Nagoya, Japan is just a short 30 minutes ride from Kyoto, Japan on the Shinkansen (Japanese Bullet Train). I made a quick stop for a meeting but couldn’t leave without trying some local foods. As I got off the train, there was a sign promoting six must eats when in Nagoya:
I was able to eat three out of the six in less than two hours!
The taste of foods in Nagoya is known to be richer and stronger. There was a restaurant near by my meeting venue, so after my meeting, I headed straight there with my colleague.
First ‘must eat’ Tebasaki – chicken wings. When I heard chicken wings are one of the ‘must eats’, I didn’t think too much of it. I’ve had chicken wings before, what’s so special about them?! Nagoya takes chicken wings seriously, they even have instructions on how to eat them. When I had my first bite, I couldn’t stop. The wings were small, but full of meat, and the marinade had the perfect amount of sweetness, sprinkled with sesame seeds – no wonder people were ordering by the dozen!
During the same meal, I had the second ‘must eat’ – Miso Katsu, or pork cutlet in miso. The taste of the miso is unlike the usual miso soup flavor. The miso is dark and more pungent. The pork was perfectly cooked, moist and tasty. It blended with the miso very well. It was served with skewers, so it was really easy to eat. During the same meal, I tried eggplant salad, agedashi tofu, and cold udon noodles.
My last ‘must eat’ was at Nagoya train station – Hitsumabushi, or grilled eel rice eaten in three ways. Unlike typical Unagi-don, or eel rice, where there’s only the eel sauces that is usually spread on top of the eel, Hitsumabushi came with wasabi, scallions, soup base/broth. Similar to the chicken wing experience, there were instructions on how it should be consumed. Before digging in, mentally divide the portion into thirds – first third is to consume typical eel over rice. The grilled eel was fragrant and moist and the stickiness of the rice blended well together. The second third was to apply some wasabi and sprinkle some scallions on top and mix. The taste changed all together – the wasabi and scallions brought out the flavor of the eel. This was my favorite combination. The last third was to pour some broth onto the eel and rice. This changed the consistency of the eel rice completely and made the taste milder.