Akita prefecture is located in the Northern Tohoku region, and has abundant hot springs and fantastic natural landscapes! It also hosts many festivals throughout the year, like a national fireworks contest called “Omagari Fireworks Festival”. Of course, nothing would be so interesting without pairing it with delicious food. Here is a list of 10 local food to accompany your travels in Akita!
Born in Kazuno city, tanpo is a Japanese cedar skewer covered with crushed rice and grilled on embers. Tanpo is really good even eaten just from the stick, but when cut and used for a dish it becomes “Kiritanpo”. Kiritanpo can be used for “nabe”, a delicious Japanese dish with broth and a lot of vegetables stewed in a pot. It’s a dish with a strong flavor, which will fill you and heat you up during the winter.
Where to find: Michi No Eki Kazuno (http://www.ink.or.jp/~antler/), located near the Kazuno Hanawa station, offers quality kiritanpo even on the go!
Address: Shindenmachi-11-4 Kazuno-shi, Hanawa azashinden machi, Akita
Average price: just tanpo is from ¥200 each, kiritanpo is from ¥1,400 served as a set menu.
Inaniwa Udon is one of the most famous udon brands in Japan. This udon is made in Inakawa city, in Akita prefecture and it undergoes a process to assimilate air bubbles inside the noodles, so they may become chewy and last longer. This process has to be made by hand so Inaniwa Udon doesn’t usually come in big quantity, and that’s the reason the majority of people did not have a chance to have it in the past. It is also slightly thinner than other udon types and has a very delicate flavor.
Where to find:
Address: 80 Aza-Inaniwa Inaniwa-Cho Yuzawa City Akita Prefecture
Akita Products Plaza http://www.a-bussan.jp/shop/index.html (Japanese only)
Address: Atorion B1, 2-3-8 Nakadori Akita-shi Akita
“Gakko” stands for pickles in the Akita local dialect, and more precisely Iburigakko is a special type of pickles made with smoked daikon root. You can find Iburigakko when ordering a set meal or like a side-dish in some local restaurants, or buy a package at souvenir stores or supermarkets. We suggest enjoying its particular texture!
Where to find: Michi no Eki Sannai http://a-woodyland.jp/publics/index/10/ (Japanese only)
Address: Komekurasawa-34 Sannaitsuchibuchi, Yokote-shi, Akita-ken
Oyakodon made with Hinaijidori Chicken
Another representative dish from Akita Prefecture is the Hinaijidori Chicken Oyakodon, and because it’s made with the branded Hinaijidori Chicken, it’s also known as one of the three most delicious chicken dishes in all Japan. It is packed with a lot of flavors that will blow you away from the first bite! In particular, the broth (dashi) used for this recipe is one of Akita cuisine’s very strong points, and it’s used also for the Kiritanpo.
Where to find: Akita Hinaiya, http://www.akitahinaiya.co.jp/ (Japanese only)
Address: 21, Omachi, Odate-shi, Akita
Babahera Ice Cream
Here we are in the sweetest part of this list! Talking about sweets, how about some ice cream? Akita’s Babahera ice cream is said to be delicious, but before that you will be surprised by its perfection: it takes the shape of a beautiful rose made by a heartful old lady! The most classic version comes in two flavors (banana and strawberry) to create a bicolored rose. You may almost feel too sorry to eat…almost
You can find Babahera Ice Cream stalls at festivals, events, somewhere along National Routes, service areas, etc.
In the Akita’s local dialect “Jango” stands for the countryside, so Jango cuisine is made typically by Akita’s countryside traditional dishes. It is based on seasonal ingredients and we can find Kiritanpo nabe, Damako nabe, dishes with mountain vegetables and so on. You can especially find Jango cuisine in many hot springs in Akita.
Where to find: Uttou Onsen Matagi no yu, http://www.mataginosato.com/ (Japanese only)
Address: Senbokuwatarimichikami-67, Aniutsuto, Kitaakita-shi, Akita
Yokote Yakisoba is a very rich dish made of thick noodles, cabbage, ground pork, fried eggs and Fukumake pickles. Finally, egg yolk on the top and there you go, a healthy and complete dinner/lunch/snack is served! You can find Yokote Yakisoba in some kiosks near touristic attraction or some restaurants in Akita
Where to find: There is a list of restaurants serving Yokote Yakisoba at Yokote Yakisoba Association’s website http://www.yokotekamakura.com/yokoteyakisoba/index.html (Japanese only)
Shottsuru Ramen is a typical type of ramen in the Akita area, and its peculiarity stays in the strong flavor. At first, it may seem too salty, but thanks to the seaweed you’ll be able to experience the legendary “umami” sensation. Umami is a kind of flavor very appreciated by Japanese people and pursued by chefs from all over the world. It is difficult to sense it though, as it is a very subtle flavor, so enjoy your Shottsuru ramen and hear your tongue sing!
Where to find: Dining Restaurant Shima No Ie (島の家): http://room3015.blog114.fc2.com/blog-entry-570.html (Japanese only)
Address: Kusakihara-51-4 Kitaurayumoto, Oga, Akita
But what does “Shottsuru” mean? It is the name of a condiment produced in Akita area. It is made from the fermentation of a small fish called Sailfin sandfish (in Japanese Hatahata) seasoned just with salt. Added to hot water, it creates a delicious broth which has the flavor of the sea. You can use Shottsuru to make nabe (hot pot), ramen and even ethnic dishes, savoring umami in each of them.
You can’t travel Akita prefecture without trying local Japanese sake even just one time! Akita’s sake is made in winter, because of the peculiar climate they’re using a brewing technique called “Kanzukuri” to produce sake during winter taking advantage of the cold temperature. It may be very interesting to visit these kinds of breweries (there are at least over 35 Japanese sake breweries in Akita prefecture, and some of them surely offer some tasting too!)
Akita Sake Brewers Association website: http://www.osake.or.jp/ (Japanese only)
And where is sake, without beer? This is definitely a must-try for beer lovers, but it may also make a beautiful experience for the ones who still prefer wine…Akita’s local beer is quite famous in Japan for its premium quality, and there are plenty of breweries that will open you their doors and show their beer-making process. You can scroll the link below for some detailed information and choose the brewery that appeals to you the most!
Tazawako Beer: http://www.warabi.or.jp/beer/ (Japanese only)
Lake Forest Beer: https://www.orae.net/en/
Thumbnail image is from Flickr
Data is as of August 2018