The Japanese make up for their dearth of sweets and desserts with a massive selection of salty and savory snacks. Many are rice-based but don’t be fooled, their taste goes beyond the mere taste of rice, for you will find an array of complex flavours.
Far from complex and possibly the simplest and most minimal item in Japan’s cusine, Yakimo is simply a sweet potato heated up on a bead of rocks, to a point where it is soft. That’s it.
A favourite in the colder months, you’ll find freezing consumers keeping warm, nibbling on these piping hot potatoes.
Although they are shaped like fish there is nothing fishy about their flavour. Essentially a waffke, the taiyaki pastry is filled with a sweet azuki bean cream, reminiscent of the Danish Pancake ball, but with a way cooler shape.
Other flavours include vanilla cream, strawberry cream and even if you're lucky enough to find one: "okonomiyaki" style.
Senbei. Salty and crunchy. They are readily available in any supermarket or convenience store. However the varieties you will find will leave much to be desired. Your best bet is to stroll on down to the Sugamo Market or Nakamise Market and score a scoop of freshly cooked senbei (which have been conveniently broken into shards, for easier eating)
Manju is a staple Japanese sweet, made with rice-flour dough and a sweet red bean paste center. However, occasionally you’ll encounter a vendor who sells ‘age manju’ (fried manju) the deep frying adds a delicious crispy outer shell.
Flavours include, standard, sesame, macha (green tea) pumpkin, and more.
Or ‘University Potatoes’ as the name is translated into English, are Japanese candied sweet potatoes, cut into little chunks and sold to you in boxes for your eating pleasure. Although the reason why they are named university potatoes is unclear, but with prices rather high it doesn’t take a college graduate to see that they are a rip off (if you would like to complain about that shamelessly horrid pun please feel free to write in)
Forget BBQ flavor, real men eat wasabi! The use of wasabi doesn't stop with Sushi, the Japanese use it in snacks too. Yyou'll find various nuts and crispies with a surprisingly edible and enjoyable wasabi flavor. But don't let this lay your guard down if you come across wasabi ice cream... we highly recommend not trying that, but by all means enjoy the almonds.
A common seasoning you'll find in the various bags of nuts and crispies in Japan is 'seaweed', whether its potato chips, nuts, rice chips etc etc seaweed flavor is as comon as BBQ in the US. Whether this is good or bad news is entirely up to your pallet.
In addition to seaweed and wasabi you'll commonly find snacks with 'butter flavor' , we lost many a brave sole in sampling the butter flavored chips in order to come back and give you the warning that they WILL make you sick. Just think of Homer Simpson wrapping his waffle around a stick of butter, that's about the level of butter in these crispy killers. Be warned.