You Absolutely Must Try These! Top 7 B-class Gourmet Dishes in the Kansai Region
B-class dishes refer to cheap and delicious dishes that people eat every day. In every region of Japan, you can find a myriad of dishes that fit this category. However, if you happen to travel to the Kansai region, then here are seven famous B-class dishes that you have to try!
Sobameshi is a local dish that originated from the Nagata area in Hyogo’s Kobe City. It is made by finely slicing yakisoba (steamed Chinese noodles, meats, vegetables, and other ingredients that are stir-fried and seasoned), and then sautéing it with cooked rice. It is flavored using a salty-sweet sauce. There are many shops that make this dish using bokkake (salty-sweet mix of beef tendon and konjac), which is a B-class dish in Nagata, Kobe, that is similar to beef tendon.
Everywhere else in Japan, ikayaki (grilled squid) is cooked by grilling the whole squid. In Kansai, however, ikayaki is a completely different dish. Here, it is a konamono ryori (dish that is cooked using wheat flour) that is made by putting slices of squid in wheat flour batter, and then pressing the batter between two iron pans. It is characterized by the doughy batter, the taste of the squid that spreads in your mouth, and the salty-sweet taste of the sauce. There are many theories on the origin of this dish, but it became an explosive hit after it began to be sold at Hanshin Department Store in Osaka’s Umeda area. It has since been transformed into a specialty dish that locals love.
Horumon-yaki is a dish that is made by seasoning beef and pork offal, which have been cut into small pieces, with salt and salty-sweet sauce, and then cooking them on a griddle or iron plate. The internal organs of cattle and pigs were discarded in the past, but it is said that when there was a food shortage after the war, a restaurant in Osaka began to use these parts in its dishes. The term “horumon-yaki” is unique to Kansai, as it is more commonly known as “motsu-yaki” in the rest of Japan. It is a dish that uses ingredients that have been thrown away (the term “discarded goods” is “horu mon” in the Kansai dialect), which is where it got its name.
A local dish in Nara and Wakayama, Kakinoha Zushi is a kind of sushi wherein saba (mackerel) or some other fish that has been marinated in salt and vinegar is cut into thin slices, put on top of bite-sized sumeshi (sushi rice that is cooked by seasoning rice with vinegar, salt, and sugar), wrapped in persimmon leaves (“kaki no ha” in Japanese), and then set aside overnight. This reduces the salty taste while keeping the taste of the mackerel and smell of persimmon leaf on the sushi rice, creating a rich flavor. It is a traditional dish that has been handed down from generation to generation for more than 200 years.
Battera is a pressed sushi (sushi rice and toppings are layered, and then pressed together) that originated from Osaka. Mackerel that has been marinated in vinegar is sliced into thin pieces, arranged in the sushi mold, packed with vinegared sushi rice, and then piled with shiroita kombu (a type of kelp) that has been cooked in sweet vinegar. The taste of the kelp is transferred to the marinated mackerel, creating a mellow flavor. It got its name from the Portuguese term “bateira”, which means small boat. It used to be made using konoshiro gizzard shad (kohada), which looked like a small boat with its tail pointing upwards, which is why it came to be called “battera”.
Mehari Zushi is a local dish that has been handed down to the Kishu/Kumano region, stretching to Wakayama and Mie. It is an extremely simple dish that consists of nigirimeshi (rice balls) wrapped in takana (mustard) leaves. The takana leaves that have been pickled in salt are seasoned with soy sauce and other spices, and then their stalks are chopped into fine pieces. The nigirimeshi, which uses the stalks as an ingredient, is then wrapped in takana leaves. They say that this dish got its name from “having to open your mouth so wide that your eyes might pop out (“meharu” in Japanese) when eating it”, as well as from its taste, which is “so delicious that you will be wide-eyed in surprise”.
551 Horai is a Chinese restaurant with multiple branches in Kansai. It is famous for its take-out Butaman (pork bun) (340 JPY for a two-piece set (incl. tax)), which is widely known as one of Osaka’s specialties. The star of this dish is the generous pork filling inside the bun. The pork is not minced, but instead diced to create a distinct texture. When you take a bite, your mouth will be filled with the sweetness of onions and the juicy meat soup. Another secret behind its popularity is the slightly sweet bun that draws out the delicious flavors of the ingredients. A little mustard adds an exquisite taste – give it a try!
Try to sample the local foods of the place you are visiting to better enjoy the charms of that area!
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.