Are you looking for healthy Japanese snacks that suit your diet?
Being in Japan on a low carb diet, I’ve always found it hard to find healthy snacks that I could have. Keto and paleo are still relatively unknown here. With limited options, I mostly ate nuts.
Yah, I could eat dried squid and seaweed, but how much dried squid can one person eat.
These past few weeks, I’ve been scouring the shelves of natural food stores in Tokyo to find more options for snacks on the go.
With your eyes peeled and an open mind, you can find more low carb/ low sugar options.
Here’s my list of healthy Japanese snacks to help get you started.
To avoid all the plastic packaging, or for those of you who don’t live in Japan, hopefully you’ll feel inspired enough to replicate one of these snacks in your kitchen at home. Send me a message if I can help!
I crack up just imagining you boiling and marinating quail eggs in soy sauce. If you do, send me a picture and I’ll keep it enshrined on my wall permanently.
#1 Organic Pea Chips
Transitioning to a low carb diet, I missed the crunchy texture of chips, crackers, and pretzels.
Which is why I eat these pea chips way too often. If I dip them in extra virgin olive oil and sea salt, they’re just as satisfying as potato chips.
Two ingredients: organic peas and salt (gluten free)
Available at: Crayon House, Natural House, and Bio C’Bon
#2 Organic Mung Bean Chips
I rotate in this flavor so I don’t get sick of eating pea chips.
I had never heard of mung beans- they’re mainly cultivated in countries like India, China, and Southeast Asia.
Two ingredients: organic mung beans and salt (gluten free)
Available at: Crayon House, Natural House, and Bio C’Bon
#3 Dried Konyaku Chips
This is a snack for when you just feel like chewing on something.
It won’t make you feel full or energized, but it’s worth trying once.
It’s made from konjac, a root that’s used to make konnyaku jelly or shirataki noodles (the clear ‘miracle’ noodles used in beef sukiyaki). Even an entire slab of konnyaku you’d buy at a Japanese supermarket is almost zero calories.
Flavors: kuromitsu (brown sugar) cinnamon, plum, beef, scallop, smoked squid, and mitarashi (skewered rice dumplings in a sweet soy glaze)
Available at: Natural Lawson convenience stores
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#4 Salmon Jerky (shake toba)
If you like beef jerky or smoked salmon, you’d like shake toba.
This dried fish snack is famous in Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island. You could compare it to salmon jerky from Alaska.
Shake toba is one of my favorite snacks in Japan, especially if you put it on the grill and eat it when it’s warm and crispy.
In the winter, it’s so good! Often you’ll find it on the menu at an izakaya that specializes in seafood. Nothing goes better with saké! (The only possible exception is karasumi, sun-dried salted mullet roe, but it’s super expensive.)
Available at: Seijo Ishii (this brand) and supermarkets and convenience stores all over Japan. (In Hokkaido, you’d have a hard time not finding it!)
#5 Organic Beans (variety pack)
What did the edamame say to the green pea?
How have you bean?
I don’t buy this snack often, though it’s pretty good and filling. I tend to avoid soybeans and product named with bad puns. 😉 In Japan, there’s a lot of both so it’s hard to avoid. Quoting my first grade students, “I don’t get it. That’s not funny at all.”
Yesterday I saw “Eggcellent Egg Tarts” at the airport. There’s no escape in the “land of the rising puns.”
If you’ve just read The Plant Paradox by Dr. Steven Gundry, you’re probably deathly afraid of legumes now. Lectins- RUN! ! ! If you’re a big fan of Tim’s Ferriss’s The 4 Hour Body (like I am), you’ll like this snack.
Ingredients: soybeans, green peas, red beans, chickpeas
#6 Goya Chips
Goya is a superfood grown in Okinama. It looks like a fat cucumber with bad acne.
If you’re a fan of a bitter aftertaste or just like trying something really different, this snack is for you. Not entirely guilt free (low carb) with some added flour, but worth trying.
It’s a snack with a bite but tastes gourd-geous!
RUN! ! !
Available at: Seijo Iishi and other supermarkets or specialty stores
(No more puns, promise. Please don’t leave.)
#7 Black Pepper Broad Beans (sora mame)
Sora mame (broad beans) with black pepper, I looooooove these!
This snack and I go way back- I used to buy them at Seijo Ishii. My sister likes these too. So good!
This one as well isn’t entirely low carb-friendly with some added flour, so I try to go easy on them even though they’re addictive.
“Discipline, Matt-san!” Then I do some Bruce Lee moves, and have one more handful before swiftly closing the package.
Available at: the basement market of Shibuya Station and some supermarkets/specialty stores (can be a little bit hard to find)
#8 Organic Nuts
Seijo Ishii started carrying small packages of organic nuts. I’ve seen organic nuts other places as well.
I tend to buy one packet of almonds and one packet of walnuts rather than buying the mixed nuts because cashews are high in carbs.
Kinokuniya also carries organic walnuts, which sometimes go on sale. If they’re all sold out, sorry, that was probably me. 😉
Available at: Seiji Ishii, other brands at Natural House, Natural Lawson’s, and Crayon House
#9 Fish Sausage
This particular brand, I cut up and grilled in a skillet just like breakfast sausage with my eggs. Surprisingly good!
Looking at the ingredients, these fish sausage products seem to be a mix off two kinds of fish meat. There are other ingredients including flour, so eat fishing sausage isn’t quite as low carb as grilling a fillet of fish. Nutrition facts in Japan don’t give all the specifics.
Available at: the basement of Shibuya Station (this brand) and other supermarkets/specialty stores
#10 Fish cake- salmon flavored (kamaboko)
Kamaboko, another fish paste-based product, comes in all shapes and flavors.
It’s processed pureed white-fish meat called surimi in Japanese. The imitation crab meat you’ve had a Japanese restaurant is similar to kamaboko. Or if you’ve ever eaten oden, you’ve most likely eaten some form of kamaboko.
Lower quality kamaboko, like the kind filled with processed cheese sold at convenience stores, may contain MSG and other crappy ingredients.
If you go to the basement of a higher-end department store, you’re more likely find kamaboko made with better quality ingredients.
Available at: the basement of Shibuya Station and supermarkets all over Japan.
If you visit Hakone from Tokyo, you can try famously good kamaboko from Odawara. I also eat freshly made kamaboko every time I’m at the airport in Sapporo.
#11 Fish cake- mashed edamame flavored (kamaboko)
flavor: zunda (mashed edamame)
I learned a new word. They had two other flavors as well- I forget what they were.
#12 Quail eggs (uzura no tamago)
Boiled quail eggs are pretty typical in Japan.
I’ve never really looked, but I think you can find them at any supermarket.
Seek, and ye shall find.
I wonder where they keep the quails.
I prefer chicken eggs, though the taste is about the same. For some reason, they’ve always weirded me out a bit. I would try them once, just for the heck of it- they’re just mini eggs. I imagine them hard to peel. You’d need to have very small fingers, no?
Available at: Seijo Iishi and other supermarkets, specialty stores, and convenience stores.
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