadcrumbs for coating.

The great thing about this street food is that anything goes! You can deep-fry beef, pork, fish, vegetables like lotus root, or cheese. As long as you can get it onto a skewer, your food of choice is likely to make a tempting kushikatsu.


Unlike most skewered or bite-sized Japanese street foods, okonomiyaki is a hearty dish that requires some form of cutlery to eat it. The frittata style savoury pancake combines an eclectic array of ingredients including shredded cabbage, spring onions, potato or yam. You can customise it by adding octopus, shrimp, squid, bacon or sausage, or leftover veggies.

Popular optional toppings are pork belly, green nori, pickled ginger and mayonnaise, plus the okonomiyaki sauce that is made with ketchup, date syrup, oyster and Worcestershire sauces and curry powder. The texture of okonomiyaki is not unlike a hash brown.


A simple stir-fry noodle dish, yakisoba mixes up meat and vegetables in a sweet-savoury sauce that will have you craving for more. Lean chicken, cabbage and shitake mushrooms nestle in the bed of thick noodles. Spring onions and carrots add colour and crunch. The tangy sauce contains ketchup, soy, oyster and Worcestershire sauces, and brown sugar for sweetness.

Like most stir-fry dishes, yakisoba is super easy to make. You can use Ramen noodles if you prefer. All the ingredients are tossed together in a wok with the prepared noodles.


One of Osaka’s quintessential street foods, takoyaki is a bite-sized spherical dumpling that is commonly called ‘octopus balls’. The dashi infused, wheat flour based batter dumplings are traditionally stuffed with minced octopus, tempura scraps, spring onions and pickled ginger.

Although they are cooked in a special molded pan in Japan, it is possible to recreate the tasty crispy on the outside, gooey inside takoyaki at home using a Danish style pancake pan. You can also swap the octopus for diced chicken, shrimp or a veggie filling of your choice. Top with mayo and seaweed.


Another spherical snack that you won’t want to miss, while visiting Japan, is tsukune. These soft and juicy chicken meatballs are basted in a sauce that is sweet, salty and sticky. You can use minced chicken, pork, or fish to make tasty bits-size morsels to cook yakitori style – on a skewer and grilled over a hot charcoal fire.

Baste the tsukune with soy or teriyaki sauce for an intense flavour. If you prefer, you can bake or pan-fry the meatballs too. Cook until the tsukune are slightly charred on the outside.


To balance out the meat in your Japanese street food theme feast, it’s worth including shioyaki. This grilled salty fish on a stick is a big hit in Japan on New Year’s Eve. Although mackerel is commonly the catch of the day, you can recreate this marinated grilled fish snack just as well using sea bream instead.

Yaki Imo

If you’re vegetarian or vegan, you’ll be tempted by the alluring smell of freshly baked yaki imo, as you make your way through the Japanese streets of food. The piping hot sweet potatoes have a comfortingly warm and soft texture hat makes them a filling autumn or winter snack.


Once you’ve eaten all the yakitori chicken that you can manage in one sitting, satisfy your sweet tooth with Harajuku crepes. These French-inspired dessert crepes are a popular street food in Tokyo’s biggest and busiest shopping district. The sweet dessert is made like a traditional crepe and folded into a cone shape. Whipped cream, chocolate, fruit and ice cream are amongst the top fillings.

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