Japanese cuisine has an incredible array of regional specialties known as kyōdo ryōri (郷土料理). Different regions have their own traditional recipes and agricultural farming system creating an astounding gastronomic scene across the country. Many of the regional dishes can only be tasted in the original area they came from. Follow your appetite and dive in!
A dish of stir-fried and steamed fish (salmon/hokke) and wild seasonal vegetables seasoned with miso
Four must-try types of crabs in Hokkaido include tarabagani (red king crab), kegani (horsehair crab), zuwaigani (snow crab), hanasakigani (hanasaki crab).
Hokkaido’s style barbecue of mutton and lamb, which are first marinated in savory sauce, and cooked on a dome-shaped special metal grill.
(Hakodate) Sashimi of squid cut into thin strips that resemble thin somen (wheat flour noodles) and create a distinctive chewy texture.
(Obihiro) Miso-based hotpot with ingredients like fresh-chopped salmon, trout or saw-edged perch, onion and cabbage.
Pieces of a variety of fresh raw seafood over a bed of unseasoned white rice, served with miso or soy sauce.
In Hokkaido, ramen is adorned with fresh seafood like crab and scallops, and used miso or fresh milk as soup base.
Light curry flavored soup served with chicken and colorful roast/fried vegetables.
Hokkaido’s most famous melon; known for its juicy and overwhelming natural sweetness.
Aomori Prefecture produces 56 % of apple produced in Japan.
(Hachikami) A richly flavored seafood soup with sea urchin and abalone.
(Hachinohe) Soy-based soup containing baked rice cake and vegetables.
(Morioka) A sister of Koreans’ Naengmyeon, Morioka Reimen is cold noodles made of flour and potato tempura served with toppings like kimchi in a slightly spicy soup.
Soba noodles with sesame and green onions topping served in tiny bowls which are re-filled repeatedly. (Image by Gurunavi)
Mainly used on sushi, hatahata (Japanese sandfish) is first salted, then unsalted, before being marinated in a mixture of rice, winter vegetables and kombu (seaweed).
Hotpot made with broth from jappa (leftover rough parts of codfish that are typically thrown out such as head, bones, etc). It is uses the entire fish with vegetables such as daikon radish, Chinese cabbage and leaks. (Image by Umai Aomori)
Mashed cooked rice rolled around a wooden stick and grilled. Eaten with miso or stewed with chicken and vegetables as a nabemono.
Yamagata-style okonomiyaki wrapped around disposable chopsticks and sticks. Ingredients such as seaweed, blue seaweed, and fish sausage are used and seasoned with a sauce.
Gyutan (Beef Tongue)
(Sendai) Each restaurant offers distinctive taste, but generally this thinly sliced beef tongue is cooked over a charcoal grill and served with pickled vegetables. Other than that, it is also popular in donburi, curry or stew form.
A hot pot with satoimo, konnyaku, negi, mushrooms and seasonal vegetables. “Imoni kai” is a traditional event where people get together around a big satoimo hot pot and eat.
Boiled edamame is peeled, mashed and mixed with sugar. Then unsweetened mochi is coated with the lightly sweetened mashed edamame.
The broth of this clear soup is made of dried scallop, and its ingredients include dried shiitake, cloud-ear mushrooms, carrots, satoimo taro, ito-konnyaku (konjac noodles) and wheat-gluten croutons (mamefu), seasoned with soy sauce and mirin.
Known for its thick noodle (2-4 mm, which is three times thicker than ordinary yakisoba, Namie Yakisoba is cooked with bean sprouts and pork in a rich sauce.
Yanaizu no Sauce Cutlet
Deep-fried pork cutlet over rice, seasoned with sweet vegetable and fruit sauce, with soft scrambled eggs.
Chankonabe is well-known as a pot dish of Sumo wrestlers to develop their bodies. This hearty hot pot is filled with all kinds of vegetables and protein-based ingredients in a rich dashi and chicken broth. It has chopped fish, meat, tofu, vegetables and some other nutritional ingredients.
A savoury pancake made of cabbage, meat, seafood, and eaten directly off the grill using a tiny metal spatula as the pancake becomes crispy on the bottom. Compared to okonomiyaki, monjayaki’s batter is more of a liquid base.
Started in Edo city, Oden is typically boiled eggs, daikon, konjac, and processed fishcakes stewed in a light, soy-flavored dashi broth.
Home to the world’s biggest fish market, in Tokyo you can sample some of the freshest traditional sushi.
Skewed chicken, dipped in barbecue sauce, and then grilled.
Hot pot made by simmering boned and gutted dojo (pond loach), and sliced gobo in warishita sauce, then dropping whisked eggs to finish up.
(Kasugaura) Stem of the lotus plant cooked in various ways; stir-fried, boiled, braised, steamed, or deep-fried.
(Mito) Traditional Japanese food made from soybeans that have been fermented. Natto is typically topped with soy sauce, mustard, chives or other seasonings and served with cooked rice.
Tochigi is Japan’s largest producer of strawberries, where they are available almost all year long.
(Utsunomiya) One of the most famous gyoza dumplings in Japan known for its variety of size, ingredients, skin thickness, sauce, as well as its cooking methods such as grilling, boiling, and frying.
Sweet bun (made from miso) pierced with a skewer, and roasted over charcoal. It is salty and sweet, crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. (Image by Shima Onsen Guide)
Roasted bun; rich in wheat with ingredients such as leeks, perilla leaves, and butterbur sprout.
Higashimatsuyama yakitori bowl is a stew on the rice with head meat (pork) marinated in special sauce and vegetables seasoned with spicy miso.
A Japanese snack made by baking stretched rice and seasoning it with things, such as soy sauce. (Image by Matcha.com)
A very delicious dish with dried bonito broth being poured over onigiri (grilled rice ball)
This rice bowl features Isumi rice from chiba, pork developed by the chiba university, vegetables and seaweeds grown in Chiba. This is the Chiba representative rice bowl.
Tantanmen is normally cooked with sesame paste but Katsuura Tantanmen has chili oil, onion and minced pork instead. It became popular among fishermen because this noodle warms their body.
The highest quality in the nation; Chiba’s peanuts have enhanced sweetness for a rich taste. (Image by JNTO)
Cheese Hamburg Steak
(Yokohama) This Hamburg-style steak is made from ground meat with finely chopped onion, egg, and breadcrumbs flavored with various spices, made into a flat, circular shape about 1 cm thick, and topped with cheese.
(Kamakura) Special rice bowl with fresh transparent sardines, sea-weed, sliced leek and Japanese herb as seasonings, served with tare and soy sauce.
Soba / Buckwheat Noodles
(Yugawara) Thin noodles made from buckwheat flour; often served drained and chilled in the summer, and hot in the winter with a soy-based dashi broth.
A soup made with pan-fried vegetables and simmered in dashi soup, seasoned with shoyu and salt, then slightly thickened with katakuriko (starch).
Unlike a simple katsudon, Niigata’s tare katsudon is flavored with a shoyu-based sweet and salty sauce, so it tastes totally different. The cutlets are usually slightly thinner than the regular cutlets. (Image by Matcha.com)
Japanese mochi with red bean paste filling, made with lots of yomogi (mugwort) and wrapped in a bamboo leaf.
A very unique ramen with a jet-black soup made with simmered koikuchi shoyu. The degree of saltiness defers depending on the shop, however they all come with lots of pepper and shredded spring onion on top which make the ramen very pungent. The soup also has a rich flavor of roasted pork simmered in the soup.
Pressed salted trout (oshizushi) placed on top of vinegary rice. While pushing down on the vinegary rice and trout, the bamboo leaves are wrapped around the sushi and pressing it into a cake shape. Then it is cut into triangular slices, making it look like tiny sushi pie slices. (Image by Planetyze)
(Noto) Hotpot of vegetables and seafood. The broth flavored with a local fish sauce called ishiru, an essential Noto ingredient made from sardines, squid, or mackerel, fermented for up to two years.
A bowl of meat such as ducks and chickens coated with katakuriko (starch), and vegetables simmered in dashi, and topped with wasabi as a condiment.
Made with caramel, blackish and very thick. It is sweet and rich in flavor. Kanazawa curry always have shredded cabbage on the side, served on a stainless dishes, and the rice is fully covered with curry. (Image by Kaname-inn)
A very popular cold dish during summer, Oroshi Soba is a buckwheat noodle served with a great combination of dashi soup and grated daikon. (Image by Moshimoshi Nippon)
Sababozushi / Sabazushi
Also known as mackerel stick sushi; sababozushi is a grilled mackerel on vinegary rice. It has since become the staple menu on local restaurant.
A noodle dish with wide and thin udon noodles simmered with pumpkins, negi, shiitake mushrooms, and potatoes in miso-based soup. Simmering row noodles thickens the soup, and it keeps the soup hot.
Invented by a soba noodles restaurant founded in 1966 called Kikuya. It is a unique deep fried croquette filled with ‘hoto.’ The cooking procedure starts from cooking ‘hoto’ with noodles, pumpkins, taro, mushrooms and pork. It is made with a lot of effort by deep frying it after the hoto cools down.
In summer, finely chopped eggplant is fried in a little oil and mixed with miso as filling. In winter, pickled leafy vegetables are fried with chopped daikon and mixed with a green onion and miso paste. Using in-season vegetables for the filling is the key.
Sauce katsudon is Komagane's version of the popular dish. Pork cutlet is fried, dipped in a rich brown sauce and served over a bed of rice and cabbage. Fresh pork and a flavorful, but not overpowering, sauce is the key to a good sauce katsudon.
Soba noodles are produced by mixing soba (buckwheat) and regular flour, adding water, mixing, kneading, rolling and cutting. As a general rule, only noodles containing 40% or more soba flour can carry the Shinshu name.
One of the finest quality varieties of beef known for its beautiful marbling and a flavor that melts in your mouth.
(Mishima) This croquette is only sold in shops certified by ‘Mishima Korokke no kai’. It is crunchy on the outside and creamy on the inside. Using Mishima potatoes as basis, other ingredients are added at the liberty of each shop, with shapes varying from spiral to heart.
Sakura Shrimp Kakiage
(Suruga Bay) Raw sakura shrimp are mixed with chopped vegetables, dipped in a little batter and fried in oil. This dish lets you enjoy the aroma and sweetness of sakura shrimp along with the crunchy texture of kakiage tempura.
‘Shimizu oden’ is distinguished by dipping it in a miso flavored sauce, having skewers of pork entrails in it, and having a light colored dashi stock. The flavor can be adjusted with dashi powder and mustard; making it popular even among other odens.
Shizuoka is one of the leading producers of domestically grown unagi that's rich in vitamins and collagen. The flesh is plump and fatty, and low in calories, making it especially popular among women. The best way to eat eel is on a bed of rice, covered in a glossy sauce and served in a ‘ju’ box.
A dish with small chunks of grilled eels topped on rice. You can enjoy 3 different flavors of Hitsumabushi; (1) eat as it is, (2) top with condiments such as negi, kizaminori, and wasabi, (3) pour green tea or dashi soup over.
(Nagoya) An extremely popular dish and one of the representative dishes of Nagoya, called “Nagoya Meshi”. This is a dish where a special sauce made of haccho miso, bonito stock and sugar is poured on top of the cutlet. (Image by Nagoyafoodie)
(Nagoya) Nagoya-style chicken wings that are deep fried without batter, but coated in a tasty salty-sweet sauce, and sprinkled with aromatic spices and sesame seeds. (Image by Nagoya-meshi)
Toyohashi Curry Udon
(Toyohashi) At first glance, it looks like a regular udon, except for rice and grated yam underneath the udon. It is the ultimate double layer dish! (Image by Honokuni)
Toyokawa Inari Sushi
In the 19th Century people made sushi by stuffing rice into the deep-fried tofu pouches to the Shinto God, Inari. Inari sushi has been sold since long ago in front of Toyokawa Inari Shrine, one of the three greatest Shrines of Japan.
Amago (red spotted masu trout) is called “queen of riverfish” and can be enjoyed in various ways (grilled, sashimi, deep fried etc). Even bones are edible when cooked, and the springy flesh can be enjoyed when eaten as sashimi.
(Kuwana) Once a commercial port, Kuwana is famous for its cuisine, especially Hamaguri clams. It is known for its rich flavor and soft texture. Its balanced mineral is good for beauty and health. (Image by Kuwana city)
The Shima peninsula is a habitat for many ise-ebi lobsters due to its warm and shallow sea waters. The characteristic of this high-quality lobster is the sweetness of the meat that grows as you chew.
Long-boiled, extra-thick and soft udon noodles dipped in soup. This rich and slightly-sweetened soup is made of dashi, such as katsuobushi and iriko, mixed with tamari-joyu.
“Matsuzaka beef” has a sweet and rich flavor that produces a fragrant that stimulates one’s appetite when heating it. The dish to enjoy its taste the best is sukiyaki.
This is a kind of traditional sushi made with lean fish such as bonito and tuna marinated in shoyu-based sauce, mixed with vinegary sushi rice. Garnish it with ooba, ginger and seaweed as a condiment.
Entrails are removed from large tuna from Lake Biwa, and stuffed with salt before being left for around three months under a weight. The fish are then removed and washed, stuffed again with a mixture of rice and salt, and left again for up to two years before being eaten.
Raised in an area abundant in water and fertile land, Omi beef is considered one of three top brands alongside Kobe Beef and Matsuzaka Beef. It is juicy, has a melt-in-your-mouth texture, and a clean aftertaste. (Image via Oumiushi)
Grilled mackerel boiled in a sweet, savory soy sauce-based broth, and then using that broth to flavor boiled somen noodles. This saba somen is often served at religious ceremonies and events. (Image via Japan Highlights Travel)
A multi-course haute cuisine consisting of a sequence of delicacies, with sakizuke (appetizer), nimono (a soup/simmered dish), mukozuke (a sashimi dish), hassun (a dish made with seasonal ingredients), yakimono (a grilled dish), hanmono (a rice dish) and a dessert. It places an emphasis on subtle flavors and local and seasonal ingredients.
Traditional home-style Kyoto cooking made with fresh and seasonal ingredients that are cooked in simple ways and can last for days. Mainly stewed delicacies whose delicate flavor is given by broth made from Kyo-yasai, katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes), kombu (kelp), and shiitake (a type of mushroom). (Image via Japan Guide)
Senmaizuke means the “thousand sheet pickle.” Big, round Shogoin turnips are cut into slices just one millimeter thick, seasoned with vinegar, and pickled together with konbu kelp. This is a typical winter pickled dish of Kyoto, and has a sweet-and-sour flavor with a hint of kelp.
The finest matcha in Japan is produced in the city of Uji, located in the south of Kyoto city. Uji matcha is used not only for tea ceremonies, but also for tea lattes, ice cream parfait, cake, cookies, yatsuhashi and other matcha sweets.
Rice flour dough is rolled out flat, then cut into small squares. Each square is dusted with a sweet toasted soybean flour called kinako, covered with red bean paste, and then folded over into a triangle. The filling is varied from cinnamon and red bean, matcha, black sesame, chocolate, strawberry, peach, and etc.
The simple but elegant dish contains only three ingredients—water, kombu seaweed for flavoring, and silken tofu that is renowned for its smooth, creamy texture and fresh, clean flavor. Hot tofu is served with a light soy sauce-based dipping sauce alongside condiments, such as yuzu or freshly sliced scallions.
Kitsune udon consists of thick udon noodles served in a fragrant dashi broth which is then topped with sliced or whole deep-fried tofu that’s been braised in sweet soy sauce known as aburaage. The name of the dish is translated as fox udon, following the old folk tale which suggests that foxes are great admirers of deep-fried aburaage.
Okonomiyaki is made by mixing ground nagaimo, cabbage, and various ingredients of meat or seafood of your choice into a batter made of flour and water, then grilled on an iron griddle. Spread sweetish sauce, and sprinkle katsuobushi, aonori, and mayonnaise on top.
A round shaped fritters made by pouring the mixture of flour and water into a special round-shape griddle, then adding a small piece of octopus, shredded naganegi, benishouga, tenkasu, and grilling all together into a ball.
A specialty dish of Akashi City, also called tamagoyaki. Compared to takoyaki, akashiyaki dough balls are made with extra egg. Before the insides of the Akashiyaki balls have fully set, they are eaten with dashi broth, rather than sauce.
A popular local udon dish topped with stewed beef meat, green onions, and konnyaku called “bokkake." The combination of the crunchy beef lines and chewy udon noodles is well suited with light flavored Kansai udon noodles.
One of the high-class beef brands in Japa, Kobe Beef is a delicacy, valued for its flavor, tenderness, and fatty, well-marbled texture. Kobe beef can be prepared as steak, sukiyaki, shabu-shabu, sashimi, and teppanyaki.
Somen are very thin noodles, yet they are not too soft. They are made from flour, just like Udon, but are knead during the cold winter, which gives Somen a smooth yet strong texture. Served cold, this noodle only takes 1-2 minutes to boil!
Traditional Japanese pickles made from fresh fruit and vegetables that are soaked in salt and sake-no-kaku. Sake-no-kasu is a kind of waste when experts make sake, so that sake itself is not used. (Image via Planetyze)
Nyumen, the special dish created by Miwa Somen. Generally, once boiled, the noodles are then cooled in water and dipped in cold soup and eaten. However, Nara nyumen are eaten in warm soup.
It is vinegared mackerel over seasoned rice also wrapped with the leaves of Arundo donax, which is kept for one night. The mackerel oil is absorbed into the rice through the night, it becomes much delicious. (Image via Washoku Clip)
A rice ball wrapped in pickled takana or Japanese red mustard, flavored with a soy sauce-based sauce. Even though the mustard leaves are fermented, they do not have a strong fermented flavor. Rather, it still has a mild vegetable-like flavor.
Ume is an apricot-like fruit often mistranslated as Japanese plum. Umeboshi from Wakayama is a top brand in Japan. In particular, Nanko ume is known for having thin skins and plump, thick flesh.
Gyukotsu ramen has been highly praised for its soup using beef bones, something that is unusual even within Japan. Although simple, the richness and sweetness that can only be obtained from beef bones within the soup match well with the noodles. (Image via Taberukoto)
Kanimeshi consists of rice topped with raw oyagani (female snow crabs are used in Tottori) cut into thick chunks, added with sake, soy sauce and mirin, before it is steamed with water. Once it is cooked, the meat from the shell, along with both the inner and outer eggs, are mixed with the hot rice. (Image via Taberukoto)
Compared to another soba, Izumo soba has a darker and stronger buckwheat flavour as the full of the seed is used in making soba flour. The texture of the noodle is chewy and condiments such as yakumi and daikon are added to spice up the soup. It is served either cold in a round dish called "Warigo,” or hot and named ‘Kamaage soba.”
Barazushi is made with a bowl of sushi rice topped with over a dozen marinated ingredients, from fish and seafood from the Seto Inland Sea to various vegetables like lotus root, carrots, and tender snow peas. (Image via Taberukoto)
Typically, katsudon is made with a crispy fried pork cutlet cooked with eggs in a soy sauce and dashi broth. However, Okayama demi-katsudon is cooked in a demi-glace sauce and served on a bed of thinly shredded raw cabbage over a bowl of rice.
Unlike other okonomiyaki, this savoury Japanese-style pancake features shredded cabbage and tons of juicy oysters. Once you take a bite, the sauce, saltiness and freshness of the oysters are mouth-watering.
Tsuyama Horumon Udon
Compared to others, the horumon udon has a much bolder taste. The blue-collar dish is made with grilled offal and udon noodles cooked on a teppan griddle with a strong miso sauce that stands up well to the bold flavour of the organ meat. (Image via Okayama Japan)
Made with layers of creamy soft-serve ice cream, fruit jellies, whipped cream, and sponge cake topped with freshly cut fruit such as white peaches and Muscats, Okayama’s parfaits are quite healthy and exceedingly decadent. (Image via Okayama Japan)
Hiroshima is Japan's top oyster producer and the most popular menu is Kaki Dotenabe. This local speciality is a hot pot dish with Oysters and vegetables in a strong Miso based soup. It is often eaten in winter as other hot pots are, and that’s also when oysters are in season. (Image via Japan Travel)
Hiroshima okonomiyaki is distinguished from other regional styles by its thin batter base, upon which a generous amount of cabbage is built. Popular toppings include oysters, squid, and cheese. The dish is completed with bonito flakes, green laver, and okonomiyaki sauce.
This poisonous fish is served as tempura, chirinabe, or raw paper-thin slices of fresh sashimi. The texture is chewy, and the taste is light. Given that fugu is hundreds of times more poisonous than cyanide, only licensed chefs can prepare, detoxify, and serve the fish.
Kawara Soba is prepared on a kawara (Japanese traditional clay roof tiles). The ingredients are cha-soba, (soba noodles made from tea) beef or sweet-salty pork, thinly sliced fried egg, green onion, seaweed, grated daikon, and chilli, with a slice of lemon on top.
This traditional Iya Valley dish is a simple skewered Iya potatoes, tofu and kojac dipped into miso-dare (a sauce made with miso paste) and grilled over the fire in the irori. Often paired with river fish, dekomawashi is sweet and savoury. (Image via Setouchi Finder)
A local sweet potato grown in sandy soil, Naruto kintoki is famous for its vibrant red skin and sweetness. Locals use it to make savoury beer snacks, sweet desserts, and several side dishes.
Free-range chicken from Tokushima, Awaodori meat has a slight red tinge to it. It is known for being low in fat with a chewy texture and a sweet yet rich flavour. The chicken can be enjoyed marinated and roasted, grilled on skewers as yakitori, battered for kara-age or eaten in a hot pot. (Image via Cycling Island Shikoku)
The taste and serving style of this popular udon varies from shop to shop, but generally, it comes with a variety of toppings and is often served in a dashi soup with green onions and tempura flakes. The noodles are characterized by their firm and supple texture with thick, square shapes and flat edges.
The whole thigh of the chicken is elaborately grilled in the oven and seasoned with spice. You can choose between oyadori (old chicken) or wakadori (young chicken). The crispy, juicy flesh of honetsukidori goes best with beer.
Jakoten is a popular fish paste cake made from the tiny sardine hatchlings (whitebait) that are grounded, formed into a patty, and deep-fried (sort of a fish burger). Eaten all the time in Ehime and with almost anything, including salads, hotpots, and alcohol.
Taimeshi (sea bream rice) in the east consists of rice cooked with a whole sea bream, while Taimeshi in the south is a dish of fresh sea bream sashimi dipped in a mixture of soy sauce and egg yolk served on a piping hotbed of white rice.
Katsuo no Tataki
Kochi boasts the number one consumer of bonito (skipjack tuna) in Japan. Bonito is commonly served by searing the outside and leaving the inside raw. It is lightly broiled, sliced, and served alongside spring onions, ginger, garlic, and seasoned with salt or soya sauce with vinegar and citrus.
Kochi Yuzu Sake
Even among the Japanese, Kochi is known as being “saké country.” Kochi’s locally brewed sake is praised for its dry and smooth quality, as it goes well with the local cuisine (bonito and mackerel).
Sawachi cooking is a type of smorgasbord where plates or bowls of around 40cm in size are piled up with various types of food. The menu usually comprises 4 types of foods including sashimi, seared fish, sushi (mackerel sushi rolls) and side dishes and, for a celebration, it is a tradition to add red snapper sashimi presented as a whole fish.
Shimanto Pork is the brand name for locally produced pork. With a different flavour of pork depending on the animal’s feed, “wheat pork” has a sweetness to its fat, while “rice pork” is known for its high-quality fat and the firmness of its dense meat. This pork bowl is made with Shimanto pork and locally-grown rice. (Image via Visit Kochi)
The heart and soul of Hakata ramen is in their broth. Pork bones, fatback and a whole host of other ingredients are simmered for around 12 hours until they break down into an ultra-rich, porky soup with fat globules floating on top, packed with enough collagen. It is served with thin noodles and topped with slices of chashu.
Also known as mentaiko, spicy pollock roe consists of fresh roe marinated in salt and red chilli peppers. It can be found nationwide accompanying rice or alcohol, used as filling for rice balls, or as a seasoning in pasta dishes. Mentaiko is particularly famous in Fukuoka, where it originated by way of Korea.
Mizutaki is a hotpot (nabe) dish in which thin slices of chicken, assorted vegetables, mushrooms, and tofu are cooked together in a light kombu dashi broth. The umami flavour condensed in the broth determines the taste.
Motsu refers to the offal or internal organs of beef or pork, and “nabe” which translates to “hotpot.” The main ingredients are beef innards, cabbage, tofu, leek, and Chinese chives. The soup is often miso or soy sauce based on garlic.
Oita original, bite-sized chunks of chicken seasoned with sake, garlic powder, and ginger, rolled in flour and then deep-fried in a tempura style. Served with a salad, a garnish of kabosu citrus fruit, mustard and ponzu, citrus, and soy-based dipping sauce.
Seki-Aji & Seki Saba
Oita’s aji (horse mackerel) and saba (common mackerel) are prized for their delicious firm of flesh and rich levels of fish oil. Although high in fat, the meat is strong and consistent, and the taste is outstanding! It is best to eat sashimi-style for the freshest flavour. (Image via Discover Oita)
Castella is a sweet, moist sponge cake made with eggs, flour, and sugar that was brought to Japan by the Portuguese during the 16th century. These small cakes are enjoyed all over the country and are typical street food sold at outdoor festivals.
Inspired by Chinese cuisine, this noodle dish topped with vegetables, pork, and seafood for a highly voluminous dish. Although otherwise similar to ramen, champon noodles are cooked with creamy soup rather than added to it.
Translated as “plate noodles”, Sara Udon is a dish in which a mixture of meat and vegetables is placed atop a bed of deep-crispy noodles. The dish is typically served with a topping of seafood, cabbage, bean sprouts, and other vegetables.
Toruko / Turkish Rice
Inspired by the Turkish, this dish is a plate of pilaf rice and Neapolitan spaghetti accompanied by a pork cutlet topped with demi-glace. These foods fall into the category of yoshoku cuisine or Japanese-style Western food that has been adjusted to suit the Japanese palate.
Goto Udon is a noodle dish named after the Goto Islands is known for its thin, round shape made by hand-pulling the noodles, which carry a faint aroma of camellia flower as the dough is coated in camellia oil for stretching. The noodles are boiled fresh and served with soy sauce or a dashi dipping sauce made with the local flying fish.
Born in Sasebo, a small town in Nagasaki prefecture with a big American Navy base, Sasebo Burgers are gigantic, prepared by hand and cooked when you order them. Far from being ‘fast food’, this classic has been perfected over time by Japanese chefs. (Image via Japan Me)
Chicken nanban consists of deep-fried chicken thighs, seasoned with a sweet vinegar glaze, then topped with tartar sauce (that is comprised of mayonnaise and diced onions). It is light and easy due to the sweetness of the sauce.
Hyuganatsu orange, found only in Miyazaki, is a juicy citrus fruit with a thick, soft skin. It is sprinkled with sugar and eaten with the pith intact. Unlike regular Japanese oranges, both the thick white inner skin and the fruit are edible. It has a bittersweet taste.
Jidori is chicken that is salted and then grilled over a charcoal flame. It is a tender, juicy texture with a flavour. The chicken is usually served on a sizzling hot plate on a bed of cabbage. It is best to enjoy the jidori with the cabbage. This dish goes great with an ice-cold beer.
Hiyajiru consists of a thick, cold-stirred miso-broth containing pounded fried mackerel and grounds roasted sesame, dashi-soup, and shiso-leaves. Cucumbers, tofu, spring onions and Japanese ginger is then added to the broth and the whole thing is mixed before it’s finally poured over warm rice.
Kurobuta and Kuroushi
Kurobuta and Kuroushi mean, respectively, "black pork" and "black beef".Kurobuta is often eaten as tonkatsu (breaded, deep-fried pork cutlet) or shabu shabu (a hot pot of thinly sliced meat and vegetables), while Kuroushi can be enjoyed as a traditional Western steak. (Image via ANA Cool Japan)
Satsumaage is a fried fish cake made from surimi (a fish paste that is also used to make imitation crab meat). It’s typically eaten dipped in soy sauce or as an ingredient in dishes like oden.
Shochu is a clear, distilled liquor with an alcohol content of about 25%. The shochu that is unique to Kagoshima is made from local sweet potatoes (Satsumaimo). In Kagoshima, Satsuma Shochu is served warm with water to draw out the aroma and flavour. (Image via ANA Cool Japan)
Basashi (raw horse meat) is well-loved for its subtle flavour and lack of a strong odour. It is also quite tender and grows sweeter with each bite, melting in your mouth. It is served in sashimi style (slithers of raw meat alongside garlic, ginger, spring onions, red onion and lemon) or cooked in a hotpot.
This traditional confectionery is a steamed sweet dumpling filled with mashed yellow sweet potato and Azuki red bean paste (boiled Azuki beans with sugar) and wrapped around a thin, chewy steamed flour skin. his sweet treats can be enjoyed cold as it is, microwaved, steamed, or even baked in the oven.
Aka Beef / Red Wagyu Donburi
This bowl-of-rice dish is topped with plenty of wagyu beef raised in Kumamoto. This savoury and juicy donburi is grilled medium-rare and topped with a half-boiled egg. The characteristic feature of Aka Beef is the balance of lean meat and good-quality fat.
Kumamoto's karashi renkon is chewy gourmet snacks made by stuffing renkon (lotus root) with a spicy karashi miso. The latter is a sauce made of mustard and miso that hits the nasal passages. They were originally eaten for their nutritional value but many now enjoy them with shochu, Japanese distilled liquor.
Saga is the birthplace of green tea in Japan. The pure local waters give ultra-fertile soils that are perfect for high-quality tea production, resulting in a smooth and light taste. Ureshino green tea is also used in a variation of shabu-shabu hotpot called cha-shabu, where pork and vegetables are cooked in green tea rather than stock. (Image via ByFood)
Onsen Yudofu (Hot Spring Tofu)
Onsen yudofu is tofu cooked in spring waters from Ureshino onsen. It is soft-textured, milky, and smooth, with a subtle sweetness. It is traditionally cooked with other ingredients, such as fish cakes, shrimps, and vegetables, and accompanied by ginger, onion, and a rich sauce.
Dagojiru is a local stew-style of miso soup featuring regional wheat flour dumplings. A typical bowl of dagojiru generally consists of noodles and chicken mixed with a variety of vegetables, plus the sumptuous local dumplings. Some versions also include konnyaku noodles.
Champuru refers to the dish where mixed ingredients are stir-fried together. By far, the most popular variety is goya champuru; a combination of goya (bitter gourd/Japanese bitter melon) with tofu, eggs, pork/spam, and such.
Okinawa-style soba is made of 100% wheat flour rather than buckwheat flour; making it much chewier and thicker than the rest of Japanese soba. It is typically served in a bowl of smoked bonito and topped with seaweed, pickled ginger, and three-layered soft-boiled pork.
Taco rice bowl consists of typical taco ingredients, such as ground beef, lettuce, tomatoes and salsa, served over rice. Other taco ingredients like cheese or onions can also be included.
This dish consists of boiled or steamed pig ears. It comes with a crunchy texture and is usually served with mayonnaise, ponzu sauce or peanut dressing. It goes well with the local alcohol.
Umibudo ("sea grapes" in Japanese) has a soft skin that releases a salty liquid when bitten. Umibudo is usually served with little preparation, with only a bit of vinegar or soya sauce. If you’re afraid of it having a very strong fishy flavour, try it with rice or as a garnish with your sashimi to savour this seafood delicacy.
Rafute is a pork dish featuring thick cuts of meat from the pig's belly that have been boiled to become very soft. The meat is cooked in soya sauce and fish broth, and sometimes awamori as well. The pieces of rafute are sometimes served with a bit of mustard as seasoning. The taste of the meat is usually very rich and savoury.