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Best Summer foods to make Japan's blistering heat a little less painful

By Elise Meng | August 25th 2018

This heat in Japan… it’s no joke. It’s driving us crazy and all we seem to talk about every day is how much hotter it was the day before. Here’s a PSA for all of our lucky southern-hemisphere friends who are experiencing Winter right now: you don’t know pain like the sting from sweat dripping into your eyeballs.

But like in every tough situation, the only saviour we really have to look out for us in times of need is food. And if you know anything about Japan already, you know that Japanese food culture is one of the best in the world (at least, we think).

If you’re in Japan during summer, you’ll be able to see that there are certain summer-exclusive foods that constantly feature in their main dishes: Egg plant, Cucumber, Okra, Tomato, Eel, Ayu (sweetfish), Peach, Watermelon, Yuzu, and Apricot.    

So, when you’re out there, spending 400 yen on a blue-lagoon kakigori that’s melting way too fast for your liking, here are some other summer foods that you can also enjoy instead of complaining about the heat:

Somen Noodles

Everyone says Somen noodles, and we’re sure you’ve heard it a thousand times before but there’s a pretty valid reason why Somen noodles are great for summer and enjoyed by many. Somen noodles are thin white noodles made of wheat flour and are served cold with a cold sweet and savoury (who knew something could be the two at the same time?!) dipping soy sauce.  

Another version of eating this is also available and is called Nagashi Somen, where you pick the noodles from a stream of water from a bamboo pipe and dip it in your sauce after. We can promise you that this dish is not only super refreshing for summer, but also ridiculously delicious.

Hiyashi Chuka

I officially want people to start calling me Hiyashi Chuka (冷し中華) because it literally translates as “chilled Chinese”, and if that’s not who I am or who I want to become, then I give up.

Source: Japan Centre 

Seriously though, the name is extremely fitting, because Hiyashi Chuka is a chilled ramen dish that consists of vibrant toppings, sliced ham, cucumbers and fried eggs. One of the iconic Japanese summertime specialties’, Hiyashi Chuka has a light broth made of tare and the presentation is always beautifully constructed in a tower. This dish is so much of a must-have in summer that even convenience stores in Japan sell fast-food versions of it. Obviously, the quality will lack in comparison to anything freshly-made, but admittedly, it's not bad! 

Yakisoba 

Alright ladies and gentlemen, we’re heading into the festival food criteria. Admittedly, Japanese festival food makes up most of what Japan’s summer foods are like, and you’ve probably heard of most of them already so we’re going to make this a quickie.

 
Source: Jp Info 

Yakisoba. Hell, anything yaki’ed is good enough for me. But yakisoba is pretty up there as one of the top must-have Japanese summer festival foods. This fried noodle dish is a whole lotta buckwheat noodles (you may have heard of buckwheat noodles being used for soba), tossed into a large metal skillet with cabbage, carrots, oyster sauce and maybe some meat if you want it thrown into the mix.

Personally, what really makes the meal is when they stuff this noodle goodness into its signature plastic container and top it off with a little bit of ginger garnish and sometimes, if they’re a little fancy, sesame seeds. If you're looking for a quick run through about how to whip up a good and quick yakisoba, check out our girl Emma's demo: 

Yakitori

Next on the list of foods that are yaki'ed, stab a chicken on a skewer and you have yakitori. I made that sound terrible, but as simple as it sounds, it’s one of the most refreshing foods to eat with a can of beer and a good chat with your mates. You can choose it cooked with salt or dipped in a sweet and savoury soy sauce, and the chicken is never dry. 

If you’re not a big fan of basic chicken breast, don’t worry, because the yakitori variety is almost endless. Some of the most popular types are tsukune (chicken meatball), reba (liver), tebamoto (wing shoulder), torinegi (chicken and leek), and the list goes on. 

If you ever have the chance to try some yakitori, my recommendation is the kawa– fried chicken skin. Not going to lie, when I order it with my friends they never eat it because it’s the peak of dirty eats: it’s oily, crispy, and definitely something you shouldn’t have if you have high cholesterol because it is that good.  

Source: Arigato Japan

Taiyaki

It was hard forming this list because there are so many good summer eats here in Japan but we’re going to pop this one on the list for both sentimental reasons and deliciousness. Now maybe you’ll fight me on this one, and that’s cool– I’m open up for debate in the comments section, so 1v1 me because taiyaki is a classic Japanese treat. 

Probably the best custard or red-bean stuffed fish you’ll ever have, this little sea bream-shaped waffle snack is supposed to be eaten in special occasions. Sea bream (the actual fish) was thought to bring good fortune or good luck when it was eaten, so if you’re feeling like a little celebration without breaking the buck, then the taiyaki is best for that situation. We assume the custard filling was too addictive because now you’ll see taiyaki stands everywhere and in shopping malls, so you can eat it on the regular.

The end of summer is nearing so trust me, you’ll need taiyaki to start warming yourself up to the extreme cold that will inevitably come in Winter.

Source: Jp Info

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