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10 Healthy Izakaya foods in Japan

10 healthy foods in Izakayas Japan Food & Recipes

Japanese cuisine has been considered as healthy foods, however, there are many rich carbohydrates foods such as rice and noodles.

You might have a hard time to find low carb food during traveling in Japan.

In fact, my American husband and friends of mine were struggled to find even a big bowl of salad for lunch.

How about Izakaya foods?

I know that alcohol and salinity, fattening, how sinful combinations they are!

You want to take a break from vacation mode, slow down to consume high calory (high-carb) food in Japan.

I like “Izakaya foods” but also don’t want gain weight, so that I care tips below when I order dishes.

・Rich Proteins
・Vegetables (except for potatoes)
・Simple seasonings
・Less sodium
・Avoid deep-fried dish
・Limit of  Carbohydrates

The keyword is “simple”.

Today, I am going to tell you what you should order if you want to reduce calories from food but still enjoy eating and drinking at Izakayas!

*100g is about 3.5oz




“Edamame” (えだまめ) is rich in protein, antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E and more other minerals.

Eating Edamame before drinking alcohol, it helps to slow the absorption of alcohol and blood sugar levels.

So what do you think?

Edamame or french fries?

1 cup (155g) is 189 kcal.


hiyayakko, tofu

“Hiyayakko” (冷奴) is simply fresh chilled Tofu with garnishes (Japanese chives and bonito flakes) and soy sauce.

Tofu has been well known as healthy diet food, rich protein, and low carb.

You are not a big fan of Tofu?!

Tofu made in Japan is different from one as you usually know, it is softer and soy-milky.

If you don’t see “hiyayakko” on the menu, try “Tofu salad”.

150g Tofu, doesn’t count garnishes, 84 kcal.

If you don’t like fresh Tofu and prefer more like firm Tofu sold in your country, “Atsuage Dofu”(厚揚げ豆腐) is a similar taste. However, it is deep-fried so calories are little more than eating fresh. But tasty and good as nibbles.


Seaweed salad

sea weeds salad

Japanese “seaweed salad” is not like you see in the sushi restaurant.

“Kaisou salad” (海藻サラダ) in Japanese, literary means seaweeds on the salad.

Seaweeds are considered “healthy food” in Japan, they are rich in vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, other iron, and calcium.

Also, it’s low calorie, low sugar, low cholesterol, and “soluble fiber” of seaweed helps you feel fuller.

speaking general 100g seaweeds, 14 kcal. 

It doesn’t count vegetables and dressings.

Daikon Salad

daikon radish

“Daikon” (大根), also known as Daikon Radish in the US, which is a very popular vegetable in Japan. (and tastier.)

Raw daikon tastes a punchy, peppery flavor, which my American husband loves.

daikon salad

“Daikon Salad” (大根サラダ) is a popular menu at Izakayas, generally Daikon (raw) is julienned and topped with Nori, sesame seeds and Japanese-style light dressing, but it depends on the Izakaya’s recipe.

“Daikon” contains digestive enzymes such as amylase and protease, that facilitate the digestion of proteins and carbohydrates.

Generally speaking, 100g is 30 kcal.

Yamitsuki Cabbage

yamituki cabeddge, izakaya

“Yamitsuki Cabbage” (やみつきキャベツ) is simply chopped Japanese cabbage leaves, and toss sesame oil and salt, sometimes sesame seeds.

Yamitsuki “(病みつき) means addictive in Japanese so that you can’t stop eating its addictive mixed flavor with sesame oil and sweetness of cabbage.

Japanese cabbage is so sweet and tasty, not like green cabbage in the US.

Japanese people consume lots of cabbage especially for salad.

Cabbage contains particularly vitamin U which protects the digestive tract and strengthens your immune system.

I don’t need to mention, but it is also low calorie. (59 kcal/140g)

sesame oil, sesame seeds

Also, “Sesame seeds” are a good source of healthy fats, protein, B vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants.

Besides, “Sesame oil” brings you lots of benefits. (10 Science-backed Benefits of Sesame oil)

The Easy Recipe of Addicting green cabbage salad


Fish is a source of animal protein.

It’s easy to avoid high-calorie animal protein to consider weight loss, but protein is an essential substance for a healthy diet.

Thus, fish can be a better choice to consume animal protein during weight loss.

Japan is famous for fresh sea foods country as you know.

You don’t have to run around to find fish dishes.



“Sashimi”(さしみ) is the raw slices of fresh seafood, and it is one of the staple nibbles to order among Japanese people at Izakayas.

Some people get confused between “Sushi” and “Sashimi”, simply say with rice or not.

Here is the recommendation of nutritious Sashimi.

Salomon; sa(a) mon(サーモン)


Salmon is rich in the antioxidant substance, “astaxanthin”, which is said to help the improvement of blood vessels health, blood sugar controls, and fat burning.

Generally speaking, Salomon sashimi is good for especially girls, “astaxanthin” has “anti-aging” effects too.

5 slices of Salmon sashimi…about 104 kcal.

Octopus, Squid, Cuttlefish; tako (たこ), ika(いか), ika(いか)

squid, cuttlefish

“Octopus” and “Squid” are lower calories compared with other “sashimi”, and also they are in rich “taurin”.
“Taurin” is a kind of amino acid said to improve liver function, the effect of lowering cholesterol and preventing arteriosclerosis.

Also, chewing them makes you feel fuller. (they are not chewy, but have some texture.)

6 slices of octopus sashimi…46 kcal.

Tuna; maguro ( まぐろ)


Calories of Tuna varies on parts of the body, choose red meat, “Akami (赤身)” is the most suitable diet because of contains rich protein and low fat.

Fat belly of Tuna is called “Toro”(トロ ), avoid eating them if you consider calories.

100g (5 slices)… 125 kcal

Grilled fish


According to “Simple seasonings” and “simple cooking way” for the diet,

you should choose “grilled fish” rather than “deep-fried” or “pan-fried (with flour coating)” fish.

gas cooking stove, Japanese

Japanese people often eat “Grilled fish”(焼き魚), in fact, a Japanese gas stove has a built-in grill for fish.

Also, “grilled fish” has rich nutrients such as DHA, EPA, protein, vitamin D.

“Grilled Hokke” is one of popular Izakaya food and you can find easily.

Weight-Loss Tips

  • Grilling is the fat-reducing cooking
  • Simple seasoning (just sprinkled salt)
  • Eat with Grated Daikon radish that makes grilled fish taste better, but also helps the digest process.


yakitori irorio

Chicken is rich in protein, low calories and low carb as you know.

Go for “Yakitori”, that Japanese-style grilled skewered chicken.

As same as grilled fish, grilling is fat-reducing cooking.

If you care about lower calorie and lower carb more, better choose innards such as livers, hearts, and gizzards.

yakitori, fushicho, Nagoya

From above, gizzards, thighs, and hearts at the Yakitori place in Nagoya.

You should order “Shio” (salt flavor), better avoid “Tare” (teriyaki-like flavor).
Remember “Tare” flavor gets more calorie.


Here is the calorie table below, and calorie shows only the “Shio” flavor.

Parts in Japanese in Japanese Calorie/ skewer
Liver reba (leba) レバー 33
Gizzard sunagimo 砂肝 34
Tenderloin sasami ささみ 45
Breast mune 69
Pork belly & Leek negima ねぎま 77
Chicken balls tsukune つくね 83
Thighs momo もも 89
Skin kawa 153
Tail bon jiri ぼんじり 170

If you like, sprinkle “Nanami Pepper Flakes” for increasing fat burning.

Another Dish

If you want to order additional order, here are some healthier dishes before ordering french fries.

Dashimaki Tamago

dashimaki tamago

Eggs are perfect for the one-more dish on a low-carb, rich protein, In addition, it contains a lot of amino acid methionine necessary for alcohol degradation.

Also, it keeps you satisfied for a long time.

Dashimaki Tamago is one of the popular Izakaya foods, share pieces with your company.

Don’t eat all yourself.

Ika yaki


“Squid” or “cuttlefish” are low-calorie, rich protein.

“Ika yaki” (イカ焼き) is simply grilled squid, chew well!

So the brain sends you a signal that you are satisfied and full.


You need to be aware what you drink at Izakaya too.

You may want to choose distilled liquor rather than undistilled liquor.

“Whiskey Highball” is a highly recommended drink if you like whiskey flavor, and it goes well with any kind of food.

Draght Beer1 glass, 350ml145
Lemon Sour1 glass, 200ml110
HighBall1 glass, 200ml70
Red Wine1 glass, 125ml90
Sake1 Gou, 180ml200

*100ml…about 3.4oz


Do you find foods that you can order smartly to reduce calories?

However, you want to forget calories during your vacation, don’t you?

The only thing to remember is the “Eat Vegetable first” rule.

Potatoes are not counted.

Fibers in vegetables, mushrooms, and seaweeds help to prevent blood sugar level spikes.

I gain my weight easily too, so I care about calorie anywhere I travel,

but I know it is too hard!

But don’t you think it is too sad if you miss opportunities to eat local delicious food?

Luckily, Japanese healthy dishes are tasty which help you a lot!

When it doesn’t help,

workout harder after going back home.

10 healthy foods in Izakayas Japan

If you want to know other Izakaya food…

Beers for health geeks.

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