In praise of the local
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.