Izakaya Beginners to Veterans! 5 Types of Classic Otsumami

In the last article we discussed Japanese izakaya, but this time we will present Japanese snacks served there that go well with alcohol! From standard otsumami to those that require some courage, stick with us to possibly pave the way for new food discoveries!

The Evolution of Otsumami

A defining characteristic of izakaya cuisine is the charm of how it has evolved to feature a menu that goes to great lengths to meet the needs of customers. Even a single cucumber has many different variations depending on the izakaya.

1.) Karaage (Japanese Fried Chicken): Novice

Fried chicken? Nope, you'd be wrong there. This is karaage.
It differs from fried chicken that is flavored with spices and herbs, instead being flavored with Japanese seasonings such as soy sauce, alcohol, and rice wine. Each bite explodes with flavor in your mouth."

2.) Edamame (Boiled Soybeans): Novice

Edamame is a dish is prepared by boiling soybeans in salt water. The skin is not eaten. Instead, you eat each bean by squeezing the bean pod so they pop into your mouth. Although simple, there's a distinct possibility that it will become an addicting dish.

3.) Eihire (Stingray Fin): Novice

Eihire is a dish consisting of the fin of a fish called an ei that is dried and smoked. It is eaten with shichimi, or seven-flavored chili powder. While the concept of eating a stingray can seem scary at first, the more you chew it, the more delicious flavor there is--and it goes great with alcohol as well!

4.) Nankotsu (Chicken Cartlidge): Intermediate

Exactly as the name suggests, nankotsu is the soft part of a chicken's bone. It may come as a surprise to eat the bones of an animal, though the meat around the bones accentuate it well, making it a popular part of chicken to eat in Japan.

5.) Basashi (Horse Sushi) / Yukke Horse Meat: Advanced

Japan has a culture of eating horse meat. Although many are concerned of hygiene as well as other factors, the horses are raised for human consumption, so there is no need to be too apprehensive. The sweet red meat will no doubt open the door for you to new cuisine possibilities.

Bonus: Umeshu (Plum Wine)

Umeshu is all the rage lately in Japan, and is plum mixed with sake and crystal sugar. It is also characterized by its sweet taste and smooth flavor. Its ingredients are great for helping you recover from fatigue and relax, making it a boon for your health!

So what did you think? Did you feel yourself growing hungry as you read this? Maybe some of the cuisine mentioned took you by surprise? We sincerely hope that it opened your eyes to the wonderful world of Japanese otsumami! Bon appetite!