Photo by © cinnamonellie

Japan Gourmet Guide: Enjoy a vast selection of Tochigi’s local flavors

The season when you can enjoy the beautiful autumn foliage and a multitude of reds, yellows, oranges hues is almost here and one of the most famous places to view the autumn scenery is in Tochigi Prefecture.

Many people head to Nikko, especially during the momiji (maple leaves) season, although Kinugawa Onsen is also very famous for its abundant nature and tranquil atmosphere, and is also less crowded than Nikko.

However, I am not going to talk about the beautiful scenery, but the various selection of local foods and signature dishes you can enjoy while visiting Tochigi Prefecture.

Without further ado, let me start with the one that definitely occupies the top and immediately comes to mind when thinking of Tochigi:

Utsunomiya Gyoza

The Gyoza in Utsunomiya is very famous and I remember I wanted to have some on my way back home from Nikko, so after our trip, we drove to Utsunomiya in the hope we can find a good place to eat.

It was in the weekday and around 6 pm when you’d expect to find a decent place to eat gyoza that is less crowded. Given the fact that Utsunomiya is known as the “Gyoza City”, we thought there shouldn’t be a problem to find a nice place to have some gyoza for dinner. However, we couldn’t be more wrong.

The most popular places had people waiting in long lines outside of the restaurants and when we went to other stores that seemed less crowded, we had an unexpected outcome as we found out that gyoza was already sold out(mainly the reason why we couldn’t see people waiting in a queue outside of the store).

As you might have guessed, we gave up on the idea but planned on getting revenge, so we went another day, much earlier, and found an amazing place that fills up your tummy and has the most delicious gyoza I ever tasted.

It is called “Miso to Gyoza no Aogen in Paseo-ten” and I might be a little biased as I am a fan of miso and they had miso gyoza, too, but I felt that the price is affordable and the taste will be up to your expectations.

I got one of the sets and had two plates of gyoza (the traditional one and one with miso and Negi/welsh onion), a big bowl of rice, tasty miso soup and tsukemono (Japanese pickles).

I recommend giving it a try. You can also find a lot of other stores and I remember I spotted one that had an interesting combination of gyoza and basil, so if you are into unique flavors, you can find that too besides the traditional gyoza.

If you are coming in November, don’t forget to also check out the Gyoza Matsuri (Gyoza Festival) and also check out the many gyoza souvenirs available in the area!

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Yuba in Nikko

As I mentioned earlier, I have been to Nikko on a trip and I couldn’t leave without eating Nikko’s signature dish: the traditional Yuba!

Yuba is tofu skin and there are a lot of ways to prepare it. It is very easy on the stomach and has a delicious taste.

One of the restaurants I recommend the most is “Yubatei Masuda-ya” where they have a variety of vegetarian dishes and yuba, but also delicious fish delicacies.

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Sano Ramen

Sano City located in Tochigi is best known for its ramen, rich in flavor, and very popular among locals and tourists.

They use local ingredients and I recommend trying it if you are in the area.

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Strawberries and Strawberry Daifuku

Last, but not least, I want to end our list with the famous strawberries of the strawberry kingdom, Tochigi.

Strawberries are famous here and you can even go strawberry picking starting from December.

If you are coming to Japan, I recommend trying the strawberry daifuku of the “Shimotsuke Saifuuka Matsuya” store. It is delicious and besides the sweet strawberries of Tochigi, you can also taste the Japanese traditional sweets(wagashi). The Ichigo Daifuku is made with mochi and strawberry and is a famous Japanese traditional sweet in Japan.

Official Website | Access

Those are my top four picks of local dishes and local food of the Tochigi Prefecture.

Which one is your favorite or which one you would like to try out the most?

By - cinnamonellie.