6 Dishes to Try in the Tohoku Region
You may enjoy many popular dishes unique to the Tohoku area, which is known for its abundant nature. Here are 6 examples of dishes that you must try when you visit Tohoku.
1. Sendai Beef Tongue
Beef tongue from Sendai is a well-loved dish all over Japan. There are over 100 restaurants that specialize in beef tongue in Sendai alone. The tongues are thickly sliced and then grilled on a wire net on top of charcoal to remove excess oil. These tongues are known for their fragrance, crisp texture, and juiciness. Beef tongue meal seats usually come with the beef tongue itself cooked on top of the charcoal, tail soup, barley rice, and pickled bok choy. Each store has its own way of maturing and flavoring the meat. It would be a good idea to visit different restaurants to compare. How about starting at the popular restaurant Rikyuu found at Sendai Station?
2. Iwate Jajamen Noodles
A Japanese national who came back from China created this dish based on "zha jiang mian" to fit the Morioka, Iwate palate. This dish is prepared by adding minced meat with soybean paste, cucumber, and green onion, then topped with chili oil, and grated garlic to your preference on top of some warm noodles. The right way to eat this is to first mix all the ingredients together to enjoy the depth in flavor of the meat, the texture of the fresh cucumber, and the pungent taste of the green onion. Won't you try some Jajamen noodles at the popular founding restaurant Pairon Honten? You will surely develop a taste for this dish.
3. Akita Inaniwa Udon
The Inaniwa udon noodles originating in the southern part of Akita are thin and twisted by hand. They are one of Japan's three types of udon. These noodles have been eaten as a non-perishable dish for over 300 years in the Tohoku region, where they experience heavy snowfall. As the noodles are thin, they come out quite shiny after being boiled. They also have just the right amount of elasticity and have a delicate taste. You may enjoy this dish year round by adding either warm or chilled sauce. At Kanbun Gonendo, you can enjoy raw noodles unlike Inaniwa noodles that are supposed to be dried noodles. Please enjoy the feeling of the udon in your mouth as well as the delicate taste unique to this dish.
4. Yamagata Yonezawa Beef
Yonezawa in Yamagata specializes in raising black beef cattle, which are just as famous as Kobe and Matsusaka beef. Yonezawa beef is known for being finely marbled and its high quality fat. The melting point of the fat is also low, so you can enjoy the texture of the meat melting in your mouth along with some umami flavor and fragrance. This meat also melts in your mouth. Summers in this area are hot while winters reach -17°C. This big gap in temperature creates high quality fat in the meat, which makes it ideal for creating the perfect sukiyaki and steak. There is no doubt in how delicious it can be whether you simmer or grill it. At Yoshitei, which is a 100 year old restaurant considered a cultural asset, you may enjoy some Yonezawa beef while gazing at the prestigious garden. Whether you like sukiyaki or prefer steak, please give this beef a try.
5. Aomori Oma Tuna Rice Bowl
Oma tuna is Pacific bluefin, and is popular as a high-class fish. One of the reasons behind its deliciousness is due to the fish being caught near the harbor and how extremely fresh it is. It is more flavorful compared to regular tuna and has a mixture of different tastes that mesh together when you take a bite. The tuna can be placed over rice to create "maguro-don," or tuna rice bowl. You may eat fresh tuna during a limited time only (mid-July to late January). Once the fish reach their most mature stage (from November), you may witness huge tuna caught on the day itself being cut apart at the Sakanakui Omanzoku restaurant that is owned by a fisherman. Please take note that you may enjoy this tuna even off season at a low price.
5. Aomori Oma Tuna Rice Bowl
6. Fukushima Kitakata Ramen
Kitakata in Fukushima may only have 50,000 people but it is where Kitakata ramen originated. The city alone has 100 ramen shops. Kitakata ramen has a soy sauce flavor to it made with pork bone and small dried fish to create the broth. The thick noodles which are crimped to become flat mesh well together with the soup with their chewy texture. In Kitakata, it is common to eat ramen in the morning called "morning ra." A popular restaurant would be Ramen Ippei where many locals gather. This restaurant opens at 7am. However, there are also other shops that locals in Kitakata choose from depending on their favorite morning ra. Why don't you give "morning ra" a try, while touring around this city filled with history and old warehouses?
These are all popular dishes well-loved nationwide. Please enjoy these dishes which are loved locally as a set along with your trip.
*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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