Last time I told you about miso, one of the important foods and provisions of the Samurai of Aichi. Some of those samurai foods are enjoyed even today! This week, we’ll have a look at some of the best foods to try in Aichi,..let’s call is Samurai Cuisine!
For starters, I have never met a person who doesn’t love Tebasaki, Nagoya Fried Chicken Wings! Japanese friends, foreign friends, anyone who comes to Aichi, I just have to take them to a Tebasaki restaurant! I took an Australian friend and his family out to Tebasaki recently, and they all enjoyed it so much, they went back the following night for more! There are many places to try Tebasaki, and they’re easy to find! I guarantee you’ll be back for more,…oh, and one of the secrets is learning how to eat them in the Aichi way!
（Everybody loves Tebasaki, Nagoya Fried Chicken Wings）
Another one of the best known Aichi - Nagoya delicacies is Miso Nikomi Udon, thick, chewy udon noodles in a boiling miso based broth, with an egg, and sometimes with various vegetables mixed in. Naturally they use the region’s famed red Hatcho miso as the base. Perfect for those cold winter days, Miso Nikomi Udon are eaten from the lid of the bowl. The lid is upturned and used as a plate to cool the steaming hot noodles on.
（Thick, chewy udon noodles in a steaming hot miso broth）
(The people of Nagoya use the pot lid as a plate to eat Miso Nikomi Udon)
Another famed food from the Aichi region is Miso Katsu, fried pork cutlets doused in the rich local miso sauce. The pork is sweet and juicy, the miso is strong and compliments the fried cutlet well! Available just about anywhere across Aichi (It’s what I had for lunch today in fact!)
Hitsumabushi is a mouthful to say, (try Hitsu-Ma-Bushi) and a mouthful to enjoy! It is sauce-glazed, grilled eel on a bed of rice. You divide your serve into four portions. The first portion is eaten as is. The second portion has various condiments such as spring onion and dried seaweed sprinkled on top, and the third portion has a hot, clear soup stock poured over it and eaten, so you can try it in three different ways, and the final – the fourth way – is eaten in whatever way you like best.
Kishimen are the long, thin noodles (men) peculiar to the Aichi region. The story goes that the noodles, being long and thin, cooked faster, which made it ideal for samurai on the go! Another story tells that pheasant meat was originally used, hence calling the noodle in soup dish Kishi-men, as Kiji or Kishi meant pheasant, and pheasants were seen as auspicious birds.
(Hitsumabushi, left, and Kishimen noodles, right.)
Not just foods from the land, but foods from the sea, and Ebi-Fry is a must try! Ebi means shrimp, but there’s nothing small about the shrimp used in the Aichi delicacy, Ebi-Fry. These fried shrimp, some of them measuring about 20cm or more, and fried to golden brown perfection, will have you shouting from the rooftops! Speaking of rooftops, Ebi-Fry fried shrimp are said to resemble the famed Golden Tiger-fish roof top ornaments on Nagoya Castle, hence their popularity in Aichi!
Speaking of fried shrimp, you must try Temusu! I dare you to stop at just one Temusu! Temusu are rice balls covered in crisp, dark green sheets of nori (a type of dried seaweed) with a finger sized golden fried prawn or shrimp jammed in the middle. They are easy to carry, perfect on Aichi picnics, and taste great too!
(Temusu, little balls of heaven!)
There are so many more local delicacies in and around Aichi, some of them are very well known, others, the locals keep as a secret for themselves! Come and taste them for yourself!
Chris Glenn is a bilingual radio DJ, TV presenter, producer, narrator, MC, copywriter, author and columnist, and Japanese historian, specializing in samurai castles, battles, armor and weapons. He is an inbound tourism advisor, and is often called upon as a lecturer and speaker on Japanese history and topics. He was born in Adelaide, South Australia in 1968, and has spent over half his life in Japan, most of that time in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture. Chris is dedicated to promoting and preserving Japans’ long history, deep culture, traditions, arts and crafts.