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Last update April 24, 2011

Other Contents
Sightseeing in Japan
Hiragana and Katakana List
Japanese Word List
Japanese Proverbs

食べ物  Food Tabemono [tah-beh-moh-noh]
*: Kanji representation of the food name seldom used in modern day Japan.
 soba   そば, 蕎麦
 Pronunciation  [soh・bah]
Buckwheat Noodles 

soba Soba refers to noodles made from the powdered buckwheat seeds, kneaded with water and cut into thin strips. Usually boiled and eaten together with a soup or dip. Kake soba (kake: pour the soup over the noodles) is a hot noodle dish served in a bowl of soup, while zaru soba (zaru: a sieve) or mori soba (mori: heaped up) is cooled soba dished up on a bamboo sieve, with a dip and yakumi (relishes) served separately. Noodle-in-soup dishes are available in a long menu list: tempura soba with tempura toppings; kitsune soba (kitsune: a fox) with sheets of abura age; tanuki soba (tanuki: a raccoon dog) topped with tempura batter crumbs; tsukimi soba (tsukimi: full moon viewing) with an uncooked egg; nishin soba (nishin: a herring) with a dried heering piece, to name a few.
(Photo: Nishin soba served hot.)

 somen   そうめん, 素麺
 Pronunciation  [saw・meh・n]
Summer Noodles  or thin and long wheat noodles

somen Somen is a popular noodle dish in summer, served cold and eaten with a soy sauce based dip. The noodles, featuring the white color and slippery-smooth texture, are produced from a wheat dough mixed with brine, kneaded and oiled, which is stretched and cut into thin strings. The sensation when somen noodles are snipped in the mouth is refreshing, enhancing otherwise poor appetite in summer. It's often used in an event called somen nagashi, in which the noodles are flowed through bamboo troughs so that people can enjoy scooping up the currents of the noodles to taste. Grated ginger, fine-cut negi or myoga are the most common condiments. The noodles also can be eaten hot, e.g. as a soup ingredient; and the warm somen is specifically called nyumen (lit. boiled noodles). Ibo no ito (lit. threads of the Ibo river; located in Hyogo prefecture) and Miwa somen (Miwa: an area name in Nara prefecture) are the most renowned brands.
(Photo: Boiled somen served on a sieve.)

 suimono   すいもの, 吸(い)物
 Pronunciation  [sue・ee・moh・noh]
Clear Soup 

suimono Suimono or o-suimono (o-: a prefix suggesting politness or gracefulness) refers to clear soup served in a bowl with suikuchi (garnish to add flavor and aroma) and ingredients. Also called sumashi jiru (sumashi: transparent; jiru: soup) especially when the soup is transparent. Usually seasoned with usukuchi (thin-type) soy sauce or salt. Otsuyu (o-: a prefix, afore-mentioned: tsuyu: dew drops) may be used to refer clear soup or sometimes miso shiru.

 sukiyaki   すきやき, 鋤焼(き)
 Pronunciation  [sue・key・yah・key]
Roast & Boil Beef  or beef and vegetable pot cuisine

sukiyaki Sukiyaki, also well known outside Japan, is a kind of nabe ryori, perpared by cooking ingredients in sugar-mixed soy sauce broth in a dedicated sukiyaki pan. Beef slices, negi (usually white negi), shungiku, tofu, konnyaku, fu are typical ingredients. The boiled ingredients are usually eaten dipped in a stirred fresh raw egg. Udon or gohan is sometimes added to the leftover in the pan to enjoy the dish to the last drop of broth.
(Photo: Sukiyaki with nano hana in place of shungiku.)

 su no mono   すのもの, 酢の物
 Pronunciation  [sue・noh・moh・noh]
Vinegar Salad 

sunomono Literally meaning "a vinegar thing", su no mono is the generic term to refer to salads of salt-squeezed vegetables and other ingredients such as seafoods or seaweeds dressed with vinegar mixed sauce. There are several types of seasoned vinegar dressings for su no mono depending on the composition. Sanbai zu or three-condiment sauce is composed of the same amount of vinegar, shoyu and mirin, while nihai zu, two-condiment type consists the same amount of vinegar and soy sauce. Su no mono may be sometimes dubbed as namasu.
(Photo: Sunomono with chirimen jako and salt-squeezed sliced cucumbers.)

 sushi   すし, 寿司
 Pronunciation  [sue・she]
Vinegar Rice  or rice seasoned with vinegar

sushi Another well-known cuisine outside Japan, sushi is a dish of rice seasoned with vinegar, salt and mirin. Nigiri zushi is a hand-formed nugget of rice (shari) with wasabi spread on it and then, topped with neta or a slice of fresh fish/seafood (like sashimi) or other ingredients. Maki zushi is a type with various ingredients such as strip-cut cucumber, omelet, kampyo (dried shavings of calabash) and cooked shiitake rolled into a sheet of nori; inari zushi is abura age enveloped sweet sushi; chirashi suzhi is an ingredient-mixed sushi rice dish; and temaki zushi uses a nori sheet to wrap up the rice and ingredients together into a cone shape.