Aichi’s food culture is said to be unique, even within Japan. The roots of its flavor come from ingredients based on fermenting such as miso, soy sauce and mirin. For example, normal miso should not be boiled as it looses its flavor but Aichi’s soybean miso is a unique ingredient that becomes more flavorsome the more you boil it. Aichi’s local food is headlined by dishes like stewed udon noodles, miso oden and miso katsu, which are all made using Aichi’s soybean miso.
Hitsumabushi (chopped seafood on rice) is known as one of Nagoya’s specialties. Served in a wooden rice tub, it is popular to take a little at a time in your rice bowl and enjoy eating it in a variety of ways. The Nishimikawa region in Aichi has a thriving eel industry and there are many eel restaurants throughout the prefecture.
Aichi’s eel is eaten in the Kansai style, grilled on a skewer without steaming. You occasionally see Kanto-style steamed and grilled eel, and in hitsumabushi it is served without chopping up.
Around the second half of the 1940s a customer at a street stall put his skewered katsu (crumbed meat) in a miso tripe stew and, on hearing him exclaim “this is delicious!”, customers in the surrounding stalls all wanted to try it too. Whether this was a chance happening or an inspired idea, this dish at once became a dominant local delicacy that continues to fascinate us today.
Various restaurants offer a variety of styles of this dish, but the main difference is in the miso sauce. Be it a thick, rich sauce that is slathered on or a lighter, sweeter type, the varieties are endless depending on the store. We hope you find the perfect style to suit your taste.
Kishimen are boiled, flat udon noodles in a soup topped with ingredients such as a spices, fried bean curd, fish cakes and bonito flakes. The dish has been eaten in this style since the second half of the 1800s. There are theories about its origins but one sure thing is that it was a food of the common folk that was also loved by gentry.
Crunchy fried chicken wings are dipped in a sweet and spicy sauce to give an addictive flavor in “fried tebasaki” (tebasaki karaage), a perfect companion to beer. Marinated chicken wings are fried twice to make them crunchy and dipped in a sweet and spicy sauce or seasoned with spices. Easy to eat, satisfying and cheap, this dish, perfect with alcohol, is served in most Japanese pubs.
There are dishes of udon stewed in miso throughout Japan but it is said that the firm udon stewed in soybean miso is only in Nagoya. If you eat these noodles expecting regular udon, you might get a shock and think you are eating undercooked noodles! However, this is Aichi’s flavor. Because the noodles are kneaded with water only and no salt, they have a firm texture that is different to regular udon. We are sure that if you keep on eating, you will soon realize that these sort of stand-out noodles are needed to go with the unique soybean miso soup.
Ankake Spaghetti is made up of thick noodles fried in lard toped with a thick, sticky sauce. This unique sauce is made on base of stewed vegetables including tomato and onion and then seasoned to give a spicy flavor. It has various names depending on its toppings including “country” when served with onion and green peppers, “Milanese” when it contains wieners or bacon, or “Mirakan” with both.
“Nagoya Kochin” is a delicious brand of chicken. Regular broiler chickens are raised over a 50 day period whereas Nagoya Kochin chickens are raised with care over 4 to 5 months. This means the meat develops a rich flavor and elasticity. The chicken is eaten in a variety of ways including in a stir-fried sukiyaki dish called “hikizuri”, seared, marbled, in bot pots or in the oyako-don dish of chicken and egg on rice.
“Doteni” is basically “motsuni” (tripe stew). The beef sinew cooked in a thick stew has the smooth, sweet taste of the meat mingling with the rich flavor of miso and goes well with alcohol. If you add oden (Japanese winter soup) ingredients, the dish is known as “Miso Oden”. It is served in a variety of ways including cooking the ingredients in the miso stew until they are black or dipping the cooked ingredients in a miso paste. How about trying “red cha-zuke”, created by an old oden restaurant to complete your meal? Rice is topped with an egg coated in a generous helping of miso and covered in oden soup.
The Japanese love prawns, so there are many local delicacies containing crumbed or battered prawns. This dish is a small, battered prawn pressed into a mini rice ball. The succulent prawn matches the slightly salty flavor of the rice perfectly.