Before the advent of Kumamon, Kumamoto was one of those prefectures you tend to pass through without stopping, unless you had a reason, family, or were just curious. With its increase in popularity, and the arrival of the bullet train, we are beginning to see tourists enjoy something those of us who live here have known all along. The food is great!
Kumamoto has a wealth of deliciousness for you to devour. Let’s explore the top 5 on my list!
This hearty soup is a delicious winter staple. Made with dough stewed with carrot, burdock root, and radish, it is sure to keep you warm on frosty winter days. You can enjoy this local treat at many food stalls around shrines in winter, or at local restaurants and izakayas. If you are feeling adventurous, try the recipe in the link above.
This sweet is a favourite among children and adults alike. Sweet red bean paste coats a delicious centre of glutinous rice flour, this is one of the more popular souvenir choices from Kumamoto. It can be found in most souvenir shops, stations, and tourist areas. If you visit Kumamoto in summer you can see the sweets frozen in large blocks of ice on the Shimotori and Kamitori shopping arcades. Anyone who rubs the ice to melt it gets to keep the jindaiko they pick out.
Boiled lotus root stuffed with mustard and miso is a local izakaya favourite. Often served with mayonnaise for dipping, it is crunchy, a little spicy, and addictively delicious. Most grocery stores sell a version of this snack as well, with the best being found in the basement of Tsuruya Department Store.
This sweet can be found near and far, from food stall offerings to upscale dessert menus. Featuring a combination of red bean paste and sweet potato wrapped and boiled in a flour skin, it is sure to satisfy your sweet tooth and put a dent in your hunger while bustling around sightseeing. As the recipe is taught to children in both elementary and junior high school, chances are you won’t be able to find someone from Kumamoto who can’t whip up a tasty batch if you play your cards right.
As controversial as it is, Basashi is a well-loved symbol of Kumamoto cuisine. Found at all kinds of places, from upscale specialty restaurants such as Suganoya: Suganoya(*Automatic translation) to local supermarkets, this fresh, delicious dish is served like sashimi – raw and dipped in soy sauce mixed with garlic or ginger, rather than wasabi. If you find yourself in front of a plate of this dark red delicacy, give it a try! Your taste buds will thank you.