Nagoya Food Scene: 12 Must-Try Foods!

Nagoya Food Scene: 12 Must-Try Foods!-Japanese Taste
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    Nagoya, Japan's fourth-largest city, is more than just cars and factories.

    It's also home to a thriving food scene that's worth a stop on your Japan itinerary (especially if you have a Japan Rail Pass, as Nagoya is right on the shinkansen between Tokyo & Kyoto).

    From the classic flavors of Nagoya Meshi to hidden gems in local neighborhoods, Nagoya's food scene offers something for everyone.

    So, ditch the tourist traps and get ready to eat your way through Nagoya. We're talking about real-deal Japanese food, like Miso Katsu (deep-fried pork cutlets covered in a savory miso sauce) and Tebasaki (flame-grilled chicken wings that are so good you'll want to order a second round or three).

    Nagoya's food scene is all about big flavors and hearty portions. It’s a region big on comfort food; go ahead and consider it the “soul food of Japan.”

    But that doesn't mean there's no room for finesse. You'll find plenty of delicate dishes, like Kishimen, broad flat noodles served in a light dashi broth; and Hitsumabushi, a dish of grilled eel served over rice that's meant to be eaten in three different ways.

    In this edition of the Japanese Taste blog, let’s hop on a bullet train to Nagoya and eat our way through the city!

    Nagoya Morning: A Breakfast Extravaganza

    Nagoya Morning: A Breakfast Extravaganza

    Nagoya's mornings are a culinary treat, offering a diverse array of breakfast delights to kickstart the day.

    From savory to sweet, the Nagoya morning culture means starting each day on the right note.

    Indulge in a Nagoya morning tradition by ordering a cup of coffee as part of a set. The most popular and iconic Nagoya Morning dish is Ogura Toast, a sweet version of toasted shokupan with butter and red beans on top.

    Don’t hesitate to try dishes like "morning curry," a unique breakfast curry that adds a touch of spice to the morning routine.

    Other favorites include tamago kake gohan (rice topped with raw egg and soy sauce) and moriawase (a combination of small bites like fish, tamago (egg) and pickles).

    Komeda Coffee is a Nagoya chain that’s taken hold elsewhere in Japan, too. But wherever you happen to be, search “Nagoya morning” on your Maps app and you’ll find plenty of local offerings.

    Ogura Toast: A Sweet Start to the Day

    It stands out so much on the local scene, we have to reiterate: Breakfast in Nagoya isn’t complete without Ogura toast.

    This popular Nagoya-style toast features a layer of sweet, red bean paste known as ogura, generously spread on a thick slice of bread.

    Ogura toast combines the comforting warmth of toast with the sweetness of red bean paste, creating a harmonious blend that's perfect for a morning pick-me-up.

    Kishimen: Flat Noodles, Wide & Wonderful

    Kishimen: Flat Noodles, Wide & Wonderful

    Kishimen, Nagoya's take on udon, introduces a wide, flat noodle that absorbs the rich flavors of its accompanying broth.

    The broad surface area of kishimen allows it to carry an abundance of taste, making it a favorite among locals and visitors alike.

    Served in a soy-based broth with various toppings such as green onions, tempura and fish cakes, kishimen provides a satisfying and hearty dining experience.

    For a taste of this Nagoya classic, try the kishimen at Miya. Our favorite branch is the one in Atsuta Park; pay a visit to the Atsuta Shrine and then enjoy kishimen al fresco amidst a natural setting.

    Miso Katsu: Crispy Indulgence With A Red Twist

    Miso Katsu: Crispy Indulgence With A Red Twist

    Nagoya's culinary prowess takes center stage with the delectable miso katsu, a dish that evokes crispy indulgence.

    Originating from the city's gastronomic imagination, miso katsu is a delightful twist on the classic Japanese tonkatsu. What sets Nagoya's version apart is the delectable combination of a crispy, golden-brown exterior and the rich umami infusion of miso within.

    The story of miso katsu dates back to the mid-20th century, and it quickly became a beloved local specialty. The preparation involves deep-frying breaded pork cutlets to perfection, creating a satisfying crunch that gives way to the succulent meat inside. What makes this dish truly unique is the miso sauce that accompanies it, adding a complex layer of savory sweetness to each bite.

    Nagoya is known for a distinct variety of miso: Red miso. You’ll see red miso, which is more pungent and complex, in other dishes on the Nagoya culinary journey.

    A local favorite for miso katsu is the Yabaton chain; just pull up Google Maps and find a branch near you.

    Tebasaki: Nagoya-Style Chicken Wings

    Tebasaki: Nagoya-Style Chicken Wings

    Tebasaki, or chicken wings, offer a finger-licking experience that has become synonymous with Nagoya’s culinary landscape.

    Nagoya's tebasaki are known for their crispy exterior, succulent meat and a bold glaze that combines sweet and spicy flavors. The secret lies in the preparation, where the wings are first deep-fried to achieve a crunchy texture before being tossed in a sauce that typically includes soy sauce, sake and garlic (plus some “secret” ingredients, as the local proprietors insist).

    A popular local chain of pubs with tebasaki as their star dish is Yamachan. Don’t be shy in ordering more rounds; it’s a lively place where you might need to shout a little (they like that here) to be heard.

    For those eager to recreate this Nagoya delicacy at home, check out our tebasaki recipe that unveils the secrets behind achieving the perfect balance of flavors and textures.

    Whether enjoyed as a snack with friends or as part of a hearty meal, tebasaki shows off Nagoya's culinary skills by turning a simple dish into a taste sensation.

    Hitsumabushi: The Three-Way Grilled Eel Experience

    Hitsumabushi: The Three-Way Grilled Eel Experience

    Hitsumabushi is a grilled eel dish that offers a culinary experience with a Nagoya twist.

    This intriguing, three-step ritual allows diners to savor the flavors of grilled eel in distinct ways.

    The meal begins with a portion of grilled eel atop rice, allowing you to appreciate the simple and unadulterated essence of this Nagoya delicacy. The second serving involves adding condiments like nori (seaweed), wasabi and green onions, enhancing the flavors with a subtle complexity. Finally, the third serving provides a broth to mix with the remaining rice, creating a delightful eel-infused porridge.

    To partake in this unique dining adventure, visit a reputable hitsumabushi specialty restaurant like Atsuta Horaiken, Shirakawa or Maruya.

    Miso Nikomi Udon: A Bowl Of Umami Comfort

    Miso Nikomi Udon: A Bowl Of Umami Comfort

    In the heart of Nagoya's culinary scene, the steaming bowls of miso nikomi udon beckon with their comforting warmth and rich umami flavors.

    Miso nikomi udon features thick wheat noodles immersed in a hearty miso-based broth, often accompanied by an array of ingredients such as chicken, tofu and green onions.

    The slow simmering of the broth allows the miso to impart a deep, savory complexity, creating a bowl of udon that's not only filling but also soul-satisfying.

    To immerse yourself in the authentic flavors of miso nikomi udon, head to Yamamotoya, a venerable establishment in Nagoya known for its dedication to preserving the essence of this local favorite.

    Doteni: The Stew Of Nagoya Tradition

    Doteni: The Stew Of Nagoya Tradition

    As we traverse Nagoya's culinary landscape, we encounter doteni, a stew deeply rooted in tradition and culinary artistry.

    This local Nagoya delicacy tender cuts of beef sinew, slow-cooked to perfection in a savory and slightly sweet soy-based broth. The result is a stew that offers a harmonious and comforting blend of flavors and textures. Doteni is often enjoyed with a side of steamed rice, providing a wholesome and satisfying meal.

    Doteni can be found at a variety of izakaya pubs and other restaurants around Nagoya, and is best enjoyed with a tall glass of beer or a highball.

    Miso Oden: A Warming Pot Of Goodness

    Miso Oden: A Warming Pot Of Goodness

    In the colder months, Nagoya residents turn to miso oden to ward off the chill and savor the comforting embrace of this favorite stew dish.

    An iteration of the classic Japanese oden stew, Nagoya's version introduces the rich and savory twist of miso, elevating the dish to new heights of flavor.

    Miso oden consists of various ingredients such as fish cakes, tofu, daikon radish and konjac – all simmered in a miso-based broth. The umami-packed miso adds a layer of depth and richness, making each bite a warm and satisfying experience. It's a communal dish often shared with friends and family, fostering a sense of togetherness around the dinner table.

    Nagoya Cochin: Poultry Perfection

    Nagoya Cochin: Poultry Perfection

    Nagoya Cochin, a breed of chicken native to the region, is a mainstay in Nagoya's culinary repertoire.

    Revered for its premium taste and tender texture, Nagoya Cochin has earned its place as a poultry perfectionist's delight. Raised with meticulous care, these chickens boast a distinct flavor profile that sets them apart.

    Nagoya Cochin finds its way into various dishes, from yakitori (grilled chicken skewers) to hot pots. The meat's succulence and rich umami make it a sought-after ingredient, symbolizing the commitment to quality ingrained in Nagoya's culinary traditions.

    For an authentic experience, visit a yakitori joint like Kululu or Torikai Sohonke

    Taiwanese Ramen: International Influences in Nagoya Noodles

    Taiwanese Ramen: International Influences in Nagoya Noodles

    Nagoya's culinary scene welcomes global influences, and Taiwanese ramen stands out amidst all this international fusion.

    A unique variation of ramen, originating from Taiwan but embraced in Nagoya, this dish combines the best of both worlds, resulting in a bowl of noodles that's both comforting and flavorful.

    Nagoya's Taiwanese ramen typically features a rich, savory broth, thick noodles and toppings like ground pork and green onions. For an authentic taste, venture to Misen, Hanabi Nishiki or Yadogariya, popular ramen shops in Nagoya that specializes in Taiwanese ramen.

    Mazesoba: Stirring Up Noodle Sensations

    Mazesoba: Stirring Up Noodle Sensations

    Mazesoba, a dry noodle dish, captures noodle enthusiasts with its innovative approach to ramen.

    This unique creation abandons the traditional broth, relying instead on a flavorful medley of ingredients and sauces to coat the noodles in a symphony of tastes and textures.

    Nagoya's mazesoba often includes minced meat, green onions, seaweed and a raw egg, all tossed together to create a satisfying and complex flavor profile. The absence of broth allows the ingredients to shine individually, making each bite a revelation.

    To savor the sensation of mazesoba, drop by Arashi, Kajiken or Tsururin.

    Tenmusu: Where Tempura Meets Onigiri

    Tenmusu: Where Tempura Meets Onigiri

    The fusion of tempura and onigiri gives birth to tenmusu, a delectable creation that showcases Nagoya's knack for combining diverse culinary elements.

    Tenmusu features a shrimp tempura nestled inside an onigiri – a rice ball wrapped in a sheet of nori (seaweed).

    This innovative dish provides a delightful contrast between the crispy tempura and the softness of the rice, creating a textural symphony with every bite. Tenmusu is available at department stores, supermarkets and local specialty shops across Nagoya and surrounding areas. Grab a few on the go

    Discover Nagoya’s Noteworthy Food Scene

    Nagoya, a commercial city with culinary creativity, offers a gastronomic journey that’s worthy of inclusion on your Japan travel plans.

    From the savory delights of miso katsu to the sweet indulgence of Ogura toast, each dish reflects Nagoya's culture of comfort food.

    Have you been to Nagoya? Tell us about your food adventures in the comments below. If you want to know what to do when visiting Nagoya, be sure to check out this article.


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