Asia

The Tastier Side of Central Japan

written by | Posted on March 1st, 2011

It’s no secret that Japan is a culinary powerhouse, but clients who’ve yet to explore the country’s cuisine beyond sashimi and miso soup need to add this to their “must” list. The Chubu region alone, while sharing the rest of the country’s adoration with seafood, has its own array of tempting dishes and flavors.

Those visiting Ishikawa and surroundings will need to try traditional Kaga cuisine or Kaga Kaiseki Ryori, including a fragrant stew known as jibuni, with starch-battered duck meat, mushrooms and other surprises cooked in soy sauce, wine and bonito broth. The seafood options here are similarly inspiring, with Noto oysters and snow crabs the star attractions. Kagaya Hotel’s Master Chef Nakamura made us blush with a 10-course dinner that was astonishing and an embarrassment of riches: pickled squid, baigai shellfish, snow crab, lotus root soup, sashimi of yellowtail, shrimp, sea urchin and squid, boiled wild duck and angler, a hot pot of goodies in ishiru sauce.

Should clients want to bring some local goodies back home, they have a huge choice of confections and cookies to choose from. Not only do they go great with your daily tea, they are fashioned in the shape of bunnies, flowers and other adorable shapes.

Hida Takayama has no immediate access to the sea, so sweetfish from local rivers make their way to restaurants daily. Another favorite here is the hoba miso, miso mixed with veggies and grilled on magnolia leaves. This is home to famous melt-in-your-mouth Hida beef that can be added to hot pots or enjoyed kushiyaki-style—on a skewer. Other regional favorites: soba or buckwheat noodles and the local sake, said to be particularly good due to the clean water and the quality of the area’s rice.

Have foodies take a bite out of Takayama and other cities with Intrepid Travel’s Taste of Japan, which also gives clients the opportunity to make their own noodles and visit the famous Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo, sample the vegetarian delicacies of Koya-san (with a stay at a Buddhist monastery), have a wild adventure with puffer fish and octopus in Osaka’s “eat street,” try Hiroshima’s famous oysters and get a lesson in traditional cuisine in Kyoto. The 14-day trip is priced at $4,230 pp dbl, exclusive of airfare.