Located in the northeastern part of Japan’s Honshu island, Tohoku is surrounded by the Sea of Japan, the Pacific Ocean, and the Tsugaru Strait. Aomori, Iwate, Miyagi, Akita, Yamagata, Fukushima and Niigata, are the picture of idyllic perfection and home to rich cultures passed down through generations.

With a history that can be traced back to the 7th century, Tohoku is truly a hidden gem for those who appreciate a relaxed holiday in a pure and bucolic environment. Each attraction has a story to tell and every dish features a history to please the palate and the soul.

Bursting with energy and vigour, the Tohoku region is also the birthplace of some of the homeliest dishes that you definitely should not miss!

Iwate

Reimen
Originally a Korean dish, it is known for noodles that has a slight bounce in texture and usually served in a cold soup with beef, kimchi and a piece of fruit such as watermelon or pear.

One of the “Three Great Noodles of Morioka”, this is best slurped up on a hot, summer day!

Ja Ja Men
Topped with minced meat, chopped leeks, cucumber and miso past, the udon-like noodles originated from Northeast China and has to be mixed well before eating.

Considered one of the ‘Three Great Noodles of Morioka”, a popular way to finish the dish is to add an egg and hot water to the paste left in your bowl to make a special Chi-tan-tan (egg soup).

Amori

Ichigoni

A luxurious seafood soup made from fresh sea urchin and abalone, the dish was so named as the sea urchins resembled wild ichigo (イチゴ, strawberries) when floating in the cloudy broth.

An indispensable dish served during New Year’s, this well-known regional product is now sold as canned food!

Kininaru Ringo


Leave it to Japan’s top producer of apple to make this upgraded version of an apple pie. Featuring a flaky pastry crust wrapped around an entire Fuji apple that has been dipped in a sugary syrup, this is one of the most popular choices of omiyage (お土産, souvenir) from Aomori.

Fukushima

Negi Soba
This unique local dish was invented by the owner of a particular restaurant in Ouchi-Juku, a former post town in Aizu region.

Served with a long, curved negi (ネギ, green onion) that is used to scoop up the noodles in place of chopsticks, eating this unique dish is bound to be unforgettable.

Bandai Katsu Don
A specialty dish named after Mount Bandai (磐梯山) because the yummy pile of deep-fried pork cutlets sitting atop delicious Japanese rice resembles a small mountain.

The crisp cutlets are coated with sweet homemade sauce and extremely tender on the inside.

Miyagi

Zunda Rice Cakes

Well-loved by locals, this signature dessert is made with bean paste from edamame (枝豆) mixed with sugar and a dash of salt.

Served on top of sticky mochi, this chewy dish can be enjoyed fresh at a tea house or bought as a souvenir.

Gyutan
Sendai City is where you will find the highest concentration of eateries dedicated to grilling up juicy strips of gyutan (牛タン, beef tongue), a favourite of many yakiniku (焼肉, grilled meat) lovers.

You can try this flavour at Sandaime Bunji, which specialises in authentic Sendai-style dishes.

Yamagata 

Yonezawa Beef
Wagyu connoisseurs will know that this is one of the three major Japanese beef brands.

The beautifully marbled meat from these cows is the product of a long fattening period of 32 months, during which the cattle are fed rice straw from the mineral-rich soil of Yamagata.

Cherry Parfait
This prefecture is renowned for growing sweet, juicy and glossy sakuranbo (さくらんぼ, cherries), making up 70 percent of the entire cherry production in Japan.

Get to taste a variety of them in this luxurious parfait, which looks almost too good to eat.

Akita

Inaniwa Udon
Thinner than regular udon, this noodle has a pleasant, chewy texture and is usually hand-stretched.

Considered one of the top three udon brands in Japan, the kneading and drying process is key to producing this unique udon. In 2007, Inaniwa Udon was chosen as one of Japan’s 100 Best Local Dishes of Rural Areas.

Kiritanpo Hotpot
This is a local recipe specific to the rice cultivating region of Akita.

Cooking usually begins by pounding freshly cooked rice until somewhat mashed, after which they are formed into cylinders around Japanese cedar skewers and toasted over an open hearth and submerged in the nabe (鍋, hotpot).

(This feature first appeared on WAttention Singapore magazine, Mar/Apr 2017 Vol. 38)

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