Chiang Mai hosts a dizzying array of Japanese restaurants and food options. There is a significant number of Japanese expatriates living in the city but the reason there is such a profusion of Japanese restaurants in Chiang Mai is that it is widely popular in Thailand and has been a staple for with the locals for decades.
Japanese eating options in Chiang Mai are available everywhere; from street markets to food courts, international chains to small elegant, chef-owned dining rooms. If you want to eat Japanese here, you have plenty a world of choices.
Many people automatically associate Japanese food with sushi and sashimi and most Japanese restaurants will feature these iconic national favourites on their menus. However, around the sois of Nimmanhemin and dotted in locations around the city, you can find some small establishments that specialise transforming the presentation of fish, rice and vegetables into an art form. Definitely worth checking out.!
Another Japanese food import that the locals are wild about is shabu-shabu, the communal nabemono hotpot dish of thinly slices meat and vegetables. Sharing and socialising over food is an integral part of Thai culture and this style of eating fits the bill perfectly. As a result, there are shabu-shabu restaurants throughout the city. Other Japanese favourites tempura, gyoza, kare raisu (curry with rice), grilled fish, yakitori, miso soup to name just a few are all readily available.
The simplicity and focus on the quality and freshness of the individual ingredients that are a feature of Japanese cuisine is a contrast to the complexity and combinations of tastes and flavours that features so strongly in Thai food. That variation and the opportunity to eat something different may go some way to explain the popularity of Japanese restaurants and food in Chiang Mai. Let these pages be your guide to exploring them.