Kobe, which has flourished as a port town since long ago, is home to Nankinmachi, one of the three biggest Chinatowns in Japan, so it is known as a place where you can eat delicious Chinese food. However, the truth is that you can find many other exquisite dishes in Kobe. Below are five famous dishes in Kobe that you must try!
Akashiyaki is a popular dish that you can easily eat while sightseeing. It is a specialty of Akashi, which is a district next to Kobe, and is lovingly referred to as “Tamagoyaki” by locals.
It is cooked by mixing a lot of eggs into wheat flour that has been diluted by soup stock, and then grilling the mixture. Akashiyaki is characterized by its yellow color and round shape. When you take a bite, you’re bound to feel its soft and sticky texture. Inside each one is a piece of crunchy octopus. There are many specialty shops serving Akashiyaki in Kobe, and they all take pride in their own unique flavors. Most shops serve Akashiyaki by arranging them on a board, and then having customers dip them in the soup stock that comes on the side before taking a bite. However, some shops also serve Akashiyaki in a large bowl of soup stock.
2. Bokkake Yakisoba
The specialty dish of Nagata - the working class district of Kobe - would definitely have to be Bokkake Yakisoba. It consists of yakisoba (fried noodles) mixed with bokkake, a homemade dish of beef tendon and konjac jelly that has been simmered in a salty-sweet sauce. It is an exquisite dish that fuses three ingredients: beef tendon that has been cooked to a pulp, well-seasoned konjac jelly, and noodles covered in a fragrant sauce. The collagen-rich beef sinew is not only delicious, but it is also known for its beauty benefits. You can eat this dish at dedicated yakisoba shops, okonomiyaki (savory pancake) restaurants, izakaya (Japanese taverns), and other establishments.
Some other dishes that use bokkake are udon (thick wheat noodles), curry, and ramen. You can eat it as it is, as a snack, or as a side dish with alcoholic drinks!
3. Ikanago no Kugini
Ikanago no Kugini is an old-fashioned local dish comprising of 2 - 4cm long ikanago (sand lance) that’s been simmered in salty-sweet sauce made from sugar, soy sauce, mirin (sweet wine for cooking), and ginger. It got its name from how it looks when cooked – like a bent nail (nail is “kugi” in Japanese)! Ikanago can only be caught for a month, starting from late February each year. During open fishing season, almost every household will cook this fish, so it has become a common sight during spring in Kobe.
By the time the open fishing season ends, which is around March, a lot of Ikanago no Kugini can be seen lining the racks of supermarkets and other shops. It is also popular as a souvenir. Try it on a bed of white rice or as a snack with alcohol!
4. Kobe Beef
If you visit Kobe, another specialty that you have to taste is Kobe beef. Out of all the Tajima beef - one of the three great beef brands of Japan - produced by Hyogo Prefecture, only a fraction with top class quality can be considered Kobe beef. It is characterized by the harmony of the refined sweetness that comes from the lean red meat with the flavor and aroma of the fat. Kobe beef has such a low melting point that it almost melts on human skin! The secret to its delicious taste lies in the marbling inside the muscle.
It can be made into shabu-shabu (thinly sliced meat boiled quickly and then dipped in a sauce before eating), sukiyaki (thinly sliced beef cooked with various ingredients in soy sauce-based stock), and various other dishes. However, it would be best to have it as a steak to fully enjoy the original flavor of the meat. There are many steakhouses downtown where chefs will cook the beef while you watch!
Since Kobe was influenced by the West early on, it has a deep-rooted Western food culture. If you feel like walking on the streets while eating, then the best food to take with you would be the Western dish called “korokke (croquette)”. This is a Japanese dish that was developed from the Western croquette. To make it, mix minced meat, eggs, vegetables, and other ingredients with mashed potatoes and white sauce. Shape this mixture, cover it with breadcrumbs, and then deep-fry it.
One of the real thrills of traveling is getting to enjoy local food. If you are ever in Kobe and you find yourself wondering what to eat, then please use this article as a reference!
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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