Kumamoto Prefecture, located in Japan’s southernmost island of Kyushu, is brimming with culture and delicious cuisine. With an abundance of onsens and local delicacies sure to satisfy any foodie’s appetite, Kumamoto is a can’t-miss destination for people wanting to try unique cuisines.
In contrast to the well-known fish sashimi, basashi is sashimi made from horse meat. With a slightly sweet flavor, basashi’s soft texture will melt in your mouth, which will definitely leave you wanting seconds.
Basashi is one of the most notable dishes from Kumamoto, but it can be a bit daunting to people who have never heard of such a delicacy. Despite this initial hesitancy, basashi is still loved by locals and tourists alike, making it a must-try dish if you ever find yourself venturing in the area.
Just as the name entails, Kumamoto ramen takes one of Japan’s most loved dishes and puts a Kumamoto twist on it. This ramen takes the classic tonkotsu (bone-broth) ramen and adds chicken broth into the base, and also features slightly thicker noodles, making it a popular dish among locals. In addition, they add garlic-based oil and fried garlic, cha-siu, marinated egg, cabbage, and plenty of other tasty toppings.
Unlike the typical Hakata-style tonkotsu ramen, which has a strong bone-broth flavor, Kumamoto ramen is much more mellow. It’s perfect for foodies who want to try a dish that adds a Kumamoto twist on classic ramen flavor.
Karashi renkon, mustard miso-filled lotus root, is another popular dish hailing from Kumamoto. The mild taste of the lotus root pairs perfectly with the slight kick of the mustard miso, making it a perfect side dish for any foodie.
Karashi renkon was created to combine the health benefits that are brought on by both lotus roots and mustard miso. It’s a very popular dish eaten in households during New Year, as well as in daily life. But the popularity of this delicious delicacy has spread throughout the entire prefecture, with some stores becoming popular solely for their karashi renkon. This dish is one you’ll definitely want to try to get a sense of Kumamoto’s unique flavor profile.
Ikinari dango is a delicious local dessert from Kumamoto. This dessert consists of a thick piece of sweet potato topped with a thin layer of red bean paste, all wrapped in mochi dough.
The name is a reference to how easily and quickly the dessert can be made and served, with “ikinari” meaning “sudden” in Japanese and the fact that this dish often is said to be served to sudden guests. If you ever find yourself being an unexpected guest in the home of a Kumamoto local, you might also get to savor this tasty dessert.
Hitomoji guruguru is a dish most people outside of Kumamoto have probably never tried or even heard of. However, it is very popular amongst Kumamoto locals. It consists of hitomoji, a type of spring onion, slightly boiled and wrapped with the white portion in the middle. This simple and easy dish is often served with vinegar miso as a sauce.
Although it may sound simple, it is widely made as a side dish in Kumamoto homes. If you want to try something that will make you feel like a local in Kumamoto, then this is the dish for you.
From horse-meat sashimi to mustard-filled lotus root, Kumamoto is packed full of delicious cuisine guaranteed to satisfy the palettes of any traveler. If you ever find yourself planning a trip to Kumamoto, be sure not to miss out on the chance to try out once-in-a-lifetime dishes served directly from the place they originated.
Featured photo by JCS Chen on Unsplash