Nagoya’s Traditional Food

Nagoya is not just an industrial hub; it’s a city where culinary traditions have evolved to create some of Japan’s most unique and delicious dishes. This guide aims to serve as your roadmap to Nagoya’s best food experiences.

Hitsumabushi: A Grilled Eel Delight

What Is It? 

Hitsumabushi is a Nagoya specialty featuring grilled eel (unagi) served atop rice. The dish is traditionally divided into three portions—each enjoyed differently, either by itself, mixed with condiments, or as a soup by adding a flavorful broth. There are three branches of the suggested restaurant; the Atsuta one is the original and the best.

Where to Try It? 

– Atsuta Horaiken: A renowned spot for Hitsumabushi. (locations)

Miso Katsu: The Nagoya Twist on a Classic

What Is It? 

A variation of the traditional Japanese Tonkatsu, Miso Katsu incorporates a red miso sauce that is a bit sweeter and richer than the usual Tonkatsu sauce. The suggested restaurant is a chain, and they do it right. The easiest place to try this is at the Nagoya station branch.

Where to Try It? 

– Yabaton: Highly recommended for Miso Katsu.  (locations)

Tebasaki: Chicken Wings, Nagoya Style

What Is It? 

Tebasaki are deep-fried chicken wings seasoned with a sweet and spicy glaze. Unlike typical chicken wings, Tebasaki is eaten using hands and served without sauce to dip. The suggested restaurant is a chain, reportedly a cult, but they do it tebasaki right. The get busy, so pick one near you and hope for the best!

Where to Try It? 

– Sekai no Yamachan: Known for its crispy Tebasaki. (locations)

Tenmusu: Tempura Meets Onigiri

What Is It? 

Tenmusu combines the crispiness of tempura with the comfort of onigiri (rice balls). Typically, tempura is placed on top of the onigiri and wrapped with a strip of seaweed.

Where to Try It? 

– This is sort of everywhere, but here are some options for restaurants. (options)

Nagoya Cochin: The Local Chicken

What Is It? 

Nagoya Cochin is a local chicken breed prized for its rich, intense flavor and firm texture. It is often grilled or used in yakitori and stews.

Where to Try It? 

– Nagoya Cochin is not omnipresent, but you can find it around. Here are some options (options)

Coco Ichiban: Japan’s Curry House

What Is It? 

Coco Ichiban serves Japanese-style curry rice that you can customize in terms of ingredients, spice levels, and portion sizes. The curry has a thick consistency and is often served over rice with options like fried chicken, pork cutlet, or vegetables.

Where to Try It? 

– Coco Ichiban: A chain originating from nearby Ichinomiya. (Basically omnipresent)

Ankake Pasta: Italian-Japanese Fusion

What Is It? 

Ankake pasta is a fusion dish featuring Italian-style pasta covered in ankake, a thick soy sauce, dashi, and a starch thickener. The dish often includes various vegetables and proteins like seafood or pork.

Where to Try It? 

– Pasta de Coco: A popular choice for Ankake Pasta in Nagoya. (options)

Misonikomi: Miso-Based Udon

What Is It?

Misonikomi is a local variant of udon noodles served in a hearty, robust miso-based broth. The dish is often cooked and served in an individual-sized earthenware pot and may contain ingredients like tofu, green onions, and egg.

Where to Try It? 

– Yamamotoya: A historic spot for Misonikomi. (options)

Kishimen: Nagoya’s Flat Udon Noodles

What Is It? 

Kishimen are udon noodles that are flattened, giving them a unique texture. They can be enjoyed in a variety of ways, such as in a hot broth or chilled with a dipping sauce.

Where to Try It? 

– Miya Kishimen: Specializes in Kishimen. (options)

Uiro: Nagoya’s Traditional Sweet

What Is It? 

Uiro is a steamed cake made from rice flour and sugar. It’s often flavored with natural ingredients like matcha or azuki beans and is typically chewy and subtly sweet.

Where to Try It? 

– Aoyagi Sohonke: A top spot for authentic Uiro. (options)

Morning Service: Breakfast Sets in Coffee Shops

What Is It? 

Morning service is a Nagoya tradition where local coffee shops offer free or discounted breakfast sets—often including toast, a boiled egg, and a small salad—with a coffee purchase, usually until 11 a.m.

Where to Try It? 

– Komeda Coffee: Known for its generous morning service sets.

  1. hirotomo from Nagoya, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
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