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Japanese food is a beautiful blend of tradition and innovation. It’s also incredibly complex and often takes years of practice to master. Luckily, many great resources are out there to help you get started. Our wrapup of the very best Japanese cookbooks cuts through the sea of options and has something ideal for cooks of all skill levels reviewed.
- Japanese Soul Cooking: Ramen, Tonkatsu, Tempura, and More from the Streets and Kitchens of Tokyo and Beyond [A Cookbook]
- Donabe: Classic and Modern Japanese Clay Pot Cooking [A One-Pot Cookbook]
- Ramen Obsession: The Ultimate Bible for Mastering Japanese Ramen
- Sushi Cookbook for Beginners: 100 Step-By-Step Recipes to Make Sushi at Home
- Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art
- Japan, The Cookbook
- Mastering the Art of Japanese Home Cooking
- Robata: Japanese Home Grilling
- The Gaijin Cookbook: Japanese Recipes from a Chef, Father, Eater, and Lifelong Outsider
- Washoku: Recipes from the Japanese Home Kitchen [A Cookbook]
- Special Mention – Print Only
- Special Mention – Japanese Cookbook For Kids
- Best Japanese Cookbooks – Frequently Asked Questions
Japanese Soul Cooking: Ramen, Tonkatsu, Tempura, and More from the Streets and Kitchens of Tokyo and Beyond [A Cookbook]
Japanese Soul Cooking is a wonderfully detailed book that takes the readers through the fundamentals of cooking Japanese comfort food. Recipes and an explanation of the basic methodology for making ramen, gyoza, curry, tonkatsu, furai & korokke, kara-age, tempura, okonomiyaki, donburi, soba, udon, itame & chahan, and yoshoku are given as well as a brief overview of common Japanese ingredients. This is the ideal book if you’re looking for sought-after staples similar to homemade kitsune udon, all sorts of ramen and miso soup.
There’s no chance of going wrong when you follow the simplified steps supplied by chef Ono, and each meal delivers authentic results that are just as good as one would expect from any restaurant. From the beautiful pictures to the easy-to-find ingredients, this is an awesome buy filled with dishes that are delightful to prepare for anyone who enjoys Japanese soul food.
About The Authors: Co-authors Tokyo-born Tadashi Ono, published by The New York Times, Gourmet & Food and Wine, and food reporter and writer Harris Salat have put together a book that makes making all of the sought-after Japanese classics straightforward.
Clay pot cooking is a staple of Japanese cuisine, and there is perhaps no better introduction for a newcomer than Donabe: Classic and Modern Japanese Clay Pot Cooking. Hot pot, soup, and all sorts of traditional stews and noodle dishes develop a unique flavor in a donabe, the oldest of Japan’s cooking vessels. After a brief introduction taking the reader through the basics of clay pot selection, cooking in a donabe, and keeping earthenware pots clean, the selection of delectable recipes begin.
Each authentic clay pot recipe has its own gorgeous photograph. While all the classics and their must-have ingredients are there, adaptations introduce substitutions and modifications to beloved recipes. While the recipes in this book come out best when made in a donabe, they can be made in a conventional pot atop any regular stove. If you’re a fan of Japanese food and one-pot cooking, then this is a must-read.
About The Authors: The co-authors of Donabe developed a wonderful showcase of classic Japanese cooking. Tokyo native, donabe expert, Japanese home-cooking expert, and owner of TOIRO – the Japanese artisanal product specialist, Naoko Takei Moore collaborates with three-star Michelin chef Kyle Connaughton, and the result is a cookbook that’s not only simple to follow but precise to the last step.
If ramen in any of its many tasty incarnations keeps calling when hunger hits, then Ramen Obsession is a cookbook you’ll fall in love with. Those already obsessed will know all too well the order, process, and several varieties available. Each and every last step and all the ingredients, from recipes for the four types of tare to all the oils, aromatics, toppings, and noodles, are covered in glorious detail with foolproof steps to follow.
There are ten recipes for classic Japanese regional ramen like sapporo and Onomichi, and over ten recipes each for tonkotsu, shoyu, shio, and miso ramen. The authors then detail a range of interesting, unconventional ramen dishes like vegetarian curry ramen, ramen salad (Hiyashi Chuka), and Hiroshima-style Tsukemen. By the time you’re done reading, you’ll know the six steps to a perfect bowl off by heart with enough inspiration to devise your very own recipes
About The Authors: Bestselling author and Wall Street Journal featured food writer Naomi Imatome-Yun and the Bay Area blogger behind All Ways Delicious combined their insight to create Ramen Obsession and, in the process, have put together one of the most complete discourses on the beloved Japanese meal available.
There are one-hundred recipes for sushi explained step-by-step in the Sushi Cookbook for Beginners, and every last one is a winner that’ll keep eaters coming back for more. Recipes and fundamental techniques for making sashimi, nigiri, nari, gunkanmaki, chirashi, sushi canapes, temari, temaki, and maki rolls are given.
Readers will also be happy to find classic soups like Sumashi-Jiru and sides like Naga-Imo made from Japanese mountain yam given their own chapter, as well as a section for sauces and staples like tempura batter and soy mayo. Beginners will struggle to find a book that makes the art of sushi as manageable as this outstanding discourse accompanied by its brilliant photography.
About The Author: Cosmetics expert turned author Chika Ravitch exploded into the industry with excellent books on classic Japanese cuisine. From detailing the art of sushi for beginners to building creative, tasty Bento boxes, her books blend healthy eating with simplistic meal construction, thus opening up some of Japan’s favorite meals to the masses without any degree of difficulty.
Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art is one of the most complete journeys through Japan’s classic cuisine available in print. Readers will find overviews of making stock (dashi), soups (suimono and shirumono), slicing and serving (dashimi), grilling and pan-frying (yakimono), steaming (mushimono), simmering (nigimno), deep-frying (agemono), salads (sunomono & aemono), one-pot cooking (nebamono), rice (gobanmono), sushi, noodles (menrui), pickling vegetables (tsukemono), sweets (okashi) and both brewing/serving tea and sake.
In its second part, this excellent cookbook has recipes for soups, grilled dishes, steamed dishes, simmered dishes, deep-fried dishes, salads, one-pot meals, rice meals, sushi, noodles, and finally, confectionery. Once one goes through the five hundred intricate illustrations and well-rounded insight covering every last part of Japanese cuisine conveyed in the most captivating prose, it is easy to understand why this classic has seen twenty-five different editions and continues to remain updated.
About The Author: The author and founder of one of Japan’s most prestigious culinary schools, the Tsuji Culinary Institute, Shizuoa Tsuji, is an individual who is largely credited with helping the Western world grasp Japanese cuisine properly for the first time. Traditional wisdom that allows the reader to harness cooking as an art form is made practical and straightforward to understand through this visionary chef’s words.
Every last part of Japan, The Cookbook makes amazing Japanese cuisine accessible to cooks of all skill levels. From the simplistic breakdown of the dishes spanning all categories to the composition of the recipes and clear-cut instructions, this is one of the most complete but concise cookbooks seen. Readers will fall in love with the layout, diversity of recipes, and mouthwatering photos accompanying each meal. It’s a highly polished book, to say the least.
Between the four hundred recipes, readers are sure to find guidance concerning all aspects of Japanese cooking. Not only are the recipes easy to follow with easy-to-find ingredients, but there are thoughtful notes scattered throughout that make mastering Japan’s cooking a likely potentiality. Those looking for a recipe collection spanning all of the nation’s cuisine should look no further. This cookbook is invaluable to beginner and intermediate chefs alike.
About The Author: James Beard Award-nominated author who has resided on an organic farm in rural Japan since 1988 has put together a book that’s largely considered to be the definitive reference cookbook for Japanese food. Drawing from her life at the side of her Japanese farmer husband, the insight put on paper concerning traditional cuisine is rivaled by few.
With all the flair that one would expect from an Iron Chef, Mastering the Art of Japanese Cooking comes together as a collection of insight, color commentary concerning Japanese cuisine, and captivating recipes. The recipes are introduced with background from the author’s own life. If you’re looking for a straight-out cookbook, this isn’t quite for you, but for anyone who wants to understand what they’re cooking and the ethnic spirit behind the food, chef Morimoto’s book is perfect.
All authentic Japanese classics are detailed with steps that are easy to follow and accompanying color photos adorning almost each and every page. Yet, it’s not only traditional cuisine curated and perfected but rather reinvented recipes bursting with flavor too. Through a single read, you’ll learn the right ratio for Japanese sauces, the proper process to put together a meal, including seasoning order, and exactly how to add extras that make the visual appeal of your plates pop.
About The Author: Masaharu Morimoto will forever be known as the Iron Chef after taking the role on both Japanese and US television. The Michelin star chef conveys practical, pragmatic guidance concerning all aspects of Japan’s cooking and flavors.
Japanese grilling is an art of its own, and Robata: Japanese Home Grilling has all the information, insight, and instructions needed to master it at home. While a traditional robata grill (fireside grill) is best, the recipes can be prepared perfectly on a barbecue or oven grill. Not only do the huge recipes adorning each page present the ingredients and meals in such a way that you can’t wait to prepare them, but the guidance is so simple that even a novice will be able to pull off gourmet grilling.
The robata recipes are divided into fish robata, other robatas, classic yakitori (skewers), other skewers, nibbles, salads and sides, and desserts and drinks. Readers should be prepared to be blown away by simplicity and recipes that come out truly amazing every time. With a charcoal grill, the flavor combinations are divine but shouldn’t be missed either way
About The Author: Restaurateur, foodie, and expert in both Japanese cuisine and specifically sushi, Silla Bjerrum explains the art of Japanese grilling beautifully while remaining faithful to traditions. Her work explains the fundamentals of Japan’s cooking in such a way that anyone can grasp and apply them.
The Gaijin Cookbook is exactly as the name suggests, a Japanese cookbook written for outsiders to Japan’s food by an outsider who knows the cuisine inside out. Readers fall in love with the food they’re about to prepare thanks to the author’s own love for Japanese dishes, that is clearly felt through each page and the gorgeous photos of each meal.
There’s a lot to like about this vibrant cookbook. From the way that Japanese classics are adapted to Westernized cooking to how you’ll find all the everyday dishes typically found in Japan detailed with crystal clear instructions, it’s a go-to cookbook filled with personality that you’ll keep coming back to.
About The Author: Renowned restaurateur famous for owning two Ivan Ramen stores in Tokyo and one in Manhattan, Ivan Orkin, knows exactly how to prepare authentic Japanese food in a Western home. Gourmet cooking and the secrets of Japan’s cooking are clearly conveyed through his inspired books like The Gaijin Cookbook and Ivan Ramen, named after his brand.
Washoku: Recipes from the Japanese Home Kitchen is a cookbook designed for intermediate to advanced chefs. Using the guidance, cooks are taught everything they need to know to cook everyday food you’d conventionally find in every home in Japan. Some of the ingredients will be hard to track down, but the irresistible end results fruited at the end of each cooking session more than warrant the effort.
For those not yet familiar, washoku is the word that signifies Japanese cuisine and its harmonious balance of nutrition and flavor. There are few other books that can compare to this book’s personification of the culture and cooking. It’s a supremely balanced selection of recipes, techniques, and insight concerning Japan’s cooking and a must-read for anyone wanting to master the cuisine.
About The Author: A graduate of the illustrious and exclusive Yanagihara School of Traditional Cuisine, Elizabeth Andoh has established herself as a foremost authority on the food and cooking practices of Japan. The International Association of Culinary Professionals award-winning author explains complex Japanese cooking simply while framing authentic recipes in such a way that they’re accessible to a Western audience.
Special Mention – Print Only
Once you see the gorgeous layout and photography of the following cookbook first-hand, you’ll soon understand why it’s well worth owning in print for fans of Japanese cuisine, sushi lovers, and foodies in general.
There are few books that come anywhere near to conveying the foolproof guidance given by this crystal-clear photo guide to the practice of making sushi at home. The Complete Guide to Sushi and Sashimi breaks down complex techniques like shaping nigiri by hand into multiple snapshots showing the positioning needed at each step of the way.
Similar instructions are found for preparing fish, shrimp, clams, scallops, sea urchin, and squid. Sashimi is fully detailed with all the cuts a cook could need. Sushi, from the basics of sushi rice to all varieties from nigiri, gunkanmaki, and chirashi to oshizushi, makozushi, and inarizushi, are all there. There’s no other book quite like it, and you’ll thank yourself over and over again for getting the massive spiral-bound edition if you do.
About The Author: Co-authors Culinary Institute of America graduate Jeffrey Elliot and food writer Robby Cook truly outdid themselves when putting together The Complete Guide to Sushi and Sashimi. Between the structure, straightforward instructions, and supremely intuitive steps with photos, there’s no better way to learn how to make sushi.
Special Mention – Japanese Cookbook For Kids
Whether you, a loved one, or your kids are into manga, anime, or simply manga-inspired games, this is one cookbook that you simply have to see.
The Manga Cookbook: Japanese Bento Boxes, Main Dishes and More! is a book that’s fantastic for introducing Japanese food to young children and a publication that’s perfect for manga and anime fans of all ages. Designed as a graphic novel with recipes, every classic Japanese comic book food is featured in steps that kids will find easy to grasp and perform with just the slightest supervision in most cases.
From illustrations that are as good as they get to all the classic recipes supplied with steps anyone can follow, The Manga Cookbook is short but packed with value. This fun, photo-filled cookbook teaches all the basics of Japanese food, from eating with chopsticks to assembling a plate that looks like it’s ripped straight from the pages of your favorite manga. Even adults who aren’t outright fans of Japanese comics will find the techniques taught creative, fun, and inspiring.
About The Author: The Manga University Culinary Institute publishes a series of manga-themed cookbooks for kids that make cooking authentic Japanese food fun and simple for children and adults alike. Be sure to check out volume two for more popular Japanese dishes and The Manga Cookbook volume three for Japanese fusion food that’s to die for.
Best Japanese Cookbooks – Frequently Asked Questions
Still, left wondering anything about the Japanese cookbooks reviewed? Here are all the answers you need.
We suggest Japan, The Cookbook for those who want a huge selection of recipes, and The Gaijin Cookbook for anyone who is looking for a Western approach to classic Japanese cooking. Readers with kids and/or manga/anime fans can’t afford to overlook the three volumes of The Manga Cookbook.
The best advanced Japanese cookbook for intermediate to expert chefs is Washoku: Recipes from the Japanese Home Kitchen. No matter what skill level you may be, this is one book you’ll always be able to learn something new from.
The best Japanese cookbook is a highly subjective choice. With this being said, the one large-format book filled with beautiful photographs that’s fantastic to own in print is The Complete Guide to Sushi and Sashimi, spiral bound. Otherwise, Japanese Soul Cooking, Ramen Obsession, and Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art are all fantastic comprehensive cookbooks on the finer aspects of Japanese cuisine.
Famous Japanese foods include but are not limited to sushi, sashimi, ramen, udon noodle dishes, tempura battered meat, seafood & vegetables, onigiri (rice balls), yakitori (skewered chicken), oshinko (pickled vegetables), bento boxes, Japanese grilled meat & fish, yakisoba (grilled noodles), okayu (porridge), donabe (ceramic one pot) meals and Japanese-style curry.