“Nagoya Meshi” is the very unique and popular local cuisine in Nagoya, Aichi prefecture.
In particular, “Nagoya Meshi” became known nationwide at “Aichi Earth Expo” held in 2005 in Nagoya City. Although the expo was over, Nagoya meshi is still drawing attention today.
Aichi prefecture is famous for the local red miso, which has a rich and strong salty flavor so that “Nagoya Meshi” has additional complex flavor; “a rich, tangy, salty and sweet”.
It is true that Osaka is called “the Nation’s kitchen”, however, Nagoya also has the most unique own food-culture in Japan.
Today, I am going to tell you 6 foods to eat in Nagoya!
If you like to know about Naogya, japan, before reading this post, start here first.
The Morning set
“Morning set” (モーニングセット) means “breakfast set ” at Kissa-ten, Japanese traditional coffee shop, cafe, tearoom, which is complimentary food when you order a drink during the service in the morning.
In my opinion, the very simple complimentary foods ( like a thin-sliced or half-thick butter toast and one boiled egg )tend to be served in cityside such as Nagoya,
on the other hand, variety of food set ( sometimes the dish doesn’t much with coffee) tends to be served suburb of Nagoya and other countryside cities.
It is very fun for Japanese people to visit different Kiss-ten to try their signature “morning set” every weekend with family or friends.
For retires, and housewives, the “morning set” time is chatting time with their friends weekdays.
The culture of “morning set” had been very popular especially in the Chubu ( Central ) area, ( Aichi, Gifu, Mie ), then Kissa-ten in other regions started the same service but they mostly charge additional fees for the “morning set”.
Komeda coffee chain
“Komeda coffee” (コメダ珈琲)is the most famous Nagoya style Kissa-ten (coffee shop) outside of Cyubu areas, which has contributed to spreading out ‘morning set” service throughout Japan.
Kissa Karasu has been beloved by locals and also business travelers who stay in hotels close by.
Its nostalgic and cozy atmosphere attracts even young people and “Ogura toast” and “the morning set” are signature menus because those were introduced in the TV show “Kodoku no Gourmet”.
“Ten-musu”(天むす) is a small rice ball with a tempura shrimp filling, and you can often see it only in the “Nagoya” area.
It is a smaller rice ball than regular rice ball and the flavor is sweet and soy-saucy taste.
Besides, it is usually sold as to-go food.
“Tempura”... Japanese traditional and popular cuisine.Lightly battered, deep-fried seafood and vegetables. Common ingredients are shrimp, squid, eggplants, Japanese sweet potatoes, kabocha squash, mushrooms, and shishito peppers.
“Musubi, Onigiri ” … A rice ball, Japanese traditional comfort food. “musu” of “ten-musu” is just the abbreviate word, possibly it is used only for “ten-musu”.
The History Of Tenmusu
“Ten-musu” is iconic food as “Nagoya Meshi” ( Nagoya cuisine) today,
however, the original ten-musu started in Tsu city, Mie. (The prefecture next to Aichi prefecture ) around 1957.
The female owner of the tempura restaurant “Senjyu”, combined a tempura shrimp ( the main dish) and a rice ball (the side dish ) together for her “busy-bee” husband who didn’t have enough time to eat lunch. “Ten-musu” became popular among regular customers and they began to sell it as their special food.
In the 1980s, the apprentice opened a branch shop in Osu, Nagoya, and “ten-musu” became famous as Nagoya Meshi all over Japan, more than the original resultant in Mie.
Senjyu and Jirai-ya
Top 2 popular ‘Tenmusu’ specialty shops are “Senjyu” (千寿) and “Jirai-ya”(地雷也) in Nagoya.
Do not be scared to taste eel if you are in Japan,
and “Hitsu mabushi” (ひつまぶし) is a trendy challenging food for foreign tourists, and then most of them fall in love with its taste.
“Hitsumabushi” can be in the top 3 of “Nagoya Meshi” for Japanese people.
The dish that “the grilled eel on the rice” called “Una Ju” or “Unadon” is a common dish in Japan, and “Hitsumabushi” is the “Nagoya-style Una Ju.”
“Una jyu” and “Una don”… Both dishes are the same ingredients, grilled butterflied eel glazed with a rich and sweet soy sauce on rice. The big difference is serving style. “Una jyu” is served with “Jyu bako” which is the special decorative lacquer container. “Una don” is served with a china bowl. Therefore, “Una jyu” is more expensive than “Una don” . “Una” is an abbreviate word of “Unagi” which means “eel” in Japanese. “Jyu” means “jyu bako” as I mention, and “don” is an abbreviate of “donburi” maeas a bowl.
“(O)Hitsu”…a round, wooden container for keeping cooked rice. “Ohitsu”.
“Mabushi”…In this term, mixing with rice. “Mabu-su” is the verb.
The Unique Manner To Eat Hitsumabushi
“Hitsu-mabushi” is the very unique dish like
- Chopped small pieces of grilled eel over rice
- Served in “ohitsu”
- Comes with an empty rice bowl, some garnishes ( wasabi paste, chives, nori), Japanse pickles, a soup filled in the little pot on the tray.
- Ths soup in a bowl covered a lid is called “kimo sui “, pieces of eel liver in the Japanese dashi broth.
The most unique feature is there is a rule of how to eat “Hitsu mabushi”.
- Divide rice topped eel into four sectors in the ohitsu, then serve the first sector in the small rice bowl. Enjoy the taste itself without garnishes.
- Serve the second sector in the small bowl. Try to taste it with your favorite garnishes.
- Serve the third sector, put your favorite garnishes then pour the soup in the little pot. Make soupy rice.
- Enjoy the final sector in your favorite way!
No one can talk about “hitusmabushi” without “AtsutaHoraiken”, where is the pioneer restaurant of “hitusmabushi”.
Therefore you have to be patient for the waiting time to be seated at any branch. (Main, Jingu-branch, the branch in Matsuzakaya department store.)
The booking system has changed recently, you can’t book the table for lunch or just Hitusmabushi dish. Only kaiseki dinner cuisine is accepted to book.
The Main Restaurant And Jingu Branch Restaurant In Atsuta
The waiting time can be up to an hour or more, however, you can put your name on the waiting list in advance which located at the entrance gate.
The staff will tell you when you should be back, so you can go visit the Atsuta Shrine near the restaurant.
The listing time starts at 10:30 a.m. so you should get there around that time if you want to get the table as early as possible.
The Branch Restaurant In the Matsuzakaya Department Store, Sakae
The branch restaurant located in Matsuzaka-ya department store, downtown Sakae.
The restaurant opens at 11 a.m. although the department store opens at 10:00 a.m..
You can get in the line at the front of the restaurant before the opening time. There is no waiting list, but the staff comes to ask how many seats you need while you are waiting in the line. You can walk away to go to a restroom, however, you must leave one person in the line otherwise you can’t get the table. *They will skip your turn.
Tebasaki No Karaage
“Tebasaki”(手羽先) or “Tebasaki no Karaage” (手羽先の唐揚げ) is the Japanese style crispy chicken wings.
Tebasaki no Kaeaage is the staple Izakaya food nationwide, but Nagoya style is different from regular looking.
The regular chicken wing is the simple salt and spicy black pepper flavor,
“Kara age”…the dish or cooking method deep fried with coating flour or potato starch.
Nagoya Style Chicken Wings
Nagoya style chicken wing is the Nagoya style, which is coated with sweet soy sauce and sesame seeds.
It is crispy outside, juicy inside with utterly addictive spicy, peppery, sweet, and soy-saucy glaze.
It is also the popular “Izaka-ya” menu, you can’t stop drinking chilled beer because of strong flavor.
Here is the tip on how to eat “Tebasaki” easily.
- Rip off the alula (or thumb ).
- Hold flat/wingette and tip each with each hand, and break them down at the joint.
- Don’t hesitate to put whole flat/wingette in your mouth, and hold the meat with your teeth and pull the born!
Furaibo and Sekaino Yama-cyan
“Furaibo”(風来坊) and “Sekai no Yama chan” (世界の山ちゃん) are the top two chain restaurants for Nagoya-style Tebasaki throughout Japan.
It might be interesting to compare each tebasaki while you are in Nagoya.
Let’s Make Homemade Nagoya Style Chicken Wings
“Miso Katsu” (味噌カツ) is the pork cutlet with thick Miso-based sauce instead of Tonkatsu sauce, which is the essential dish for people in Nagoya.
You don’t see any restaurants where don’t serve pork cutlet without thick miso sauce in Nagoya region.
This unique sauce is based on “Hacho Miso“, and each restaurant has its own secret recipe for it.
“Hacho Miso”…the rich, strong, and salty local red miso in the Chubu (Central of Japan) region. (originally from Okazaki, Aichi)
“Katsu”…Japanese traditional comfort dish. Deep-fried, Panko-breaded pork, beef, chicken, and seafood. Commonly eat with thick Worcestershire-based sweet and fruity sauce.
People in the Chubu region, Aichi, Gifu, and Mie prefectures, loves “Hatcyo miso” flavor so that especially people in the Nagoya area add the miso in anything such as “Miso cutlet”, “Miso nikomi udon“, “Miso soup” and even sweets!
The Recipe For Homemade Miso Sauce & Japanese Pork Cutlet
Do you want to make Nagoya style Miso sauce at home???
Here is my recipe.
“Yaba ton”(矢場とん) is the countrywide (even one in Thailand ) restaurant for “Miso Katsu”.
The pork cutlet is not thick, not thin, and HUGE! (called “Waraji-katu” *waraji is the slippers made of straw)
The miso sauce is not thick, and almost looks soaking in the sauce, so you feel it will be strong taste.
Once you bite piece, the additional rich flavor is filled your mouth.
“Ogura toast”(小倉トースト) is the thick Shokupan toast that Japanese sweet red bean paste “Ogara An” and butter are spread. Its “sweet” and “salty” flavor is addictive. Very Yummy.
“An ( Anko)”…Sweet red bean (azuki bean) paste. To make “An (Anko)” paste, boil (simmer) red beans gently and sweeten them. “Koshi-An” is the completely get rod of skins, mashed and strained red beans paste, on the other hand, “Tsubu an” is the unmashed and chunky red beans paste.
“Ogura”…The official name is “Ogura-an”, which is the type of “An (Anko)”. “Ogura An” is the mix of “Koshian” and boiled high-grade red beans (Daiangon azuki) with sugar syrup.
“Syokupan”…A Japanese shokupan bread is usually white and much fluffier than bread overseas.
“Ogura toast” is invented by an owner lady in a Kissa-ten (no longer excited) in Nagoya a long time ago, and has still been loved especially in the Chubu region.
You can get “Ogura toast” in most of Kissa-ten (Japanese coffee shop) in the Nagoya area.
You can see 3 serving styles of “Ogura toast” if you hop Kissa-ten around Nagoya area.
- “Ogura An” is already topped on the toasted bread
- “Ogura An” is on the side
- “Ogura An” is sandwiched by toasted bread
Popular Kissaten List in Nagoya For Ogura-toast By Serving Style
Serving Type 1; Konparu
“Konparu” (コンパル) is the one popular coffee and sandwich shop for a long time in Nagoya. As well as Ogura toast, the signature menu is the “Ebi furai sandwich”.
Konparu shops are mostly located in underground shopping malls connected to the subway so it is one of the reasons that Konparu is popular even among non-local people.
Serving Type 2; Komeda Coffee
I already explained Komeda coffee in the “Morning set” section. Komeda coffee is also popular for Ogura toast.
Serving Type3; Kissa Riyon
“Kissa Riyon” (喫茶リヨン) is also the iconic coffee shop in Nagoya for a long time, where is famous for the complimentary service for a whole day.
The Bottom Line
There are many local unique cuisines in Japan, Nagoya Meshi is definitely one of the tops of them as the point of ‘Uniqueness”.
Nagoya tends to be overlooked as an attractive sightseeing city, however, the city can be worth to stop just for tasting Nagoya meshi.
Luckily, Nagoya is located between Tokyo and Osaka on the “GOLDEN ROUTE”, so it’s easy to stop by on the way. `
If you have Japan Rail Pass, you don’t need to worry about extra ticket costs.
Moreover, you can finish most of Nagoya meshi experience just at Nagoya station.
“Esca”, one of the underground shopping mall in the station, read next if you want more detail.