Akita Food: Five Great Dishes To Enjoy!

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Beef, vegetables and kiritanpo from Akita Prefecture, on a plate.

Akita is a mountainous northern prefecture on Honshu, Japan’s main island. It is famous for its abundant nature, hot springs, and the adorable Shiba Inu (brushwood dog). The prefecture is also renowned for its rich culinary culture, which includes all sorts of local cuisines. Akita’s location near the sea guarantees excellent seafood. High-quality spring water flows from the Ou Mountains into rivers, where people use it to make superb rice.

This prefecture is home to a broad selection of culinary delights and has become a must-visit destination for food lovers. Keep reading as we will introduce you to the five best dishes, including unique local cuisine not found anywhere else.

Kiritanpo

One of the most famous traditional Japanese foods in Akita is the kiritanpo. It’s made using freshly cooked rice pounded until soft enough to shape into a cylinder. Then, the rice sticks are molded on skewers made from Japanese cedar and toasted over a charcoal fire in an open hearth. After the surface of the rice sticks has become crispy and caramelized, they can be served with miso (fermented soybeans).

A bunch of kiritanpo on sticks. Kiritanpo is a delicacy of Akita, they are basically rice sticks.
Kiritanpo is usually grilled around a fire. Image via Shutterstock

Kiritanpo is also cooked in a nabe (hot pot) of bone stock, chicken, burdock, mushrooms, green onions, and other vegetables. Although it is possible to eat all year round, the best time to eat is from autumn to winter when the ingredients are most seasonal.

Hinai Jidori

Hinai-jidori (chicken) is a rice bowl with high-quality chicken from Akita. It’s stewed in stock and shoyu (soy sauce), bound in rich, flavorful eggs on freshly cooked rice. The Hinai Jidori is one of the most famous chicken breeds in Japan. 

Hinai jidori on a grill.
Hinai jidori has a deeper and bolder flavor compared to other chickens. Image via Shutterstock

Whereas commercial broilers reach maturity in just 50 days, hinai-jidori chickens live free-range for over 100 days. This gives them a tender and chewy texture with juicy umami in every bite. Enjoy the exquisite combination of juicy chicken and soft-boiled egg!

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Ishiyaki Hotpot

Akita has a gift in the form of its own specialty hotpot dish, and this one is unique. It involves putting a hot stone inside the hotpot itself. Ishiyaki hotpot has fish, shellfish, vegetables, and miso paste and cooked traditionally in a wooden pail. 

A spread of ingredients for Ishiyaki hotpot.
Ishiyaki hotpot uses hot stones for cooking! Image via Trip Advisor

Because the juice boils at once, it instantly cooks the meat and vegetables without spoiling the taste. Enjoy the aroma of seafood and miso filling the room as steam rises from the simmering hotpot. Ishiyaki hotpot is native to the Oga Peninsula and is a must-have in Akita.

Unique Ice Cream Flavors

You can’t make the trip to Akita and skip the unique babahera and edamame (immature soybeans) ice cream flavors! Babahera is a homemade ice cream in the shape of a rose that is just as beautiful as it is tasty. Its texture is more like a sorbet than regular ice cream. The refreshing strawberry and banana flavors in these ice creams are popular with children and adults.

A scoop of Babahera ice cream from Akita Prefecture.
Babahera ice cream is comparable to sorbet. Image via Nanmoda

Another must-try flavor is edamame, a young soya bean commonly found in Japanese pubs. Its flavor is like sweet sugar snap peas with a light, creamy texture. All in all, this unique soft-serve ice cream is refreshing and delectable. 

Jumonji Ramen

Jumonji ramen is a shoyu ramen that is from the Jumonji area of Akita Prefecture. Many people love this type of ramen because there are no artificial flavorings. A light soup base made from dried sardines and bonito stock brings out the Japanese flavor of high-quality soy sauce. One unique feature is that it also uses fried bran as one of the toppings. 

A bowl of Jumonji ramen from Akita.
Jumonji ramen uses bonito flakes! Image via Food in Japan

This ramen is undoubtedly famous for its seafood-based soy sauce flavor and skinny, curly noodles. It’s so light that some people even enjoy a bowl of Jumonji ramen as a snack. Rich in flavors yet humble in presentation, it’s a bowl that’s food for the soul.

Why should I try this excellent food from Akita?

Akita proudly offers local food, one of the best forms of traveling enjoyment. The prefecture is known for its local dishes, making your experience even more memorable. From classic dishes to new takes on international classics, no matter your taste, you’ll find something to satisfy your needs.

When you’re not checking out Akita’s hot springs, ancient history, and many monuments around the city, enjoy its legendary cuisine. Have you tried any of these fantastic dishes from Akita before? Do you have a favorite one? Let us know in the comments below!

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