In praise of the lo­cal

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Destination Japan -

Ja­pan’s most popular week­end meals. City restau­rants serv­ing this dish are typ­i­cally small, cosy fam­ily-run joints where din­ers sit at a tep­pan grill ta­ble or at the counter with front-row seats to the ac­tion. To a sim­ple bat­ter mix­ture of flour, egg and wa­ter, toppings such as sliced pork, oc­to­pus, squid or prawns are added. When cooked, the pan­cake is flipped and ready to gar­nish with pow­dered seaweed, bonito flakes or red gin­ger. Hiroshima folk have trans­formed this dish with soba noodles to cre­ate the go­liath­sized Hiroshima-yaki. To taste, head for Okonomimura, a multi-level food court lo­cated in Shin­tenchi dis­trict, be­tween the train sta­tion and the A-Bomb Dome. More: okonomimura.jp.

CHAM­PON, NA­GASAKI: Cham­pon noodles are a wor­thy one-off if vis­it­ing the his­tor­i­cal, deep­wa­ter port city of Na­gasaki in Kyushu. There is a strong Chi­nese in­flu­ence in the dish’s egg-noo­dle and pork-broth base and the heavy­hand­ed­ness of its seafood and veg­etable top­ping. Nev­er­the­less, the ami­able folk of Na­gasaki will have you know that they “own it” and may di­rect you to Shikairou, a popular spot for lunch or din­ner. More: shikairou.com.

SANUKI UDON, KA­GAWA: A noo­dle is not just a noo­dle to the peo­ple of Ka­gawa prov­ince on Shikoku is­land. They pride them­selves on pro­duc­ing an aes­thet­i­cally pleas­ing square-edged noo­dle with al dente firm­ness that they af­fec­tion­ately call Sanuki (the an­cient name for Ka­gawa) udon. And Ka­gawa lo­cals don’t just talk the talk — their con­sump­tion of udon is seven times the na­tional av­er­age. If you can’t make it to Shikoku, Sanuki udon is avail­able in Osaka and Tokyo. Look for the fa­mous Sanuki udon chain restau­rant, Hana­maru. Or stop by my Himeji lo­cal, Men-me, where Tan­i­moto-san will gladly serve you a bowl. More: jnto.go.jp/restau­rant-search./eng.

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