With the huge popularity of various events such as the Setouchi Triennale and Cycling Shimanami, the Seto Inland Sea area is now very much in the spotlight.
As the area is home to numerous local delicacies, this time we’d like to introduce some surprisingly little known dishes that our local writers recommend.
Here are some carefully selected shops that you should check out before heading out on your trip to the Setouchi area!
1. Sea Bream Rice at a Historical Property Connected to Poet Masaoka Shiki (Ehime Prefecture)
The sea bream rice on offer at the historical property connected to poet Masaoka Shiki is superb.
The restaurant’s menu consists of the Taimeshi Zen course (Sea bream rice, JPY2160 incl. tax), of which 30 portions are made per day. In addition to the sea bream rice served in an ohitsu (traditional round wooden container), simmered pumpkin, fish tempura, hijiki (sea weed), Japanese pickles, harlequin sandsmelt (fish) simmered in sweet vinegar, sea bream sashimi and sea bream soup are served on a scarlet red ozen (a four-legged tray).
All of the dishes allow you to enjoy the best sides of the ingredients with flavors that please both the mind and the body.
Located in Matsyama city’s Mitsuhama town area where many traditional buildings stand in a row, there is a sea bream rice shop, which was opened in the house where the owner was born. It’s a shop that recreates the flavor of the owner’s mother’s home cooking.
While the gentle flavors make the best use of the ingredients used, the historical building, which has been designated a tangible cultural property, is full of things to see.
As the shop only makes 30 servings of sea bream rice per day, a reservation is a must!
English link: https://setouchifinder.com/en/detail/584
2. A Famous Puffer Fish Restaurant Always Full of Regular Customers (Yamaguchi Prefecture)
Despite being located a little far from the business district, there is a restaurant in Iwakuni city that is always overflowing with customers. “Fukugen” customers include not only local regulars, but also many who come all the way from Tokyo just to eat here!
The restaurant is extremely popular as it serves what is normally very expensive puffer fish cuisine at such an affordable price that it will leave you with some change even after paying for flights from Tokyo!
Yamaguchi prefecture is known for puffer fish. And, as you’d expect from a local specialty, there are many restaurants within the prefecture that specialize in it. Indeed, so much so that it’s hard to know where to go to eat!
However, as this restaurant is highly popular among both locals and customers from far afield, you can be sure of its quality!
English link: https://setouchifinder.com/en/detail/376
3. Original Local Gourmet: Hinase’s Kakioko (Okayama Prefecture)
Busy fishermen have eaten Kakioko as a light meal since the late 1960s, which is before the concepts of local gourmet or B-grade gourmet had even been thought of!
The dish didn’t use to be called kakioko, but as activities to reinvigorate the region with this Hinase soul food began, the dish was named kakioko.
No matter which part you eat, there’s bound to be some oyster in there. The cabbage is crunchy, and as the cabbage and the oyster juices mix, the dish is really juicy.
Since before the era of “local gourmet”, this oyster filled style of okonomiyaki, called kakioko has filled the stomachs of Hinase fishermen. And it goes down very well with beer!
Fishermen’s towns are the best!
English link: https://setouchifinder.com/en/detail/530
4. Bone-In Chicken: A Local Soul Food, (Kagawa Prefecture)
Kagawa is known for its udon noodles. However, the area has another food that is loved by locals.
As well as soft young chicken, tougher textured mature chicken, which is preferred by locals, is also on offer. The skin is crunchy! The meat is juicy, and spicy seasonings give the dish an insatiably full flavor!
This is the “Honetsukidori”, a dish made by sautéing the whole thigh of the chicken, including the bones.
Honetsukidori is said to have originated in Marugame city, Kagawa prefecture.
Inspired by the roast chicken they saw in an American film, a couple that ran an izakaiya (Japanese style pub) in Marugame city apparently came up with the idea for honetsukidori around 60 years ago.
The special characteristic of young chicken is that its meat is plump and soft with no aftertaste, so people that try it initially prefer it. However, over time they apparently often turn to preferring mature chicken.
The meat of mature chicken has a firmer texture and the more you bite into it, the more the good flavor comes out; a flavor sought by connoisseurs.
5. Awaji Island’s Over-Luxurious Local Burger! (Hyogo Prefecture)
This is the Awaji Onion Beef Burger (JPY600 + tax) that won the 2013 Tottori Burger Festa.
Even the lovely bun makes it look mouth-watering – it just makes your heart race…
Other Awaji Island burgers at Awaji Onion Kitchen will also leave you dumbfounded.
Limited to just one a day, the “roadside station burger” is JPY3000 + tax! THREE THOUSAND YEN?!… is what you may want to shout, and yours truly understands that feeling. Hooowever, this price is actually cheap. Its 120% cost price rate makes it unsuitable for selling commercially!
It’s a simple burger that consists of a 250-gram (before frying) high-class Awaji beef rib roast slab that is flavored with salt and black pepper, special mayonnaise, and Awaji Island lettuce and onions.
Awaji Island is the holy ground for local burgers.
Among them, this one is perfect for people who want to be impressed visually, too!
250-grams of Awaji beef?! Yours truly, was blown back by its delicious flavor. With a 120% cost price rate, customers have nothing to lose by trying it!
English link: https://setouchifinder.com/en/detail/475
6. Togeshita Beef, Simmered in Sake & Red Wine! (Hiroshima Prefecture)
Togeshita beef is grown in Takehara, Hiroshima by the shore of the Seto Inland Sea in the area’s mild climate.
It is simmered for 4 hours in sake and red wine, a combination that is the cornerstone of restaurant France-ya!
This is what you’ll want to enjoy together with West-born, Setouchi grown dishes.
Even the name of this sake, which is brewed in sherry barrels, is France-ya.
Kamotsuru is the sake that President Obama drank with Prime Minister Abe during the President’s 2014 visit to Japan.
Served by a restaurant under the brewery’s direct management, this dish has received high praise for its delicious flavor surpassing everyone’s imagination.
It’s so soft you don’t even need teeth to eat it!! If you visit Hiroshima, you just have to try it!
7. Surprisingly Delicious Sudachi Curry (Tokushima Prefecture)
The visuals alone are insatiable!!
Here are some of Tokushima’s local dishes found on the menu of a curry restaurant well known for its cheese curry dishes.
Naturally, the dishes are delicious as is, but if you squeeze some of the sudachi citrus fruit over them, they’re so delicious that you’re guaranteed to wish that you’d done it from the beginning!
Located in Tokushima city, Tokushima prefecture, CLUB30 is a restaurant that specializes in curry. It is very popular for its delicious cheese curries, as well as for a local Tokushima dish not available in other restaurants!
Even the name of the dish is Tokushima Curry.
Its biggest special characteristic is…
I guess you may have noticed by looking at the photographs, but sudachi (a kind of citrus fruit) is included! Those of you who thought, “What? Sudachi with curry?”, please try it once. It goes very well with the meat toppings, as well as the curry itself!
English link: https://setouchifinder.com/en/detail/406
Let’s eat all of Setouchi!
How were the dishes?
This time we introduced seven Setouchi foods that are loved by locals, but surprisingly not very widely known!
Don’t just eat the standard tourists dishes; take a step further into the deep flavors of the Seto Inland Sea region!
> A guided tour, including teatime, where you can see the former “Koshien Hotel” – “Frank Lloyd Wright type” architecture by Arata Endo. / Koshien Hall at Mukogawa Women’s University (Nishinomiya-shi, Hyogo)
> Experience the ancient way of salt making on Kamikamagari-jima Island on the Tobishima Kaido in Aki-nada! / Kamagari Ancient Salt Making Remains Restoration Pavilion & “Amabito-no-Moshio” (Kure-shi, Hiroshima)
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