Must-visit places to eat in Kyushu
Image: Tonkotsu Ramen
Kyushu, the Southernmost of Japan's four main islands, is renowned for its delectable cuisine and world class ingredients. The island is made up of the perfect blend of fertile soil, pleasant temperatures and responsible farming practices. With so much to offer, Kyushu is fast becoming a top pick for travellers wanting to tantalise the tastebuds with food experiences that are steeped in history, tradition and sustainable practices.
FUKUOKA - THE HOME OF RAMEN
Kyushu's capital – Fukuoka is known throughout Japan as 'the foodie' city. The city is spotted with ramen stalls and udon noodle eateries of every kind and 'tonkotsu ramen' has become the symbol of the city. Tonkotsu is a traditional ramen made with pork-bone broth that was first created in 1937 at a noodle stall in Kurume called Nankin Senryo. The original owner of the stall was an udon vendor and experimented with the Chinese soba (or soy sauce ramen) which was popular in Tokyo and Yokohama. He combined this new recipe with his hometown's champon noodles of Nagasaki and created tonkotsu ramen. Following this, the next owner of Nankin Senryo is said to have turned his focus to pork bones as a base for the recipe as opposed to chicken bones which were traditionally used being more affordable. This new pork bone soup that Nankin Senryo devised, was actually semi-transparent and bears little resemblance to the tonkotsu ramen of today. The milky tonkotsu soup that we are all familiar with was first created by chance in 1947 in a ramen shop called Sankyu. One day, the owner of Sankyu left the heat on under the tonkotsu soup when he left the shop, creating a milky white soup by accident. After he added some seasonings, he found he had actually made something quite appetising and the recipe has remained to this day.
SAKE STREET - KASHIMA CITY
During the Edo Era, the feudal daimyo lords of each Japanese region spent every other year living in the nation's new capital to help progress the region. A road network was set up as for the large amounts of traffic that accompanied the lords and post towns emerged along the way where travellers could rest and also fill their stomachs. Of course they loved to relax with the nations cultural appetiser 'Sake', and it was Hizen Hamashuku (in this exact location) where 13 sake breweries emerged, which became the drinking hole for weary travellers to stop off before making their long and hard journey to Edo. Visitors today can still enjoy sake just like they did in the Edo Era as the street has been maintained with the same charm that was experienced up to 300 years ago.
Recommendation in Sake Street: 'Onyado Fukuchiyo' which is run by Fukuchiyo Sake Brewery. Onyado Fukuchiyo is an 'auberge' where you can dine and stay.
Image: Onvado Fukuchiyo Sake Brewery
THE WAGYU OLYMPICS
The Wagyu Olympics is not about sport but rather it's a competition for cows. These Olympics are where winning breeders get the opportunity to sell their cattle to the best restaurants and butchers in the world at a very high price. This is the Japanese Wagyu Olympics where the "steaks" are very high!
The Wagyu Olympics (formally known as Zenkyo) commenced in 1966 to help encourage a higher standard of cattle breeding for visitors and to be a promotional drawcard for the country. The competition still takes place every five years and awards cattle farmers with the trophy for the best beef in the world. The two award categories are, the size of the cow (proportions and visible attributes), and meat quality (the meat is judged on fat quality and content). At the end of the competition, the best is sold to the highest bidders in Japan and is considered to be the very best in the world. This year's Wagyu Olympics are 6 -10 October where 41 prefectures will be competing for the best Wagyu in the country and the show will attract nearly half a million people from all over the globe.
Recommendation in Miyazaki: Miyachiku Steak House. Here you can enjoy the Japan champion Wagyu beef.
Image: Wagyu Beef
TRY THE BEST FRIED CHICKEN IN JAPAN
The origins of karaage date back to the 16th Century when Portuguese missionaries arrived on Japanese shores of Kyushu Island through Nagasaki and brought their fried cooking methods to the island. Slowly, the locals began to use some of these Western methods of cooking which today would be considered tempura. At the time, the Japanese diet was mainly pescatarian which was attributed to their Buddhist beliefs.
The Karaage Grand Prix is an annual competition in Japan where the winner gets to boast that they have the BEST fried chicken in Japan. The small town of Nakatsu City – Oita prides its reputation as the karaage capital of Japan winning the most awards in the country and priding itself as having the best and most karaage chicken specialists in the world.
Recommendation in Nakatsu Oita: Karaage Moriyama Karaage Moriyama The Moriyama is a restaurant chain with 39 restaurants throughout Japan. Moriyama's shiodare or "salt sauce" won gold at the Karaage Grand Prix six years running.
SAMPLE THE SWEET SHOPS OF SUGAR ROAD
Nagasaki prefecture is well known for its 'sugar' as sweets and confectioneries date back to the 'Sengoku Period' where the food culture brought by Europeans commenced and became a booming trade. A fun foodie experience is to follow the 'Sugar Road'. Along the trail there are many sweet traditional Japanese treats to sample. The most famous and representative of Nagasaki Prefecture is the Castella sponge cake which dates back to 1624. The cake is thought to have Portuguese origin but since that time the recipe has been refined to suit the Japanese palate.
HOW TO GET THERE
Kyushu is the southernmost of the four main islands of Japan. It's bordered by the East China Sea to the west and the Pacific Ocean to the east. Flights are available now from Sydney to Tokyo with ANA Airways and Japan Airlines JAL. ANA also offers direct flights to Kyushu's Goto Islands. Flights to Fukuoka (a prefecture of Kyushu) are less than 2 hours flying time. Kyushu is also connected to the Shinkansen network so with a Japan Rail Pass you can travel from Tokyo to Fukuoka. To continue your journey throughout Kyushu, you can travel quickly and comfortably using the Kyushu Shinkansen.
About Kyushu Tourism Organisation:
Japan's southernmost island is a dynamic landscape of active volcanoes, hot springs and fertile farmlands. Kyushu is epitomised by the words Energy, Fertility and Gateway, representing its natural energy and dynamic people, the rich soil that blesses the island with delicious food, and its history as a link between Japan and the world.
Rich volcanic soil and regular rainfall have contributed to the region's reputation as a gourmet destination, famous for its citrus fruits, seafood, and rich, pork-based ramen.
Kyushu is closer to Korea than Tokyo but easily reached from every major city in Japan. More than anything, Kyushu is characterised by the friendly people who call this island home. Over a thousand years of connections with other cultures has created a sense of warmth and acceptance, welcoming newcomers with a smile.
The Kyushu Tourism Organisation (KTO) was founded in 2004 in response to increased tourism infrastructure, such as the Kyushu Shinkansen and Kyushu National Museum. Formed as part of an alliance of Kyushu's local governments and private sectors, the KTO promotes the island to international markets, including South-East Asia, the USA, Australia and Europe.
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