A Culinary Journey Through The Regions
Many Japanese dishes have global reputations already, and there are those quite specific to a certain region in Japan. Each of Japan’s 11 regions is famous for a specific specialty cuisine. Here are the 11 regions from North to South: Hokkaido, Tohoku, Kanto, Hokuriku, Koshinetsu, Tokai, Kansai, Chugoku, Shikoku, Kyushu, and Okinawa. See the dish that each is famous for.
Hokkaido is the most northern and is popular for its seafood, like sea urchin and salmon. Sushi is the most famous, and also kaisen-don, which is sashimi on a bowl of rice. Hokkaido is also known for its fresh, quality vegetables. Another region is Tohoku, with its warm cuisines due to the coldness. Kiritanpo-nabe, tasty hot pot with kiritanpo, mashed rice, with different roots and vegetables can be found in Akita.
Kanto, where Tokyo is also located, Monja-yaki is the best local dish. It’s a dish cooked on a hot plate where all ingredients such as squid, cabbage and sweet corn are cooked together; halfway done a watery batter mix is added. The cooked parts can be eaten right off the plate while the rest can be later. Koshietsu area includes Yamanashi, Nagano, and Niigata prefecture, which get heavy snow. Their top dish is the famous warm food, Houtou in Yamanashi, similar to udon noodles, but flatter and chewy plus a soup.
Tokai is an area with warm temperature throughout the year. Mia prefecture is famous for Ise-Ebi, the Japanese spiny lobster. It is similar in taste with American lobsters but somewhat more delicate. Also famous is the Miso-Katsu, which is miso pork cutlet, especially in the Aichi prefecture where Nagoya is located. In Hokuriku region, in Kanazawa, there’s Jibu-ni. It’s thinly sliced duck meat coated in flour, simmered with vegetables shiitake mushrooms, bamboo shoots and parsley. They are combined in a soup made of stock, rice wine, soy sauce and sake.
Kansai region, with Osaka in its center, is famous for okonomiyaki and takoyaki, fried octopus balls. Okonomiyaki is the Japanese version of pancake, with vegetables, pork slices and batter mixed together. Takoyaki are crispy balls topped with green laver, special sauce, sliced and dried bonito, or mayonnaise. Chugoku region, where Hiroshima is located, is famous for the Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki. It’s cooked differently – layered – with soba or udon added.
Honshu Shikoku are southern islands, famous for Sanuki Udon, wheat flour noodles, with a full taste and smooth texture. Kyushu region is famous for Chanpon, in Nagasaki prefecture; it’s a noodle dish with lots of vegetables. Southernmost is Okinawa with its tropical weather and famous for Goya Chanpuru, made with bittermelon (goya) tofu, vegetables, meat or fish.