One reason Nagoya is not boring is the very exciting array of food you can find in the region.
We have to admit, there is great regional food in many parts of Japan, such as the delicious Udon of Shikoku, unbelievably scrumptious Okonomiyaki variations in both Hiroshima and Osaka, and the best variety of Ramen in Kyushu and Hokkaido.
But Nagoya has such a wide variety of great regional dishes as well that you really can’t skip the city if you are a foodie on a mission to try the best food Japan has to offer. In fact, Nagoya is so famous for its food that the Japanese have a specific name to refer to the local cuisine; They call it Nagoya Meshi (lit. Nagoya food).
Let’s dive right into the best food in Nagoya. You might want to keep a few snacks to the side while reading; we had to raid the fridge a couple of times while writing this post. For this reason, we would like to give you a warning: Don’t read this post if you are currently on a diet!
Arguably the Best Food in the World: Hitsumabushi
OK, that may be a slight exaggeration but it really is that good and it’s first on the list for a reason! You can’t come to Nagoya and not try this dish and we’ll tell you why.
The dish Hitsumabushi is made from Japanese freshwater eel, grilled over charcoal, dipped in a sweet soy sauce-based sauce, and then topped on white rice. But what makes this meal so special is the ritual with which people eat it.
It’s kind of like four courses in one. You first enjoy the dish as it was served, just the eel (which just melts delightfully in your mouth) on rice.
For the second serving add some of the condiments such as Wasabi, green onions, and Sansho (a special kind of Japanese pepper) to add to the flavors. By doing so, the flavor of the dish changes completely and it is like eating an entirely different dish.
Add some of the condiments as well as the broth you will receive to your third serving and transform the dish into a kind of soupy risotto known as Ochazuke. A completely different experience from the two prior servings.
Lastly, enjoy the rest of your Hitsumabushi however you enjoy it best. Add some condiments and broth to your liking. That may sound a little confusing, but essentially you can eat it any way you want, so don’t stress and just enjoy the eel.
Hitsumabushi in Nagoya is a real delicacy and doesn’t come cheap. A normal serving costs between 3,000 and 4,000 yen depending on the restaurant and even a small one will be around 2,000 yen.
One of the most famous restaurants in Nagoya for Hitsumabushi is called Atsuta Horaiken. Another famous one is Hitsumabushi Bincho and Maruya Honten, but we recommend Hitsumabushi Inou.
Hitsumabushi Inou ESCA Shop (ひつまぶし・どんぶり稲生 エスか店)
Opening Hours: 11:00 – 21:00
Address: ESCA Underground Market B1, Tsubaki-cho 6-9, Nakamura Ward, Nagoya, Aichi 453-0015
Website (Japanese only) | Google Maps
If You Are Looking for the Best Food in Nagoya for Those Cold Winter Days, Try Miso Nikomi Udon.
Sightseeing in Nagoya in fall and winter can be magical. It can also be quite chilly and after a couple of hours out in the cold, you will long for a cozy restaurant and some hot food in your belly. What you are craving is Miso Nikomi Udon, you just don’t know it yet.
Miso Nikomi Udon or Miso Stewed Udon is a noodle dish served in a piping hot red Miso-based soup. The dish is topped with Kamaboko (a steamed fish cake), leek, and a raw egg that will stock in no time in the hot soup. Other variations include chicken, beef, mushrooms, and even deep-fried shrimp.
Usually, the best Miso Nikomi Udon in Nagoya can be found in neighborhood Udon restaurants. But we know these can be quite hard to enter on your own with the language barrier. So instead we recommend a restaurant chain called Yamamotoya, said to have popularized the dish in its current form some 70 years ago.
If you are vegetarian or vegan it is almost impossible to find any famous food in Nagoya you can actually try, and if you are looking for Halal food in Nagoya it gets even more complicated. Yamamotoya Okute (only this one restaurant) has developed a vegan Miso Nikomi Udon version, using vegetable broth. They also have a halal version of the dish.
If you want to brave some of the other restaurants, check out other places where you can get this dish here.
Find Your Love for Red Miso by Trying Miso Katsu in Nagoya.
We mentioned Nagoya Miso in the section above about Miso Nikomi Udon. Red Miso is actually a local specialty used in many dishes in Aichi Prefecture, of which Nagoya is the main city.
Miso is fermented soybean paste, consumed all over Japan. But while other parts of the country mix rice or other grains with the beans to make their Miso paste sweeter, the red Miso paste from Aichi uses only soybeans. It also ferments for a comparatively long time of 2 to 3 years (compared to a couple of weeks to months for other types of Miso). This gives the Miso paste its characteristic dark reddish-brown color and strong unique flavor.
The people of Nagoya simply love the taste of red Miso, and it is a popular stereotype that the Nagoya locals put Miso on everything (and with good reason). Like most stereotypes, there is some truth to be found. There really are many dishes using red Miso, which are coming up in this article.
For now let’s focus on Nagoya’s Miso Katsu. A deep-fried pork cutlet almost drowning in Miso sauce, served with cabbage, rice, and a Miso soup (even more Miso, really?) with a splodge of Japanese mustard. This dish is popular especially as a lunch option at little family-run restaurants.
The most famous restaurant in the city of Nagoya, however, is Misokatsu Yabaton. Easily recognizable because of its mascot, a pig in a red Sumo belt. If you try Miso Katsu for the first time we recommend ordering a half-and-half portion of Miso sauce and Tonkatsu sauce (this is what the rest of Japan puts on their Katsu).
Miso Katsu is also served as a popular Nagoya street food in the form of Miso Kushi Katsu (Miso Katsu on a stick). You can find it at the Osu shopping streets (one of the most popular attractions in Nagoya) and at Dote Ni (see below) and Kushi Katsu restaurants.
Miso Oden – A Warm Comfort in Winter Months
We’re sure you’ve established before now that Miso really is the go-to ingredient for a lot of Nagoya dishes, and we hope that once you’ve tried it you’ll know why.
A very popular Japanese food in winter is Oden, which is simply a variety of foods (eggs, Daikon radish, fishcakes) that are typically boiled in a soy sauce-based broth. It’s one of those seasonal dishes that tells you that winter has arrived as convenience stores around the country will get their deep pans out on the counter for those braving the cold winter months.
As this is Nagoya, there’s no surprise that a Miso version emerged with two different types: one in which Miso is used to make the broth itself, and the other where Miso is used as a topping for the standard Oden. It’s common to find tubes of Miso next to the Oden, making it much easier for Nagoyans to get their Miso fix.
One of the easiest accessible places for foreign tourists to try the Miso Oden stewed in Miso broth check out Mukashi no Yabaton in Osu. This shop is a nostalgic reimagining of the post war era when Nagoya’s Izakaya (Japanese bars) served Oden and Miso Katsu with lots of beer!
Can You Stomach It? Dote-Ni Is For the Brave.
There’s no way to make this dish sound attractive, but if we were to try it would be something like “a delectable local dish made with some of the lesser-used cuts of pork and beef that is mixed with the flavorful Aka Miso to create a unique taste and texture, very different to anything you will have eaten before”.
Translation? Dote-ni is a dish made with rubbery pork and beef entrails boiled in an Aka Miso sauce. Which one sounds better?
We’ll admit that it is a hard sell when you know what it really is, but we absolutely must include it in this list as it’s a very well-known dish in Nagoya and one that you must try if you are looking for adventure in the food department. Put aside the word “entrails” and dig in!
We recommend Gomitori Honten if you do decide to try it, where you can also find plenty of other local dishes, too.
Ankake Spaghetti Is What Happened When the Japanese Tried to Make Meat Sauce Pasta.
Ankake Spaghetti are ultra-thick spaghetti noodles in a sticky, peppery vegetable-based sauce. Typical toppings are vegetables (this is called Kantori from the English word “country”) or sausages (referred to as Miraneze from the Italian Milanese). If you want both you can order Mirakan. Get it? Miraneze, Kantori, Mirakan… The Japanese really love their portmanteaus! Other toppings like cheese, egg, or different kinds of meat and fish are available as well.
Legend says they were created when a Japanese chef tried to adapt Italian meat sauce to the Japanese palette. What resulted had nothing to do at all with meat sauce, but the locals seemed to like it and that was all that mattered. Multiple restaurants in Nagoya actually claim they are the inventor of the dish for some reason or another, so it is hard to trace the origin, but what is undisputed is that it was born in Nagoya and that despite it being pasta it is a true Nagoya Meshi.
Ankake Spaghetti, by the way, is the perfect dish for anyone with a big appetite. While the normal serving size of around 200 grams of spaghetti is just right for a normal eater you can get a big serving of around 500 grams for just 100 yen or so more at many restaurants in Nagoya.
The most famous Ankake Spaghetti restaurants are Spaghetti House Sole, Spaghetti House Ciao, and Spaghetti House Yokoi. And they are some of the best restaurants in Nagoya if you are looking for a cheap but big meal.
We would like to recommend Ankake Taro if you are a big eater, with serving sizes up to 1 kg of pasta you will surely be full after this meal. You can find some more restaurants and information on Ankake Spaghetti here.
Anake Taro Sakura (あんかけスパ専門店 SAKURA)
Opening Hours: 11:00 – 15:30 and 17:30 – 21:00; closed Tuesdays, Sundays and Saturday afternoons
Address: 1-14-8 Nishiki, Naka Ward, Nagoya, Aichi 460-0003
Website (Japanese only) | Google Maps
Hot Stuff: Nagoya’s Teppan Napolitan
Ankake Spaghetti isn’t the only pasta dish in town. It’s got some competition in the form of Teppan Naplitan, a spaghetti dish served on a piping hot plate called a Teppan Zara that’ll keep your pasta hot from start to finish. Typical toppings include: paprika, onions, small sausages, mushrooms and peas with beaten egg poured on top.
When it was originally conceived it was found only in Nagoya’s coffee shops but has since spread to many other restaurants, giving it its status alongside other dishes as a true Nagoya Meshi.
One of the shops that claim to be the inventor of Teppan Napolitan is Cafe Yuki. Their secret for a delicious Napolitan? Ketchup, ketchup, and when you think you added enough, add a little bit more ketchup.
Cafe Yuki (喫茶 ユキ)
Opening Hours: 10:00 – 15:00
Address: 3-2-30 Aoi, Higashi-ku, Aichi 461-0004
Moriguchizuke, the Longest Pickle in the World
It might look a bit like spaghetti, but don’t be fooled!
Moriguchizuke is a pickle made from Moriguchi Daikon radish and tastes much better than it looks. It’s pickled with Sake or Mirin (a sweet Sake) residue and is a very popular gift sold in gift shops even today, some of which are hundreds of years old!
Yamatoya Moriguchizuke Souhonke (大和屋守口漬総本家)
Opening Hours: 9:00 a.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Address: 6-9 ESCA Underground Shopping Street, Tsubakicho, Nakamura Ward, Nagoya 453-0015
Website (Japanese only) | Google Maps
The Udon in Nagoya Are Flat. Meet Kishimen.
Kishimen is a special kind of Udon noodle, the typical Nagoya Udon, so to speak. Instead of the round, or rather square, shape of the typical thick and white Udon noodles, Kishimen in Nagoya are flat and broad. This gives the noodles a different consistency and it’s a whole new experience.
Kishimen is typically served hot in a broth made of Dashi, but you can find many variations as noodle soups as well as chilled noodle dishes.
One of the best restaurants to try Kishimen is at Miya Kishimen on the grounds of Atsuta Jingu, one of the most important Shinto shrines in Japan and a popular attraction in Nagoya. The restaurant has a long tradition of making delicious Kishimen and a completely renovated shop just opened in 2021.
Found out more information on this noodle, including where you can eat Kishimen that are about four-times in width, here.
Try the Dish That Isn’t From Taiwan but Is Called Taiwan Ramen.
Misen is a Taiwanese restaurant that started in Nagoya. Here you will find dishes such as spicy chicken wings, fried vegetables, fish and meat dishes, all with Taiwanese flavoring. But their biggest hit is Taiwan Ramen.
The dish was created when the cook was searching for a simple yet delicious dish to serve his staff. A spicy chicken-based broth with soy sauce topped with some minced meat and leek. The noodle soup was so popular that it eventually made its way on the menu. And not only that but also on the menu of what feels like every other Ramen joint and Chinese restaurant in the city.
If you do like it spicy make sure not to miss Taiwan Ramen on your visit to Nagoya. For all the Taiwan Ramen virgins out there we recommend a visit to Misen for the original taste. Some people even claim it’s the best ramen in Nagoya but we’ll let you be the judge of that.
Nagoya Serves the World’s Largest Deep-Fried Shrimp. Here Is What Else You Need to Know About Ebi Furai.
Aichi and Mie Prefectures lie on either side of the Ise Bay, out of which fishermen pull tons and tons of shrimp and prawns each year. It is no wonder that the official seafood of Aichi Prefecture is the prawn, having one of the highest consumption rates in the country.
The people of Aichi like to produce shrimp rice crackers and there are hundreds of family-run businesses in the prefecture.
Another favorite dish using prawns is Ebi Furai, a deep-fried prawn. While you can find Ebi Furai all over the country it is a great idea to try some at one of the restaurants specialized in the dish.
Maruha Shokudo serves some excellent big fried prawns. The restaurant specializes in seafood but their Ebi Furai are the most popular menu item by far.
Another restaurant we recommend for every lover of shrimp and prawns is Ebidote Shokudo one of the best restaurants near Nagoya Station. This restaurant is specialized in all things shrimp with a wide selection of dishes using prawns. Here is also the place where you can try the world’s largest deep-fried shrimp at around 35 centimeters long. (That’s over one foot!) If you are still wondering what to eat in Nagoya, this might just be the experience you were waiting for.
For more Ebi Fry recommendations check out this post.
The Dish That Is Originally From Mie but Everyone Thinks It’s From Nagoya: Tenmusu
Staying with shrimp for a bit longer, let us tell you about Tenmusu, a mini rice ball filled with a single shrimp Tempura and wrapped in Nori seaweed. This simple dish was invented at a Tempura shop in Tsu city in Mie Prefecture but reached Nagoya by way of a franchise. The owners in Nagoya were very business savvy and invited radio, TV, and celebrities to endorse the food, through which Tenmusu was associated quite strongly with Nagoya.
Try the original Tenmusu in Nagoya at Tenmusu Senju. This tiny shop sells only Tenmusu (5 per serving) mostly for takeout, but at some shops, there is a small area to eat in. Enjoying Tenmusu while they are still hot is the best experience.
Eating the local food is one of the best things to do in Nagoya. So head to Tenmusu Senju and try the delicious little rice balls.
Thank You Yamachan for Popularizing Tebasaki Chicken Wings in Japan.
There was a time when the people in Japan frequently threw away chicken wings because no one wanted to eat them. Or shall we say, no one had figured out a delicious way to prepare them.
One day an inventive mind, a guy called Yamachan, decided to smother them in pepper and deep-fry them. The resulting dish was so delicious and went so perfectly with alcohol that it became an instant hit. In fact, it was so popular that Yamachan opened more and more restaurants around Nagoya serving his staple chicken wings.
Other Izakaya (Japanese bars) followed suit and invented their own recipes for Tebasaki, making the dish a true Nagoya Meshi.
Try Tebasaki and other Nagoya dishes at Sekai no Yamachan. You can find out some more popular places by reading our article on this delicacy here.
The Ferrari Among Chicken: Nagoya Cochin Chicken
While we are on the topic of chicken, let’s talk about Nagoya Cochin, a Nagoya chicken breed that originated some 160 years ago. It was created by crossing a Chinese Cochin chicken with a local chicken breed creating a large breed of chicken with pinkish meat, great texture and a lot of Umami flavor. The eggs are also said to be superior.
You won’t try Nagoya Cochin by accident though. The chicken meat is more expensive than your regular old chicken meat and can mostly be found at restaurants specialized in Nagoya Cochin such as Torigin. This is incidentally also the restaurant said to have popularized the chicken breed in the first place. Their Miso Nabe is truly divine, combining the local chicken with the popular red Miso found in the region. It’s a true Nagoya must-eat food.
Wake up and Start Your Day the Right Way With a “Nagoya Morning”.
Were you looking for breakfast? Sorry, you had to scroll so far down the page. Here comes the most popular option for breakfast in Nagoya, and it’s completely free!
Nagoya Morning or Nagoya Morning Service refers to a practice found in almost every coffee shop and cafe in Nagoya where you get a free breakfast with your order of morning coffee (or tea).
This breakfast usually consists of a slice of toast and a boiled egg but can be other things as well depending on the establishment. Salad, soup, different spreads of toast, for example, can also be found. The local cafes can go a bit crazy with this service and it is often shown on local TV, so you never know what you might find!
Nagoya Morning is a great deal if you are looking for a light breakfast with your morning cup of coffee.
For the best coffee in Nagoya, we recommend you visit Komeda’s Coffee, a coffee shop chain that originated in Nagoya. For your Nagoya Morning Service, you can choose between toast with a boiled egg, toast with egg spread or Ogura toast, toast with sweet red bean paste.
Komeda’s Coffee is literally around every corner in Nagoya so you shouldn’t have a problem finding one close to your hotel or station. Make sure to read our article on Nagoya Morning here.
Beans on Toast? This Might Just Be the Best Breakfast Invention: Ogura Toast
While we are talking about Ogura toast, let us explain what exactly it is and why you need to try it.
Ogura toast is a thick slice of toasted toast spread with margarine or butter and topped with sweet red bean paste. Sometimes it also comes with whipped cream. And before turning up your nose at the thought of red bean paste, don’t mock it till you’ve tried it. Ogura red bean paste is best compared to jam, and a very popular ingredient in all kinds of Japanese sweets such as Manju and Taiyaki.
Ogura toast is a Nagoya invention and an essential breakfast in Nagoya. Although the original shop that invented it doesn’t exist anymore you can find it at most coffee shops around the city including the aforementioned Komeda’s Coffee.
What Does the Devil Have to Do With Japanese Sweets? Oni Manju Is the Answer!
Oni Manju is a yellow sweet stuffed with sweet potato and is a popular snack in Nagoya. Translated, Oni Manju means Devil Rice Cake. But why would they name such a sweet-sounding snack after the devil?
Well, it’s not the devil, of course. Oni are Japanese demons or devils, in human form with red skin, horns, big teeth, and usually carrying spiked clubs. The theory says the spiked clubs and horns remind people of the sweet potato protrusions on the uneven surface of the Oni Manju.
Be that as it may, Oni Manju is a delicious local sweet and a true Nagoya Meshi. Even though most locals aren’t aware of this, Oni Manju can only be found in the area around Nagoya. They used to be made mainly at home, but nowadays they can be found at confectionaries as well as supermarkets and department stores.
Oni Manju are the best food in Nagoya if you have a sweet tooth.
Uiro, Nagoya’s Jelly Cubes
Uiro is quite different from a lot of Nagoya specialties. It can be found all over Japan! This confectionery is made from steam, rice flour, and sugar to which other flavors are added such as brown sugar, green tea, red bean or Yuzu citrus.
So why is it on this list? Well, 90% of this sweet is produced in the area, which makes it a true Nagoya specialty. It is a very popular souvenir to bring home to friends and family after a visit to Nagoya and can be found at department and souvenir shops all around the city.
Have you realized that the food in Nagoya isn’t boring at all? With a lot of variety, from savory to sweet, hot and cold, meat, noodles, and everything else in between. In this post, we have introduced you to the best places to eat in Nagoya. But if you don’t want to explore the best of Nagoya on your own, book a Specialties of Nagoya Food Tour and try Nagoya’s famous food.
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