Upon hearing Niigata being mentioned, one might immediately associate it as the prefecture producing one of the world’s most delicious rice in the world – the Koshihikari rice.
However, there exists many other types of local delights unique to the region with its a flourishing fishing and agriculture industry. To eat like a true blue local, make sure to get your fill of some of these delectable gourmet!
Niigata Tare Katsu Don
\Niigata・Aga, Niigata City/
A local favourite of the region
Unlike the typical Katsu Don which consists of egg as a topping, this local dish includes fried pork cutlets dipped in a special sauce before being placed on warm fluffy rice. Actually, this delight first appeared during the early Showa Period at a western restaurant! The sweet soy sauce is absolutely tantalising.
Many restaurants in the Niigata Prefecture have this dish on their menu.
Website: www.niigata-kankou.or.jp/sys/data?page-id=12370 (Japanese)
\Myoko・Joetsu, Myoko City/
Onsen-exclusive local cuisine
Don’t be fooled by the red colour of Akakura Onsen’s speciality yakisoba noodles. Though they might look spicy, the noodles get their hue from fresh vegetables, not red chilli. A definite must-try for hungry visitors of Myoko City!
About 10 restaurants within Akakura Onsen serve this dish.
Website: www.myoko.tv/shopping/1422.html (Japanese)
\Nagaoka・Kashiwazaki, Nagaoka City/
The Top Three Traditional Sweets of Japan
With a history of 230 years of making traditional Japanese sweets, Koshinoyuki Honpo Yamatoya Honten’s delicious treats do not disappoint. The incredibly soft Koshinoyuki is made from locally-produced sticky rice powder and wasabon sugar from Shikoku. The sweets were once a delicacy saved only for feudal lords in the past, but now they are a common gift for special occasions.
Koshinoyuki Honpo Yamatoya Honten
Operating Hours: 9am – 5.30pm
Access: 15-minute walk from Nagaoka Station on JR Joetsu Line, Joetsu Shinkansen, Shinetsu Main Line
Address: 3-3 Yamagaharamachi, Nagaoka City, Niigata Prefecture
Website: www.koshinoyuki-yamatoya.co.jp/index.html (Japanese)
\Murakami・Shibata, Shibata City/
Mouth-watering Street Food
A hundred years ago, the locals created Poppoyaki by mixing brown sugar with flour on a stick. Served only during festivals, it got its name from the popping noises during the baking process. The sweet fragrance paired with the chewy texture makes it irresistible!
Poppoyaki can only be eaten during festive events at Shibara City and other nearby areas
Website: www.niigata-kankou.or.jp/sys/data?page-id=12373 (Japanese)
Soba served in a traditional wooden dish
\Yuzawa・Uonuma, Tokamachi City/
Niigata Speciality Soba
When in Niigata, you cannot afford to miss the chance to savour one of their local delicaciesーHegisoba. Served on a wooden dish, the noodles are sectioned into bite-sized portions. Hegisoba has a smoother and firmer texture compared to ordinary soba.
Many restaurants in Tokamachi City have this dish on their menu.
Website: www.niigata-kankou.or.jp/sys/data?page-id=15117&noicon=1 (Japanese)
Getting to Niigata:
From Tokyo – the easiest way to get to Niigata is to hop on a Joetsu Shinkansen from Tokyo Station. This route only takes 100 minutes and is covered by the JR East Pass. Once you purchase the flexible 5-day JR East Pass (for Nagano, Niigata area), you have a 14-day period to use it.
Do visit Niigata’s official website to find out more!
(This is an online adaptation of a magazine feature from WAttention Singapore Nov/Dec 2018 Vol. 47, in collaboration with Niigata Prefecture)