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Savor the Unique Taste of Nagoya

Japan’s various regions differ in climate, agriculture, traditions, tastes and identity. Osaka is known as Japan's kitchen. Kyoto is the center of refined cuisine, Tokyo boasts the world’s most Michelin stars, and Aichi Prefecture’s capital, Nagoya, is home to some of mainland Japan’s most unique dishes. Nagoya’s cuisine is rich in flavor and generous in its servings without forgetting about presentation. That’s what makes it unique and special! Visually, they may not be overly stimulating, but don’t judge them from their appearance, instead, be surprised by the symphony of flavors and pleasing textures.

Miso: A Key Ingredient of the Healthy Japanese Dietary Lifestyle for Over a Thousand Years

As tomatoes are an integral part of Mediterranean cuisine, soybeans are a staple ingredient for Japanese cuisine, in particular, when fermented with salt and fresh water to produce a paste called Miso.


There are numerous Miso varieties and flavors. Aichi Prefecture is famed for its characteristic dark reddish-brown traditional Hatcho Miso. Rich in flavor, true Hatcho Miso is fermented for two to three years, much longer than the Miso of other regions, where wheat or rice is added to the soybeans to make the Miso paste sweeter and lighter.

Hatcho Miso has been produced in Okazaki City (Aichi Prefecture) since the early Edo period. Okazaki City is known as the birthplace of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first Shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate and the one who unified Japan. Hatcho Miso was a convenient food source for the military troops thanks to its long lasting, highly nutritious qualities and being easy to transport.


Development of the Tokaido highway between Edo (Tokyo) and Kyoto in the Edo Period(1603-1868) increased the popularity of Hatcho Miso across the country. Since Okazaki was located along the route, many travelers stopped and enjoyed local Miso soup before continuing on their journey.

Hatcho Miso plays a very important role in Aichi’s cuisine and is used in many local specialties to flavor soups, stews, sauces, spreads, and even salad dressings.

Miso Nikomi

Miso Nikomi is a noodle dish served in an earthenware pot with a boiling-hot, rich, tasty local Hatcho Miso based soup. Miso Nikomi Udon noodles are thicker and harder than “al dente”. Alternatively, Aichi’s famed Kishimen noodles, resembling Italian Tagliatelle or Fettuccine pasta, are soft, flat, and wider than Udon noodles.

Miso Nikomi usually includes Kamaboko steamed fish cake, leak, raw egg, chicken, beef, mushrooms, even deep-fried shrimp. Especially delicious during the colder months, it can be enjoyed year round.

Miso Nikomi

The way to eat Miso Nikomi is slightly different from the way you may be accustomed to eating noodle dishes in your home country. After serving, wait a little for the raw egg to harden before eating.
Remove the lid while the earthenware pot is still steaming hot, and place a serving of noodles in the upside-down lid to cool them before eating. This is the Nagoya way!


Oden is another hearty winter dish popular across Japan, featuring various ingredients including hard boiled eggs, daikon radish, sausages, tofu, and in Aichi, unique Hatcho Miso is added to the broth or used as a side dipping sauce, transforming this simple dish into a local soul-food with a richer flavor, making it even more enjoyable.

Eating Oden is like a tapas bar in Spain; you can pick your favorite items from the simmering pot of Oden, and as Spanish people do with tapas, enjoy it with a nice cold beer.
Hatcho Miso is enjoyed on dishes like Miso Katsu, an adaptation of Tonkatsu, deep-fried pork cutlets served on a bed of thinly cut cabbage.

Miso Katsu

Other countries have similar dishes, such as Spain’s “Filete empanado” or Germany’s “Schnitzel”, however, the local breadcrumbs used for Miso Katsu makes for a lighter, crisper crusting than those found in Western cuisines, and the other factor that makes this plate so special is the smothering of Hatcho Miso sauce!

Hitsumabushi: Enjoy a True Nagoya Delicacy

Hitsumabushi is one of Nagoya’s most representative dishes and highly recommended when visiting the city. Not trying Hitsumabushi is like going to Spain and not eating “Paella”.


Hitsumabushi are fillets of char-grilled eel served on a steaming bowl of rice. The eel is pre-dipped in a sweet soy-based sauce and served with seasonings including thinly sliced green onions and wasabi horseradish.


It can take years to perfect the way of grilling Hitsumabushi, and char-grilling is what differentiates Nagoya ’s eel dishes from other regions of Japan like Tokyo, where it is served steamed, resulting in a softer, less flavoursome dish.

There are 4 traditional steps to enjoying Hitsumabushi.
First, use the wooden spoon to divide the Hitsumabushi into 4 portions. Eat the first portion as it is and savour the full taste of the grilled eel in combination with the plain white rice. The firm yet juicy consistency is complemented by the rich tang of the sweet soy sauce-based glaze. For the second serving, add condiments such as Wasabi horseradish, sliced nori seaweed, Sansho pepper, and sliced green onions. The Wasabi and Sansho will provide an experience rarely found in Western cooking. A hot broth made from fish stock is poured over the third serving of Hitsumabushi. Eating rice with broth is called Ochazuke, and will transform your serving into a flavorful rice soup. Now that you have tried your Hitsumabushi in 3 different ways, enjoy the fourth and final portion the way you like best, with or without condiments or broth.

Tenmusu: A Simple, Tasty Nagoya Specialty


Onigiri rice balls with various fillings and wrapped in a sheet of Nori seaweed is a typical Japanese fast food or meal on the go. Tenmusu is a smaller Onigiri rice ball filled with a salt-seasoned, deep-fried Tempura shrimp, wrapped in Nori seaweed.

Tenmusu are generally smaller in size than a convenience store Onigiri, making an ideal snack.
Tenmusu are served with Kyarabuki, stalks of butterbur simmered in a sweet soy sauce and Sake, complimenting the juicy shrimp perfectly.

Tebasaki: Nagoya’s Hot, Spicy, Crispy Chicken Wings

Nagoya offers many spicy dishes, peppery Ankake Spaghetti, chilli infused Taiwan Ramen and spicy Nagoya Tebasaki chicken wings.


After trying Tebasaki once, you’ll be back again for more. The secret lies in the spicy seasoning, and being deep-fried twice without batter to ensure extra crispiness. Most Izakaya, traditional styled Japanese pubs have their own secret Tebasaki recipe, with tastes ranging from peppery to spicy-sweet.

There’s a special way to eat Tebasaki without leaving any meat on the bone. Break the wing at the joint, then hold the joint, pop the other end into your mouth and pull the bone out. The meat comes clean off the bones.

Tebasaki goes perfectly with beer. Try pairing them with different kinds of beer, such as a pale ale with medium hop to cut through the saltiness of the wings. Or if it is a sweet-spicy Tebasaki try an IPA beer or a Belgian spicy and fruity beer. You’ll love it!

Nagoya’s cuisine, its rich history, colorful blend of influences, local and international, traditional and modern, is a delightful challenge for all to discover!

Ankake Spaghetti: Try Spicy Chinese-Inspired, Japanese-Style Pasta

When it comes to creative cuisine, Nagoya offers some of the most surprising dishes. Ankake Spaghetti is a fusion of Western and Eastern style cooking with a strong flavor characteristic of Nagoya-styled dishes. Ankake Spaghetti is thick spaghetti noodles in a spicy, sticky sauce made from vegetables and potato starch.

Ankake Spaghetti

The spiciness comes from lots of pepper in the sauce and goes well with the chewy, thicker than usual spaghetti noodles. The most common toppings for Ankake Spaghetti are vegetables such as onions and green peppers, Vienna sausages, corn and mushrooms.

Taiwanese Ramen: Not Real Taiwanese, Nagoya-Style Taiwan Ramen

Taiwanese Ramen

Considered by many to be one of Nagoya’s best dishes, Taiwan Ramen is a spicy Taiwanese inspired noodle dish, made with ground pork, chives, green onions, and plenty of red hot chilies.

There is no such thing as Taiwan Ramen in Taiwan, it exists only in Nagoya having been created by a Taiwanese chef who worked at a popular Nagoya based Taiwanese restaurant.

Nagoya’s Morning Service Breakfast and Ogura Toast: An Early, Energizing Nagoya-Style Breakfast

Every country has its own unique breakfast culture, influenced by its local customs and foods. It can be a bit of a culture shock travelling to another country and not being able to get the breakfast we crave.
Traditional Japanese breakfast consists of Miso soup, grilled fish, rice, and pickled vegetables. In many countries this could be considered a full lunch or maybe even dinner. Rather than a traditional breakfast Nagoya’s locals prefer a light breakfast with toast and coffee. Many start the day with a cup of coffee at one of the multitude of coffee shops around the city.

Nagoya’s Morning

Morning or Morning Service refers to a practice found at almost every coffee shop and cafe in Nagoya, and consists of a free breakfast with your order of morning coffee (or tea).
This breakfast usually consists of a thick slice of toast and a hard boiled egg, but depending on the establishment, may feature other items, such as salad, soup, or different spreads for the toast.

One popular toast dish is Ogura toast, served not only for breakfast, but all day long. Ogura toast consists of a thick slice of toast, spread with margarine or butter and topped with sweet red bean paste, and in some cases, with a dollop of whipped cream or cream cheese on top.

Nagoya Meshi

Sample Nagoya’s gastronomy for a colorful blend of different influences, local and international, traditional and modern, enriched by history which makes the cuisine of Nagoya so special.

Where to Enjoy Nagoya Meshi

◆Nagoya Station
For many travellers, Nagoya Station will be the entry point to Nagoya. The Nagoya Station area is packed with shops and restaurants. For places to eat within the station complex, try Umaimon Dori, and Esca Underground Shopping Street, or the annex building KITTE Nagoya.

Sakae, Nagoya’s downtown area also offers an exceptional range of local delicacies.

◆The Osu Shopping Arcades
The Osu Shopping Arcades offers many local delights, including local street foods.

◆Kinshachi Yokocho
When visiting Nagoya Castle, check out the Kinshachi Yokocho restaurant and shopping zones. The Yoshinao Zone, located next to Nagoya Castle’s main gate, and the Muneharu Zone, in front of the east gate. Enjoy traditional Nagoya cuisine such as Hitsumabushi in the Yoshinao Zone, or modern local dishes such as Ankake Spaghetti in the Muneharu Zone.

There are many more places around Aichi in which you can enjoy the unique taste of Nagoya.

Elisabeth Llopis

Elisabeth Llopis

Nagoya-based Spanish inbound tourism advisor, blogger, photographer, and web designer with a passion for traveling and capturing the hidden gems of Japan. Founder of the tourism-related blog “Kawaii Aichi” where she introduces the wonders of Aichi prefecture.