Nagoya's famous for a varied cuisine, from meals that are rich and deep in flavor to refreshing tastes. Here are 5 meals, from standard traditional dishes to recent hits.
Hitsumabushi is a dish that features eel cooked in a sweet sauce and rice placed in dishware called a "ohitsu." There are three steps to eating this dish. First, you separate the eel and rice into four quarters, and eat 1/4th as-is so you can enjoy the flavor of the eel. Second, you mix it with condiments such as scallions, seaweed, and wasabi. Third, you pour soup over it. After you've tried the three ways, the remaining quarter is eaten the way you prefer. There are many restaurants where you can eat hitsumabushi, but a particularly famous restaurant is the well-established Atsuta Houraiken. They use the same sauce recipe that's been been developed over time since they first opened, and their hitsumabushi (3,600 JPY (incl. tax)) is grilled using expert techniques and is so popular there's almost always a line. The main branch is close to Atsuta Shrine, so why not stop by when you're sightseeing? It's a very popular restaurant so please stop by with time to spare. Other than the main branch, there are also the Jingu branch, Matsuzakaya branch, and the Matsuzakaya basement branch dedicated for take-out.
Kishimen is made using the same ingredients as udon, but these noodles are thinner and wider. Light fish broth is mixed with the locally-famous tamari (rich) soy sauce, and it's topped with sweet boiled aburaage (thin fried tofu), scallions, bonito flakes, and more. In the summer, chilled kishimen is delicious. Kishimen's distinguishing characteristic is its slippery texture that you can enjoy hot or cold. If you want to eat Nagoya's famous kishimen, many locals recommend the restaurant Nadai Kishimen Sumiyoshi. There are an astounding 9 branches within Nagoya Station, all of which are stand-and-eat style. You can eat it very quickly, and the prices are very reasonable, with the cheapest bowl costing only 350 JPY.They have a full menu, so why not try Nadai Kishimen Sumiyoshi? It's a restaurant so good that it's said you should try it even if you have to get off the bullet train to do it.
3. Miso Nikomi Udon
Miso nikomi udon is brought to you freshly made and still boiling in a donabe earthenware pot. Take off the lid and use it as a plate for the super-hot noodles, and eat while blowing it to cool down. The noodles are cooked to be tough in order to go with the rich miso taste, and the texture is delicious. Locals eat miso nikomi udon with rice. Yes, they eat two kinds of carbs together. First, you add a raw egg like the picture below and it will cook soft-boiled. If you break the yolk then and eat it with the rich miso and the rice, it's exquisite. Please try it. There are many miso nikomi udon restaurants, but Nikomi Udon Yamamotoya Honten is known for being particular not just about their miso nikomi but also the donabe. Their original donabe have countless cracks in it, and over time the cracks become the secret to deliciously cooking miso nikomi. They have souvenir versions as well, so please bring home this taste of Nagoya.
4. Ankake Spaghetti
It's called spaghetti, but it's not the usual Italian kind, but rather very fat boiled spaghetti stir-fried and covered with a thick, starchy sauce and ingredients. The sauce is tomato-based so it's rich, and pepper gives it a tangible spiciness. It's said that a chef in Nagoya made this to make meat sauce easier to eat. There are many specialty restaurants in Nagoya, and it's so popular you can even eat it in regular kissaten (coffee shops). It's hard to guess the taste from the image, but doesn't hearing it called "Nagoya-style meat sauce" make you even more curious? At the popular Yokoi, the meat sauce is boiled for so long the meat and vegetables disintegrate, and their dish called Mirakan which tops it with vegetables and sausage is very popular. There are two branches in Sakae and one in the KITTE Nagoya Station, so it's very easy to stop by while you're sightseeing.
5. Taiwan Ramen
Taiwan ramen is made by adding chicken stock to a soy sauce-flavored soup topped with ground beef stir-fried with chilies and garlic chives. You may be mystified by the name "Taiwan" even though it's from Nagoya, but actually it's a dish that was created around 40 years ago by someone from Taiwan rearranging Taiwanese cuisine. It seems like this dish doesn't exist in Taiwan. Within Nagoya, about half the ramen restaurants also offer Taiwan ramen. Among them, the originators of this dish, Chuugoku Taiwan Ryouri Misen, has ten branches within the city and their dish Ganso Taiwan Ramen is very popular. The spicy, rich ground meat and the fragrant garlic chives bring together a ramen that you won't be able to stop eating. The real thrill of eating this is enjoying the sweat on your cheeks thanks to the incredible spiciness! You'll want to keep eating even after your bowl is empty. Plus, you'll be surprised at the low price of 630 JPY (incl. tax)! Please try this Nagoya-created Taiwan ramen.
All of these dishes are stuffed with originality and different flavors, from simple to rich. All of these dishes have their own charms, from dishes that you can easily eat to high-class gourmet meals. Please 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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