Japanese Comfort Foods Worth Trying at Home

Comfort Food Feature

Although Japan has many famous foods like sushi, ramen and tempura, these aren’t the common foods that Japanese people eat at home. I wanted to share with you about some Japanese comfort foods which are easy to make at home and also delicious.

Comfort foods are foods which make you feel good and comfortable when eating. They are a bit nostalgic and typically linked to your childhood. In the West, examples are mac’n’cheese or spaghetti bolognese.

The list below are all dishes which can be easily cooked up at home with some local ingredients.

1. Miso Soup (みそ汁)

Image by Hikari Miso (Source)

Although not a meal on its own and typically a complimentary item, miso Soup is a healthy and delicious soup from Japan. Studies have even shown that it can reduce risk of lung, prostate and breast cancer and contains a host of vitamins and important antioxidants.

If you’re short on time, you can even use the instant packet miso soup.

Favourite Recipes
  • Japanese Cooking 101 (Video + Instructions in English) Link
  • Hikari Miso (Instructions and step by step images in English) Link
  • Cookpad (Instructions in Japanese) Link
  • Umami Insider (Additional ingredients to enhance your miso soup in English) Link

2. Tamago Kake Gohan (卵かけごはん)

Image by Japan Info (Source)

Translated as Egg on Rice and also known in Japan as TKG, this is a popular and delicious Japanese dish. So easy to make and tastes great, although this is typically only eaten in Japan due to the quality of the eggs they use. This dish may be weird to some visitors to Japan because the egg is raw when put on top of the rice.

I wouldn’t recommend trying this in other countries unless you know the eggs are fresh and the quality needed for this dish. I don’t want anyone getting sick with salmonella poisoning.
Kisaburou Nojo (喜三郎農場)

If you don’t feel like making it yourself, you can visit a famous Japanese restaurant for Tamago kake gohan in Tokyo. It’s called Kisaburo Nojo (English Link).

Most famous for featuring on Terrace House Tokyo (2019-2020).

Image by Kisaburou Nojo (Source)

Favourite Recipes
  • Serious Eats (Video and Instructions) Link
  • Cookpad (Instructions in Japanese) Link

3. Nikujaga (肉じゃが)

Image by Food52 (Source)

Translated as Meat and Potatoes, this dish is a common in Japanese home cooking. It’s easy to make and has an enticing light sweet soy broth. Japanese people pair it with rice and some families have their own versions.

Nikujaga can be found in some small home-style restaurants and small izakaya in Japan. So if you don’t feel like making it yourself, try it out at a restaurant.

Favourite Recipes
  • Japanese Cooking 101 (Video and instructions in English) Link
  • Cookedpad (Step by step instructions in Japanese) Link
  • La Fuji Mama – Vegan Nikujaga (Instructions in English) Link

4. Natto (納豆)

Image by Tsunagu Japan (Source)

Fermented beans are a love or hate type of food in Japan. There’s not many visitors to Japan that enjoy natto due to the smell and unusual texture. You can find this served as part of a Japanese breakfast alongside rice and miso soup in many hotels.

I love natto. It’s a cheap source of healthy food , can be frozen and pairs well with rice. There’s also many different combinations you can have it with as well. Personal favourites are tamago kake gohan with natto or rice, kimchi and natto. Try them out if you get a chance.

Favourite Recipes
  • Japan Centre (Instructions in English – very simple) LInk
  • Plant Based Matters – Natto Avocado Toast (Instructions in English) Link

5. Udon (うどん)

Image by Japanese Cooking 101 (Source)

A great dish, especially in the winter season. Not as popular as Ramen with visitors to Japan but has a stronger comforting feeling for us Japanese people. Mainly because it’s easy to cook at home and so satisfying.

When you make this dish at home you can experiment with different toppings. I like to add slices of beef, spinach or with a side of kimchi.

Favourite Recipes
  • Japanese Cooking 101 – Niku Udon (Video and Instructions in English) Link
  • Cookpad – Simple Udon anyone can make (Step by step instructions in Japanese) Link

6. Ochazuke (お茶漬け)

Image by Japanese Cooking 101 (Source)

Rice and green tea may sound like a weird combination but it works really well. This traditional Japanese comfort food has been enjoyed in Japan for over the past 1000 years and is a healthy dish for any time of the year. You can have this dish cold or hot, the choice is yours’.

If you’re lazy like me, you may want to use a quick packet to get your ochazuke fix. My favourite is the Nagatanien brand (永谷園) which has a large selection of flavours.

Image by Nagatanien (Source)
Favourite Recipes
  • Just One Cookbook – Cold and Hot Ochazuke (Video and Instructions in English) Link
  • Cookpad – 簡単手作り茶漬け Simple way to make Ochazuke (Instructions in Japanese) Link

7. Onigiri (おにぎり)

Image by Love a First Bento (Source)

Japanese rice balls are really easy to make with your left over rice from dinner and the possibilities are endless. A favourite one of mine you can see in the recipe section below is the tuna mayo onigiri (ツナマヨ) or miso pan fried onigiri (みそ焼きおにぎり).

You can even just mix rice with flavouring (ふりかけ) and shape it how you like to make a simple snack.

Onigiri can be found at your Japanese convenience store all across Japan. It’s cheap and fills you up.

Image by 7-ELEVEN (Source)

Favourite Recipes
  • Just One Cookbook – Miso Yaki Onigiri (Instructions in English) Link
  • Japanese Cooking 101 – Tuna Mayo Onigiri (Video and instructions in English) Link
  • Cookpad – Our Fried Onigiri (Instructions in Japanese) Link

8. Okayu (おかゆ)

Image from The Spruce Eats (Source)

Japanese Congee, although typically a food we eat when sick, I think you can eat it anytime you want since it is an easy to make, filling meal.

If you compare Japanese okayu with Chinese congee, the main difference to me is the amount of liquid. Okayu although originally from China, seems to be a thicker version than the congee I had while on business in China and Hong Kong,

Favourite Recipes
  • The Spruce Eats (Instructions in English) Link
  • Matome links to 24 recipes on Cookpad (Instructions in Japanese) Link

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