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Story Kyushu Foods by JNTO on 04 January 2018

Kyushu has more than its share of famous local foods, ranging from unusual horse meat and chicken eaten raw to the ubiquitous ramen and local varieties of citrus fruits.

Ramen and Udon


Kyushu is famous for its tonkotsu ramen, which uses a pork bone broth, and is available in three main styles. The most famous is Hakata Ramen from Fukuoka, which uses thin, straight noodles in a rich, oily broth. The concept of kaedama, a refill of noodles, was created here. Kumamoto Ramen is less oily, and is seasoned with garlic chips and garlic oil served with thicker noodles. Kagoshima Ramen uses pork and chicken in its broth, served with Okinawa-style soba noodles.


kyushu foods ramen udon


Kyushu also takes credit for creating Japan’s ubiquitous udon which originated in Fukuoka’s Joten-ji temple. Kyushu’s most famous udon from Hakata is topped with burdock tempura.

Sasebo Burger


Born in Sasebo, a small town in Nagasaki prefecture with a big American Navy base, Sasebo Burgers are gigantic, prepared by hand and cooked when you order it. Far from being ‘fast food’, this classic has been perfected over time by Japanese chefs. You can enjoy them in one of 20 tiny ‘official’ burger joints that can barely seat more than 10 patrons; some are even housed in classic 40s American diner cars! Pre-dating McDonald’s in Japan by decades, legendary burger joints to try include Hikari for its chicken and bacon combo, Blue Sky for its upside-down burger, and Big Man for its classic messy burger.


kyushu foods sasebo burger




Miyazaki prefecture is known for its jidori – a special free-range breed of chicken, Miyazaki Jidokko boast a low fat-to-flesh ratio and a springy texture.


Although best served char-grilled, Miyazaki prefecture also offers the nanban chicken – their take on Japanese karaage (deep-fried chicken). Created in the 1970s by local restaurants to improve the dry texture of chicken breast, the deep-fried chicken portions are served with either sweet vinegar or tartar sauce. Today, it’s the soul food of Kyushu.


kyushu foods jidori


Jidori is also served as tori-zushi (chicken sashimi) as well as tori tataki which is lightly seared. As the chickens are bred without antibiotics or hormones, they’re safe to eat and served fresh.

Seasonable Vegetables / Fish


Fish include saba (mackerel), especially in the fall and winter, with the most popular way to eat it in Fukuoka being goma saba – soy sauce with sake and wasabi added for flavor, with sesame seeds and seaweed sprinkled on top. Another popular way is Ryukyu-style in Oita Prefecture, where it’s served as ryukyu donburi – a rice bowl topped with mackerel seasoned overnight in soy sauce. Kanpachi (yellowtail) is another seasonal fish, and popular as both sashimi and sushi, especially in autumn.


kyushu foods seasonal fish


Kyushu’s also famous for its fruits, especially its variety of citrus like hyuganatsu from Miyazaki; komikan, a cousin of the mandarin orange; kinkan, a variety of kumquat; and kabosu, a citrus that’s famous in Oita.


kyushu foods seasonal veg




Kyushu is famous among the Japanese for its horse dishes – especially basashi, or horse sashimi. Most famous in Kumamoto prefecture, its rich red texture is slightly chewy, and is less fatty than most beef. Its mild flavor isn’t gamey like wild boar or mutton, and is served with soy sauce and grated ginger.


kyushu foods basashi

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