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I am allergic to seafood but will eat pretty much anything else. I know a lot of Japanese cuisine is based on seafood - but are there other Japanese meat or vegetable dishes I should try? I really want to try Japanese Food and go to japan one day

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    Make sure you have a Japanese language and pictures card explaining you are allergic to fish, as fish sauce as an ingredient in other food is quite common (as far as I know.)
    – Willeke
    Aug 8, 2023 at 8:09
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    It will be very hard. Bonito flakes get into many dishes and may not be considered significant. Vegetarians and vegans face this challenge as even if your Japanese skills allow you to ask "is it all vegetable" then you might still get the answer yes when something like this has been used. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katsuobushi
    – badjohn
    Aug 8, 2023 at 9:12
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    I am not sure that this is a duplicate. The linked question is about not liking seafood but this is about an allergy. So, dishes with trace amounts of seafood may be acceptable answers to the other question but not this one.
    – badjohn
    Aug 8, 2023 at 9:15
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    @badjohn Reopened. And dashi stock, which is almost always made from bonito, is an even bigger issue than katsuobushi flakes. Aug 8, 2023 at 9:18
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    Are you really allergic to all seafood (including fish), or just crustaceans and/or shellfish? That would make a big difference.
    – jcaron
    Aug 8, 2023 at 9:53

3 Answers 3

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A few things you can try:

  • Chicken katsu curry (deep fried panko-crusted chicken served on rice, with a sweet curry sauce)
  • Yakitori (chicken skewers grilled over embers, there are lots of different versions using different bits of the chicken)
  • Pork katsu (deep fried panel-crusted pork, served with a plum sauce)
  • Yaki Soba (stir fried noodles, but check what they are served with, they often come with shrimp)
  • Some cold noodle dishes
  • Spinach with sesame sauce
  • Vegetable-based “sushi” (mostly maki), using pickled vegetables (tsukemono), or fermented soy beans (natto)…
  • Fried skewers (kushikatsu)
  • Okonomiaki (a form of thick pancake with a variety of ingredients in them, but ask them not to add the traditional bonito flakes)
  • Tempura (deep fried vegetables)
  • Yakiniku (grilled food over embers)
  • Teppanyaki
  • Shabu-Shabu (thin slices of meat cooked in a hot broth, though you should probably check the composition of the broth)
  • Wagyu beef (though this can be extremely expensive, especially Kobe beef)

That’s just a few things that come to mind, but there are probably dozens if not hundreds of other dishes not involving seafood at all. Some of the above have variations with seafood (e.g. tempura or kushikatsu), so pick appropriately.

Of course you should always check with the restaurant for any allergens and notify them if your allergies, sometimes there are ingredients which are used which are not obvious (in sauces and broths). Also in some cases they may prepare other foods (for instance they will deep fry seafood and other foods in the same oil) so there may be traces, which may affect you depending on your sensitivity.

Also note that while some dishes are relatively or even extremely easy to find in Japan, they are sometimes unheard of in the rest of the world where Japanese food is often reduced to just sushi, or as is often the case in France for instance, sushi and yakitori (though the type of skewers are quite different). Most of those “Japanese” restaurants are actually not Japanese at all. Real traditional Japanese restaurants are a lot less common and often more expensive.

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    If you have a severe allergy, many things on this list may still be dangerous: fish-based dashi stock is almost always used for noodle dipping sauces, spinach with sesame (horensou no goma-ae), yakisoba sauce, etc etc. Aug 9, 2023 at 1:02
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Seafood is in many Japanese foods, even if it is just in a stock for flavoring. For example a beef rice bowl, gyudon, will have dashi (fish and seaweed stock) as part of the flavoring. By the name, you would not expect it to have fish in it.

Is the allergy to shellfish or all types of fish? If it is only shellfish, you will have much more flexibility in what you eat.

There is a book that I can recommend to you, “What's What in Japanese Restaurants: A Guide to Ordering, Eating, and Enjoying” by Robb Satterwhite (Publisher:Kodansha International, ISBN-13 : ‎978-4770031440). The book goes into detail about different types of Japanese cuisines and what is in each. I have the 1988 edition, and the most recent edition is 2011, so it is likely to have more information on allergies and other dietary restrictions. The author also has a website (bento.com) that has some of the information in the book. Both of these sources are likely have more detailed information than a simple Stackoverflow reply.

If there is no other alternative, Western chains to exist in Japan. KFC and McDonald's are everywhere, as are local equivalents such as MOS Burger. Not ideal, but can do if there is nothing else.

If you are unsure, you can try showing the following phrase to a waiter.

私 は シーフードが 食べられません. It means “I can’t eat seafood.”.

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Surprised no one has mentioned ramen yet. There are countless versions based on region. They use a wide array of soup stock from pork to tomato.

Beyond food, please look into wagashi or Japanese sweets. There's also dorayaki, taiyaki, mochi.

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