Simply translated to mean chilled Chinese-style, these cold ramen noodles are served mountain-like, surrounded with fresh vegetables and are a really refreshing meal that keeps you feeling light. The best noodles retain their firmness and are cooling as you eat, and the toppings are pretty flexible. Common ones include sliced cucumber, ginger, ham, and omelet, as well as seafood like shrimp—all arranged nicely around the noodles. The dish is commonly served with one of two sauces, sesame or soy, and is considered restorative if you’re struggling with the heat of summer.
It’s no secret that summer in Japan can get very hot and sticky. Luckily, you can get yourself kakigori just about anywhere. Kakigori is Japanese for “shaved ice,” and it’s a great way to cool down on a sunny day. If you want to add a sweet taste to your kakigori, add one of the many varieties of syrup. Strawberry, lemon, banana, chocolate, or even rainbow can add a bit of flavor to your selection.
Although other countries have customs of eating eel, in Japan the standard is unagi broiled in a soy-based sauce and placed in a multi-tiered box on top of rice for a dish known as “unaju”. This unaju (sometimes called unadon if it is placed in a bowl) is the main kind of unagi cuisine offered in specialty shops across the country. The broiled unagi that is placed on top of rice is grilled in a sauce made of ingredients like soy sauce, mirin, sugar, and alcohol to create a flavor called teriyaki. Unagi is known for containing high nutrition and very common summer stamina food since the Edo period. Steamed eel on rice covered with sweet soya sauce will boost your appetite.
One of the things that Japanese people eat a lot of when summer comes around is somen. The noodles with preferred condiments, like green onion or sesame seeds, are dipped in a broth and eaten. The standard broth is soy sauce based with a somewhat sweet taste. One of the reasons for its popularity is that it can be eaten quite quickly. For most Japanese people, it’s something that’s not too heavy on the stomach and can be eaten when you are suffering from the summer heat and don’t have much of an appetite. In Japan, there are many Somen specialty shops as well as soba shops where you can eat it from their limited summer menu.
Kuzumochi is the perfect summer time snack when you want something sweet but not too heavy. It is mochi (made from starch flour and root of kudzu plant), not too sticky, and wobbly like thick jello. Kuzumochi is sprinkled with kinako (roasted soybean flour) and topped with kuromitsu (black honey) to give it that sweet taste. It is also gluten-free and is a great vegetarian dessert.
If you love seafood, Ayu will be a perfect on-the-go snack. It is usually grilled and is associated with the summertime in Japan. The fish has a sweet taste sweet that some say is similar to that of a watermelon. Ayu is popular at festivals and fireworks displays, so be on the lookout for a skewer of this grilled fish wherever you see food booths.
Rei Shabu is the summer version of shabu-shabu, where the meat is served cold. Instead of boiling a pot of stock while cooking, this dish is prepared like a cold pork salad. The veggies are raw and the meat is cold, which makes it refreshing to eat on a hot summer day.