Yamaguchi Prefecture can entice any foodie looking for a new experience. While the area certainly boasts beautiful beaches and shrines, it also tempts travellers with its promise of delicious and particularly unique delicacies. Below, we’ve listed some recommendations of foods to try when in the area!
One cannot travel to Yamaguchi without trying the prefecture’s most famous dish — fugu. As fugu fish live along the coast of Yamaguchi, it is no surprise that the area prides itself on specializing in it. Chefs are specially trained to serve it because if prepared incorrectly, fugu can be highly poisonous. It is a dangerous delicacy but when prepared correctly, it is not only safe to eat but extremely delicious. Note: while there are a number of ways that it can be served, locals recommend it be eaten as sashimi and I’d recommend you listen to them!
While you’re likely familiar with Japanese soba noodles, you may not be familiar with this particular, local rendition of them. Kawara Soba is typically made with Cha Soba (green tea infused soba noodles), meat, vegetables, green onion, and seaweed and it is served on Kawara tiles, a type of roof tile that has an impressive heat retaining function which works to keep the food served on top of it warm. In this dish, the noodles are either plated directly on the Kawara tile which results in a crunchier noodle or on top of the other ingredients which results in a softer noodle. Regardless of how it is served, it is bound to make your mouth water and give you a whole new perspective on the usefulness of roof tiles.
This dish is not necessarily what comes to mind when you think of sushi; nevertheless, it will most definitely satisfy the craving. Iwakuni Sushi is a type of pressed sushi where layers of sushi rice lined with lotus roots, shiitake mushrooms, and tomago are put into a wooden mold and pressed to shape by a chef’s body weight (they will literally step on the lid of the mold). Once pressed, mackerel or shrimp is typically used to decorate the top layer. Note: Iwakuni Sushi is prepared in large portions with the intention of being a preserved food, so there is no pressure to eat the whole thing! Once it is ready to be eaten, the layers are cut into smaller pieces to enjoy.
This dish, and the restaurant that it comes from, is certainly an homage to Yamaguchi’s history of bandits living in the mountains (the word sanzoku literally translates to “mountain bandits”). In Iwakuni, the Sanzoku restaurant is tucked into the mountains and is highly reviewed for both its ambience and food. Their famous Sanzoku chicken refers to a chicken leg that is grilled over an open flame on a thick bamboo skewer. It is served to guests on those same skewers to reflect the way that bandits were believed to have eaten them — so have fun and enjoy!
Uiro (Sweet Rice Jelly)
While Yamaguchi Prefecture is notorious for its fresh seafood, it also has many shops that offer regional sweets to indulge in. One of the area’s most famous sweets is Uiro, which is sweet rice jelly that is made from soft warabi mochi. Locals recommend trying the “raw” sweet rice jelly when you visit the area as it is fresh, steamed, and flavorful (note: it is best enjoyed the day you purchase it!).
Yamaguchi Prefecture offers an opportunity for travellers looking to have a unique, cultural experience with the food they taste. From seafood to sweets, the area is sure to meet and exceed any expectations set — go test the truth of that statement yourself!
Feature photo credit: Susann Schuster on Unsplash