Korean Food Vs. Japanese Food: What Is The Difference?

Korea and Japan are two Asian countries that have a long history of producing excellent cuisine.

But what is the difference between Korean food and Japanese food that makes them unique in their own way? Let’s accompany us and find the answer in this article.

What is special about Japanese food?

Japanese food is known for its traditional flavors and unique textures.

It is often thought of as exotic and not something you would typically find at home if you live outside this country.

Sushi, tempura, sashimi, and ramen are what people associate Japanese food with, but there are actually more than that when it comes to Japanese cuisine.

A typical meal in Japan will consist of a bowl of rice, miso soup, pickled vegetables, and a savory dish that is made from fish or meat.

In general, Japanese people consume more fish than meat, making their food lighter to your stomach.

They also have a variety of noodles, such as udon, soba, and ramen besides steamed rice.

They focus on fresh ingredients and the presentation of their dishes, which are not really sophisticated, but rather in an elegant and delicate way.

Tokyo, the capital of Japan, has some of the most famous restaurants in the world, where their food is premium and very expensive, but the flavors of the dishes and service are at their best.

What is special about Korean food?

Korean food is one of the most popular cuisines in the world.

From Kimchi to Bibimbap, Korean food has a rich and diverse history and culture.

In general, Korean dishes are relatively spicy.

They mainly use chili paste or chili powder to add the vibrant red color and the spicy kick to their dishes rather than using fresh chilies.

The Koreans have mastered fermenting vegetables, such as cabbage, radish, or daikon.

You can find several jars of pickles in any Korean family throughout the country.

These spicy and sour dishes are perfect to pair with a BBQ to balance the greasy and meaty taste of grilled pork.

Japan and Korea are two neighboring countries, therefore, sushi, sashimi, or rice rolls with seaweed wraps are also very popular in Korean cuisine.

What are the differences between Japanese vs Korean food?

As already mentioned, due to geographic proximity, Japanese and Korean cuisines are relatively similar.

However, they do have some unique features that set one apart from the other.

Here are several differences between Korean food and Japanese food:

Japanese food is often healthier than Korean food

The reason why Japanese food is sometimes considered to be healthier than Korean food is that Japanese cooking uses less sugar and they eat less meat than the Koreans.

Although Japanese food uses a wide range of vegetables and less meat, it is quite hard to find a complete vegan meal in Japan.

Korean food is often sweeter and a bit higher in calories.

Korean food tends to be spicier

Korean food is spicier than Japanese food because they use more chili paste and chili powder.

This heating agent not only adds a spicy kick to their dishes but also provides the vibrant red color that can be usually found in Korean dishes.

Japanese food seems to be more expensive and has higher quality ingredients

Another difference between Korean and Japanese food is their ingredients.

Although both cuisines only use fresh ingredients instead of canned food like in America or Western cuisine, Japanese food is more premium and therefore more expensive.

Some famous Japanese restaurants have really high standards for their ingredients’ quality.

Soju is a national beverage of Korea, while sake is most famous in Japanese cuisine

The last difference is their national beverage.

While Korean cuisine features soju as their main beverage, which is a colorless distilled alcoholic beverage.

On the other hand, Japanese people enjoy sake as their national drink.  

What are the similarities between Korean vs Japanese food?

Korean and Japanese food have many similarities that make a lot of people mistake between these two cuisines.

Below are some typical things they have in common:

They use fresh ingredients in their cooking

Both cuisines call for fresh ingredients in their daily meals.

From vegetables, meat, or seafood, all can be found in their local markets.

They rarely or never use canned food, which is a staple in American cuisine, that’s why their dishes always have a natural taste.

Rice, soy sauce, and pickles are staples in both Korean and Japanese cuisines

Another similarity between Japanese food and Korean food is they share three staples, which are rice, soy sauce, and pickles.

Rice is served in every meal.

It can be steamed to eat with other savory dishes, make sushi or rice rolls, or make noodles.

Soy sauce is used as a dipping sauce or as a cooking seasoning.

Pickles are made by fermenting vegetables.

Both cuisines serve their food in small portions

Japanese and Korean cuisines also serve their meals in the same way.

Dishes are served in small portions, that’s why their tables are always full of plates and bowls because each member has their own portion of any dish.

Korean food and Japanese food are popular worldwide

The last thing in common is their popularity.

It is not hard to find Japanese or Korean food in different parts of the world, outside these two countries.

They are really preferred by young people in other Asian countries or even in the West.

Which one is better?

Korean and Japanese food are both excellent in their own way, but it is important to remember that they have different traditions.

If you go for a sushi dinner, your meal will be served with soy sauce as well as pickled ginger and wasabi paste on the side.

In Korea, fermented cabbage called kimchi accompanies most meals and there are often more spicy dishes than sweet ones like takoyaki or okonomiyaki.

It’s not just about which one tastes better, each country has its unique culture that we should respect while still finding out what flavors suit our palate best.