Japanese Food to Avoid – Yes, It Exists!

Ok, true. Japan is a paradise for foodies. So many yummy meals, quirky creations and just general tastefulness but even Japan has some food experiments that just backfired. Not all things suit all tastes but these ones might proof particularly tricky for Western palates. You can try them but why break your lucky chain of great food? And after reading this, you are safe in trying anything foodwise in Japan with the following exceptions.


Miso and Black Sesame Soft Ice

Japan loves their soft ice and being so head over heels for it, it is not surprising that a whole range of rainbow coloured flavoured ice creams exists to please both eye and tongue. My tongue, however, was very much displeased by miso ice cream. I say if you want miso, leave it in the soup. And black sesame was not particularly enjoyable either but more bland than anything.

Barley Tea

Not too sure what to make of that. It is apparently healthy. And it is brown like tea. It comes in similar plastic bottle packaging like green tea but tastes vile. Too malty, to bitter, to earthy. Maybe a bit like beer, only healthy. And we all know healthy never really tastes as good as you are made to believe.


Green Tea Baumkuchen

If you want to try Japanese sweets there is no way around green tea variations. Green tea chocolate, cookies, milk powder and cake. The first two bites always need some getting used to due to the bitterness that spread in your mouth but when the taste has settled down and spread, it is quite nice. What isn’t nice is the assault on the otherwise delectable Baumkuchen. Again, a German dish and well translated by the Japanese dessert makers but please, not with green tea.


Not sure why donuts are so popular in Japan, they are just not well made. Not exactly stale but their insides are dry and the icing way too sweet. Also I miss the sprinkles. Sprinkles are awesome. And donuts have to be round, not shaped like a chain of balls. Being nitpicky here.


Pickled Garlic

Pickled love. Everything that is a vegetable or mushroom can be pickled by the Japanese, it seems. And while you might not be able to try out all the food Japan has through free samples in supermarkets and speciality shops, you can almost always try out the pickled range. This also needs some getting used to but I am sure the garlic cloves pickled into a pitch black colour will never get there.

Noodles on Bread

Noodles are great on their own. The Japanese know how to prepare them well. Bread making is also one of their fortes so why not combine the two, they thought. It seems like a reasonable thing to do until you taste this odd fusion. And then you return to separation of carbohydrates.



Wonderful to look at but sour to the taste, the cherry blossoms and leaves soaked in vinegar do not add anything positive to whatever dish you are thinking of getting. Be it the mochi, sweet rice dessert, as a cake topping or a side dish. The only time I actually enjoyed the taste (and mostly couldn’t even make it out) was in the Starbucks sakura hot chocolate. Heaven!

Tofu Pudding

Not sure what is is exactly, but there is a wobbly thing that is a mix of tofu and jell-o. It is a milky or pink colour and cut into cubes, eaten as a dessert. Not my thing at all. The texture is weird, the taste dusty and squishy at the same time.

Potato Salad

I come from a country that adores potato salads. Each region has their own take and each version is yummy and well flavoured. The Japanese version, in contrast, lacks both the proper taste and texture. It is a sloppy bland mess.

Australia Guide to download

Disclaimer: As every person’s taste differs, this post is based on my own preferences and taste and is thus very subjective and only meant as a guide and recommendation.

Do you know of any other Japanese foods that are not the most popular? Share them with us.

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It had to happen, after ditching the 9-5 for a prolonged break, Annemarie's wokaholic tendencies led her to start a daily blog about her adventures. Realising how much travel has helped rebuild her confidence and and general #GirlBoss-iness, Travel on the Brain released a book about her adventures in Down Under and New Zealand and creates quirky video series focusing on story telling in destinations around the globe.
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