December 3, 2022

How to Tell the Differences between Japanese and Chinese Food

Do you ever get confused about the differences between Japanese and Chinese food? Well, I think most people do.

Japanese and Chinese food may seem similar to each other. However, they both have some differences that stand out. Aside from the origins, many people often still mix up about distinguishing those two foods from East Asia.

In this article, I am going to share information regarding Japanese and Chinese food to solve that problem. For you who have never really paid attention to that problem, you better do it right now. Let’s begin!

Differences in Cooking Methods

The first thing to discuss is the cooking method.

When it comes to Japanese food, freshness is the essential part. Primarily, Japanese food involves using fresh ingredients and does not have heavy seasoning. 

Many Japanese foods were made with seafood as the primary ingredient. Who does not know sashimi? Made of raw fish, combine with wasabi and soy sauce. Can you imagine if you raw fish that is not fresh? Eww!

Furthermore, the Japanese cooking method can be broken down into five basic cooking methods;

  • Nama (cutting). This method represents one of the essential features of Japanese food, which is sashimi. In order to make good sashimi, the Japanese chef must have skillful knife control.
  • Niru (simmering). This method requires dishes to be submerged in water or liquid seasonings with heat to make the dishes softer and tastier.
  • Yaku (grilling). The dishes are cooked by being directly exposed to an open flame or on a frying pan to this method.
  • Musu (steaming). This method is done by a pot, in which the dishes are put inside it and are heated with steam.
  • Ageru (deep-frying). Using oil, fat, and high-temperature flame, this method is rarely used for cooking Japanese food.

However, Japanese food is cooked mainly by grilling. With less oil, less fat, and fewer seasonings used, Japanese food is said to be more nutritious, lighter, and healthier than Chinese food.

Meanwhile, Chinese food mainly uses noodles and rice, along with vegetables and meat. Even research has revealed that there has been an increase in meat consumption in China every year over the last 30 years.

Chinese food is known for being flavorful and spicy, and they were made with a lot of seasonings and sauces.

Unlike Japanese food, Chinese food can leave people feeling overly full, weighed down, and tired due to their frying cooking method of thick batter, grease, and oil.

The frying cooking method, which is mainly used in making Chinese food, can also be broken down into several types;

  • Stir-frying, which processed the ingredients at high-temperature heat for only a short period of time.
  • Deep-frying uses much more oil than any other method. The ingredients should be submerged in the oil in order to get the crisp texture of the food.
  • Shallow-frying needs less oil than stir-frying and deep-frying with only low heat. The dishes should be shallow-fried on one side and turned to the other sides to do this method.

There are also other methods of cooking Chinese food, such as;

  • Braising is adding seasonings in a pan at the same time as the ingredients and simmering it until it is cooked.
  • Boiling is as simple as putting the dishes into the boiling water.
  • Steaming is widely used in China, especially to cook buns and dumplings. This method involves putting the ingredients in a steamer pot.
  • Roasting is cooking the dishes over the open flame of charcoal.

Even though both look the same, Japanese and Chinese food still have many different cooking methods, right?

Oh ya! By the way, you need to know that traditionally, the Japanese shunned meat because of their belief which is Buddhism. But because of the modernization that came to Japan in the 1880s, meat-based foods such as tonkatsu and yakiniku have become common.



picture source: dreamstime

The complexity is also different between Japanese and Chinese food.

The process of making Japanese food is not too complex. Usually, dishes in Japanese food only need to go through one process. It is because most Japanese people like not to change the natural flavor of the dishes.

Japanese basically only boil down to soy sauce, sesame oil, soy paste, sake, rice vinegar, and wasabi. That’s all.

On the other hand, due to the flavorful characteristic of Chinese food, some dishes tend to go through a very long, complex, and time-consuming process. Some ingredients even need to go through several steps before they are cooked and ready to be served.

Chinese food involves a combination of ingredients, as well as the complex process and equipment. Different ingredients can be cooked with different methods as well.

As I have mentioned earlier, Japanese food tends to have a more subtle flavor; that is why the process of making it is not too complex.

Meanwhile, Chinese food is more flavorful with many seasonings and sauces; no wonder why it takes a long time to make them.

Differences in Tea Preferences

The next thing is about tea.

In fact, tea is a common thing enjoyed by both Japanese and Chinese people. Tea is usually served along with the foods in both cultures. What makes tea in Japan and China different?

Japan produces only five types of tea; white tea, green tea, oolong, black tea, and fermented tea. In contrast, China has six kinds of tea, with yellow tea as an addition.

Moreover, Japanese and Chinese people usually prefer green tea to be served with their food. Japanese green tea is often vegetal, brisker, and slightly bitter. Meanwhile, Chinese green tea usually has a lighter, sweeter, and toasty flavor.

Japanese green tea will have a very intense and thick green color, while Chinese green tea is lighter.

If you like something refreshing and for the caffeine kick, you can choose Japanese green tea as an option. But if you want something that is rich in flavor, you can choose Chinese green tea.

Differences in Serving Methods


picture source: foodandbeverage

Move on to the next thing to be discussed, which is the serving method of both Japanese and Chinese food.

Japanese food is very traditional-like when it comes to the serving method. Japanese food with many other side dishes usually is served separately on its own plate or bowl. It is because of the nature of Japanese people who do not like to mix up different flavors into one.

In short, there is always a “divider” in Japanese food, for example, the bento box, which consists of several different places to place the dishes.

While Japanese food is so traditional-like, Chinese food has been part of Western culture for a long time ago. It tends to be served with a mix of several dishes, seasonings, and spicy.

Most Chinese people also like to serve Chinese food that contrasts in taste and texture; a crisp dish with a soft one or a bland dish with a spicy one.

For example, if you go to a Chinese restaurant, you will find a chicken on top of your rice. While in Japanese style, they tend to serve the protein separately from the rice.

The Food Examples

The last one is the food examples so that you can understand the differences clearly.

In East Asia, Japan and China have kinds of food that are similar to each other. They are similar in terms of their appearance but different when it comes to their tastes. What are they?

First, there are gyoza, which comes from Japan, and jiaozi, from China. They both share a similar appearance that can make people confused to distinguish.

Gyoza and jiaozi have different fillings. Gyoza is filled more with chopped garlic; that is why they have nice fragrant. On the other hand, jiaozi is filled with pork, shrimp, and vegetables.

Another example is ramen from Japan and la-mian from China. Yes, they both are noodles.

The difference is that ramen has several liquid options; it can be white soup or red soup, and it has many kinds of toppings. La-mian is more salty and savory with the topping only boiled green mustard and sliced beef.

The following example is okonomiyaki from Japan and fuyunghai from China.

Okonomiyaki has a lot of filling, such as seafood, meat, noodle, and mustard. It is served with mayonnaise, katsuobushi, and fish sauce that can make the taste tastier.

In contrast to okonomiyaki, fuyunghai doesn’t have that many fillings. Fuyunghai was made with a mix of vegetables and can be served only by pouring sweet and sour sauce.

Don’t be mistaken later, ya!

So, that was all the information regarding Japanese and Chinese food I can give to you! I hope my writing can help you distinguish those two kinds of food from East Asia. Make sure not to get confused later!

P.S. Don’t forget to leave some comments and likes on this page! And if you want to know more about this topic in a more interesting way, you can directly check it here!



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