1. Miso Katsu
Nagoya is famous for its Miso-katsu which differs from the traditional “Ton-katsu” as the sauce is sweet and miso based. Pork is used and fried in breadcrumbs, finally dipped in hot miso sauce and served with shredded cabbage and rice…fantastic!! Crush up some sesame seeds to sprinkle on top and this is one of the most satisfying feeds you’ll find in Japan
Where to try: Lots of good places around but the most famous is “Yabaton“, of which there are 8 shops around the city, 1 in Nagashima Spaland, I at Centrair (Chubu Int. Airport) and a couple in Tokyo for good measure. Follow this link to their homepage – now in English and Japanese!
Comments: Try Tonkatsu, then Miso Katsu, then tonkatsu again….there’s only winner!
As legend (or Wikipedia) has it, tebasaki was actually invented by mistake when a restaurant owner was forced to serve chicken wings after his order of juicy thighs didn’t arrive. Well, thanks to our desperate chef, thousands flock to Nagoya yearly to chow down on the moorish fried chicken wings which have earned legendary status in the region. They are absolutely delicious in their simplicity and nothing goes better than an ice-cold brew than a big stack of these. If you haven’t tried them and live in Nagoya you must be vegetarian.
Where to try: One name and one name only…YAMACHAN. Other places (Furaibo) serve great tebasaki, but Yamachan has the atmosphere, 37 (yes that thirty-seven) locations around Nagoya and an extensive menu with other Nagoya foods to try. As there are so many shops all within a few mins of each other, if one place is full they will very kindly call around and get you booked in at another place. Homepage
Comments: Yamachan also offer a take-out service which is good as you can grab a box or two and enjoy them at home. We recommend booking a couple of weeks in advance if you plan to go with a large group on a Friday or Saturday night…it gets busy!!
3. Ebi Furai / Shrimp Fry
You can get Ebi fry just about anywhere in Japan but…..as big as the ones in Nagoya? Maybe not. 2-3 giant succulent shrimp, fried to perfection and with some side salad and tartar sauce – this may sound unspectacular but sometimes its the simplest things that are the best. Head an all, don’t leave a crumb!
Where to try: Many places..so many places but..if you want really large shrimp then head to Lachic in Sakae. A little more pricy but the Shrimp…they’re big! Click here for Lachic’s homepage for restaurant details.
Comments: Try the cafe / coffee shop “Konparu” which serves an irresistible “Ebi furai” sandwich. Not many foreigners know about this…..one of Nagoya’s little secrets.
Note from our editor: While there is a tradition of eating eel in summer in Japan, there are serious sustainability issues – it’s an endangered species, with Seafood Watch recommending consumers avoid it. So don’t eat it!.
Slow barbecued eel, dipped in a sweet soy sauce blend, cut into small pieces and served on a bowl of hot rice – a wonderful and unique dish that can be enjoyed anytime of the year. Hitsumabushi differs from traditional “unagi don” in that it is first served in a large wooden bowl with the chopped eel on top of the rice. This is all mixed together and then divided into small bowls up to 4 times, each time to be eaten in a different way- Firstly as it is, secondly with wasabi and spice, thirdly with green tea or broth and finally, whichever way you like the best 😉
Where to try it: Houraiken (in Atsuta) is one of the most famous places for the dish. Click here for access details.
Comments: Hitsumabushi and even just regular unagi don is pretty pricy, ironic considering it also used to be a poor mans food eaten by peasants and farmers by the rice paddies . Eel is thought to have energetic properties which is why people flock to eat Unagi (eel) in the middle of summer, to beat the drain caused by the long humid season. There is even a day in the Japanese Calendar “Do-yo-ushi-no-hi”, usually late July, which is set aside for eating the dish.
5. Miso Nikomi (Boiled miso broth with udon)
A strong, rich red-miso broth is simmered for hours, adding a depth in flavour that is unique to this ultra-nagoyan recipe. Homemade udon noodles along with spring onion and chicken are added to the wholesome soup, which considering Japan’s love for noodles, makes this dish particularly famous in and outside the region.
Where to try: Yamamoto-ya, one of their shops is in Lucent Tower next to Nagoya Station. They have another 7 locations around Nagoya, and 5 just outside. Check the homepage here.
Comments: Advice…try it after you’ve gotten accustomed to Nagoya’s red miso. The miso taste (even in the soups) can be a little overpowering initially, especially if you have had only the white soup before, but you will soon start to find it a warm and familiar flavour.
6. Oyakodon (Chicken and Egg rice-bowl)
A truly simple dish but one that could not be left off the list. Simmered chicken thigh with onions in a soy based sweet sauce with an egg added at the last and served on a bowl of Japanese rice. Totally satisfying and with emphasis on the quality of the ingredients being used, the dish is anything but regular to the locals.
Where to try: Again, the dish can be found in many restaurants and cafes throughout the region but if you want to try the famous “Nagoya Kochin Chicken” (A famously reared and bred organic chicken from the Nagoya region) then head to Lachic on the 7th floor to Torikai Souhonnke. Click here for access.
Comments: Interestingly, the Nagoya Kochin chicken is about 5 times more expensive than regular chicken and a special treat even for locals. The meat is a darker red color and slightly tough to chew – this they say is the appeal 😉
7. Tenmusu (Tempura Shrimp riceball)
Why this is traditionally a Nagoya food is a question I can’t answer, but it is as people will tell you…from Nagoya. Still, a great alternative version of the tuna or salmon “onigiri” with a whole tempura prawn inside seaweed wrapped rice.
Where to try: One of the most talked about places is Tenmusu Senju Honten close to Kamimaezu Station (Meijo Line). Click here for a map.
Comments:We recommend sitting in and trying them just made (warm). A great snack or light lunch.
8. Uirou (Japanese Sweet)
Uiro (pronounced wee-low) is an interesting but likeable Japanese traditional sweet made traditionally from either rice powder and sugar. With the texture of a slightly soft mochi / jelly combination, Uiro is very sweet and goes down well with a sip of Japanese green tea. There are different flavours available, from the simple sweet red or white beans, to pumpkin, watermelon and even chocolate banana!
Where to try: Personally I like the choice of flavours available at a place called “Toraya Uiro”. Unlike Osu Uiro, which is the more famous brand in the area, Toraya uses wheat in place of rice flour and offer seasonal flavours every month – as well as 7-8 regular flavours. Typically, 500 Yen gets you a long slice enough for about 6 people. Click here for the list of Toraya shops.
Comments: A really nice gift to give Japanese friends or work colleagues from outside the area. You can buy small individually wrapped souvenir sets just for those occasions.