So you are visiting Shikoku in Japan, an island steeped in history, rich in culture and filled with natural sights. Then your tummy starts to rumble, and you wonder, what kinds of delicacies does this magnificent island offer? Well, you are in luck to have found this article, for it is a comprehensive guide to what food you have to try, and where to get them in each of the four prefectures (Kagawa, Kochi, Ehime and Tokushima)!
1. Sanuki udon
Udon Bakaichidai (Big Idiot) is a very popular little local establishment about a ten minute walk east of the local serving Kawaramachi train station. Don't let the line deter you from working your way in and enjoying the local sanuki udon. These are thick toothy udon noodles served with just a splash of broth. Add sliced green onion, grated ginger and a wide range of toppings and you have a meal that will stick with you through the day. Handmark
There is no better place to eat udon than the udon land itself, Kagawa. Udon here is unique, as it is made from high quality flour found only in Kagawa, and is known for its bounciness and fresh seafood broth. The Sanuki udon is one of the best udon dishes to eat in Kagawa! Firmness and chewiness are the hallmarks of authentic Sanuki udon. The dish can be served in a variety of ways, but is typically served with savoury anchovy broth and soy sauce. Kagawa has over 700 restaurants serving Sanuki udon, and you can find an udon restaurant around any corner in Takamatsu city!
Udon Baka Ichidai (うどんバカ一代)
Address: 1-6-7 Tagacho, Takamatsu, Kagawa Prefecture
Duration: around 1 hour required.
Access: 1 hour 15 minutes from Okayama. From the Okayama train station in the Okayama prefecture, take a 41-minute ride (5 stops) on the Seto-Ohashi line and continue on the Yosan line for another 15 minutes to Takamatsu station. Walk for 6 minutes to Takamatsu-chikko station, and take a 5-minute train ride (2 stops) on the Takamatsukotohira Dentetsu-Kotohira line to Kawaramachi station. The destination is a 9-minute walk away.
Contact: +81 87-862-4705
2. Katsuo no tataki
This dish is a definite must-try in Kochi. Katsuo no tataki is a bonito tuna dish that is eaten to celebrate the onset of spring! It is made when Katsuo (skipjack tuna) is finely sliced and seared lightly using a method called warayaki. After seasoning with rice vinegar and sprinkling with spring onions, the delectable bonito tuna is ready to be savoured! There are many ways to serve this bonito fish, but the tataki version is the most classic and combines the sashimi and grilled styles. One of the best restaurants in Kochi that serves this dish is Myojinmaru!
Myojinmaru (漁師料理 明神丸)
Address: 1-1-2 Motomachi | Yachiyo Bldg1F, Kochi Prefecture
Duration: around 1 hour required.
Access: 3 hours from Okayama. From the Okayama train station, take a 2 hour 43 minute ride (11 stops) on the Dosan line-limited express to Kochi station. Walk for 13 minutes to destination.
Contact: +81 88-820-6505
3. Sawachi Ryori
Dig into this majestic-looking dish filled with the freshness of the sea; a symbol of the generosity of people in Kochi. Created in the Muromachi period, the Sawachi Ryori is a delectable collection of fresh seafood (usually sashimi style), katsuo tataki, fried delicacies and pickles presented on a large sawachi plate. Its arrangement is inspired by the rolling hills and seas in Kochi’s landscape. Sawachi Ryori is typically the centerpiece at a banquet table during celebrations and drinking parties, and is shared amongst a group of diners eating directly from the sawachi plate, without using smaller plates!
Address: 3 Chome-1-12 Harimayacho, Kochi, Kochi Prefecture
Price: from 38 USD
Opening Hours: 5.00pm - 11.00pm; Sun: 11.00am - 2.00pm; 5.00pm - 11.00pm. Closed on Mondays.
Duration: around 1 hour required.
Access: 2 hours 52 minutes from Okayama. From Okayama station, take a 2 hour 45 minute ride on the Dosan line-limited express to Kochi Station. Walk 7 minutes to destination.
Contact: +81 88-824-0018
Now here is a dish for the adventurous souls! Shuto is a delicious serving of salted fish stomach and bowels. Shuto is usually harvested from skipjack tuna in the summer and matured for a year before consuming, thus giving shuto its distinct richness that cannot be achieved with soy sauce! In fact, many restaurants secretly use shuto to add flavour to their dishes, so do not be spooked by its briny appearance! Also, shuto is very low in fat and goes extremely well with alcohol! It is sometimes eaten with rice as well.
Hirome Market (ひろめ市場)
Address: 2 Chome-3-1 Obiyamachi, Kochi-city, Kochi Prefecture
Opening Hours: 8.00am - 11.00pm; Sun: 7.00am - 11.00pm. Hours may differ on Marine Day (a national holiday).
Access: 16 minutes walk from JR Kochi station
Contact: +81 88-822-5287
While in Ehime, look out for this dangerously addictive snack. Originating from Uwajima, Jakoten is a tasty fried snack made from minced lizardfish or haranbo fish, and has been enjoyed by the locals since the Edo period. It is considered the ‘soul food’ of the prefecture, and you can find stores selling Jakoten almost everywhere in Ehime! It is a very convenient snack to take on the go while sightseeing or shopping, and goes very well with alcohol! Since the entire fish is minced including its bones, Jakoten is quite healthy as it has a high calcium content!
Dogo Beer Bakushukan (道後 麦酒館)
Address: 20-13 Dogoyunomachi, Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture
Price: from 1.44 USD
Opening Hours: 11am - 10pm. Hours differ on Marine Day.
Access: 3 minutes’ walk from Dogo-Onsen station, Iyo Tetsudo Matsuyamaekimae line
Contact: +81 89-945-6866
6. Shoyu Mochi
Shoyu mochi has had a long history, dating back to the Keicho era several centuries ago! Hisamatsu Sadakatsu, a daimyo during the Edo period, used to gift shoyu mochis to his subjects during the peach festival. This Matsuyama delicacy may be very similar to the Aichi Uiro, but unlike the uiro, shoyu mochi contains soy sauce. Shoyu mochi is easily made by kneading sugar, soy sauce and rice flour. You can even find recipes online to make them at home! However, if you want the real deal, head to Shiraishi Honpo, a historic shop that has been hand-making shoyu mochis since 1883!
Shiraishi Honpo (白石本舗)
Address: 4 Chome-1-6 Honmachi, Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture
Opening Hours: 8am - 6.30pm. Closed on Sundays; hours differ on Marine Day.
Access: 4 minutes’ walk from Komachi station, Iyo Tetsudo Kanjo line
Contact: +81 89-924-4507
This is Fukumen, a photogenic, appetising and healthy dish that resembles a pie chart! Fukumen is prepared by laying pink and white fish meat, spring onions and chopped orange peel on top of fine konnyaku noodles called Shirataki. The fish meat, called Tenpu, has a unique sweet and salty taste, while the orange peel gives the dish a citrusy fragrance and hint of sourness. Originating in Uwajima city, Fukumen translates to “fortune noodles” and is usually served at auspicious ceremonies, such as weddings! So if you need a bit of luck, you now know what to have for lunch!
Address: 2-3-8 Shimmachi, Uwajima, Ehime Prefecture
Price: from 3.64 USD
Opening Hours: 11am - 2pm, 5pm - 10.30pm. Closed on Sundays.
Access :4 minutes’ walk from Uwajima station
Contact: +81 895-22-0041
8. Imabari Yakibuta Tamago Meshi
Sink your teeth into this hearty, mouthwatering, yet simple dish. The Yakibuta Tamago Meshi was created in a Chinese restaurant in Imabari and was originally a fast, cheap and filling meal for staff, but today, the dish is an award-winning local delicacy! Besides, who can resist delicious, glazed pork on rice, and topped with bright sunny side ups? Additionally, there are rules to follow if you want to get the best experience from a Yakibuta Tamago Meshi! You should always use a Chinese spoon, split the eggs, and make sure that the yolk mixes with the sauce and covers the pork and rice!
Shigematsu Hanten (重松飯店)
Address: 5-4-47 Taishocho, Imabari, Ehime Prefecture
Opening Hours: 11.45am - 2pm, 6pm - 9pm. Closed on Mondays.
Access: 13 minutes’ walk from Imabari station
Contact: +81 898-22-6452
9. Iya soba
One of the most iconic food in the Iya region is, undoubtedly, the Iya soba. The Iya district is blessed with fresh water from the Yoshinogawa river and erratic weather, which actually provide the optimal conditions to grow buckwheat! Thus, the buckwheat soba noodles are the best in the country, and are usually made thicker than regular soba and traditionally served with savoury anchovy broth. There are many variants of the Iya soba, but Iya Bijin serves one of the most authentic versions. You can recognise the restaurant by its black and white exterior and lanterns hanging at the entrance.
Iya Bijin (祖谷美人)
Address: 9-3 Nishiiyayamamura Zentoku, Miyoshi-city, Tokushima
Price: from 6.70 USD
Opening Hours: 8am - 5pm
Access: 17 minutes by car from JR Oboke station.
Contact: +81 883-87-2009
10. Tokushima ramen
A trip to Japan is not complete without a hearty bowl of ramen! The Tokushima ramen is one of Tokushima’s specialty, served with savoury pork broth with a splash of soy sauce and topped with spring onions, bean sprouts, bamboo shoots and a tasty pork rib! The rich soup is the most distinctive feature of the Tokushima ramen, and the classic version is usually topped with a raw egg. For the best Tokushima ramen, visit Inotani, a restaurant frequented by celebrities and gourmets because of its rich, dark, soy sauce based broth!
Address: 4-25 Nishidaikumachi, Tokushima-city, Tokushima Prefecture
Opening Hours: 10:30am - 5pm. Closed on Mondays.
Access: 11 minutes’ walk from Tokushima Station
Contact: +81 88-653-1482
11. Amego no Hirarayaki
Traditionally served on a hot, flat stone (aka Hirara), Amego no Hirarayaki is a local specialty, consisting of the fresh water trout, amego. The fish is grilled on the hot stone with other fresh ingredients, such as tofu, konnyaku, potatoes and amego. Historically, amego no hirarayaki was prepared in a stone furnace, with a mixture of miso and sake brewing in miso paste. Today, this dish is only served during special occasions at selected hotels in the Iya region, so make sure to try it if you are in the area!
Nanoyado Hotel Iya Onsen (ホテル 祖谷温泉)
Address: 367-28 Matsumoto, Ikeda-cho, Matsuo, Miyoshi-shi, Tokushima
Opening Hours (restaurant): 7 am - 6 pm.
Access: 25 minutes’ car ride from JR Oboke station
Contact: +81 883-75-2311
12. Kaki Yaki
If you are in the Tokushima prefecture from autumn to spring, you are in luck! Autumn to spring coincides with the oyster season in Tokushima, so you must not miss your chance to try the mouthwatering, fresh oysters in the area! Look out for kaki yaki, which translates to grilled oysters, around Tokushima. One of the best restaurants to try kaki yaki is the Kakiyaki Uchinoumi, which offers all-you-can-eat oyster buffets during the oyster season!
Kakiyaki Uchinoumi (かき焼 うちの海)
Address: 243-1 Narutocho Tosadomariura, Naruto, Tokushima prefecture
Opening Hours: 11am - 9pm. Closed on Mondays.
Access: 20 minutes’ taxi ride from JR Naruto station
Contact: +81 88-687-1361
A gastronomic vacation awaits...
Do also try some citrus fruits on the island, such as mandarin oranges, sudachi and yuzu! Shikoku is known for being a huge producer of citrus fruit, and these fruits are usually incorporated into the local cuisine. The bonito fish katsuo is also a common find (some of the best katsuo dishes are listed above), and wheat products are extremely popular as the island is one of the best places in Japan to grow wheat!
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