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Seven Must-Try Specialty Foods of Kyushu that You Won’t Want to Miss

The Kyushu region, which is rich in ingredients from both the ocean and land, has many specialty dishes that you won't want to miss. This article introduces one highly recommended dish from each prefecture in the region.

1. Motsunabe (Fukuoka)

First up is "motsunabe", which is a specialty of Hakata in Fukuoka Prefecture. “Motsu” refers to beef or pork offal. Motsunabe in Hakata usually has beef offal that is cooked together with vegetables, such as garlic chives and cabbage. The flavoring differs depending on the restaurant, and can include soy sauce or miso. It is common to add noodles to the soup that is left over at the end.

2. Basashi (Kumamoto)

If you are in Kumamoto Prefecture, you'll want to try dishes made with horse meat, of which Kumamoto is the largest producer in Japan. Horse meat is a healthy ingredient that is high in vitamins and minerals, and low in calories and cholesterol. The meat is soft, and the fat is light. It can be enjoyed in a variety of ways, such as nabe (hot pot), sushi, and grilled, but the recommended way is to eat it raw as "basashi" (sashimi). Horse fat has a low melting point, so marbled meat melts wonderfully in the mouth. A variety of parts, such as the tenderloin, tongue, ribs, and liver, are available as basashi.

3. Squid from Yobuko (Saga)

The ingredient that most people think of when talking about Saga Prefecture is squid from Yobuko in Karatsu City, and the one dish you don't want to miss is the "Ika no Ikezukuri" (fresh squid sashimi). When you order this, the chef will fish out a squid from the tank and quickly prepare it for you. Served on a plate, the squid will still be translucent, and it is characterized by its sweetness and texture that seems to melt in the mouth. The legs will be served deep-fried as tempura or grilled with salt. The fresh squid can be enjoyed throughout the year.

4. Seki-aji's Sashimi (Oita)

The recommended ingredient in Oita Prefecture is the "Seki-aji" (horse mackerel) from Saganoseki. These horse mackerels are fished without any nets to make sure they are not damaged. They are from Hoyo Straits, which has strong currents, so they are firm and have great texture. They tend to be larger and fatty as well. They are killed through a process called "ikejime", which keeps them fresh. If you are going to eat them locally, make sure to have them as sashimi, which is the best way to enjoy their freshness.

5. Hiyashiru (Miyazaki)

"Hiyashiru" is a major regional dish in Miyazaki Prefecture. Dried sea slugs, sesame, and miso are rubbed together, grilled over an open fire, and then mixed with dashi (stock) before being served with tofu, cucumber pieces, shiso, and negi (scallions). It is a summer dish that is served cold over hot rice. Sometimes, flakes of grilled fish that are caught near the shore, such as horse mackerel and sardines, are used instead of dried sea slugs.

6. Nagasaki Champon (Nagasaki)

"Nagasaki Champon" is a must-try dish if you are visiting Nagasaki. It is a noodle dish with a variety of ingredients, such as pork, Manila clams, shrimp, cabbage, and carrots that are served in a soup made with pork or chicken bones. The noodles have a distinctive flavor and softness. If you like rich flavors, go for the soup made with pork bones, and if you prefer lighter flavors, choose the soup made with chicken bones. There are some restaurants that serve variations, such as miso flavor and curry flavor ones.

7. Amami no Keihan (Kagoshima)

Last up is the "keihan" (chicken bowl) from Amami Oshima in Kagoshima Prefecture. It is a bowl of steamed chicken, kinshi tamago (thinly sliced omelet strips), sweet and savory shiitake (mushrooms), and cooked papaya on rice. It is served with condiments like nori (seaweed), negi, and mandarin orange skin. Traditionally, it was a dish served to entertain government officials, but it is now a regional dish enjoyed by people of all ages.

All of the dishes introduced in this article are popular dishes. They are often served at restaurants in major stations and airports, in addition to those around town, so be sure to try them!

*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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