Nagoya Food Guide: Delicious Dishes Not To Be Missed In Nagoya

Despite being Japan’s 4th largest city, Nagoya is not visited by tourists nearly as much as Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka. This is a shame, because Nagoya is a Japanese culinary delight, with lots of fantastic dishes to try!

The local Nagoya food is different than what you would expect in other parts of Japan. The flavours combine classic elements such as miso and noodles, with local ingredients such as flat udon or eel.

Let’s check out some of the best food to try in Nagoya!

Tebasaki

Three chicken wings sprinkles with white sesame seeds, laid on a black plate. Behind them there is a white rectangular dish divided into three. In the first space there are chopped green onions, in the second one there are seaweed strips and in the last one there is a blub of green wasabi. Next to it, on the left hand side of the photo, there is a round white bowl filled with rice and topped with a piece of fried meat covered in a brown sauce

First up is one of Nagoya’s most famous foods! We know tebasaki in English as chicken wings, yet don’t be fooled into thinking that this is like the chicken wings that you enjoy back at home.

These wings are deep fried and then coated in a glaze consisting of soy sauce, ginger, sake and many other seasoning.

They are crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside and have a delicious flavour. This is one of the few foods in Japan where you eat with your hands – so don’t be afraid to dive in and get your hands dirty!

Hitsumabushi

A black tray filled with small dishes. In the middle there is a round wooden black container which holds white rice topped with fried fish covered in a brown sauce. On the left of the tray there is white and blue striped bown turned upside down, with a tissue inside a silver foil next to it. In front of it there is a white bowl filled with different leaves, green vegetables and chopped ginger. On the right hand side of the black container, in the back, there is a square bowl with a simple white salad topped with a slice of red tomato, a slice of cucumber and a slice of lemon. In front of it there is a black bowl filled with clear miso soup. In front of the miso soup bowl there are three small white containers, one filled with chopped green leaves, one with green wasabi and another one with chopped spring onions.

Hitsumabushi is an interesting dish that at first doesn’t sound so good, but which actually tastes great! This is a staple Nagoya food.

It is eel, cooked in a mixture of soy sauce, sake, mirin, and sugar and served on top of a bed of rice. The eel is soft and plump and has a fantastic sweet yet savoury flavour thanks to the sauce.

There are three different ways to enjoy it. You should try each of these methods in the same meal to get the full experience!

  1. Enjoy the eel with rice as it is
  2. Add some condiments like shredded seaweed of green onion to the eel and rice to enhance the flavour
  3. Pour some broth over the eel and rice to make a small soup

The variety of condiments, seasoning and ways to eat hitsumabushi make it a fun dish to try! Shiso (known as perilla in English) is a personal favourite of mine!

Miso Katsu

A close-up of a bowl of miso katsu sat on a black plate. The fried pork cutlet is covered with a dark brown sauce. Near, there is a salad made with white cabbage, yellow bell peppers, a few slices of cucumber cut lengthwise, a green salad leaf and a chunk of banana with its skin on. Next to the plate, on the right, there is a bowl with dark miso soup. On the left there is a bowl of white rice.

Photo by Evelyn-rose on WikiMedia.

Miso in general is very famous in Nagoya, so they often try to incorporate it into as many foods as possible. Miso katsu is no exception; it is breaded and fried pork cutlet served over rice with miso sauce.

It can also be served on skewers without the rice, especially when served as a side dish.

While katsu is popular all over Japan, only in Nagoya is it served with a rich miso sauce. Some people find the miso taste overpowering or too bitter, but for the locals, it is absolutely delicious!

It is often served with some pickles or other small side dishes which can help cut through the heaviness of the miso.

Mazesoba

A close up photo of a white bowl containing the beautifully plated dish. In the middle of the bowl there is the brown mince meat topped with a raw egg yolk. Around it, one next to each other, there are chopped green onions, seaweed stripes, brown curry powder, and chopped white garlic,

Mazesoba is a popular Nagoya dish made from noodles with a combination of spices and condiments served on top. In the picture above, there are actually noodles below all of those toppings!

The toppings typically include curry powder, shredded seaweed, green onions, garlic, raw egg yolk and more! It is a very rich and spicy dish, so it is not for the faint of heart. You can often choose how spicy you want it, but I recommend going for the most mild option, as the dish is already very rich to begin with.

If you’ve tried ramen before, it is similar to that, but without the soup.

There are many different ways to eat it, but the most common is by mixing all of the ingredients together with the noodles. The toppings all combine to make a delicious flavour, and the raw egg adds a fantastic silkiness to the noodles.

Tempura

A photo of a brown table filled with many small different bowls, taken from above. In the top middle there is a bigger bowl filled with golden crispy prawns and vegetables. The other bowls are filled with different sauces and small ingredients such as two pink octopus tentacles and a white dollop of a creamy food.

While not exclusively found in Nagoya, this is nonetheless a very popular dish, loved by locals and foreigners alike!

Tempura is a dish of vegetables and seafood that has been coated in flour and deep fried. The most common items to serve as tempura include prawns, pumpkin, eggplant and mushroom.

The tempura can be dipped in tentsuyu, a light sauce especially for tempura, or dipped in rock salt if you prefer.

Gyukatsu

A black tray filled with different containers. On the right there is a rack on which the meat is set on. The meat is raw in the middle, covered with fried panko. On the same plate there is a white cabbage salad and a dollop of green wasabi. Next to it there is a small white bowl filled with a clear sauce. On the left hand side of the photo there is a bowl or white fluffy rice. In front there are two dipping sauces, and some black pepper.

If the miso katsu from before sounded good to you, you’ll definitely like gyukatsu as well! Gyu means beef, so this is beef that has been coated in breadcrumbs and then very lightly deep fried.

The centre is still raw, but the meat is very fresh so this is completely safe to eat. If you prefer to cook your meat a little more, a small frying pan is provided so that you can get it exactly to your liking.

There are many condiments for you to enjoy with the gyukatsu, such as curry sauce, soy sauce, Japanese pepper, Worcestershire sauce, wasabi and an onsen tamago (very softly boiled egg).

The outside is crispy, yet the beef flavour comes through from the centre. It’s a lot of fun experimenting with the different condiments to see which one you like the most!

There are also many different cuts of beef that you can choose from, ranging from your regular, everyday cuts, all the way up to premium, marbled Japanese beef! You can also get a mixed plate that includes multiple cuts if you want to try a few different types.

Roast Beef Don

A black bowl filled with red strips of beef topped with a white sauce and a brown sauce. On top, there is a soft boiled egg cut in half, a raw egg yolk and a few springs of micro greens.

Another surprisingly delicious dish in Nagoya is the roast beef don. Don in this instance is short for donburi which is a rice dish served in a bowl. So this is perfectly cooked roast beef served on top of rice in a bowl.

It is usually served with a raw egg on top (like everything seems to be in Japan!) plus a rich sauce.

The rice on the bottom absorbs the juices from the roast beef and egg, making it rich in flavour. The dish is served hot or cold depending on the restaurant.

Summing up

The food in Nagoya is rich, with delicious dishes waiting to be tried out! Next time you find yourself in Japan, do yourself a favour and spend some time in Nagoya enjoying the amazing food the city has to offer!

Author Bio: This food guide is written by Louis, an outdoors fanatic from Australia. He writes about caravanning, camping and hiking over at his site, Outdoor Explorer.

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18 thoughts on “Nagoya Food Guide: Delicious Dishes Not To Be Missed In Nagoya

  1. Jess Howliston says:

    Wow some really interesting and different flavours here, I always love seeing and hearing about different food from different places and it always fascinates me how different some can be. All of these dishes look beautifully fresh, vibrant and packed full of flavour though!

  2. Rhian Westbury says:

    I don’t think I’ve tried any food from this region as I’m quite picking with flavourings, but some of this looks really nice, I’m not sure how I feel about eel though x

  3. MELANIE EDJOURIAN says:

    The food all sounds wonderful. I really do love tempura. They seem to do it with almost everything. I love tempura prawns!!!

  4. Aimee AMALA says:

    tebasaki sounds delicious, I would love to give it a try! I haven’t been to Japan yet, I love going off the beaten track so will check out this city for sure!

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