A Guide to the Best Local Food in Nagasaki, Japan
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Nagasaki is a cultural gem on the island of Kyushu. Influenced by the Dutch and Portuguese culture from former inhabitation, as well as a strong Japanese heritage, Nagasaki has no shortage of history.
While you take in the sights of the picturesque natural landscapes and alluring East-meets-West architecture and wondering about the local food in Nagasaki, then you have come to the right place.
Nagasaki‘s food culture is a result of its historical connections with China and Europe. While it’s also heavily influenced by European and Chinese tastes, Nagasaki dishes have certainly developed their own distinct flavor. Here are some local dishes that are a mix of culture and goodness all in one plate!
Champon: The most satisfying noodle dish
As a local saying goes: People in Nagasaki eat Champon in the afternoon, just like how people in the Kanto region eat Ramen, Udon and Soba.
Champon is a noodle dish packed with vegetables, pork, and seafood in a rich, creamy broth. The dish was created for the Meiji Period by a local Chinese restaurant trying to provide a low-cost, highly nutritious dish for local Chinese students. To fully appreciate Nagasaki culture, Champon is a must-try!
Here are 3 recommended places to eat Champon noodles at Nagasaki:
- Yokohama Shianbashi Branch / Address: 2-20 Motoshikkui-machi, Nagasaki-shi, Nagasaki
- Horaiken Bekkan / Address: 5-23 Hirano-machi, Nagasaki-shi, Nagasaki
Sara-Udon: The crispy udon
Unlike the usual udon you expect to see in soup or stir-fried dishes, Sara Udon is a thinner crispy variety fried in oil. The dish is typically served with a topping of seafood, cabbage, bean sprouts, and other vegetables, though different meat varieties will be available on the menu.
The best place to eat Sara udon is at Nagasaki Sara Udon located at 12-7 Shinchimachi, Nagasaki-shi, Nagasaki.
Pilaf rice and Neapolitan spaghetti accompanied with pork cutlet topped with demi-glace. As with the name of the dish, it was inspired by the Turkish and born in Nagasaki. This dish consists of pilaf rice, spaghetti, and pork or beef cutlets generously covered in sauce. Each restaurant uses slightly different ingredients and toppings. While known as Turkish Rice, it was not inspired by Turkish cuisine.
You may enjoy delicious Turkish rice at Kyushu’s oldest cafe Tsuruchan in Nagasaki.
The Nagasaki Wagyu Beef: The award-winning beef
Nagasaki Wagyu Beef Competition (aka Wagyu Olympics) is held every 5 years, With Nagasaki winning first place in 2012. It was officially recognized as the best Wagyu in Japan and is now the representative beef in the Kyushu region. This prime quality and deservedly praised beef are perfect for BBQ. Nagasaki Wagyu Beef is tender and mouth-wateringly delicious, a must-try for meat lovers.
Here’s where you can eat the best Japanese wagyu beef in Nagasaki:
- Yakitori Torimasa Ebisu / 6-18 Ebisumachi, Nagasaki
- Okano Steak House / 6-8 Motoshikkuimachi, Nagasaki
- Osakaya Hamanomachi / 50-0853 Nagasaki, Hamamachi
Shippoku Ryori: Nagasaki’s signature dishes
Shippoku is a historical fusion and mixture of traditional Japanese, Chinese and Western dishes. It is a carefully prepared and exquisitely made 8 to 10-course meal that was developed in the Edo period. “Shippoku” is a Japanese word that means “table cloth.” Shippoku is a very formal style of dining and is often served in high-end restaurants.
Guzoni: An excellent taste from a wide variety of ingredients
When you say the best local dishes to try in Nagasaki, you should never forget to add guzoni on your list. It’s a local dish from the Shimabara region, made with mochi rice cakes and over 10 different ingredients ranging from meat to seafood to vegetables, with a light soup.
Here’s where you can eat guzoni in Nagasaki:
- Himematsuya Honten / Address: 1-1208 Jonai, Shimabara 855-0036, Nagasaki
Sasebo Burger: The famous Nagasaki burger
Introduced by American sailors in the 1950s, this American-Japanese fusion burger is famous across Japan. The People of Sasebo adapted the recipe to create their style of burger, and there are now many registered Sasebo Burger restaurants in the region. Do not expect the same burgers from America, as the Sasebo burger is a product of generations of reworking and remodeling by Japanese chefs.
Here’s where you can eat Sasebo burger in Nagasaki:
- Sasebo Burger Big Man / 7-10 Kamikyomachi, Sasebo, Nagasaki
A sweet and moist sponge cake that was first introduced by the Portuguese missionaries in the mid-1600s. The recipe was customized by the people of Nagasaki and is now a popular treat all over Japan. You should check out the interesting history behind the origins of Castella that date back to 1571, during the Age of Discovery!
Here’s where you can buy Castella in Nagasaki:
- Ijindo Castella / 6-15 Sakaemachi, Nagasaki
- Veggie Cafe Bar Nobister / 1-3 Edomachi, Nagasaki
Goto Tenobe Udon: Japan’s best-kept secret
Hand-stretched noodles infused with locally-produced camellia oil, then naturally dried. Made on the islands of Goto, this udon is one of the three most famous udon noodles in Japan. Goto Udon is thinner than other kinds of Udon, and are sometimes referred to as maboroshi no udon.
Here’s where you can eat Goto Tenobe Udon in Nagasaki:
- Shikairou Chinese Restaurant / Address: 4-5 Matsugaemachi, Nagasaki
Omura Sushi: The perfect sushi
Appropriately for a dish that was served initially to feudal lords returning victorious from battle, the brilliant colors of Omura Sushi make this local dish look as good as it tastes. It became a dish for special occasions and welcoming guests and can now be bought in local Nagasaki restaurants.
Here’s where you can eat Omura Sushi in Nagasaki:
- YAYOI Nagasaki Kuko-dori Restaurant / Address: 525-1 Kogashimamachi, Nagasaki
Shimabara Somen Bowl: The modern noodles
A new style of noodle serving, using beautiful bowls reflecting the hidden (and persecuted) history of Christian influence in the region. The Shimabara somen bowl is a modern take on the renowned local somen noodle of the area by numerous local restaurants and chefs.
The definition of a Shimabara somen bowl are:
- It must use Shimabara somen noodles.
- Other ingredients must be from the Shimabara peninsula, as much as possible.
- Use the same bowl every time.
What is most distinct about this dish is the beautiful bowls they are served in. Each store had developed its own take of the design of a ‘floral cross’ (an old sign used to indicate those local Nagasaki people who had converted to Christianity when Portuguese and Dutch monks arrived here many years ago) for their bowls. The mish-mash of cultures taking shape here is sure to become a big new trend.
Here’s where you can eat Shimabara Somen Bowl in Nagasaki:
- Himematsuya Honten
- Address: 1-1208 Jonai, Shimabara 855-0036, Nagasaki
Yori-Yori: Nagasaki souvenir
A Chinese sweet delight, yori-yori is a sweet fried-dough cuisine with a unique helical structure. With its golden brown exterior, the yori-yori is fragrant and most definitely enticing as a local food choice. Locals sometimes call this dish Nejinbou, Mafa, and Toujinmaki.
Here’s where you can eat Yori-Yori in Nagasaki:
- Soshuurin Nagasaki Chinese Sweets Shop / Address: Nagasaki city, Shinchimachi
So what are you waiting for? Munch your way through Nagasaki now with this list in hand! After all, what’s better than a trip with good memories of incredible scenery and food.
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