In Japan, there are many different types of local dishes rooted in the different areas, and people can't help but to become addicted to their delicious flavors! In recent years, some of these dishes have become available all throughout the country, where they have gained many enthusiastic fans. Here are some famous local dishes that you should know about.
Soup curry, which is originally from Sapporo, has become a staple curry-based dish all over Japan. It is characterized by a spicy soup and big ingredients which are usually served in a separate plate from the rice. Some people may not be sure how to eat it the first time, though the most important thing is not to pour all the soup over the rice at once, since the plate will overflow! For starters, we recommend taking some rice with your spoon and dipping it into the soup curry to eat it. Halfway through, you can start cutting the ingredients into bite-sized pieces to eat them as well. And right before you finish, you can add all the remaining rice into the soup to enjoy it to the last drop! If you become addicted to the rich flavors of soup curry, you can always buy some boil-in-the-bag instant versions as a souvenir. These are actually a quite popular Hokkaido souvenir even among Japanese people, since they can be easily prepared at home.
*The actual dish may differ from the picture.
1. Soup curry from Sapporo (Hokkaido)
If you are going to have some beef tongue from Sendai, the gyutan teishoku (a set meal made with beef tongue, which includes grilled beef tongue, barley rice, and oxtail soup, is the way to go. The thickness of the tongue, its seasonings, and its maturity degree differ from one restaurant to the other, and all of them are very particular regarding their preferences when it comes to their product. However, one thing never changes: the aroma of the beef tongue as its grilled does not fail to stimulate the appetite. As you bite on it, you can feel its firm texture, and a juicy flavor spreading within your mouth. The lightly flavored soup using beef tail and the barley rice help to bring out the inherent flavors of the tongue. Because of the popularity of the dish, in recent years restaurants like Charcoal Grilled Beef Tongue Rikyu have expanded to set up branches all over the country, and some of them are so popular that they always have a line of customers waiting outside. You can enjoy an authentic version of the dish even if you are not actually going to Sendai, so make sure to give it a try.
2. Beef tongue from Sendai (Miyagi)
The Dojo Hotpot has been loved by the masses since the Edo period (1603 - 1868). In this dish, loaches are boiled in a sweet mixture of miso paste and sugar, and are then served to be eaten with plenty of chopped scallion on top. Some people may not be fond of river fish due to their peculiar taste, but in this dish, the loaches are cooked following traditional methods that involve making living loaches drunk with alcohol to get rid of any unpleasant flavor or smell. The rich sweet and salty flavor of the dish will surely keep you reaching for more rice and drink. There are 4-5 restaurants around Asakusa that are famous for their dojo hotpot, so it might be good to search for your favorite one.
*Photo is for illustration purposes.
Fujinomiya yakisoba is a staple inexpensive and delicious staple dish among the working class. This yakisoba is made with pork meat, and spring water and cabbage from Mt. Fuji, and is then sprinkled with mackerel and sardine powder, resulting in an impressively hearty meal with a tender texture. There are more than 150 restaurants serving Fujinomiya yakisoba in Fujinomiya, and all of them use different seasonings and toppings, so it is a good idea to try some to compare them. Fujinomiya Yakisoba has recently become famous all over Japan, and frozen and instant versions of the noodles are very popular as well. If you are not going to Fujinomiya, you may be able to find this dish in the supermarket at your travel destination.
4. Fujinomiya yakisoba (Shizuoka prefecture)
Miso katsu is a dish originally from Nagoya which consists of a breaded pork cutlet with a miso-based sauce. Miso is a paste made from fermented soybeans but the taste changes depending on seasoning. The sauce is made with sweetly seasoned Haccho miso, and it does not taste as greasy as it looks - actually, it goes very well with the deep fried pork cutlet! Because of its mellow aroma and rich taste, the sauce is sometimes called Japanese-style demi-glace sauce too. Eat it together with the mustard on the side, and you will not be able to stop yourself! If you want to enjoy some miso katsu in a casual way, we recommend trying a "katsusando" (a sandwich version) with miso-based sauce. Yabaton, featured below, has branches in both Tokyo and Fukuoka, so make sure to pay them a visit.
5. Miso Katsu
How did you find the article? Some local dishes are available at other places besides their places of origin, so be sure to give them a try during your stay.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.