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!
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 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!
- Enjoy the eel with rice as it is
- Add some condiments like shredded seaweed of green onion to the eel and rice to enhance the flavour
- 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!
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 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.
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.
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
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.
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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