Kagawa prefecture is so well-known for its Sanuki udon noodles that it’s even called the “udon prefecture”. However, Kagawa has another local gourmet dish that is loved by locals just as much udon.
“Honetsukidori” is chicken thigh grilled on the bone.
It is said to have originated in Marugame city, Kagawa prefecture around 60 years ago. Apparently, a couple who ran an izakaya (Japanese pub) in Marugame were inspired to create honetsukidori by the roast chicken they saw in an American film.
The flavor of the crispy skinned spicy chicken with meat fried to a juicy finish became an instant hit. After that, the number of restaurants offering honetsukidori on their menus increased dramatically all over Kagawa prefecture.
This time I’d like to introduce you to Yoridorimidori, a restaurant located in the shopping district of Takamatsu city.
When ordering honetsukidori, first you have to decide whether you want to order the “mature chicken” or the “young chicken”. Those of you who’ve never tried it may be surprised to learn there are two types of bone-in 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.
On the other hand, the special characteristic of young chicken is that the meat is plump and has no aftertaste. People that try it initially prefer it. However, over time they apparently often turn to preferring mature chicken.
Given this special chance, I ordered both the mature and the young chicken. While waiting for the chicken to roast, I also ordered these small side dishes.
A vegetable that has been eaten in Kagawa since olden times, both the root and the stems of leaf burdock are edible. It’s a dish that allows you to enjoy the vegetables characteristic fragrance and texture.
Soy sauce beans
This is also a dish that represents the regional cuisine of Kagawa.
This is a popular local home-cooked dish made by boiling broad beans until they’re fragrant and then marinating them in a sauce made with ingredients such as soy sauce and sugar.
Ocellated octopus boiled in soy sauce
Needless to say, this dish is another Seto Inland Sea area specialty. The simple seasoning let’s you enjoy the good quality of the ingredients, and it goes really well together with beer, too.
After about 15-minutes wait, the honetsukidori finally appears!
First the mature chicken…
And next the young chicken…
Can you tell that the meat quality is completely different between them?
The mature chicken is leaner, and I would say it gives a more muscular impression. On the whole, the young chicken looks plumper and has a moderate amount of fat.
Naturally, it’s alright for you to just bite into it, but most shops bring the dish to the table with a pair of scissors, so you can cut it into easy to eat bite-sized pieces.
Well then, I start with the mature chicken. The texture is firm and chewy, and it has a rich flavor that goes well with beer.
Next is the young chicken. The meat is soft and juicy, the kind of delicious flavor loved by everybody. I can’t help but gulp down my beer.
The pepper seasoning of honetsukidori plays a great role, though some may feel it’s too spicy. A mild flavor that is spicy yet not too spicy is characteristic of the seasoning used at this particular shop. You can see why the shop is visited not just by tourists but also by numerous local regulars.
And to finish, some “torimeshi” chicken rice.
It’s a simple dish with shredded seaweed, finely cut fried egg, and chicken meat. Although compared to honetsukidori the dish is lightly seasoned, the umami of the chicken comes through – it’s a delicious dish that makes you feel at ease.
The udon shops in Kagawa prefecture open in the morning and many close after their noodles run out at noon, so having udon noodles for lunch and honetsukidori for dinner may also be a good idea as it allows you to enjoy both dishes!
Honetsukidori has the kind of delicious flavor that gets you addicted after just eating it once.
If you visit Kagawa, how about giving it try?
Address: 1-24 Hyogomachi, Takamatsu city
Open: Weekdays 17:00-23:00（Last order 22:20）
Sundays & national holidays 17:00-22:30 (Last order 21:50)
Setouchi Finder Photo-writer: Yumi Kobayashi
> 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)
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