Not Just Udon Noodles! Five of Kagawa’s Specialty Dishes
Kagawa professes to be the "prefecture of udon", but it has many seafood and B-class dishes to offer as well. Below are five highly recommended dishes and ingredients of Kagawa.
Honetsuki-dori is considered to be one of the soul foods of Kagawa Prefecture, second only to udon. It is a Marugame City specialty that consists of bone-in chicken thighs that have been slowly grilled in an oven. There are two types: the "oya-dori" (mature chicken) and "waka-dori" (young chicken). The oya-dori is characterized by a firm and solid texture. It is addictive, with natural chicken flavors that gets stronger the more you chew. In contrast, the waka-dori is characterized by a soft, plump texture that is more approachable. Both are flavored with special spices and lots of garlic, and both go fantastically with beer.
Another dish you must try is a traditional regional dish called "Mamba no Kenchan". “Mamba” is the name used in eastern Kagawa Prefecture for "Miike takana", which is a type of mustard green. Mamba no Kenchan is a homestyle dish of Miike takana, tofu broken into pieces, and deep-fried tofu that were fried and simmered. The Miike takana is usually pickled, so it is rare for it to be simmered like in Kagawa. The flavorings are soy sauce, mirin (sweetener), and dashi (stock) made with dried sea slugs. Sugar or red peppers may be added, depending on the home or restaurant. In western Kagawa, Mamba is called "hyakka", and the dish is referred to as "Hyakka no Yukibana" (snow flowers with hyakka).
Shodoshima in Kagawa Prefecture was the first place to start growing olives in Japan. As such, there are many foods in Kagawa that are made with olives. For example, "olive somen" is made by mixing in olive paste, olive juice, and tea made from olive leaves into somen* - a Shodoshima specialty - and then brushing all of it with olive oil. Unlike standard somen, which is white, this somen has a bright olive color. It is chewy, and goes down smoothly.
*Thin dried noodles made with flour. It is sometimes eaten boiled with hot sauce poured over it, but is usually boiled, then chilled, and then enjoyed dipped in a sauce made with dashi.
Japanese Black cows in Kagawa Prefecture that were raised in the temperate climate of the land around the Seto Inland Sea is called "Sanuki-gyu", and Sanuki-gyu fed with feed that includes olives left after the oil has been extracted is called "olive-gyu" (olive cows). It has very soft meat, with fat that is both sweet and savory. An olive-gyu (olive beef) dish that you must try is the "olive gyuniku udon" – udon made with "Sanuki no Yume" (a special wheat developed specifically for Sanuki udon, which is a type of udon that is a Kagawa specialty)) that is topped with olive-gyu. It is a new Kagawa specialty that was introduced in 2013.
※The image is for illustrative purposes only
Hamachi (Japanese amberjack) farming, which began in Kagawa and spread across the country, has led to the production of "olive hamachi" that are fed feed with powdered olive leaves for more than 20 days. They are highly rated for their texture and fresh flavor. Olive leaves are full of oleuropein, a type of polyphenol, so the fish is more resistant to oxidation and discoloration. Olive hamachi is neither fatty nor fishy, so be sure to enjoy its healthy flavor through sashimi!
*The image is for illustrative purposes only
Trying regional food is one of the great joys of traveling. If you go to Kagawa, be sure to enjoy the specialty produce and local dishes introduced here!
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.