15 local cuisines that you must eat in Chugoku area
The Chugoku region, which consists of the San’in region and Seto Inland Sea side’s San’yō region of the Japan sea, has a greatly varied topography and climate, according to each area, and thus has a great variety of foods. ANA carried out a project in collaboration with “Tastes of JAPAN by ANA,” which works to discover the most charming locations all over the country, and Trip Advisor, to introduce various local cuisines and stores from a number of locations in the five prefectures of the Chugoku Region (Tottori prefecture, Shimane prefecture, Okayama prefecture, Hiroshima prefecture, Yamaguchi prefecture), based on word of mouth reviews.
Tastes of Japan by ANA is a regional revitalization project by ANA with local regions to spread the word about Japanese treasures still unknown to Japan and beyond. Chugoku and Shikoku regions are featured from December 2018 to May 2019. Click here for details.
Gourmet Popular in Tottori Prefecture
The Midwestern part of Tottori prefecture, where animal husbandry has flourished since long ago, appears to have been offering ramen with soup made from stock created from beef bones, which are easy to obtain here, for more than 60 years. Today the name, “Tottori Gyukotsu Ramen” has become widely known.
Ramen Koga（Kurayoshi） Consisting of a soup with a rich and savory flavor, created by boiling cow bones for over 20 hours, and a special sauce, this nostalgic (“natsukashii”) and delicious (“umai”) “Natsu uma” ramen is a famous local cuisine.
Matsubagani is said to be the king of winter tastes in Tottori prefecture. Matsubagani is the popular name for male Zuwaigani (snow crabs) in the San’in region, with the females known as oyagani. The crabbing season for Matsubagani is from early November to March and, whether you boil or bake them, the texture of the meat is outstanding.
Ajigoyomi Ammbe（Tottori） The female zuwaigani, the oyagani, can only be caught from the beginning of November until the end of December, making it a hard to obtain ingredient. People often line up outside restaurants to get a chance to eat “oyagani don” (crab bowl), that uses the large amounts of the female crab’s meat, internal eggs (ovary) and external eggs (fertilized eggs).
The ¥3,500 oyagani don topped rice with the meat, internal and external eggs, and tomalley (crab fat) of about 8 crabs. The free refills of oyagani miso soup was also fantastic.reviewed by rensuke
As a mosaebi shrimp that dwells in the deep sea at a depth of 200-250 meters, they can rapidly lose their freshness and are therefore also called, “phantom shrimp”. Sashimi made with their fresh meat is exquisite, and many people think they taste better than amaebi (pandalus eous). The season for mosaebi shrimp is from September to May of the following year.
Restaurant Mine（Sakaiminato） This is a restaurant where you can eat fresh fish that have just been unloaded that morning at Sakai Minato Port. Starting with the popular seafood bowl, there is an abundance of items on the menu and this restaurant is popular with local customers.
It’s not uncommon to wait for an hour before being led into the restaurant but we were shown to a large table and the cuisine was served quite promptly.reviewed by hirokosakamoto
Gourmet Popular in Shimane Prefecture
Izumo soba, a quintessential cuisine of the Izumo region, is one of Japan’s three great soba (buckwheat) noodles, alongside Wanko soba, and Togakushi soba. As the soba seeds are milled along with their husks, the noodles are characterized by their dark appearance and strong aroma, and are famous for their unique way of eating, called “kama age soba”.
Kenjyo Soba Haneya（Izumo） Originally established in the late Edo period, this is a famous shop known for its name “Kenjo Soba”, (kenjo meaning to offer something to a person of high status), which stems from the fact that it was a favorite of Emperor Taisho. It is characterized by being served in stacked, round vermillion bowls called “warigo”.
Lake Shinji in the northeastern part of Shimane prefecture is a brackish lake where freshwater and seawater mix together, and is a treasure trove of seafood. The “Shinji-ko Shicchin (Seven Tastes of Lake Shinji)”, are seven kinds of seafood, including Suzuki (Japanese sea bass), Shirauo (Japanese noodlefish), Carp, Eel, Moroge ebi (a type of shrimp), Amasagi (Japanese ice fish), and Shijimi (fresh water clams) are generally appreciated as having a unique taste produced through being caught from such a rich lake.
Kawakyo（Matsue） Beginning with the Shinji-ko Shicchin, you can taste Matsue regional cuisine, along with over 10 different types of local Shimane sake for a reasonable price.
Zenzai is said to originate from “Kamiari mochi” (Kami ari rice cakes), which were served at festivals in the Izumo district, and is now seen as the archetypal sweet from Izumo. Besides the basic Izumo Zenzai, with red and white rice dumplings, there are many kinds, such as Matcha (green tea) Zenzai and cold Zenzai.
Nihon Zenzai Gakkai Ichigoten（Izumo） This is a zenzai specialty shop located in front of Izumo-taisha shrine. The old private-house-style building has a retro atmosphere. Its unique menu, which includes, “romantic matching” Zenzai, are popular.
Gourmet Popular in Okayama Prefecture
A fried udon noodle dish served with offal that has been eaten for a long time in the Tsuyama area, where farm cows are aplenty. It uses a sauce based on miso and soy sauce, and has a good texture. Each restaurant uses fresh offal, so the aroma and taste is not overly strong.
Hashino Shokudo（Tsuyama） Their miso flavored horumon udon that uses a secret sauce, that has been passed down since the restaurants founding, is particularly popular, even among the more than 50 restaurants that exist in the city. It is a little spicy, which makes it perfect to eat with sake.
There are large lines on holidays, so it is a good idea to come at less popular times. The sweet and spicy sauce, as well as the offal stick well onto the udon, making for a delicious meal. reviewed by kojizm
This is a local gourmet that matches a freshly fried pork cutlet with western style demi-glace sauce. With a long history, for over 85 years it has been a familiar item on the classic menus of places such as cafeterias and noodle shops in Okayama City. Each location has their own version, including dipping the cutlets in sauce and laying them on cabbage.
Ajitsukasa Nomura（Okayama） The originator of the demikatsu-don. You can enjoy the traditional taste of the “demi-glace sauce” invented by the original shopkeeper poured on a pork fillet or loin cutlet served on boiled cabbage.
“Kakioko”, Okonomiyaki with oysters (kaki) is a famous winter specialty of Bizen City Hinase, which is known for culturing magaki (Pacific oysters). It is a limited menu item that is only able to be cultivated in late October to March, but you can eat them even in summer if you visit a restaurant that stocks them frozen.
Tamachan（Bizen） A popular restaurant where you can eat sumptuous ‘Kakioko’ (oyster okonomiyaki) that uses about 250 grams of Hinase Oyster (kaki). The surface is crispy and fragrant, and inside is filled with juicy oysters.
There are plenty of locally gathered fresh oysters served with the okonomiyaki giving the dish a great texture. The oysters were plump and very delicious.reviewed by Venture803217
Gourmet Popular in Hiroshima Prefecture
Unlike the Kansai style, which cooks flour and ingredients mixed together, the basis of Hiroshima style okonomiyaki is “kasaneyaki,” which involves piling the ingredients on top of the batter that has been spread out onto the iron plate. It contains a large amount of cabbage and Chinese noodles, which gives it a plentiful volume.
Okonomiyaki Nagata-ya（Hiroshima） With great attention paid to the ingredients, including the shop’s specialty sauce, co-developed with Otafuku sauce, their handmade raw noodles and so on, each okonomiyaki cooked with meticulous care.
Onomichi ramen, is a simple Chinese noodle dish, that uses a rich soy sauce based soup with bits of pork lard floating on the surface, flat noodles, green onion, roasted pork fillet, fermented and seasoned bamboo shoots and so on. You can enjoy the unique taste of each store, such as the seafood version unique to Setouchi.
Shukaen（Onomichi） This restaurant is said to be the origin of Onomichi ramen, the famous Chinese noodle dish representative of Onomichi. You can taste the fundamental form of Onomichi ramen.
It can be said that the anago (conger eel) version of the unadon (eel bowl), anagomeshi (conger eel rice), gets its roots from the fisherman’s dish, “anago donburi”. Since “Ueno” began selling the dish as a Miyajima station “ekiben” (a box lunch sold at a train station), it has become a popular gourmet in Miyajima. The Grilled aroma of conger eel completely covering the rice, truly whets the appetite.
Ueno Anagomeshi（Hatsukaichi） At this long-established store with over 100 years of history since its establishment, not only can you can get “anagomeshi” in the store, you can also buy “anagomeshi bentos”, which are perfect for souvenirs.
Gourmet Popular in Yamaguchi Prefecture
There are many ways to enjoy fugu (blowfish) cuisine, the representative winter taste of Yamaguchi prefecture, including “tessa” sashimi, “Tecchiri” (pot dishes) and drinking “hire sake” alongside it. In the home of fugu, Shimonoseki city, there are many famous shops where you can eat delicious fugu cuisine, considered a delicacy, for a cheap price.
Ichibashokudo Yoshi（Shimonoseki） This is a eatery on the second floor of the well known Karato market, famous as a fugu market. Beginning from fugu, you can taste excellent, freshly caught seafood cuisine.
Iwakuni sushi is hand made by stacking ingredients such as the famous lotus root, conger eel, kinshi tamago (thin fried-egg strips) alternatively with vinegared and firmly stamped. It looks like oshizushi (pressed sushi) made with chirazushi (scattered sushi), which give it a gorgeous appearance. It is also called “Tonosama Sushi” (Lord Sushi) because it was presented to the Iwakuni lord in the Edo period.
Hirasei（Iwakuni） A long-established store founded in the Edo period. It is located in front of the Kintaikyo Bridge, and, while eating, you can enjoy the view of Kin-Taikyo Bridge and also Iwakuni Castle which rises above the hill behind.
A specialty of Kawatana Onsen, “Kawara Soba” (tile soba) is an unusual soba serves ingredients such as “cha” (green tea) soba, beef and kinshi tamago etc. on a heated tile along with a soup. It is said that the idea for the dish came from a story that told of soldiers cooking meat, etc. on the tiles on the battlefield during the Satsuma Rebellion.
Ganso Kawarasoba Takase（Shimonoseki） This is the shop that invented kawara soba. Cha soba that uses luxury Uji tea is fried on a tile until partly crisp, which means you can enjoy a variety of textures.
Surrounded by the Sea of Japan, the Seto Inland Sea and the Kanmon Strait, every prefecture in the Chugoku region faces the sea and while it may seem quiet at first, it is a treasure trove of gastronomy. Please pay a visit and find your favorite taste.