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7 Must Try Food in Nagoya, Japan

Updated on March 29, 2018
David Balway profile image

David has been living in Japan for close to ten years. He loves reading, history, music, and movies. He lives with his wife and kids.

Although Nagoya is located in the center of Japan, it is often overlooked as a pit stop for travelers traveling between Kyoto and Tokyo. In truth, there are numerous places one can visit that can rival the more popular tourist spots elsewhere. The area is also home to arguably some of Japan’s best food. So if you’re in the area, it is worthwhile to get off that Shinkansen and explore the city. After you’ve worked out an appetite, do check out this list of must-try Nagoya food. You surely won’t be disappointed.

1. Tebasaki

Everybody loves chicken wings and this culinary delight will surely rival the tastiest chicken wing joints you’ve come to know and love back home. These deep fried chicken wings are the ultimate appetizer and once you try it, you’ll keep going back for more. I used to eat 20 pieces of these spicy goodies - they were that good. I recommend trying out Tebasaki at Furaibo and Sekai no Yamachan, Japanese izakayas known for their specialty Tebasaki.

A plate of tasty tebasaki
A plate of tasty tebasaki | Source

2. Miso-Katsu

Coated with Japanese breadcrumbs (panko) and deep-fried, Japanese pork cutlets, better known as Katsu is a popular dish in Japan. Nagoya folk took this mouth-watering crunchy dish to a whole other level and made their own version, the miso-katsu. As the name implies, miso-katsu is katsu served with miso sauce. Known as the ingredient to the soup (miso-soup) served with virtually every dish in Japan and the world, miso is a paste made of fermented soybeans. Nagoya’s miso sauce, however, is a tad different from the rest of the country. It has this distinct flavor-bordering on the sweet side and is made with red-miso (aka-miso).

That said, miso-katsu is katsu smothered with miso sauce and served with rice and tea. The best place to try miso-katsu is “Yabaton”. Although it has branches in Fukuoka and Tokyo, most branches are in Nagoya. This dish is definitely a must try

A miso-katsu set menu
A miso-katsu set menu | Source

3. Miso Nikomi Udon

Another dish associated with miso, this dish is known as Nagoya’s ‘soul food’. This dish can be found all over Nagoya and is a dish that udon stewed in a miso-based broth with red miso paste. Other ingredients include egg, green onion, shiitake mushrooms, chicken and deep fried tofu known as aburaage. A signature feature of this dish is that it's served in a steaming nabe (pot). The place to try this dish is at Yamamotoya, one of the oldest restaurants in Nagoya.

A bowl of Miso Nikomi Udon
A bowl of Miso Nikomi Udon | Source

4. Ankake Spaghetti

Another interesting and unique creation, this pasta dish features spaghetti topped with a super sticky sauce that is spicy and flavorful. The noodles are pan-fried and topped with green pepper, onion, and sausages and sometimes served with eggs and karaage (Japanese fried chicken). The best place to try it is at Spaghetti House Yokoi and Spaghetti House Ciao.

A bowl of Ankake Spaghetti
A bowl of Ankake Spaghetti | Source

5. Hitsumabushi

I am not a fan of eel dishes but this dish is an exception. The Japanese love eels in their dishes and Aichi prefecture, where Nagoya is located is one of the country’s leading eel producers. In this dish, the eel is split open, grilled - not boiled, and topped with spices, a soy-based sauce and served with white rice. It is also served in a traditional wooden bowl and has its own style of eating. One usually has four portions in eating hitsumabushi. For the first portion, take the eel into the rice bowl and eat it straight away - this is to savor the flavor. Second, eat it with the condiments. Third, add broth and season to taste. For the final portion, you can eat it in any way you like. You can try this dish at numerous restaurants around Nagoya but I would recommend ‘Maruya’.

A bowl of hisumabushi
A bowl of hisumabushi | Source

6. Kishimen

Kishimen is a local specialty that has been around since the Edo period (16th - 18th century) and is characterized by its flat and broad noodles. The broth uses a soybean sauce as opposed to the normal soy sauce made from soy and wheat. The dish usually has toppings like deep fried bean curd, spinach, and dried bonito flakes (those weird brown stuff that seems alive). A good place to try this dish is at the Miya Kishimen.

A bowl of kishimen noodles
A bowl of kishimen noodles | Source

7. Tenmusu

These bite-sized creations are something you can eat on the go - though not while you’re walking. An alternative to rice balls (onigiri), tenmusu is a very convenient food for those wanting to eat quickly. A little smaller than your average onigiri, this rice ball contains shrimp fritters, which I must say, is a very tasty combination. You can try them at the Meibutsu Tenmusu Senju located in the Osu area.

Tenmusu with shrimp fritters
Tenmusu with shrimp fritters | Source

And there you have it. If you're in the area, I highly recommend you to try these dishes. You won't be disappointed - really! And on the plus side, things are generally cheaper in Nagoya so check them out!

Which dish have you tried?

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© 2018 David Denver


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