Aichi is the perfect pitstop on a journey from Tokyo to Osakaas it’s right in the middle of Japan’s main island of Honshu. The food in Aichiis deep in flavor and uncompromising on taste so forget about the typical sushi and ramen. Instead, think deep-fried goodness slathered in savory sauces that will leave you dripping with the meat sweats. Enjoy.
1. Tebasaki (chicken wings)
Ah, Nagoya’s famed fried chicken wings. For many Japanese people, tebasaki and Nagoya, Aichi’s capital city, are synonymous. The two run parallel as neither could exist without the other. While the locals sustain themselves on more than this juicy fried chicken alone, tourists can definitely do so during their stay. Unlike other fried chicken in Japan, tebasaki is not deboned meaning you get to eat it like a prehistoric carnivore (the only way to eat fried chicken, let’s be real).
The traditional serving is crispy with a savory-sweet marinade touching garlic, ginger and black pepper notes. Other variations hold the sticky glaze for salt or just heaps of black pepper. Gnaw on this meaty treat at the food stalls around Nagoya Castleor the popular chain izakaya(Japanese pub) Yamachan.
2. Red miso
Miso soup has endless possibilities, as it can be served at any hour of the day to compliment almost any main dish. The maroon miso that Aichi is known for carries a deep smoky taste unlike the typical miso soup served elsewhere in Japan. It’s quite the pallet cleanser at breakfast.
The difference in taste is due to a longer fermentation process and more soybean content compared to white miso. There’s a joke that people from Aichi will put miso on anything, and that may be true. We’re totally down for it, though. No need to actively seek this one out, as you’ll find it in a multitude of restaurants as your starter.
3. Miso katsu
Speaking of miso, the next dish you undeniably have to try in Aichi is miso katsu. Katsu is a thick fried chicken cutlet loved all around Japan. In Aichi, the tender meat slices are slathered with a succulent stocky miso sauce which makes for a delicious combination.
People from Aichi will put miso on anything.
Miso Katsu Yabaton is by far the most famous restaurant with branches scattered across the country. But with so many tiny restaurants across Aichi, there’s no shortage of choices.
Talking to the locals will reveal all manner of favorites, but a hidden gem is Ramuchii. The dark interior is reminiscent of a dystopian bunker. Despite the restaurant’s post-industrial breakdown vibes, the food is far from being scavenged scraps (thankfully). Miso katsu here is served with a mountain of Japanse spring onion. Gotta get your veggies in.
This one is for those who enjoy traditional Japanese flavors. Hitsumabushi consists of grilled eel, which must be served in a special wooden bowl, atop a lavish supply of rice.
Eating it takes you down a three-step process before allowing you to graduate from the Aichi culinary experience. First, you must appreciate the basic flavor of the eel with no additions—it’s nice enough. Then, you must add all manner of condiments including wasabi, an onion-based sauce, and seaweed to enhance the base flavor.
But wait, there’s more! The third step includes pouring over more sauce, turning the dish into a thick soup. Sanpaku, located within walking distance from Kanayama station, is a famous restaurant that offers a particularly tasty hitsumabushi experience.
5. Chikuwa (fish paste tubes)
These chewy white and brown tubes resembling bamboo stalks are most commonly translated as “fish tubes.” While not completely appetizing at first impression, the miniature fish cake pipes are tasty when served in oden(a warm winter stew).
Chikuwa is formed under steam as the fish paste is wrapped around a bamboo ring which is why the literal translation is “bamboo ring.” Toyohashi in southern Aichi takes this circular seafood pretty seriously. You’ll find a large range of chikuwa products around Toyohashi Station making it a good snack if you’re on the go.
Wondering what else to eat around Japan? Check out our more of our famous foods seriesfor ideas!