Japan's cuisine is one of the most highly regarded in the world, both for its freshness and flavor as well as its technique. From surgically sharp tools perfectly designed for filleting a fish to sauces that speak to the umami lover in all of us, there's seemingly nothing that's not to be loved. Every dish is carefully curated in Japan using centuries of traditions and methods and, around the world, many chefs have recreated this in their own restaurants. Chances are, as you're reading this, your favorite Japanese restaurant is coming to mind. Are we right?
If this is the case, then you're one of many people who has fallen in love with Japanese food. And, if there's only one thing that we can suggest to make the experience better, it's this: don't discount the beverage menu in your quest for your next favorite sushi roll. Japanese drinks (non-alcoholic, too!) are just as diverse and unique as the food that accompanies them - and this is what's always worth ordering off the menu.
Although green tea originated in China, the legend goes that it was brought to Japan by two Buddhist monks during the 9th century. The two monks, Saicho and Kukai, planted the tea seeds in Uji, which is still known as the birthplace of Japanese green tea. Nowadays, according to byFood, you can find at least 20 different green tea varieties in Japan and, chances are, at least one of them is being offered in your favorite Japanese restaurant.
Royal Milk Tea
This tea is quite simple but absolutely delicious when it's made correctly. While it sounds like just tea, milk, and honey, Royal Milk Tea, specifically, is brewed with a combination of Darjeeling and Assam leaves. After it's done, a copious amount of milk is added which gives it that milky, creamy texture and flavor, and is also the reason behind its name. To this, honey is usually added to give it a good hint of sweetness, and the result is one of the most delicious cups of tea you'll ever have. It can also be served cold so if it's hot where you are, try that instead.
You may have heard of melon soda before since it's one of the most popular soda drinks in Japan. It's usually served in college and school-aged children settings but it's a drink that's enjoyed by all. Its sweetness is so evocative of a freshly cut melon and it's made even better when turned into an ice cream float, but it'll do just fine on its own as a sweet accompaniment to dinner. This is definitely worth trying as an alternative to your normal soda drink!
Yet another carbonated drink, Ramune is likely something that many people have heard of but have never actually tried themselves. In Japan, this drink is popular at festivals known as matsuri, and its flavor, as well as the method of opening it, are entirely unique. It comes served in a bottle and is often called 'marble' soda due to the marble ball at the top which must be pushed down and into the drink in order to break its seal. It's delicious and refreshing and quite a fun party trick for those who have never had one before.
Nihonshu (Japanese Sake)
Most people are familiar with the rice-based alcohol known as sake, which may appear as Nihonshu on a Japanese menu. It's quite possible that this drink has origins that go all the way back to the 3rd century but today, it's one of the most popular drinks to have with Japanese food. Sake is unique in the sense that it can be served both hot and cold, and also comes in a plethora of flavors and styles. Now that you know this, be sure to try a new type of sake the next time you're dining out.
Japanese Craft Beer
Japanese craft beer isn't something that many people are familiar with, but they should be. There are a number of Japanese-style beers that are sure to be loved by any craft beer fan, and one of the most popular names in regard to Japanese brewing is Sapporo. However, there are many more that are worth trying! This is a great opportunity to ask for your server's or bartender's suggestion, as they'll know which type of beer will suit your meal. Japanese beer also comes in a variety of flavors nowadays, including sakura (cherry blossom) and even yuzu, which makes for a fun pairing.