3 Gourmet Dishes From Kumamoto, Japan Perfect to Eat Throughout the Year

  • FOOD
  • Kumamoto (熊本) is a city on the Japanese island of Kyushu (九州), popular for its mountains, hot springs, and gardens. It is the capital city of Kumamoto Prefecture (熊本県) which is also known for its castle.

    The city feels like a large neighborhood where people can stroll around and visit historic and scenic sites. Besides visiting museums, archaeological sites, and ruins, your visit to the city will never be complete if you don’t try its regional gourmet dishes. Here are three of the best gourmet dishes in the city which are available throughout the year.

    1. Taipien (太平燕)

    Taipien used to be a celebratory dish in the province of China. It was introduced by a Chinese merchant who was living in Kumamoto in the old times. It is a form of Chinese noodle soup that was changed into Japanese form over time.

    It consists of thin glass noodles, lots of vegetables, and meat. People have the option to add other toppings such as crab meat, corn, mushrooms, pork, and eggs. The dish is considered healthy as it is naturally low in calories and has a mild taste. Some people say the taste is somewhere between ramen and champon. Most people who try this dish crave it over and over again. If you’d like to try the best-tasting Taipien in Kumamoto, visit the restaurant Kourantei (紅蘭亭), which is a long-standing Chinese restaurant in the area.

    2. Basashi (馬刺し)

    Basashi is raw horse meat that is frequently enjoyed with soy sauce, grated ginger, garlic, and so on. This greatly represents Kumamoto’s delicious regional dishes.

    Its flavor is subtle and is often eaten as sashimi. It is served cold, almost frozen, which has something to do with killing deadly bacteria. This also allows diners to enjoy the marbled effect of the meat.

    Compared to other foods, this is quite an expensive dish which must be prepared perfectly. When you visit a restaurant, you can choose among three different types of basashi: fatty meat, marbled meat, and lean meat. Rare cuts such as tongue, liver, and mane are highly valued as only a few of these can be obtained from each horse.

    3. Homare no Jindaiko (誉の陣太鼓)

    This is a popular souvenir dish in Kumamoto. It is a confectionary which has a deep, elegant, and sweet flavor. It is made of large azuki beans, rice flour, and crystal clear water from the Aso (阿蘇) area, which is one of the must-see sights for tourists in Japan.

    Homare no jindaiko is best eaten during summer as it is served chilled. It leaves a mild taste in the mouth which makes people want more. A single piece of this is nicely wrapped, which makes its appearance presentable as a souvenir.

    The area of Kumamoto is a treasure trove not only for mountains and its beautiful scenery but also for its gourmet dishes. There are many delicacies to try and so many shops and restaurants where you can buy food and souvenirs to your liking, but your visit will never be complete without trying all of these three gourmet dishes which are representative of the city’s regional cuisine. Be sure to keep an eye out for taipen, basashi, and homare no jindaiko next time you’re in Kumamoto!