The anime series Food Wars proved that food and cooking can be surprisingly great topics to explore when coupled with badass animation.
It dominated the screen with action-packed cooking battles, which sparked enthusiasm in food lovers to search for more recipes to try—not just any food, but dishes that can really be cooked in real-life.
But food in anime isn’t limited to Food Wars. Indeed, many anime series that don’t revolve around cooking still feature all kinds of tasty dishes, many of which are core to Japanese culture.
From simple rice balls to full-blown meals, here are some of the best foods, meals, and drinks often featured in anime series.
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Onigiri is a classic Japanese rice ball, sometimes wrapped in nori (dried seaweed) and filled with different kinds of fillings—like pickled ume, salted salmon, or bonito flakes. It’s popular throughout the country and became a staple food found in Japanese restaurants worldwide.
There are many anime series that feature onigiri, and one of the best-known is One Piece. A girl gave Roronoa Zoro her self-made rice balls while he was tied to a pole, then he later used a technique named “Oni Giri” (Ogre Cutter), a pun of the famed rice ball’s name.
Sake is an alcoholic beverage made by fermenting rice, thus creating a rice wine. We often see sake served in a small white bottle, but sometimes it’s also carried in a red gourd-shaped bottle.
In some anime series, sake can grant extra powers when used—by imbuing a “drunken fist” type of martial arts when imbibed.
In the Naruto anime series, Rock Lee mistakenly drinks sake after mistaking it for medicine and fights while drunk. In One Piece, drinking a cup of sake together is a sign of one’s bond as brothers or family.
Omurice is a Japanese egg dish influenced by Western culture. It’s a portmanteau of “omelet” and “rice”—which makes sense, given that the dish is an omelet served over rice and topped with ketchup. It’s a popular dish for children and adults alike.
It has tons of variations in real-life, but anime series like Food Wars, Gourmet Girl Graffiti, and Blue Exorcist have all shown their own takes on omurice with their own impressive animations.
6. Tamago Kake Gohan
Another egg-rice dish often found in anime is tamago kake gohan. Unlike omurice, this one is simply raw egg served over rice. Seriously, all you do is break an egg over your rice bowl and mix it in, maybe adding in a few seasonings like soy sauce.
It’s a simple and cheap but satisfying meal for egg lovers. The Gin no Saji anime series featured this meal prepared right in its first episode, with Yuugo feeling hesitant to eat it but finding it really tasty.
Dumpling is a general term for dishes involving minced meat and/or mixed vegetables wrapped in dough, with the dough made from flour, rice, or some other kind of starch staple.
Dumplings are popular in all parts of the world and the most common variations are gyoza (Japan), shumai or sio-mai (China), and empanadas (common to Spain and other parts of Europe). While dumplings are featured in anime in many variations, the most notable one is the gyoza.
During the first episode of Virtua Fighter, Akira Yuki tries to finish fifty plates of gyoza within a time limit but is interrupted on his last two plates. In Cooking Master Boy, a dumpling competition features Jade Pheonix Dumplings, Flame Dumplings, and Rising Dragon Dumplings.
Dango is another variation of dumplings, but this one is a very specific type that’s made from a combination of rice flour and glutinous rice flour.
It’s the iconic ball-shaped snack found in most anime series as one’s usual afternoon snack alongside their favorite tea. The balls are skewered—and sometimes colored—and glazed with sweet sauce.
Ramen isn’t just one of the most popular meals found in anime—it’s popular in real-life all over the world. It’s a Japanese noodle soup topped with meat and other toppings like narutomaki, nori, and menma.
Anime often gives ramen colorful features that make it look really delicious. Ramen is Naruto’s favorite food in Naruto, while the series Dr. Stone features it as a step in rebuilding the Kingdom of Science.
Katsudon, which is a portmanteau of “tonkatsu” (pork cutlet) and “donburi” (rice bowl dish), is a rice bowl dish topped with deep-fried breaded pork cutlet and other toppings like onions and eggs.
The series The Devil Is a Part-Timer features katsudon as the first meal the demon lord Maou encounters in his new place called Earth. It’s also an important meal for Yuri of Yuri!!! on ICE.
1. Bento Box
There is no specific recipe for a bento (bento box), and it can be filled with different dishes. The most common elements in a bento box are onigiri, egg rolls, maki rolls, meat slices, and fruit pieces.
Anime series often feature bento boxes during a character’s lunchtime, where they share food with their peers. Sometimes, female characters prepare bento and give to someone they like, and the receiver’s acceptance signifies that they recognize the giver’s feelings.
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